Friday, December 19, 2008

More on York U strike.

Just a hodgepodge.

According to this (.pdf), the York Senate has not yet cancelled the Fall term (which is surprising). Instead, if classes resume by Jan 5 (which requires a ratified settlement by Jan 3), then the Fall term will have an additional 13 days of instruction, possibly on weekends, plus a 12 day examination schedule. That would take the Fall term to the last week of January. The reading week is cancelled, and the Winter term will be comprised of 55 days of instruction and a 12 day examination schedule. By my count, that means that the Winter term (including exams) would end just before the end of April, and thus not seriously impact on the Spring and Summer terms.

Here we find a reproduction of a letter to the National Disgrace by humanities (history of science) prof Bernie Lightman. Lightman replies to a previous letter by Prof. Richard Wellen (social and political thought), claiming the majority of the faculty union (YUFA) support CUPE 3903. Lightman disputes this on the grounds that YUFA members defeated a motion at a recent meeting by a margin of 78 to 57; during the same meeting, a letter signed by 160 members of YUFA was circulated supporting the notion that YUFA adopt "dignified neutrality".

Following that so far? Okay, here's the rub: Lightman claims that this shows at least twice as many YUFA members support CUPE 3903 as do not. This is disappointing; I had thought that historians knew how to argue better than this. Lightman's clearly comparing apples and oranges: the actual margin of support is demonstrated by the vote, not by the letter. Given that only 57 of the 160, at best, bothered to show up to the meeting, we can conclude tentatively that there are actually more YUFA members than the 78 who showed at the meeting who support CUPE 3903; assuming the proportions of supporters vs. meeting-attenders are approximately same, the numbers should be 219 in favour of CUPE 3903 vs. 160 against.

Now, Lightman does say something else interesting, which I've been hearing from the YUFA side but didn't want to post until someone came forward about it publicly. Lightman's big problem with CUPE 3903 is the contract faculty -- not the TAs. The undergrads, at least the ones that I've been reading, tend to think contract faculty have a point but resoundingly condemn the "greedy TAs". And yet, those who actually know something about how universities and grad school operate, are seriously considering the opposite claim.

Oh, and, the Toronto Sun (*snicker*) wrote a laughable editorial about how the strike should have been ended by back-to-work legislation. Something about how labour and management are employees of the undergrads (*chuckle*) and thus labour should lose all their rights (*guffaw*). The Sun's editors, in their infinite ignorance, also think that the government isn't getting involved because the last York U strike lasted 11 weeks and this one isn't there yet. (*giggle*)

I know, right? It can't be that the government knows that violating people's rights in non-emergency situations is a bad idea. It can't be that the government has other things to worry about -- say, the pending collapse of the auto sector, trying to manage the impact of the global financial crisis, all that good stuff. No, no: it's because it's not an 11-week strike yet. (FWIW, this is an instance of a pretty severe violation of the principle of charity, in accusing the government of nefarious motives as a first option.)

I knew the Sun papers are run by idiots, but this is a new low, even by their standards.

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