Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Rosario Marchese on CUPE 3903 strike

Just got this from Rosario Marchese (NDP MPP for Trinity-Spadina and Education Critic). It seems that the NDP will not be supporting back-to-work legislation any time soon.
Dear Adam Rawlings,

Ontario New Democrats acknowledge and appreciate the genuine concerns of all those affected by the strike of CUPE 3903 workers at York University.

Students and their parents are concerned that the strike will have a significant impact upon the education of the students.

The Teaching Assistants, Graduate Assistants and Contract Faculty are seeking fair compensation for the work they do along with some measure of job security. Teaching Assistants earn under $17 000 per year and Graduate Assistants make less than $10 000.Any scholarships or awards are subject to a claw back and they are not allowed to work outside the university. This means they must survive solely on what they are paid by
the university.

The 900 Contract Faculty plan and teach courses, give lectures and mark assignments for which they receive under $14 000 per full year course compared to the $250,000+ paid to university administrators, not to
mention residence and car allowances, club memberships, guaranteed bonuses and leave payouts.

The striking workers do more than 50% of the teaching at York University. Many pay tuition and all have to eat and pay rent. The University's latest offer adds up to less than the cost of living.

Ontario New Democrats are concerned that hiring part time workers at low wages has become a deliberate strategy on the part of York University and the government and that it is essentially unfair and short sighted.

Binding arbitration is often seen as an easy way out but in fact the possibility of binding arbitration often serves as an impediment to meaningful negotiations.

The NDP believes that the long term interests of the workers and the students are best served by a fair and equitable agreement negotiated by both parties through free and open collective bargaining. We believe
that it is the responsibility of the government to encourage and facilitate such bargaining and to provide the funding that is required.

We want to see the students go back to their classes: Classes that are taught by workers who are treated fairly and compensated adequately.


Rosario Marchese
Ontario NDP MPP and Education Critic

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