Questions From the York Strike 2008 Undergraduate Community
1. Can the University simply write off a semester or the year and not give any credits to students that have paid? If that is the case, at what point will tuition be reimbursed if instruction time is not made up? If that isn’t the case, what measures is the university preparing to compensate for students’ missed lecture and tutorial times?
We cannot write off a semester or a year, and we have no plans to do so. Obviously if the year were written off, students would be entitled to a refund. When the strike is ended, the Senate Executive will oversee the process of making up for lost time. It may not be the case that every lost hour will be replaced, but enough will be done to ensure that the learning objectives of the courses are met.
2. A) What are the steps to ensure that the academic semester, and possibly year, is not lost?
When we know how much time we have to make up, we will have a better sense of how it is to be done. We may cancel Reading Week, for example, and/or we may extend the term at the end, and/or we may reduce the total number of teaching days by a small amount. I believe all of these things were done in 2000-01 aftrt he last CUPE 3903 strike.
B) Under what conditions will the University determine whether students simply cannot make up the time to garner their credits?
I do not believe we would allow things to reach that stage before making other arrangements for people to finish.
C) There is specific concern for 3 credit fall courses. Will they be continued in the winter term if they cannot be completed in the fall term?
3. Will an increase in Union member wages and benefits augment undergraduate tuition, residence etc?
I don’t understand the question. Do you mean the costs of tuition etc. might rise if we spend a lot on settling this contract? There are limits to how much we can raise tuition, but we would have to seek additional revenue somewhere, I guess.
4. If the strike causes the academic year to be extended into the normal summer months will we be expected to pay for residence in undergraduate and graduate residences?
I assume that is a possibility. You should check with Housing Services.
5. If the year is extended what will happen to “compressed programmes” such as 2nd entry nursing that have year round full time course loads? If students in such programmes are required to enroll in summer courses will they be expected to juggle more than 15 credits during any overlap period?
I’m not sure ho we will deal with compressed programmes; Senate Executive will have to address the issue. I don’t believe we would overlap the Winter and Summer terms.
6. Faculty of Education students are required to do practicums (in class room teaching). The faculty has had to cancel their block plans and has to reschedule. How will the University give students the opportunity to graduate on time with the requisite amount of practicum hours?
Education is wrestling with that issue. There will come a point (not yet) when it will be necessary toi resume practica in order to get the requisite number of days in before the end of term.
7. a) The Union appears to be persistent on a 2 year contract so that they can participate with other CUPE locals in 2010 for a much larger bargaining project. Will the University ever sign a 2 year agreement? Explain.
Never say never. This remains an issue for negotiation. If the only thing left on the table were the length of the contract, which side would blink?
b) Under what conditions will the University be willing to sign a two year agreement, if this appears to be the only hope to end this strike?
See above answer.
c) If the University, nor the Union, can be expected to agree on any terms for an agreement, is it a safe assumption that the provincial government could enact back-to-work legislation, whereby a forced arbitration takes place? Why or why not?
The province is very reluctant to intervene in autonomous universities and I presume would do so only if it looked like the term could not be salvaged.
8. Will York University charge interest to outstanding student accounts during the strike?
I presume they might, as students are not prevented from paying their debts by reason of the strike.
9. Will York University refund bus passes that students purchased with the intent of having a reliable means of transportation from their homes to the school, and back? Similarly, will the University refund parking passes for the disrupted weeks?
I don’t believe so, but this is not my area of responsibility.
10. Many international students are constrained by study permits and visas. What will the University do to rectify a situation where international students are no longer legally allowed to study in Canada?
I presume the University will assist such students in seeking an extension oft heir visas. You should ask this question of York International.
11.a) What will happen to students graduating this year? If the strike goes on for a longer period of time, will graduation be effected? Explain.
Convocation may be delayed, but it will take place.
b)Will deadlines be pushed back for graduate applicants? If not, will committees, or departments be asked to give special consideration to students at York?
Generally we have asked that application deadline, especially where letters of reference or transcripts are delayed, be treated flexibly. However it is not always our call.
12. If – and when – an agreement is signed between the Union and the University, how long will it take for students to return to class? How much notice will we be given?
Once a tentative agreement has been ratified, I presume classes would resume almost immediately. You might not get more than a day’s notice, but you will know a couple of days ahead that an offer is being sent to ratification.
13. Many students require OSAP to live and study during the academic year and then have jobs during the summer. For these people who have OSAP funding until the usual end of the school year, will the University make arrangements with OSAP to extend that funding further if the strike prolongs the academic year?
I don’t know the answer. You should ask Student Financial Services.
14. In the negotiations with YUFA in 1997 the University was strongly opposed to any binding arbitration. Indeed, it has been 11 years, but what has changed? The University made many very strong arguments against binding arbitration:
In 1997 I was not a member of the Administration, so I can’t vouch for their reasoning, however I think it may have been because in that year the Employer wanted significant changes in the YUFA contract, whereas now, we would like only small changes in the CUPE 3903 contract.
“Arbitration risks handing over the future of the institution, and the definition of a new contract for faculty, to a third party who cannot possibly appreciate the subtleties and complexities of a university such as York. University administrators and faculty must determine an effective contract and its budgetary implications through collective bargaining. Engaging in arbitration on these issues is tantamount to allowing an outsider who has no continuing interest in, or commitment to, the University to have the authority to decide academic priorities for the institution. The arbitrator, unlike faculty and administration, is not accountable for making his or her decision work. Arbitrators do not have to find the money to meet the costs of their judgements, nor must they live with the impact of their decisions.
Some might note that arbitration is a standard way to end disputes in other sectors (e.g. in the essential public services sector) and in other universities. For example, at the University of Toronto there are negotiations on compensation matters between the administration and the Faculty Association. If the negotiations fail to resolve matters the final positions of the two parties are put to arbitration. However, there is a good reason for this process: faculty at the University of Toronto do not belong to a labour union and, therefore, have no legal right to strike as a means for forcing the resolution of a dispute. At the U of T, the parties must have some alternative method in place for resolving an impasse on compensation negotiations. For YUFA, as with other trade unions, the right of employees to withdraw their services is the ultimate method of resolving disputes.”
15. Can question #13 be explained by the University’s low profit from last year? Is the University in rough financial condition?
Universities are not profit-making enterprises. However it is true that the University is facing serious financial challenges, especially as government funding may be affected by the current economic downturn.
Well, I would like to thank Dean Drummond for being very quick in his reply. I hope this gives some of you some answers to your questions. On some of the questions he told us where to go instead of finding out for us. I am sure he has some assistants that could have run down to Financial Services or York International to find out!
Anyways, Thanks Dean Drummond for the answers and I hope this helps some of you.