Our Anonymous tipster…

Good morning everyone,

Last night when nobody would give us any information on the strike and we were all refreshing this blog every five minutes to see if something had happened, we had our little anonymous tipster sending us random spots of information from where she could. It may have seemed shady at the time but all the information turned out to be true: CITY TV was the first to “officially” announce it, we did go on strike and the negotiations last night fell apart because of  non cooperation.

So I would like to give a warm thank you to Tanya H. from YorkU who emailed some great information from her iPhone from inside the negotiations. Without her we would have all been here sweating and scratching our heads and wondering if we should be writing that essay that’s due in the morning.

So thank you Tanya H. for all your help we all did appreciate it.

Tanya has volunteered to be out on the picket lines early this morning at the Keele campus to take some pictures and video for us to post here.

I encourage you all to do the same. If you have info, pictures, videos etc email them to me at yorkstrike2008@hotmail.com and I will throw them up here. This is your blog as well guys!

Cheers everyone!



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30 responses to “Our Anonymous tipster…

  1. Hi,

    Please e-mail me if you wish to take legal action against the CUPE’s selfish actions. I am organizing a class action lawsuit and I have a lot of people on board for the already. If you wish to join against this (and you should, WE students pay the TA’s and the school), please e-mail me at xyrodon@yorku.ca

  2. Basil El-Salviti

    This is beyond horrible for many undergraduates who, like myself, have worked hard all throughout their lives to come to York. York has magic to it, and I feel like now that glimmer of hope is being shoved up our, you know.

    The union chair thinks we don’t know what they want, they THINK we aren’t absolutely aware of their demands. Look folks, we’re not dumb here. Here is a list of demands, as far as we’ve been discussing IN TUTORIALS:

    1) Elimination of tuition fees for graduate students
    2) Increased wage, since you are looking to be paid at the poverty line
    3) Job security – contract faculty have to apply every semester to keep their job (some TA’s dispute this, saying it’s every year – just goes to show how some of them don’t even know their own demands!)
    4) Better benefits package.

    Hey, I encourage other students to fill up more demands. I’m not claiming to know anything, but this union is saying most people are given a gross misrepresentation of their demands.

    The union has taken the shameful steps of avoiding binding arbitration…why? Because half of these demands are not fiscally possible.

    I am ashamed of the YSF President, Hamid Osman. He should have taken a firmer stance that aligned with the 50,000 constituents who he represents! GSU can handle their own matters, Osman’s responsibility was to handle OUR needs.

    Believe me, I’ll be monitoring this website. I’ll be commenting, too, because I know that there ARE students out there who, like me, feel they shouldn’t have to be taken hostage by their teaching assistants!

    We, the STUDENTS, call upon the TA’s to accept binding arbitration! The chief negotiator for CUPE 3903 should never have made such a bold move as to hold the undergraduates hostage at this point. We are students, too, and we are paying a massive amount of money to be at York – respect our wishes, too, guys!

  3. f.

    does anyone know around what time the picketing line will be disassembled? gotta find a time slot where i can go home from residence

  4. T

    I totally agree with you Basil!

  5. T

    I heard that the picketing will go from 7am to 7pm, monday to friday.

  6. Dale

    @Trevis… you can’t sue CUPE, they have the legal right to strike. I thought suing people that you thought “wronged” you was more of an American phenomenon…

  7. yorkstrike2008

    Agreed Dale.

    A suit would no go through based on a strike. That is a legal right to exercise. If anything you could sue the school for not settling if this goes way too long.

  8. J

    This strike is retarded. An ass’t is asking for a 41% increase? Give me a break! In times like these people should be happy they HAVE a job at all.

    The rest of us would NEVER get a 40% increase in salary.

    People LIVE on those roads they are blocking and it is not only selfish but very rude to slow them down from entering their HOMES!

    I will be walking through regardless of what picketer tries to stop me.

  9. Basil El-Salviti

    To J;

    The picketers are not going to hurt you. The most they will do is inform you of their position, and then they may ask you to partake in the strike. For certain, they are not legally allowed to hurt you. You can cross the picket line…you may just have to give 5 minutes of your time to listen to their demands and whatever.

    That being said, I don’t agree with it. I think it’s wrong….but the fact they are striking is because it’s inconvenient for the students. It’s meant to add pressure to the employer……I just don’t think it was wise.

  10. J

    Yea, I totally understand the right to Strike and what not and apply pressure to get your point across.

    I just think, most of us dont have that luxury of a union or striking and it feels like they are abusing this right.

    Professors is 1 thing but Assisstants? I mean they want to go from $17,000 plus an already existing break on tuition to $25 or 26,000 in 2-3 years?

    Man, I should be a TA.

    The police has reported a few physical confrontations on the picket lines.

  11. J

    Sorry Professors ARE 1 thing not IS.. 😉

  12. ff

    It isn’t professors who are striking; they have their own union. It is contract faculty; TAs and graduate assitants that are covered by 3903.
    One issue is that contract faculty who have been teaching after recieving a PhD for up to 10 years and have ended up leaving academia because they can no longer live on the paltry wages, with no job security.
    Also, we do have a union, and we can strike. With tuition fees as they are – it may not be such a bad idea.

  13. ILuvYorkU

    I heard the strike will end sooner than expected and we could resume classes by next week!! Yay!

  14. Something else we should all know, CUPE hires professional picketers. Yeah, such a things exists, pathetic huh?

  15. Thomas Malloy

    What are you talking abou? Do you mean strike pay – or are you talking about flying squads from sympathetic unions?
    Calling the union selfish and then acting in a profoundly selfish and mean hearted way yourself is really sad to see, especially when you lack the facts.
    By the way, how is that lawsuit going?

  16. A student at YorkU

    haha, i really did have an essay due that morning immediately after my 8:30 am class..

  17. I’ve heard that the union has picketing booked until beginning of January. This is blatant disregard of the students to even fathom that the strike would extend til January. I support the RIGHT to strike BUT this particular’s union’s decision to strike is SELFISH and yes, their demands are unreasonable. Such TAs know what job opportunities and wages BEFORE they made the decision to enter the profession. Students should not have to pay for this. Students who are happy that they get a break is short-sighted. As the past has demonstrated, this is not going to be a long strike. Union has the power but their demands are too unreasonable that I do not see the University meeting them, rightfully so in today’s market. I do not see a way out of this and this is a devastating situation for a graduating student. I cannot proceed with my vacation plans. People who have signed job offers for full time positions or even internships will have such great work opportunities jeopardized. I cannot imagine the impact on international students. It is easy to dismiss such hardships when you are not the one directly impacted. This is not whining. This is real problems that students who have NO SAY and who PAY TUITION for their EDUCATION face. 50,000 students should not pay the price for the “greater good” for 3,000 staff as it is a price too high and unnecessary. Honestly, some of the TAs I have experienced at York just are incompetent and I feel that they are already overpaid as it is.

  18. Correction: As the past has demonstrated, this is GOING TO BE be a LONG strike.

  19. ff

    protip: understand labour relations 101 before saying that the union has no right, and that this is hurting students. you have no clue.
    you still have an opportunity to educate yourself on what it takes to get fair contracts, go to the picket lines and talk to the workers – go to the administration. do some independent learning – otherwise all you are doing is paying 50K+ for your own self-incurred slavery!

  20. Basil El-Salviti


    I know the union has the legal right to strike, as they’ve done all the necessary paper work and whatnot to legalize the initiative. That doesn’t necessarily excuse the union and their decision to strike.

    Let me explain. To begin, these are full time students, and part time workers. Everyone on this forum understands that….and everyone also GENERALLY understands that most students don’t make an average of 16,000 dollars annually. So lets stop beating around the bush – if these TA’s want a full time salary, they should work full time. They are abusing their power here at York.

    Let me speak on behalf of the students. I, too, am an undergraduate student….I know many of my peers agree with me when I insist that this union has crossed a very thin line. Why? Well let’s look at it this way….when you have the ability to hold 50,000 students HOSTAGE, then I believe you have quite a strong presence…and when you abuse that power, and decide it’s in your personal interest to hold us all hostage, then you’ve crossed the line.

    I’m ashamed of YFS president, Hamid Osman. He had an obligation to speak on behalf of the 50,000 students he represents….and he decided it was proper to side with the TA’s, because as I will paraphrase him saying….many undergraduates will eventually become TA’s, too. Wow, what a ridiculous statement.

    This idea of independent learning that you’ve said, ff, is fair…I agree that students should use this time to continue to read in preparation for the subsequent lectures. That being said, we’ve paid for a service…this service entails that we are evaluated, and receive some form of credential. I believe it’s highly impossible to achieve the latter, particularly when the union that marks our work is striking.

    This is about principal. We’re being held hostage…someone HAS to speak on our behalf. Unfortunately, Osman decided it wasn’t necessary yet to do so.

  21. Do realize TAs are prevented from working more than 10 hours per week, so if they make $18000 a year and pay $5000 in tuition… they have about $1100 per month for food and a place to live. Per hour wages of $27.50 seem high (Assuming they’re not working beyond ten hours without compensation,) but considering it’s the university preventing them from working longer hours and is charging them full tuition for little more than a library card….. (It wasn’t like that until 1994.)

    Even with that said, contract faculty are also represented by CUPE 3903. Consider this; back in 2003 there were 2500 members in the union, now there are 3400. So what? The university hired more people… well, when the university hires more people they don’t add a penny to the health benefits fund. What does that mean? It means that there is 26% less money per person for health benefits (2500/3400=74%, 100%-74%=26%). So yea, adding more money for each person added to the union by York U would cost more money, 30% more, but whose fault is that? CUPE’s or York U’s? That 41% number the university quotes needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

    Sure it’s easy to blame the union, they’re the ones that went on strike (Though they weren’t the ones that canceled classes!,) but the university ignored their most basic requests that wouldn’t have cost anything. For example, they want a two year contract instead of a three year one. If the university says they can’t afford bigger wage increases because of ‘economic uncertainty,’ then why not have a shorter contract and reassess the situation in two years. Yet the university ignores this request that’s on CUPE’s list of four fundamental ‘strike causing’ items and then tells the media they are offering a nice three year contract that they don’t understand why the union won’t accept.

    Looking at page 52 of this document showing York’s budget (http://www.yorku.ca/presidnt/news/PBA/PBA-2007%20Web.pdf), one can see that the difference between the estimated expenditures for full time faculty and the actual expenditures (in 2006-2007) is just over 5.6 million dollars. Consider this, CUPE 3903 is looking for a 7% wage increase in the first year of their contract and 4% in the second; considering their estimated wages for 2007-2008 were just under 31 million dollars, that would mean that in the first and most expensive year of their proposed contract, they’d get an extra 2.17 million dollars. Think about it – that’s less than half the margin of error in terms of payments to full time faculty. With a budget of 677.5 million in 2006-2007, that would represent .3% of the budget. To put that in perspective, that’s half of the presidents office’s marketing budget.

    One more thing to keep in mind – do remember, if the union didn’t go on strike the university said they’d lock them out, and, in the end things like smaller class sizes benefit everyone.

  22. ff

    Graduate students, as custom dictates work full time on their studies, and part time on other university projects. They already work more than 50 hours a week on studying alone.
    Unfortunately, you do not speak on behalf of undergraduates; Hamid Osman does because we elected him to do that. I don’t know if you ran for the office, but either way, he was elected and not you or I. It also bears mentioning that faculty is firmly behind this strike – so, many of my professors announced ahead of time that they would not cross picket liens regardless of any institutional decision to end classes.
    I don’t see what I’m paying for as a ‘service’ – education is a right in my books. Just because the union is striking does not mean that they are the ones that are to blame; many of the sticking points are simply because the administration refuses to acknowledge very real facts, like the health plan coverage cuts that Jeff mentions.
    We should be proud that York’s contract faculty, GAs and TAs are fighting for working class students that aspire to advanced degrees. Unfortunately, it seems that York is the only school where the union has either the will or fortitude to stand up for what is right. Again, you could always take you money elsewhere – that is if certain other institutions find you worthy to take your money.

  23. Basil El-Salviti


    Firstly, Osman represents 50,000 students. He should have a reasonable stance that aligns himself with the York undergraduate community, which I believe is reasonable since he was elected to do so.

    Let me also reiterate that I realize this is not an illegal strike. The union has taken the necessary steps to legalize their strike…and my only real position is that this strike doesn’t positively affect undergraduate students. Obviously, strikes are designed with the notion of being inconvenient…most people realize that. However, I believe this has been taken too far, considering how severe it is.

    My professors have been neutral about their stance. They aren’t crossing the picket line because, if you read anything about the previous strike, it confused faculty and students….this time around, the professors simply said classes will not resume as a measure to limit any confusion students may have. The senate, along with the deans of all faculties and the other bodies, decided it was best to suspend classes. My professors never ever put forth an opinion…they simply stated the facts, and what the intentions of the class were in the event that a strike took place.

    In regards to your position of education being a right, I believe it is a right too. I believe, also, that we are paying for extended services…..we’re here to be evaluated and receive credentials that matter for some occupations students are aspiring for. I feel held hostage by the fact that the union uses 50,000 students as leverage to have the employer meet their demands. Here, I am clearly distinguishing the idea of being educated from the idea of appropriate credentials that verify to an employer that you’re educated. See how that works?

    Lets speak realistically. I know the university propaganda machine will portray the union as being completely out of touch with reality. I’m no fool, buddy. You can’t, however, convince me the union is innocent and is the victim.

    Apart from the contract faculty, TA’s are full time students – not full time workers. Let’s remember that they were hired under the precondition that they obviously realized they are part time workers…..

    I support the union demand of job security. I support the union demand of increasing student wage, at least to some point…not necessarily by over 40%. I don’t support the unions decision to hold us hostage….professors, for the most part, don’t mark our work…it’s the TA’s, and they realize their role in this institution and they are taking advantage of that.

    Let’s call upon the union to accept binding arbitration, should negotiations continue to falter.

    PS- There is a reason we chose York, the students who are frustrated about all of this. We chose York because York was the best option in terms of course of study. Lets remember that York is one of Canada’s best universities….that’s why we chose York. And we’re not looking back!

  24. Nathan

    1. York admin do not want a 2 year contract because they’re not blind. They can see the province wide labour action brewing in 2010, and realize whatever deal CUPE gets now will be peanuts in comparison to what they could get if the entire province strikes simultaneously.

    2. As a TA at York, I do live on $1100 a month. I TA roughly 10 hours a week (the workload depends on the nature of the course – some courses (those with essays, those with lots of assignments) just take longer than others). It’s by no means an unpleasant life. Do I wish I had more money? Sure. Do I absolutely need it as I scrape cheese off leftover pizza boxes? No. I do emphasize with people with spouses, with children… but it’s not like you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into. Your first priority should be to support your own children, not take a position you know is NOT conducive to financial gain, and then to demand more pay from your existing job when your life situation changes.

    And one last thing about the hours – there is a process for Overtime Pay at a rate of about 30 dollars an hour.

    3. The argument that grad students have to study a lot… well, DUH. They’re grad STUDENTS. Their primary job is to complete their thesis projects to the best of their ability. TAing is a bonus provided by the school. Most U of T grad students don’t TA – there are too many of them and not enough positions. Plus they pay DOUBLE the tuition that York TAs pay.

    4. Should CUPE win a 7% wage hike, this will have serious repercussions on the other unions. 7% of 20k is not bad, but what about 7% of 30-50k when the custodians’ contract expires in 2011? What about when the YUSA contract expires? How much will 7% cost the administration when professors with 100-150k p/a salaries demand it?

    After all, how can you deny professors the same wage increases as the TAs? They live in the same economic climate, they’re as essential to the school (just like profs can’t live without TAs to teach all the students 1 on 1, TAs can’t write and plan a course like the profs do). Will you deny them 7% just because they’ve earned a higher salary by completing their PhD, 5-10 years of post doctoral studies (if applicable), and/or 5-10 plus years of teaching experience?

    5. If (4) happens, expect tuition hikes. Where else is the university supposed to get that money, especially now that Ontario is a Have-Not province?

    I support the Union’s right to strike. I don’t support their core demands though. However, democracy is democracy. I just wonder how their demands will affect everyone else.

  25. J

    Will they be picketing on saturday and sunday? Does anyone know?

    I cant wait to cross the picket line, I have a few words for them myself.

    Greedy people.

    Great post Nathan.

  26. no they won’t, picketing is held from monday through friday, 7am – 7pm

  27. ff


    1. As mentioned before, the changes in provincial funding of graduate studies has been contradictory; on one hand the number of spaces has increased, indicating that there is a high value to be found in the pursuit of advanced degrees, and yet, no more funds. It makes perfect sense to me that it is time to call this into question. Either fewer people are truly cut out for graduate studies, or, it is time to figure out how those who benefit from not having to incur the costs are going to have to be implicated in covering some of them.
    2. Already as I plan for next year when I will start my MA, I am hoping for a grant. Through my undergraduate career I got lucky and had a job that allowed me to graduate debt free – unfortunately, that job is gone as of August next year. When I look at my expenses this year, I get serious anxiety over how I will be able to convince banks to take me on as a credit risk in the future – with any luck those grants will come through, but even then it will be tough.
    3. There are a lot of good reasons that people go to York. There are a lot of reasons not to go to the UofT, or any graduate program that is a glorified undergraduate degree for credential seekers and a cash-hungry university.
    4. The basic idea is that graduate students are workers. Studies are work, and the idea that students at any level need to feed, clothe and transport themselves on their own dime seems to forget that not every student comes from a background that makes those things possible.
    Professors and custodians are not going into debt to show up on time to work: fed, bathed and clothed. I have a hard time accepting the idea that their unions would or even should be asking for the same wage increases that graduate students require to keep pace.
    5. Undergraduates need to continue to pressure the provincial government to drop fees. The question of ‘who will pay’ is definitely open ended, but I think that students (graduate and undergraduate) have paid enough. If university degrees are not necessary to work an entry level job – then perhaps it is time to restructure the university itself; but if they are, then I think it is time to start expecting the employers to start picking up (at least) part of the tab.

  28. yorkstrike2008

    Graduate school is becoming more and more of a necessity to get into even mid management positions. Places like Brock and unfortunately even York have lowered their standards for undergraduate acceptance so much that thousands and thousands of people are being pumped out of university these days with BAs that will get you into a number crunching, $30,000/year, cubicle job!

    I know that I have to go to grad school to get into a government administration position. It is becoming more financially lucrative to become a tradesperson than to get a BA!

    Guys also remember that a lot of your professors are members of CUPE and not YUSA. I have many professors that have been teaching at York for 20 some years and have to renegotiate their contract annually. It is not just TAs and grad students.

  29. Nathan


    1. You’re not addressing my point, which was “the administration obviously wants to avoid a massive labour dispute in 2010.” I didn’t state whether this was correct or incorrect from a moral standpoint. It’s just pragmatic from their standpoint to maintain the status quo. I agree on your standpoint that grad school admission standards need to be reconsidered, but that will not happen at York because the school is attempting to increase their reputation as a place of higher learning, as opposed to a diploma mill. Obviously it is in the Union’s best interest to have a 2 year deal, and it is in the University’s best interest to have a 3 year deal. So… who blinks first?

    2. And this is addressing my points regarding proper budgeting, overtime pay, and knowing what you’re getting into… how? Your situation is different from mine, that is fine – and I wish you all the luck in the world, but I can’t begin to address your concerns unless you start detailing your finances, and that I can’t expect anyone to do to a stranger over the internet.

    3. I sincerely hope that you are not implying that the U of T graduate program is an undergraduate degree. If so, I highly encourage you to take a stroll in the Medical Sciences Building at 8 PM on a Friday. You are also not addressing my point that U of T grad students a) get LESS money, b) pay MORE tuition, and c) live in the SAME CITY. So why should York TAs get more?

    4/5. Unfortunately, we live in a capitalist meritocracy. People are paid according to merit and skill. No matter how important TAs are, no matter how important their work or how much their work, one TA does not equal one professor in terms of quality and expertise – If we did, than we would be supervising them, not vice versa. Therefore, they have every right to ask for the same thing that TAs are receiving. Do they necessarily need it? No. But could you see someone in your class getting an A+ on a paper because they were carrying a D+ average? Would you like a C+ for a paper just because you have straight A’s?

    Likewise, should undergrads receive poverty line wages? After all, studies are work. Certainly, requirements for grad courses are much higher than undergrad courses, but work is work.

    Not every situation is so isolated as you make it seem. Everything has far reaching implications that you cannot seem to see. You want the employers to foot the bill: where do you think employers (the universities) get money? Tuition and government handouts. Is it ok to be apathetic towards the undergrads covering a professor’s 40% pay raise, just because you have enough money in the bank now? Is it ok for hard working people in the workforce to pay the extra taxes required by the government when post secondary education needs to be propped up by government funds? There are consequences to everything, and just because those consequences don’t immediately concern you does not make them acceptable scenarios.

  30. jojo

    I just listen to my ipod as I walk through the picket line and no one bothers me..i just walk really fast…it works…

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