They know we are inconvenienced!

It’s not about the money. It’s not about the benefits either.

The real reason Rob Heynen spent yesterday afternoon marching down Bay St. with snarled traffic at his back and biting wind in his face was something else altogether: Job security.

“The uncertainty of never knowing how much work I’m going to have, how much money I’m going to make, what the courses are going to be – it’s really psychologically tiring,” said the 39-year-old, who has been teaching political science, social science and geography at York University for the last six years. “Whatever I can get.”

Heynen was among hundreds of striking York staff, mostly other contract faculty and teaching assistants, who gathered outside the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities at 900 Bay St. Yesterday marked four full weeks since they walked out on Nov. 6.

The crowd was boisterous, the mood festive, as reggae music clapped against the walls of the Bay St. government offices and towering condo buildings. Speaker after speaker, about 20 by the time the day was over, hammered home what they said was a major discrepancy in York’s budget: Contract faculty and teaching assistants account for more than 50 per cent of the teaching at York University, and earn 7.5 per cent of total revenues.

“That’s what a lot of people went out on strike for. And a lot of people are willing to stay out until we get job security for contract faculty,” said teaching assistant and union organizer Christina Rousseau.

After leading a cheer to “negotiate, not legislate,” NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo told the crowd only her party voted uniformly on Tuesday to strike down a “shameful Tory bill” to legislate York teaching staff back to work.

“My husband’s a contract teacher at Humber College, so this is an intimate issue for me,” she said later. “These people are being used as cheap labour. They do the same job as (full-time) faculty – they don’t get the same pay. In fact, many of them do more work.”

Shortly after DiNovo’s speech, the crowd moved south on Bay St., then west along College St. to Queen’s Park amidst heavy police presence. The rally continued on the exact same spot York students held a rally of their own a day earlier, demanding back-to-work legislation.

“Many of our members are also students and we will try to do whatever we can when we get back … I would really like to see them back in the classroom as soon as possible,” said contract faculty member and union organizer Parbattie Ramsarran.

“It’s unfortunate that it got this far. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to save the term, but I’d like for us to be able to give them some kind of assurance that they will complete their year and they will graduate. They have been greatly inconvenienced. That, I will acknowledge,” she said.

York spokesperson Alex Bilyk agreed after the rally that York’s 50,000 students were being inconvenienced. A mediator suspended negotiations Saturday, and no new talks have been scheduled.


“It’s unfortunate that it got this far. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to save the term, but I’d like for us to be able to give them some kind of assurance that they will complete their year and they will graduate. They have been greatly inconvenienced. That, I will acknowledge,”

Enough said. Who wants to go protest at York on Monday for negotiations to start back up again? We have to do it quickly. The original plan was to was to go and protest and the meeting but that isn’t gonna happen. Monday 11 AM outside of Ross?



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23 responses to “They know we are inconvenienced!

  1. Artem

    really? *sarcastic*

  2. ram

    Shame on the university…
    I would hold the university responsible for whatever we are going through.. It still does not have the efficiency to resolve nor does it try to re allocate the funds there by giving them what they want…

    Truly speaking it is just an eye wash that the university accepts the inconvenience that students are facing..Action speaks more than words do.. I am just unpleasantly surprised at the dumb / mum university administration which is so poor in administering things… what an IRONY!!!!

    Can they bring us back the lost study period? the exorbitant money that we have paid to get a good quality education? We should organize something significant against the administration if we are forced to miss half/full january.. (hope it is not the case)…

  3. m.

    to say that contract faculty “do the same job as (full-time) faculty” or even “more work” is totally erroneous. tenured faculty work their asses off to get tenure – they sit on committees (senate, etc), they supervise grad and phd students, they act as the heads of departments, they are active in research and publishing in their fields, and they bring grant money and other funding to the university. some contract faculty may do SOME of these things, but they are not in any way OBLIGATED to do so. there is a level of commitment and recognition that individuals must achieve to be considered for tenure positions, and then to achieve tenure. it is a rigorous, challenging and refereed process – how can york be asked to give this kind of standing to professors who do not undertake it?

    in my four years at york, two of my professors who were contract have become tenure stream based on the strength of their abilities, both in and out of the classroom. it is not fair in any way to state that york does not move professors to tenure standing.

    i am getting tired of hearing that contract professors do the same job as tenured professors. many (of course, not all) of the contract professors that i have had are rarely at the school unless they are teaching, and have very little commitment to the university community. being a tenured professor is a career accomplishment that individuals work hard for; it is not a right or privilege of any one who teaches.

    i know this is probably going to be an unwelcome comment on this blog, but i feel it is important to point out the difference in the obligations that contract and tenure professors have. also (and i have been hesitant to point this out, but i might as well now!) i really do not have a difficult time understanding why cupe members (yes, you, cupe member with child) have temporary positions when they cannot even spell (verified, NOT varified!) correctly. come on! if you want respect as an university employee, at least use proper grammar and spelling! yeesh!

  4. sunit

    erm, YORK CANT AND WONT cancel this term!

    if they didn’t cancel the term after an eleven week long strike, they sure as hell wont do it now!

  5. F-Ed Up

    @ m.

    Of course you raise some points which are significant and which perhaps have not been raised thusfar, and which will be useful to those who do not understand tenure in any sense (and there are likely a few out there who do not).

    I think, though, that we could all agree that we have at some point worked with / learned from either contract or tenured faculty who’s work could be classified on a scale randing from gross incompetance to saintly devotion. Therefore it is as erroneous to assume (and I am not accusing you of making this assumption – just warning against it) that contract faculty are generally less compitant than tenured faculty as it is to assume the opposite.

    “being a tenured professor is a career accomplishment that individuals work hard for; it is not a right or privilege of any one who teaches”
    I couldn’t agree more! While it is true that there are high expectations, standards, and requirements to earn tenure, in many cases once tenure is earned, it cannot be lost by failing to remain a committed and proactive professional. In addition, not everyone who meets the requirement for tenure-track gets a position.

    “many (of course, not all) of the contract professors that i have had are rarely at the school unless they are teaching, and have very little commitment to the university community”
    I have struggled with this as well at more than one institution and I have found it very frustrating. However, I have also worked with these individuals and discovered that they are often absent because they could only get a contract for one course at our institution, and therefore had to work at other institutions and/or on other projects in order to make a living wage for the year. So again, one must not assume that this absense is due to a lack of committment – in many cases it may simply be part of nature of being a contract faculty member.

  6. F-Ed Up

    P.S. Please excuse my spelling typos… and I will excuse your lack of punctuation 😉

  7. F-Ed Up

    errrr capitalization…. I am very tired

  8. m.

    @ F-Ed Up

    my lack of punctuation? do you mean capitalization?

    there is a huge difference between a typo and repetitive spelling errors such as the one i pointed out above!

    at no point did i state that some contract teachers were NOT committed, nor did i state that ALL tenured professors are. i would even argue that tenure is itself problematic, and that once acquired should be reevaluated periodically. however, tenure is a process that requires a level of professional commitment that i think it is important to recognize. and the commitment is one that takes place not only to the school itself, and to a field of study and body of research.

    i recognize that some contract professors are teaching at more than one university. i have had two professors that taught at york and other places simultaneously – one that was on campus often and helpful and interested in her students (even though she did not live in the city). the other is on campus only for the three hours he lectures and his one hour of office time. even the situation of working at different universities can mean different experiences for students.

    regardless, in no way did i mean to put down contract faculty, or question their commitment to their students or research. i was only pointing out that tenured professors have a very different level of obligation to their universities.

  9. F-Ed Up

    @ m.

    While I did not spend time proofreading my spelling because unfortunately posting to this blog is not my top time priority (not insinuating that it’s yours) I did try very carefully to be as non-accusatory as possible because I did not intend to make any accusations or attacks. Perhaps those parts were missed because of the spelling typos (and yes they are typos as I am typing extremely quickly and giving little thought to spelling) which you seemed a bit too preoccupied with. My appologies for attempting to engage with the ideas you presented.

  10. m.

    @ f-ed up

    i wasn’t really looking for typos in your post. i actually thought that i agreed with some of your points, while reengaging with you on others. i really have made my point though, which you recognized and was all i intended to speak to. sorry to make you so defensive.

  11. F-Ed Up

    Everyone has become very defensive here because it has unfortunately become a hostile place… I am attempting diplomacy but I am always afraid that it is being misread.

  12. F-Ed Up

    P.S. not directed at m. – just a general comment regarding the comments sections of this blog

    Now I must get back to my temp desk-jockey job as my break ended 5 minutes ago. Urg.

  13. An observation

    Have you noticed that on each strike web forum, there are always a few regular Cupe members who keep the online users informed of its position? Cyber picketing makes perfect sense since it reaches a captive audience who are desperate for information regardless of the slant. Is it really much different than standing out in the cold and disseminating information from the lines?

    Is Union participation on this forum is part of alternate picket duty whereby union members who cannot actively picket on the lines are assigned to cyber picketing by representing the Union’s position on the strike blogs?

    My question is not intended to be punative, but I would hope that people would be more forthright about their agenda.

  14. AlE

    “Who wants to go protest at York on Monday for negotiations to start back up again?”

    I think that’s the right thing to do, too. This time, the message needs to be addressed to the Administration, since they’re the ones holding out on negotiating.

  15. Vaseline

    Willful blindness?

  16. York Student

    i got a question. let’s say if the strike does not end in december or not even in january. would we be totally reimbursed of our tuition money if the fall term is lost? =\

  17. Amber

    The university doesn’t owe these people anything.
    I hope they never get what they demand. They have no right to demand anything. They should in fact be punished for what they have done, and hereafter recieve less.

  18. Oddball

    @York Student

    The York Senate would decide on any kind of reimbursement for students if a term was lost. That said, there’s no way to say if said reimbursement will occur until the strike ends and term dates are reassessed.

  19. Basil El-Salviti

    York Student,

    Dean Drummond said we will get credit this year…which means we will be going back to class to earn it….don’t engage in hypotheticals.

  20. When will this stupid strike ever END!

  21. oh really...

    I am still trying to wrap my head around how we will get our full credits for this year. I know they say the year will be extended, but I am still REALLY upset about that. There’s 50,000 other people who also do not want their school year pushed into May (or June??), and I just don’t understand HOW they are going to make us do that.

    I may not have a “plan” of going overseas come May 1st, or some sort of contract job that requires my to work 9-5 come May, but I know a lot of people do. I require the summer to work more hours at work, and while I would LOVE to work my horus now, they are fully staffed and just don’t have the extra hours to give me. So, I am wasting my time and money that I want for summer and it is so unfair that there is nothing I can do.

    I actually HATE York with a passion right now, and if U of T or Ryerson wasn’t so far away, I would transfer there in a heartbeat.

  22. G.

    Is there any chance that York will just shut its doors for good? Seriously, it’s beginning to look like a lost cause.

  23. laura

    @ oh really,
    im with you on that tranfering thing to Ryerson- but like u said, it is farther away. and like you, am frustrated cause there isnt a lot of hours at work right now like you said- cause they already have their staff. and havent been able to schedule many hours in advance cause who knows when this stupid strike will end. oh well, at least i have a job and can make money. i usually work more in the summer- its frustrating cause were gonna lose time to work in the summer. i hope this strike ends soon.

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