Friday, November 14, 2008

Doorey on York University Strike

Canadianflag Unbeknownst to me until today, there has been a strike on-going at York University in Canada where friend of the blog, David Doorey, teaches.  He writes on his blog:

The CUPE 3093 strike began on November 6th at York, and picket lines are up (see my entry on the rules of picketing).   All classes are cancelled, including mine.  We’ll have to watch carefully what happens in the coming days.  It sounds like the parties are still quite far apart.   The employer has offered to go to interest arbitration, which would end the strike, but the Union has so far shown no interest in that option to date.  But that might change as the strike lingers on. 

Remember that the striking workers are not being paid any wages during the strike (although they will receive some amount of strike pay from the union, usually on condition that they show up for picketing duty), and many of them depend on that income to pay their rent, travel home over the holidays, and feed themselves and their families.  So pressure may build on them to resolve this dispute quickly.  The University too will be under pressure from students to save the term some how.  So both parties are now feeling pressure to settle the dispute.  And that is how a strike is supposed to work.

Some more information from David:

The strikers are part-time sessional instructors and teaching assistants, who are mostly graduate students.  The university deciced to cancel all classes, since earlier strikes by the same union and by the faculty union created chaos when classes were permitted to be continued throughout the strike.

The last time I remember a labor strike impacting a university in North America was at the University of Miami in 2006.  It will be interesting to see how this turns out and who eventually "wins."


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Good post, unfortunately no one will "win" out of this strike.

The University, for example, will have to deal with a tarnished reputation and the notion that York is ALWAYS on strike. In 2000-2001 a TA strike lasted 11 weeks and school went into May.

The TAs will be dealing with a fair amount of backlash from disgruntled students who are nervously awaiting when their classes will resume and if/when they will be able to graduate.

The vendors on campus are losing tons of money everyday due to stagnant business. Several restaurants and pubs on campus are being forced to lay off their employees.

Both sides need to make concessions for each other and get back to work.

Posted by: Gustav Farraday | Nov 20, 2008 11:13:18 AM

As a member of CUPE, I think I definitely feel the most for the people in unit 2. Unit 2 is comprised of all of the contract faculty that often have similar/identical qualifications as tenured professors, yet have to reapply for their own jobs each and every year. How can anyone possibly plan for their future at all when there's no guaranteed job security? Regardless of the numbers being lobbed back and forth by the union bargaining team and the administration regarding wages, everyone can agree that you shouldn't have to interview for your OWN JOB year after year!

Posted by: Stan S | Nov 21, 2008 12:46:40 PM

As a contract faculty and first time teacher ( and union member), I joined York University for an opportunity to teach with the hopes of transitioning to a permanent position over the next few years ( career plan). I see now that the potential for full time hire is unlikely, since the university can employ contract positions to provide 50% of the education to students.
Having to reapply each term also prevents me from making a full time career at York since I still need my professional employment to pay the bills.

Posted by: confac | Nov 24, 2008 11:50:29 AM

I do think although that the students, especially the undergrads, are being held hostage; and plus its not fair for a strike to last this long in one of the most expensive city to live in...well in Canada.

And this is coming from a graduate student - who refuses to picket...

Hope this comes to an end soon,

Posted by: André | Dec 15, 2008 1:47:16 PM

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