Due to time and risk of liability, this blog is officially closed. It will remain, but I will turn off all commenting abilities. It will remain in existence as a testament and evidence of the York University student voice of 2008/2009.

If you want this blog to continue discussions, you may email me (see contact info).





Comments Off on Goodbye

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This Is Where It’s @

Yesterday, Adrian made a commitment. “I will never delete the blog,” he wrote. “There are over 200 blog posts and nearly 8,000 comments here. I am sure this will be a valuable resource to someone at some time in the future.”

Good to hear you’ll never delete this blog, Adrian. Damn right it will prove a valuable resource to the future.

For a period of 3 months, between Nov. 6, 2008 and February 2, 2009, a relatively small band of 3000 striking workers held 50,000 students hostage — and brought an institution of almost 70,000 to its knees. Even though the strikers were by no means essential workers, Ontario’s Provincial government had no choice but legislating Cupe local 3903 back to work.

Whether York University ever recovers from the consequences of 3903’s economic siege remains to be seen. Ontario’s labour relations will certainly never be the same. And while there will generally emerge consensus how pivotally significant the 2008/09 York strike was, the meaning of it might well remain forever contested across the Canadian political spectrum.

Even though 3903’s strike ended in utter defeat — how should it be understood? How should it be remembered? Was it a heroic struggle for economic justice? Or was it a complete abuse of the right to strike — by a local gone way over the ideological deep end?

As left and right extremes grow increasingly polarized in Canadian politics, so the meaning of this strike will become increasingly contested in the future. More lies will be told. But to ensure future lies don’t grow too tremendous — the raw data is here. Right here @ this electronic space Adrian built.

It will not be controlled and censored fora the future shall glean backward to figure what happened this strike. Not the absurdly dishonest 3903 strike pages. Not the prissyly incomplete York narrative. Not even all the shallowly credulous media coverage. Not while this record of open, honest and often vehement dispute remains accessible.

This is the annotation of ideologies clashing over York these past 3 months. Keep it up, Adrian. Both the blog — and whatever good work you turn to next.


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Thank you and farewell


This is how you look after many hours of finding articles and moderating the forums.

This is how you look after many hours of finding articles and moderating the forums.


Here is a picture of me. If you see me wandering around campus someday – probably looking spaced out – say hi. Cheers. 

Well Yorkies, it’s done – we can continue with our lives now. I never thought that this strike would last 12 weeks. If any of you can remember, I predicted that it would only last 3-4 weeks and that we would be back quickly after the Winter holidays. Unfortunately, I was mistaken and perhaps naive to think so. 

I have put many hours a day into this blog to maintain it and keep it as up to date as possible. Many times I was out and did not even know developments had occurred until several hours later. However, the information was always available on here in the comments section as soon as the developments occurred  thanks to the dedication, curiosity and hard work of your fellow York students.

I would like to thank Basil, CupeDoll, our original anonymous tipster “T” and everyone who made this space such a great, productive and informative place to come. 

This has been a very hard road for all of us, and it is my sincerest hopes that this blog has made navigating these tough times a little easier. 

In hoping this never happens again,




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Resumption and Revision of Academic Schedule

Welcome Back to Class!

The Division of Students is pleased to announce that Senate Executive has declared an end to the disruption and a resumption of academic activities starting Monday, Feb. 2, 2009. Beginning Monday, students should attend their regularly scheduled classes (for example, Monday classes will run on Monday, Tuesday classes will run on Tuesday etc.).

This Web site will be updated in the next two days as we work to provide students with information on the University’s remediation plans and answers to other FAQs students may have regarding the resumption of academic activities and the reconfiguration of the fall, winter and summer terms.

New sessional dates will be published on the Current Students Web site by 5pm on Jan. 29, 2009. Please check back at that time for details.

General sessional date information (specifics will be provided later):

  Fall Winter Summer
Classes Start Date Monday, Feb. 2, 2009 Wednesday, March 4, 2009 Monday, June 8, 2009
Classes End Date Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009 Thursday, May 21, 2009 SU term: Friday, Aug. 21, 2009; S2 term: Friday, Aug. 28, 2009 (information on other terms pending)
Make-up Days Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009 for 11th Monday class Wednesday May 20, 2009 for 11th Monday class; Thursday, May 21, 2009 for 11th Friday class N/A
Exams Start Date Friday, Feb. 20, 2009 Friday, May 22, 2009 SU term: Monday, Aug. 24, 2009; S2 term : Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009 (information on other terms pending)
Exams End Date Tuesday, March 3, 2009 Tuesday, June 2, 2009 Monday, Aug. 31, 2009 (all terms)
Number of Exams Days 12 12 8
Holidays (University closed – no classes or exams) Monday, Feb. 16, 2009 – Family Day Friday, April 10, 2009 – Good Friday; Monday, May 18, 2009 – Victoria Day Wednesday, July 1, 2009 – Canada Day; Monday, Aug. 3, 2009 – Civic Holiday

The Division of Students is responsible for the following departments:

  • Office of the Vice-President, Students
  • Admissions, Communications and Client Services (including Student Client Services on the main floor of the Bennett Centre)
  • Alumni
  • Glendon Student Services
  • Office of the Registrar and Student Financial Services
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Student Community Development

Each of these departments are poised to assist students with returning back to the University.


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York University strike ends today


Johannes Zeidler, an assistant professor at McMaster University, joins a Queen’s Park rally in support of striking York University CUPE members. (Jan. 25, 2009)
Back-to-work bill set to be approved as union withdraws threat of court battle
Jan 29, 2009 04:30 AM

It’s all over but the voting.

The provincial government will force an end this morning to the three-month strike at York University and allow 45,000 students to resume classes Monday with the expected passage of legislation ordering 3,340 contract professors back to work.

Today’s vote on Bill 145 comes on the fifth day of an emergency session of the Ontario legislature to introduce back-to-work legislation. The NDP opposes the bill, but with only 10 seats it will be unable to prevent its passage.

The striking workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903, withdrew late yesterday their threat of a court challenge to the legislation, removing a potential obstacle to the resumption of classes.

“We have reached a point that the only way they can get back to class is if we simply allow this to go ahead,” said York graduate student and CUPE media spokesperson Tyler Shipley. “I’m sure the students are pretty sick of being used as a pawn of a larger game.”

The strike was the longest ever at an English-speaking university in Canada and will mark the third time in 12 years that labour strife has forced York to extend classes into the summer.

The strike shut down the campus on Nov. 6, when the 3,340 teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants walked off the job. Job security for professors on short-term contracts, full-time openings for part-time faculty, length of contracts and more funding for graduate students are key issues on which the two sides have been unable to agree.

Premier Dalton McGuinty has faced criticism for his reluctance to introduce back-to-work legislation earlier in the strike.

Mediator Reg Pearson was brought in last week to bring a quick settlement to the dispute but informed the premier Saturday that negotiation was not possible, forcing McGuinty to move ahead with legislation, despite concerns it could be challenged in court.

Union members, contract professors and teaching assistants, are concerned about their students and want the strike to end, Shipley said.

“If York’s administration won’t take responsibility, perhaps it is up to us to take the high road and ensure these students’ classes will resume,” Shipley said.

Even though the strike is ending, students should not expect a tuition refund. John Milloy, minister of training, colleges and universities, said the government is examining ways to extend student loans to those who now face a longer school year.

“Right now we are working out the details with the university of how we can extend OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program),” Milloy told reporters.

York graduate student Vanessa Lehan thinks financial compensation should flow to students. “Of course we should get a tuition rebate,” she said. “It is ridiculous.”

Extending OSAP is no answer, Lehan said.

“Oh, that is great. Fantastic. That helps them not at all,” said Lehan. Lehan does not have student loans, she added. Instead, she said she “just starves.”

McGuinty said in the Legislature yesterday he understands York students are going to have additional costs for food, transportation and rent because of an extended school year due to the prolonged strike.

“I think our responsibility is to ensure that OSAP is sufficiently flexible to meet those additional needs. I’ve made that commitment and we will find a way to make that happen,” McGuinty said.

OSAP offers loans, grants, bursaries and scholarships to pay for post-secondary education for those who qualify.

Tory MPP Jim Wilson (Simcoe-Grey) said he wants to see the students get financial help for the damage a labour dispute has caused to their year – and an extension to student loans is not good enough.

“That’s just a promise for more student debt under OSAP, and that’s not good enough,” he said in the Legislature.

Students don’t deserve to be financially penalized because of a strike beyond their control, Wilson said.

“These students will likely lose the month of May for summer employment, meaning the estimated loss of summer earnings for these students will be at least $1,400 if they work full time for four weeks at minimum wage,” he added.

NDP Leader Howard Hampton has also called on the government to compensate the students.

Hampton questioned McGuinty about the phone call the premier made to York president Mamdouh Shoukri early Tuesday morning.

McGuinty encouraged the York president to get back to the bargaining table while the legislation is debated.

McGuinty said he did speak with the York president and made it clear to him “that there was still the option open to him to sit down and continue to negotiate.”

There was no collective bargaining yesterday. “I think the response from the president of York University was pretty clear – it’s `Screw you,'” Hampton said.

He added this is proof York and the university’s administration never intended to engage in meaningful collective bargaining.

Shipley said there were only 11 days of negotiation during the strike.


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York U won’t bargain – CUPE 3903 takes the high road, will not pursue lawsuit to allow a resumption of classes

TORONTO, Jan. 28 /CNW Telbec/ – After waiting in vain for the past critical day and a half for York University to negotiate an eleventh hour settlement, the union representing striking contract professors and teaching, graduate and research assistants says it is shifting gears and preparing for members to return to the classroom. “It is obvious that the York administration has no desire, indeed has never intended to reach a negotiated settlement,” said CUPE 3903 spokesperson Tyler Shipley. “We have done everything in our power to stand up for the quality and accessibility of education at York in this round of negotiations but, for now, it’s time to get our students back to class. Our local has decided not to pursue a legal challenge to Premier Dalton McGuinty’s back-to-work legislation at this time.” CUPE 3903 Chair Christina Rousseau noted that the local’s 3300 members “have fought a courageous fight against an administration who put their own narrow vision ahead of the interests of students, academic integrity, job security and workers rights.” Shipley added, “Our members have shown tremendous determination, but they are tired of waiting for York to take the process seriously. Undergrad students are looking for some assurances. We aren’t going to let the university’s game continue. It is time for someone to take responsibility for getting campus life back to normal.” The Liberal government should not imagine that back-to-work legislation resolves any of the key issues in the strike, particularly the reliance of universities on underpaid, contingent workers to do most classroom teaching. “Our concerns are not going away, they are systemic and go well beyond the York campus,” noted Shipley, adding that the local will continue to address the trend to insecure teaching jobs, the need for minimum funding guarantees for graduate students, and the value of coordinated bargaining through other channels. “These issues are still alive at York and across the province. We’ll be working with our sister locals to make sure they are addressed in ways that protect the interests of workers, students and hardworking parents who are being asked to shell out more tuition fees every year,” said Rousseau. “Unless administrators change their priorities and the Ontario government invests in our universities, they should brace themselves for more job actions in the coming years.”


There is no doubt in my mind that school will resume on Monday. It is unfortunate that this strike had to last for so long.


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Follow the York University strike debate at Queen’s Park

You can follow the Live Blog from Sarah Millar who is following the debate in the Legislature on the York University strike here.


Or watch the live video feed from Queen’s Park by going here.


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Union may fight back-to-work bill

Jan 28, 2009 12:01 PM


The union representing striking workers at York University says it’s preparing a legal challenge of provincial legislation that would force teachers back to work.

CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan says the government-backed bill, which is expected to pass Thursday, won’t make the issues at the heart of the strike go away.

He says union lawyers are prepping their case, which can only be launched after the bill is passed.

Premier Dalton McGuinty wouldn’t say whether the government has a plan to deal with the potential roadblock.

The union renewed their call for McGuinty to force the university to resume negotiations, but the premier says it’s clear the bargaining process has failed.

Some 50,000 students saw classes cancelled on Nov. 6 when 3,400 teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants walked off the job.

I am not a lawyer so I could be wrong, but this looks like the Union is trying to prolong and maintain the strike but challenging the bill. Do Bills become law the minute they are approved by the Legislatures and their associated assemblies? If the Union challenges the Bill, is it in effect until and if a judge rules against the Bill? In simpler terms, would CUPE workers have to return to work until the Bill gets shot down, or is the Bill legally binding even if it is being challenged and thus they would be breaching the Law by refusing to work?

Perhaps there are some lawyers or law students out there that could shed some light on this.







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What Happened Today


CUPE protesters outside of Queens Park

CUPE protesters outside of Queen's Park

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said Tuesday he’s “more than prepared” to urge York University to resume bargaining, but will still move ahead with back-to-work legislation to end the strike at Canada’s third-largest university.

“We will assume our responsibility,” McGuinty told the legislature.

“We will do everything we can to make sure that we get young people back in the classroom at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which hasn’t ruled out a court challenge of the back-to-work bill, blames the university for the deadlock.

Union officials called on the government Tuesday to give bargaining one more chance, saying if the premier throws his weight around an agreement can be reached before the bill is passed, eliminating the need for a court challenge.

The union said it made every effort to resolve the dispute — even dropping its wage demands — when a top provincial mediator was dispatched last week by McGuinty in a last-ditch effort to end the strike.

“Now is the moment. If ever there was a crunch, it was now,” said Tyler Shipley, a spokesman for CUPE Local 3903.

“We want to go back to class. We want to go back to work.”

The union’s last offer was more than double the university’s offer for settlement, York president Mamdouh Shoukri countered.

“That is an impasse by any standards,” he said in a statement.

A government spokeswoman said McGuinty spoke with Shoukri and encouraged him to keep talking with the union, but York spokesman Alex Bilyk said late Tuesday afternoon there were no plans to restart negotiations.

Growing frustration over the protracted labour dispute spilled over into a confrontation with police during a union-organized march to the legislature.

Four people were arrested during the rally that repeated the call to restart negotiations. One person faces charges of assaulting a police officer.

“Negotiate, don’t legislate,” teaching assistant Noaman Ali chanted to the crowd of some 200 people.

Wayne Samuelson, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, told the rally the government “should pass a law to send your employer back to the bargaining table so you can negotiate a collective agreement.”

Lydie Brawer saw the protest from an office building across the street, threw on a coat, and went over to confront them.

“I want my kids to go back to school,” said the mother of two York students — one in fourth year who’s in jeopardy of not graduating, and a son in first year who she said has “lost his appetite” for university.

“I sympathize with (the striking workers), but that’s enough now. They have to think about the kids.”

Some 75 people later broke off from the main rally and headed to the police station where the four arrested individuals were taken.

The crowd was confronted with barricades, some 25 police officers and nine officers on horseback before the peaceful demonstration dispersed after about 30 minutes.

The 12-week strike has also angered many York students, who fear their entire semester may be wasted if their teachers don’t return to the classroom soon.

Pushing York University back to the table isn’t going to help, said Catherine Divaris, who helped organize a coalition of fellow students who oppose the strike.

“They’ve been trying to negotiate for 12 weeks, I mean, what’s the point?” she said.

“We’re so close to getting back to class now, that would just be devastating. I think students … would just lose complete faith in this entire process.”

The coalition is organizing a students rally at the legislature Wednesday to demand action to end the strike.

McGuinty said the government will also look into establishing a commission that would determine when the studies of college or university students are in jeopardy due to a strike or lockout.

The premier recalled the legislature last weekend to introduce the back-to-work bill, hoping all parties would agree to pass it quickly.

The New Democrats oppose it, and have shot down every attempt to speed its passage in the legislature.

That means the legislation may not become law until Thursday, and students will have to wait until next week to return to class.

Some 50,000 students saw classes cancelled on Nov. 6 when 3,400 teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants walked off the job.

About 5,000 students were allowed back this week to attend courses taught by tenured professors.


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4 arrested at York demonstration

Jan 27, 2009 03:50 PM

Staff Reporter

Four people were arrested today on charges of assaulting police officers outside Queen’s Park during a rally against the proposed legislation to send striking York University employees back to work.

Toronto police received calls about the demonstration around noon, said Toronto police Const. Tony Vella.

Several police officers, and at least a dozen cruisers from various units arrived at Queen’s Park shortly after, he said.

Two men and two women were arrested on charges of assault, assaulting a police officer, and obstructing police.

Four police officers received minor injuries in the incident, Vella said.

The four suspects were protesters, Vella said, but added he did not know their affiliation to the university. They are being processed at 52 Division headquarters.

During the rally, organized by CUPE local 3903, protesters met outside the Ministry of Labour around 10 a.m. and then marched to Queen’s Park.

Premier Dalton McGuinty recalled the legislature on the weekend to introduce a bill aimed at ending the 12-week strike at Canada’s third-largest university.

The bill is supported by the Opposition Progressive Conservatives but the New Democrats oppose it.

That means the legislation may not become law until Thursday, and students will have to wait until at least next week to return to class.

The union says McGuinty should use the time before the bill passes to restart the bargaining process.

About 50,000 students saw classes cancelled on Nov. 6 when 3,400 teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate assistants walked off the job.

About 5,000 students were able to return this week to attend courses taught by tenured professors under a special deal with the university.


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