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<nettime> Support the Strike at York University
Gita Hashemi on Fri, 7 Nov 2008 15:35:43 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Support the Strike at York University


Dear friends and colleagues,

Starting this morning, Nov 6, 2008, CUPE 3903, the union representing 
contract faculty, teaching and research assistants at York University 
in Toronto, Canada, went on an all-out legal strike. Significant 
issues include wage increase corresponding with cost of living 
increase, funding guarantees for graduate students (who also form 
significant number of workers at York U), improved working conditions 
(which mean improved learning conditions for students), and job 
security for contract faculty (some of whom have been teaching for 
several years on a sessional basis, carrying 1.5-2 times the load of 
the permanent faculty at 50-75% of the cost for YorkU). Find a 
summary of all outstanding issues at 
http://tao.ca/~cupe3903/web/?q=node/825.

The issues are obviously significant for the workers at York 
University to strike over. Their significance goes beyond York U 
however. These are issues facing non-permanent teaching and research 
workers in all universities, who are estimated to carry 40-60% of the 
workload at low exploitative wages and benefits, in poor working 
conditions and without any job security. This is the reality of 
labour in higher education institutions functioning as for-profit 
corporations (as is York U) governed by BoDs composed of 
representatives of other corporations 
(http://www.yorku.ca/foundatn/about_bod.html).

The significance of the current strike also goes beyond York U 
proper. CUPE 3903 has been one of the strongest unions in Canadian 
universities for many years, and for many years its collective 
agreement has been a precedence-setting document for other workers 
and locals in other universities. The last successful strike at York 
U in 2000 was followed by strikes at University of Toronto and 
Carlton University, where CUPE locals were able to refer to CUPE 3903 
collective agreements to support their demands for comparable 
contracts. Although they did not make as many gains, it is now clear 
that a certain base-line has been established in Canadian higher 
education labour relations.

York U Administration has consistently tried to weaken CUPE 3903's 
collective agreement and erode the baseline. This is highly 
advantageous to other university administrations as they face their 
workers' unions in their negotiations. One of the current outstanding 
differences with York Admin is over the length of the collective 
agreement. The union is demanding 2 years which would allow it to 
negotiate in keeping with changing economic conditions and also to 
join in a province-wide University-sector union initiative to improve 
labour conditions and increase public funding and control of the 
universities set for 2010. York U Admin want to impose 3 years which 
would take CUPE 3903 out of this rank and lock the wages at way below 
CoL increases for a longer period of time.

I have been a contract faculty at York U and a member of CUPE 3903 
for over 8 years. I have also taught as contract worker at  Ryerson U 
(CUPE 3904), and currently teach at University of Toronto at 
Scarborough (CUPE 3902). Adding and comparing my own first hand 
experience in these different institutions, I know with complete 
certainty that the strike at York U can be of political and practical 
importance in other universities for other unions and workers. I 
would therefore like to encourage you to stand in support of members 
of CUPE 3903 who have been on picket lines at York University since 7 
AM today.

Express your support by writing letters to:
Mamdouh Shoukri
President and Vice-Chancellor
<mshoukri {AT} yorku.ca>

Please CC your letters to:
<isupportcupe3903 {AT} gmail.com>

Send direct messages and find other ways to support:
http://www.3903strike.ca/2008/11/how-to-support-cupe-3903-during-strike.html

Find strike updates at
http://www.cupe3903.tao.ca/
http://www.3903strike.ca/

Thank you and be well.

Gita


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