MPP Peter Shurman Addresses Queens Park



I don’t like how anti-union that message sounded. York has had one year to figure this out and they hadn’t done anything. This group is only representing one side of the undergraduate body and it is being de facto imposed as the representative of us.



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43 responses to “MPP Peter Shurman Addresses Queens Park

  1. Cantankerous

    Fonseca – nice repartee.

    Also consider where Sherman is coming from – is he only thinking of the students’ ‘welfare’ and ‘education’ as he so eloquently states? Or could he perhaps be garnering support for the next coming election(s)?

    The amount of attention this strike is gaining seems to be unprecedented.

    Where were these students now when the 2001 strike was going on? Most were still in high school so they’re not veterans. I sat it out and don’t recall students being this ‘motivataed’ to get back to school and it’s not even two weeks into the strike…

  2. Cantankerous

    “It’s not their idea to learn about collective bargaining.”

    How telling is this phrase? As future workers I can only imagine what these students bring themselves to a union they might join later on.

    I am not against students contacting their elected officials to mobilize action – this for me is part of the democratic principle, having officials listen and act upon society’s concerns.

    It is an interesting thought that the very issue they are asking to have political intervention in raises further prickly consequences…

  3. I know for myself, the reason why I am supporting an end to the strike is because I want to get back to class and get back to learning and completing my credits. Even though it is only two weeks into the strike, I am looking at the strike in 2001 as an example of how far and long a strike can go and I do not want that to happen again. I know I can only speak for myself, but that is probably why so many students are taking action now with the strike only two weeks in.

  4. mm

    This may be looking into too much detail (or looking at things incorrectly as well), but I don’t understand what he means by “irresponsible demands”.

    Although I don’t agree at all, it could make sense to call the strike irresponsible (because students have no classes), or the demands unreasonable (because is too much, etc).

    But how is demanding better wages and job security irresponsible? I don’t get it.

    Is it maybe that if those demands were satisfied, then there would be some negative consequences?

  5. Shame on Peter Shurman. I guess he doesn’t understand that in a democracy the larger group doesn’t automatically trump the smaller group.

  6. Classes are back for Schulich undergrads!! 🙂 YES!!!

  7. me

    how is it that schulich students get to go back next week while the rest of york is still on strike? what gives?

  8. ff

    “Schulich UnderSCABS!!”

    I fixed it for you. 😉

  9. Guess Who

    Classes are back for schulich? Are you serious?

  10. hey guys…

    Before u get excited about beating on the Schulich kids, realize that only undergraduate students who are on exchange have school back. I’m a first year BBA student at Schulich and none of my classes will resume next week…

    So remember guys, sometimes silence is golden :p

  11. Here are the classes that will resume for Schulich next week:

    # all 3000 and 4000 level BBA/iBBA courses. (Virtually all of these have exchange students (either current ‘guest students or Winter term Schulich students).
    # the following 1000-level and 2000-level sections, who have exchange students enrolled.

    1. ACTG 2010 C
    2. ACTG 2020 A and B
    3. ECON 2000 A, B, C, D, and E
    4. MGMT 1030 C and F
    5. MGMT 1040 D
    6. MGMT 2000 B, C, D, and E
    7. OBIR 2000 A, D, and E
    8. OMIS 2010 A and B

  12. papermunky

    All students are affected by the strike, some more than others because of individual circumstances. However, as you are probably aware, there are two groups of students among you who face an additional serious situation because they are either [1] students from other universities here on exchange this Fall term, or [2] they are students in the BBA or iBBA program scheduled to go on exchange next term. The uncertainty about the duration of the strike puts them in an extremely difficult position. The university has reviewed this situation at Schulich’s request. The following arrangements have been made, based on a university-level decision:

    1. We will resume classes for the Schulich-based courses next week and will complete them, including examinations, before the December break.

    2. ALL undergraduate students enrolled in the course sections identified in ‘1’ (not just the exchange students) are covered by this resumption of teaching. It would be unworkable for an instructor to be completing these courses for one group of students in their section(the ‘combined ‘exchange’ group) while other are enrolled in the same sections are not present. Thus, whether or not you are an exchange student, if you are in courses identified above, the resumption will apply to you.

  13. frustrated

    I am delighted to know that all these provincial politicians think education is such an important investment. Perhaps they can put their money where there mouth is, and invest in education themselves, by recognizing that the majority of striking workers are students themselves, who have already invested significantly in the education of themselves and the students that come after them.

  14. york student

    To Cantankerous

    Congratulations for sitting it out….we on the other hand value our studies and time. Next week would have been our last week of classes now we don’t know when the fall semester will end, see how “only 2 weeks” into the strike has affected us greatly.
    As for Peter Shurman, he did an excellent job of bringing the student voice to Queens Park.

  15. @ York Student

    I agree. It was nice to see someone say they were going to do something, and then actually follow through 🙂

  16. Cantankerous


    Your comment is apt and extremely cogent.

    Shurman is a Conservative MP, a party itself almost infamous for its stance on education in the 90s. All parties I believe make hypocritical statements, but the irony you pointed in with Sherman’s seemingly altruistic attitude now regarding his ‘help’ for students is interesting…

  17. Cantankerous

    @ york student:

    My apologies for my previous choice of words that gave you the wrong impression.

    I attended every day of the 2001 strike in going to class, and was actually FUBAR’d beyong your wildest imagination as my profs choose to redo the course when we returned. My crossing the picket line was for naught. By sitting it out, I mean toughing it out. If you weren’t a student in the 2001 strike, you can actually thank the York admin for cancelling classes without having to attend them.

    For 76 days, by the way, which is how long the previous strike lasted, and although any strike is certainly upsetting, I wonder if York students could show a little more intestinal fortitude and refrain from throwing around catch- phrases like, ‘we on the other hand value our education’, because simply put, I value my education just as much as you do and everyone else does.

  18. Guess Who

    What Peter Shurman addressed was his personal view on the situation.

    Just because he brought it up does not mean action will be taken.

  19. Yorkie

    I think we all value our education, that’s not really something that’s up for debate…
    I personally think it’s a good thing that the MPP is bringing our issue to the table. Whether you support the union or the university, the fact of the matter is that while they take their time to sort out THEIR issues, WE are being punished. Everyone has the right to ask for what they deserve…and so do the students. All I want is what I’ve paid for. I want my education. I want to learn. I want to know that I am prepared to go out into the workforce next year. I want a speedy end to this strike so that we don’t have to relive 2001 all over again.
    Here’s hoping…

  20. york student

    @ Cantankerous

    Apology accepted and my apologies for assuming others don’t value their education 🙂

    I agree as well, just because he did bring it up does not mean action will be taken but at least the issue was brought up

  21. Confused Student

    how do you guys know that schulich classes are being resumed? nothing is posted on the york website!

  22. adam

    Thank you Peter Shurman for finally standing up for us students.

  23. DHARM



  24. abc

    im an undergrad in my 3rd year, and what i dont understand is why students continue to oppose CUPE 3909. Dont you all understand that if everyone were to stand by them, it would make it a whole lot harder for the university to try to force binding arbitration? They would realize that all of their customers are on CUPE’s side, and would be forced to meet some of CUPE’s demands. THAT is (or was) the way to go for those who want to go back to classes. It’s unfortuanate that a bunch of students who, in my opinion, have no real knowledge of how bargaining agreememts work, continue to further create conflict between the two sides. WE are prolonging the strike people, wake up already! stop blindly reading what the york site has to say! be skeptical people! arghhhhhh

  25. Basil El-Salviti

    To everyone here;

    Some of you may agree with the stance that the anti-strike group has taken, some of you may disagree….but let it be clear that, for starters, many of the issues undergrads are faced with during this strike were brought forward, and I believe Shurman is the man we want to be blasting with emails regarding our position.

    If you want to get back into class, let’s push the agenda further to queens park. Let’s not let this be the only time the issue is brought forward to the Premier.

  26. ff

    Shurman wants to push binding arbitration. I think Rosario Marchese is a much better person to ‘blast’ with emails, as he has a long track record for standing up for student rights.

    Shurman could be looking for a way to do some good-olde-fashioned union busting.

  27. ff

    here’s a link to Rosario’s site. As you can see, he is busy drafting a bill to ban tuition hikes.

    Let’s drop him some lines and get him on board to end the strike. Maybe he has some ideas that will bring the sides together. Personally pushing the government to properly fund post-secondary education would be my solution. Not a knee-jerk “back-to-work” legislation that ends up making everyone unhappy. (Imagine how fun it will be being taught by people who have just been FORCED (I hate these stupid capitalizations, btw) to accept a contract. )

  28. Catherine

    @ abc:

    That might end the strike sooner, but if York meets the two-year contract demand, we’ll probably end up having another strike in two years.

  29. Does anyone know if the York U admin and CUPE 3909 representatives met today? If not, does anyone know when they are scheduled to meet? I’m having trouble finding this information on the York U website.

  30. Curious Yorkie

    I dont think that a strike after 2 more years is a possibility. If you look at the situation carefully, then you will realize that 2 years down the road, the bargaining is not just between CUPE and York Admin. Its a larger bargain… The Unions from all the universities will be fighting for wage increases, benefits, yada. yada, yada. Do you think at that point in time all the universities will shut down at once if they dont agree to the demands of the union? No. I doubt there would be another strike in 2010.
    This ofcourse is just a speculation.

  31. Art

    Exactly why this shouldn’t be rushed. Also, I’m pretty sure Union won’t back down even if provincial government gets involved, and I doubt that it will go as far as back to work legislation. Just my thoughts.

  32. Guess Who

    Why would CUPE back down? We’re not only talking about CUPE 3903 here. We need to take into consideration the whole of CUPE that has the power to strike in every university in the state of Ontario.

    York University needs to think about this one and take an action plan accordingly so that they do not piss off the whole of CUPE.

    Who ever says CUPE 3903 has no one behind them is wrong. They have the whole union behind them. Not to mention YFS.

  33. YFS support doesn’t really mean much. hey had their “democratic vote” to support the strike without consulting the student body. Of course other unions will stand by fellow CUPE because well they’re unions and for political reasons also.

  34. frustrated

    The Honourable Member from Thornhill has already decided who’s to blame for this devaluation of post-secondary education. See his press release.

    The reason why 3903 wants to hook-up with all the other academic workers across the province in 2010 is not to screw their students OR the administration. It’s because they think there is a major and long-standing issue of underfunding for the delivery of post-secondary education across the province. York is a canary in the coal mine. York has historically relied so heavily on contract and graduate workers to service it’s undergraduate demand that those workers were able to form a strong union. CUPE has made these original “outrageous” demands to draw attention to the crazy disconnect between the demand for and the government support of post-secondary education. I invite anyone reading this blog to come to York on a day when classes are actually in session. In the winter, there are 20 minute line-ups to get a coffee. 20-minute lines for bathrooms in disgusting conditions, because they’re so overused and so under-maintained. I’ve seen kids writing exams on the floor of a lecture hall. When they’re not in class, York students seem to spend most of their time sitting on floors, ’cause there’s just not enough room or planning for them to sit down on campus. TAs and Contract Faculty, the ones who are striking, do half the teaching work out of windowless little offices, on desks and computers they share with more than 2 people per desk. They subsidize out of their wages: photocopying, printing, office space, office supplies, books, computer hardware, and more. They go to conferences to present and get the most up-to-date research to share with undergrads, at mainly their own expense. The instituion of the university and the quality education associated with it cannot be sustained under these conditions. CUPE has already knocked off many of these symbolic issues off their demands. It is in the interest of the university and undergrads to step up and acknowledge the unsustainability of current conditions, and join with its academic workers to lobby provincial and federal funding to truly invest in education, as Mr Shurman so heartily advocates.

  35. ff

    I think CUPE should focus more on the non-wage related demands it is making.
    Ie. cuts to equity funding, and most importantly JOB SECURITY for UNIT2!
    There is probably more political resonance with the job security issue than anything else.
    Everyone balks at the admin’s ~9% figure, when they aren’t even doing stuff that would cost them next to nothing.
    It points to the problems frustrated is getting at: the system is broken. The media has spun this into the idea of ‘greedy’ grad students wanting more money ‘for nothing’. It is a huge uphill battle getting people that have no idea about what graduate studies are about to accept the idea that you can actually get paid for studying. The concept of student/worker is something people aren’t getting – but they might more easily grasp the plight of people fighting for jobs every 6 months after close to a decade of continued service, and excellent performance reviews.
    I have to say that the ‘symbolic’ demands were a bad idea this year. I get why they did it, but it has been a huge talking point for the admin and their proponents.
    Remember when John Tory tried to get funding for religious schools for all communities a couple years ago? The provincial tories have no idea when it comes to education – and mcguinty is no better. Enough is enough.

  36. Cincinnatus C.

    ff: I think there are some simple arithmetical reasons why Unit 2 job security isn’t being emphasized. Unit 2 only makes up about a quarter of the union. If I understand things correctly, less than 10% of Unit 2 members would even have a chance to benefit directly from the Special Renewable Contract (SRC) program that the union is seeking. I’m not sure what proportion of members would benefit directly from conversions, but so far the union has seemed more focussed on SRCs as a goal for Unit 2 anyway.

    There is an argument to be made that conversions indirectly benefit other Unit 2 members, many of whom are constantly scrambling to get any work at all, because turning some high-load Unit 2 members into lower-load YUFA members allows the surplus of courses to “trickle down” to other Unit 2 members. This assumes that the university is willing to spend the extra money to hire Unit 2 people to teach those surplus courses, rather than–as has been going on for years, not just at York but across academia generally, in the case of the surpluses of courses over teachers resulting from retirements–making up the difference by increasing class sizes.

  37. Jafac

    @ frustrated
    Woah. By the way you just described our school, you’d think we were in Somalia (no offense intended to Somalians). But really, it’s not THAT bad. The 20 minute Timmy’s lineup is a major stretch… that only happens on the hour or at :30, right when classes end and classes start. And it only lasts for 10 mintues. How about going to the Timmy’s at :15 or :45? Same goes for the washroom. I have never, ever waited in line to go to a washroom at York. I HAVE seen a lineup sometimes outside the ladies room beside pizza pizza in central square, but never one that lasts 20 minutes. But even if that kind of thing does happen, how about going to a different washroom? Walk for 90 seconds and go to the CSE building just across the street or just walk down the hallway to the washrooms at CLH… really, its not that difficult. As for the bit about sitting on the ground… what the heck are you talking about? Have a walk around campus, there are so many different places for people to sit and relax. How is it the university’s fault if you decide not to explore anywhere beyond central square and the student centre? Try looking in the colleges… places like the renaissance room in Vanier and the JCR in Mac. The study hall in Mac is almost always empty, and the common room in Founders has some really comfy sofas. Or if worst comes to worst, just duck into one of the empty classrooms. I agree that there are a lot of things wrong with our school, but you have to be fair about it. There are ample facilities and places to sit, you just have to make the effort to find them.

  38. Jonah


    You are right, the point made about not having a place to sit etc. may be exaggerated but the working conditions of TAs is not. Literally, many offices are stuck in dark corners of old buildings and with graduate enrollment increasing these offices are being stuffed full with more and more students. Although university funding is available through various competitions, the chances of graduate students receiving these funds grow smaller as the faculty of graduate studies grows bigger – thus it is true that TAs often pay for their own travel and conference expenses to stay up on the current research they teach to undergraduates.

  39. TT

    @ Jafac/frustrated

    It’s not even about Timmy’s or washroom lines; I don’t understand what frustrated was trying to get at by bringing up those points. So….the line at Tim Horton’s is long because the people working there move slowly…okay. That’s…too bad? I don’t see what that has to do with underfunding or how much the government cares about the university.
    You can’t pee right when you want to, okay. There are how many washrooms on campus?
    …and wow, sitting on the floor DOES suck – let’s all support CUPE in their battle against all of these issues!

    There are issues with every institution, but I don’t see their relevance, at the moment, to CUPE or the strike.

  40. bb

    Actually I like the anti-union tone 😛
    Way to go MPP Peter S!

  41. things that make you go hmmmm.

    I agree totally with ‘frustrated’ – you have it right on the money.

    I worked for government for 11 yrs, and having reviewed the video of the MPP’s exchange, it is just a lot of ‘nothing’. If it made some of their constituents feel better becasue their plight was ‘recognised’ then hey- that’s great. They did not offer anything that is not already available to resolve the strike, they affirmed their position that they will not get involved, and did not have any ‘actionables’ come out of the exchange. It was just a wee bit of ‘recognition’, likely to have the students stop calling them and demanding that something be done. They aren’t going to legislate them back to work. The government does not undertake to do this lightly, and the won’t do it for a relatively small group of people at one university. In my old department, CD’s are 5 or 6 to an office with one chair and one computer, regardless of how many classes they teach.

    I think what CUPE3903 is fighting for is worthwhile. If the students want the strike to end more quickly, get behind the union on the line and make the admin come back to the table ( and stay there this time….)

  42. amy doan

    Honestly, i am with CUPE 3903 as a fact stands for their being exploited by freaking big fat YorkU. On the other hand, i am totally disappointed as i got into this school. Intl student like me is not here to deserve this. Once again, students in general are not subject to this labor discruption. Where is the gov’t watchdog? Too much democracy is sometimes a big problem! And this strike…yea, it can say all of it!

  43. Sara

    In regards to your comment: “This group is only representing one side of the undergraduate body and it is being de facto imposed as the representative of us.”
    If you’re referring to, I don’t understand your complaint. They are a group of students who are angry and doing something about it who also happen to be very effective. If you disagree, you can start your own group, organize your own rallies, and contact the media. Nothing is stopping you.

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