The history of back-to-work legislation of Ontario School Teachers

I decided that I would compile a brief history of labour disruptions in the public education sector in Ontario. I have only been searching as of now, for about 20 minutes and I have found these three instances of back-to-work legislation being enforced in Ontario on Public and Catholic School Teachers. There are structural differences between the position of Ontario Public and Catholic Schools and Universities and Colleges in Ontario in terms of Government responsibility and authority, nonetheless the trend is here for the education sector in Ontario. After a a few weeks the strikes are always ended in back to work legislation if no resolution is in sight. I will try to continuously add to this list and if any of you have any additional information, particularly if you can find instances of back to work legislation enforced in post secondary institutions in Ontario (or Canada) that would be great.

I am not supporting back to work legislation in this labour disruption. I am simply highlighting that it is interesting to note that the Government has been so active in legislating back to work for primary and secondary schools, yet stays so far away from providing us with any support in the post secondary space. 

June, 2003

The one is interesting because it forced the Catholic School Board to end a lock out (not allowing teachers into the school to teach). 

Ontario passed a law Tuesday that will send Toronto’s Catholic elementary teachers back to the classroom and could force all teachers in the province to participate in after-school activities.


The legislation forces the Toronto Catholic District School Board to end its lockout of 3,500 teachers.


Education Minister Elizabeth Witmer said the 69,000 students who have been out of the classroom for more than two weeks because of the dispute, could be back at school as early as Wednesday.


April, 2001 (Note that this was not a teachers’ strike, but nonetheless shut down schools)

The Ontario government has drawn up back-to-work legislation as a strike by school support staff enters its fourth week. Janitors, secretaries and teaching assistants are fighting for higher salaries. More than 560 schools in Toronto have shut down, affecting up to 300,000 students.


November, 1998

The Ontario government will introduce legislation on Monday to force its teachers back to work. That means 200,000 of the province’s students could be back in class next week.






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153 responses to “The history of back-to-work legislation of Ontario School Teachers

  1. I don’t care what they do as long as we get back to school!

  2. tester

    write to your MPP supporting back to work legislation. Let them know that there is no end in sight (true) and that you want your education(true).

    Short, sweet and direct

  3. Stef

    I remember that 2001 strike. It was like going to school in a garbage can. (I heart janitors and all the work they do.)
    I wrote my MPP, no response whatsoever. I think it was an “I’m going on vacation in five days – I’m not opening my email” situation. Nice to know my tax dollars are so hard at work. 😦

  4. Yorkie

    People, don’t bother until they come back. There will be no back to work legislation until Februrary at the earliest. By all means feel free to flood their inboxes if you think that’ll make any more of a difference. Happy holidays everyone!

  5. Pally Wally

    Ah – 1998, Mike Harris and his goons. I remember it well, they panicked after 2 weeks. The reasoning: baby sitters cost money.

    Maybe put that in your email – paying a babysitter for yourself is becoming costly.

  6. BFD


    There is a reason why there is a difference between
    public/catholic boards and universities, in terms of
    btwl. I think the following documents might explain the
    resistance to btwl by the legislature.

    Note that public/catholic school boards are handled
    under a different mandate (constitutional) than
    private universities/collages are.

    The York University Act 1965,
    which supersedes the York University Act of 1959
    explain the university’s autonomous position.

    Some links for you:
    (I don’t know why one is .htm and the other isn’t)

    In essence these documents give the university special
    status under law in this province. From what I read,
    the university has authority in-and-of itself in these
    kinds of matters (i.e. labour strike).

    Btwl would have to be very difficult to execute under
    the current act.

    Also see
    Analysis [13] wherein the university (respondents) reiterate that
    to support its core academic functions the university must be autonomous and independent of government.

    Of course, I’m no expert.
    Perhaps our friends at Osgoode may be able to shed
    more light on these matters.

    “That was Joe’s first confrontation with … The Law.
    Naturally, we were easy on him.”
    FZ –rip-

  7. lost!

    Okay. Do you think we’ll be back to school in the beginning of January will this strike go on longer? I know it’s uncertain but I just need some sort of assurance! What if it goes on longer than 12 weeks, will they cancel the year or what?!

  8. Cupe Doll

    That’s right, BFD. Simplest terms, kids have a right to education. Whereas university students are (supposedly) adults and have no such right. There’s no right to get university educated. If you want to then you got’ta pay for it. Pay for it through the nose or whichever orifice proves handier.

    That’s one reason we can’t count on BTW legislation. Because this strike isn’t infringing any your rights as university students. All it does is screw you most royally out of what you already paid for.

    This alone would not preclude BTW legislation, of course. There’s something else. How ideological this strike is.

  9. yorkstrike2008


    I recognise that Universities and Colleges operate within a different environment than Public Schools. I like to give things perspective and contextualise them. I find the Government’s eagerness to ram teachers back into schools, but when it comes to University students…what?

  10. Cupe Doll

    @lost!: “What if it goes on longer than 12 weeks, will they cancel the year or what?!”

    There’s no telling. Because how ideological this strike is. How ideological? Google “neo-liberalism” — you’ll see.

    This strike is like the cold-war used to be. No telling how or when or even if it will end. Only the students can stop it for sure by creating a PR nightmare that neither 3903 nor York can handle. Just by getting maybe 2000 students going back to class when there’s no classes to go back to.

    That’s what quite a few here have been suggesting. And even though there’s been lots of enthusiasm about it — it probably won’t happen.

  11. BFD

    Just providing some context to this post,
    as yorkstrike2008 was assembling info on public
    sector teaching and couldn’t find any btwl for
    universities. (my rather lame attempt
    to explain why the search is fruitless)

    As to Cupe Doll;
    I think I have to disagree with your statement that:

    “That’s right, BFD. Simplest terms, kids have a right to education. Whereas university students are (supposedly) adults and have no such right. There’s no right to get university educated.”

    I wrote in an earlier thread that
    “My privilege to attend this institution includes
    my right to receive a fair shot at completing the program
    I registered in.”

    I stand by that statement. Yes, I have no absolute right
    to attend as I did in the public system. However now
    that I’m here and the Uni agreed to accept me, our
    joint academic responsibility is to see that I have a fair
    chance to complete the requirements.

    Anecdotally, it’s the same reason they have invigilators at the
    exams; because if one of my classmates is cheating it could
    disrupt the rest of the class by skewing the grades.

    I don’t agree that I don’t have rights.
    Whether or not they have been entrenched in law,
    the purity (and alltruism) of the academic principles
    dictate that my standing has been jepordized by the
    other parties to this dispute.

    Manifest destiny, so to speak, for students.

    “Mister America try to hide
    The emptiness that’s you inside.
    When once you find that the way you lied
    And all the corny tricks you tried,
    Will not forestall the rising tide of,
    Hungry freaks, Daddy”
    FZ -rip-

  12. Cupe Doll

    @BFD: “Yes, I have no absolute right to attend as I did in the public system. However now that I’m here and the Uni agreed to accept me, our joint academic responsibility is to see that I have a fair
    chance to complete the requirements.”

    Fair enough — but I don’t see we’ve managed to disagree. I have no trouble saying “There’s no *absolute* right to get university educated like there is to get public-school educated.”

    And I totally agree both 3903 and York have been utterly unethical to students. Hey — it’s not as if they don’t admit it. 3903 openly declares how glad students should be for getting caught in the crossfire 3903’s fight against “neo-liberalism”. While York keeps repeating how sorry they are at the terrible consequences for students caught in this crossfire — but hey, please understand, York can’t afford capitulating.

    Both sides keep arguing as if their ends justify about any means. As if anything but evil ends ever come from evil means.

  13. Pally Wally

    CUPE Doll,

    What strike is *not* ideological? In fact, what human act is not ideological? (Breathing, perhaps…) …Unless by ‘ideology’ you somehow don’t count deference to (hegemonic) authority…as if the university/government/company/w-e are not also motivated by some Weltanschauung/ideology.

  14. Impatient

    I think my chem prof put it nicely;
    “You have a right to receive an education up to grade 12 (or 13), you do not have the right to a university degree, that is something that has to be earned.”

    I’d have to agree, I mean I’d be pissed if some kid who couldn’t add 2+2 was sitting beside me in my classes when I worked my ass off to get here.

  15. BFD

    Thanks for the quick reply Cupe Doll;

    If I read this discussion correctly we are
    agreed that there is an ethical issue with regard to
    the responses for the undergraduate position in this dispute.

    “Aye, there’s the rub”

    It’ll be difficult to figure out how to raise general public
    awareness of what is essentially an internal university

    Perhaps the trick is to frame our argument from a
    more tangible and therefore familiar perspective.
    Mom and apple pie? The Gipper?
    Any marketing students out there who could help on this?

    “”Ah, what can I say? What can a person like myself say to a vegetable?” But the answer is simple, my friends . . . just call . . . and tell them how you feel .”
    FZ -rip-

  16. Pally Wally


    That is why in countries that fully fund post-secondary education entrance is merit based. That way we don’t waste ~14 years prior to post-secondary teaching to the slowest in the class.

    I’m not saying that some people aren’t late academic bloomers, or that people don’t deserve second chances or whatever, but I think it is high time we stop handing out participation ribbons to university ‘graduates’ in the form of degrees.

    While not everyone *needs* a BA to perform their job, I certainly think guaranteeing those most capable of success a chance at reaching their full potential is a value that we sorely need.

  17. Cupe Doll

    @Impatient: lol — good point.

    @Pally Wally: “.. what human act is not ideological?”

    The term “ideological” tends to get used pejoratively. Whereas the term “ideal” tends to get used superlatively. Perhaps not because we mean by “ideology” those ideals not our own. Perhaps because by “ideology” we mean specific ideals people cling to regardless how false, absurd or harmful.

    That’s how I’ve been using the term, anyhow. Which is why I say “The radical core in 3903 is too ideological.” And wouldn’t say “The radical core in 3903 is too idealistic.” Hope this helps.

  18. Jack

    Wow I can’t believe the strike has gone this long. Going back is going to feel so weird.
    It freaks me out how quickly this time has passed, I’ve spent most of the strike in my room reading and working on things.

    Totally going outside for a walk tomorrow. I need to hug a tree or something, I’m so out of touch.

  19. Cupe Doll

    BFD: “.. we are agreed that there is an ethical issue with regard to the responses for the undergraduate position in this dispute.”

    Damn right. It’s evil.

    “It’ll be difficult to figure out how to raise general public awareness of what is essentially an internal university dispute.”

    Nope. Might be difficult doing. All too easy figuring.

    2000 students returning to classes without classes available to return to. With plenty advance notice to media, of course.

    Would that (PR nightmare for 3903 and York) raise public awareness? lol. It would raise total hell.

  20. Amelie

    ok, if we all start asking for our money back and an ability to transfer to UofT – will that get our uni board to sweat a little and start caring? i mean they’re obviously worried about money, so that should speed up the process…

  21. Pally Wally

    CUPE Doll,

    Well, many of us are of the opinion that the neo-liberalization of higher education is driven by its own radical ideology that doesn’t seem to be fairing too well last I checked (70K jobs lost in Ontario last month, corporate WELFARE cheques being cut as we speak, etc) …and yet we cling to the ‘ideals’ of the purportedly ‘free’ market, and so on to save us.

    Ideals are, arguably, the by-product of ideology – or discursive regimes if you wanna get Foucauldian. 6 of 1; Half a Dozen of the other, if you ask me.

    If someone proposed universal health care 100 years ago, what would have happened? I think it would have appeared ‘false, absurd and harmful’ to pretty much everyone with half a brain.

    Ideas come in and out of favour, and what was absurd at one moment might appear necessary the next. If anything this strike comes at a time when it is crucial to talk about the future, to plan and commit to a strategy – rather than attempting to maintain industries and growth that are unsustainable. I’m saying a vibrant and well funded education should play a key component in that.

  22. Cupe Doll

    Pally Wally,

    Nix ideals as ideological produce. Can’t agree that since defining ideology as false ideals. Otherwise, I can’t easily disagree with you. And discussing any of it is too off topic here.

    Just this much. Can we agree it’s better not to get too ideological? If so, then let’s stop bouncing between Karl Marx and Adam Smith. That’s all. Like, just because (granted) how wrong Smith was — it don’t make Marx right.

    In other (more practical) words. It’s not everyone out for themselves and anything goes. But it isn’t as if the rich get richer and the poor get poorer because the rich are out to get the poor either.

    We are all about to get poorer like nobody’s business. The D words are here, baby. Deflation, depression — take your pick. Rich, poor — we’re all in the same boat now. And it’s sinking.

    So can we stop hurting each other already? Let the students get some that education they’ve already paid for? Rescue this academic year from turning into a total pass/fail joke or vanishing altogether?

    We have got better things to do now than go at each other over economic differences. Like noticing how we’re all sinking together. God forbid we should work or get back to class together.

  23. cdot

    @cupe doll
    you use the word ‘we’ rather loosely.
    still haven’t seen you on the picket line fighting for unit 2 job security – “the only legitimate issue this strike”.
    maybe you’re too busy undermining unit 2 job security to suffer the cold for it.

  24. cdot

    a simple ctrl+f will demonstrate that the real obsession with “neo-liberalism” (however misconstrued) lies in the mind of cupe doll.

  25. noesis

    “3903 openly declares how glad students should be for getting caught in the crossfire 3903’s fight against “neo-liberalism”. While York keeps repeating how sorry they are at the terrible consequences for students caught in this crossfire — but hey, please understand, York can’t afford capitulating.”
    Nothing would shock me more than if you could back up this hateful rhetoric with something resembling a viable reference (you know, the kind you would accept as a course instructor at a university).

    “We have got better things to do now than go at each other over economic differences. Like noticing how we’re all sinking together. God forbid we should work or get back to class together.”
    Funny you should say so, I was pretty sure there was no ‘together’ for you – just a slack-jawed approval for one position, and total disavowal of the other.

    maybe i’ve missed other postings where you had a nuanced account of cupe’s position?

  26. clennis

    “the economy’s sinking!”
    “really? let’s gut public education!!!”

  27. tester

    The Ontario Legislature CAN come back before February, and call an emergency session to put something into effect. Keep the pressure on, let them know that we are not enjoying our holiday.

  28. tester

    Keep writing your MPPs, but we need to start moving towards the suggestions that Cupe Doll is saying.

    But we need to make sure that this is a neutral rally for the students. I will not support CUPE

  29. Ridculous

    @ Impatient

    Sorry slightly off topic but this irked me:

    “I’d have to agree, I mean I’d be pissed if some kid who couldn’t add 2+2 was sitting beside me in my classes when I worked my ass off to get here.”

    Yesterday’s newspaper had an article about a women who faked her ba official transcripts threw some company to get into Osgoode. Her Bay street firm found out and axed…what was unbelieveable was the tone the article was somewhat sympathetic.

    That angered me but that said I don’t agree with the overly elitist view either. What equally pisses me off is when I sit in a 4th year class and 80% of student brag they are getting A’s and A+ without having to study or do the readings before lectures who then turn around and look down their noses at me because I obviously do work my butt off those same marks. In order to acheive a sessional gpa of over 8.0 means I live in the library and spend at least 4 (sometimes +) hours on each of my classes. Does that mean I am less worthy of grad school? Does that piss people off?

    Another point if those students are capable of such why not approach the university and do a series of exams and be granted their BA? One of the doctors I go to did just that at the University of Western…Yes, he got his Bsc in 1 year! And, based on those marks got into med school!

    There is a lot of snobbery, ideology (which is a luxury) at York. I am a mature student whose worked my entire life and held a mortgage. I also once posessed an IQ of 140 but due to brain damage is now around 115….people don’t realize but the signifies a huge diffence on my memory and my language skills. Does that make me less worthy of a degree?

    For the record I don’t mind the hard workers it is the cheaters and snobby underachieving gifted that irk me.

    RE: “You have a right to receive an education up to grade 12 (or 13), you do not have the right to a university degree, that is something that has to be earned.”

    I understand about the argument for back to work legislation with teachers in public school. But that doesn’t change the FACT THAT AS A CONSUMER WHO HAS PAID TUITION FOR A SERVICE…I have a right to my product. Hiding behind the pompus declaration that this is a university of “higher learning” is absurd. This dispute is screwing with people lives to hide behind the fact it has to be “earned” is irrelevant! Its comparing apples and oranges!

    In my opinion, universities fall into a grey zone. There not GM because when GM goes on strike I can still use my car, buy one and even get it repaired. But when York goes on strike I can’t go to class, I can’t get submit my papers, write my exams, and I can’t get my grade. York in essence fails delivering a service to 50,000 students. So, though its not the same thing as a public school I would normally have rights as a consumer.

    I am disgusted with this whole situation!

  30. Ironically, if CUPE gets its way in 2010, the “independence of universities” will have been breached, and you can look forward to frequent government interventions such as BTW legislation in future disputes. Great for bosses, bad for unions, it would seem to me.

  31. Impatient


    Never said that it doesnt mean you can’t go to grad school. In fact it probably means your more qualified for one, since you are the one that studies everything to understand even the smallest details. Whereas the people that get by without studying will remember the major topics covered which is just enough to get them by and then attend a last minute study session and all of a sudden their better then everyone.

    But sadly, the university feels differently about your opinions about have the right to their product;


    York University disclaims all responsibility and liability for loss or damage suffered or incurred by any student or other party as a result of delays in or termination of its services, courses or classes by reason of force majeure, fire, floods, riots, war, strikes, lock-outs, damage to University property, financial exigency, or other events beyond the reasonable control of the University.”

    Again, what was said about having the right to an education was said by my prof, not me.

  32. Andrew

    @ cdot
    “a simple ctrl+f will demonstrate that the real obsession with “neo-liberalism” (however misconstrued) lies in the mind of cupe doll.”

    You should really join my drinking game. Every time Cupe Doll says neo-liberalism, you drink a beer/shot/what ever your prefer. 🙂

    I’m already up to two this morning, and I’ve only been online 5minutes.

  33. Ridculous

    @ Impatient

    Thanks for the clarification. Sorry to come off that way but as you can see it is a button pushing topic.

    I think if York allows the strike to go too far and the school year gets scrapped…they may very well find that claim legally challenged. On a different matter a lawyer once explained to me any company or institution can claim anything they want that doesn’t mean it will hold up under scrutinity. Right now York’s claim has never been challenged but if they were to screw 50,000 students out of tuition well that is whole other matter and really not the same thing as back to work legislation.

    Mpp’s would sing a different tune when it comes to a university’s right to autonomy. LOL

  34. ram

    Does anybody know if anything significant happened at yesterday’s GMM. Today there has been a media release from the president of york to the community regarding the strike which is right on the first page of york website. He expresses strong desire/(hope?) that the strike be resolved over the holidays..

    @ Cupe doll : Do you know if the union is prepared to come down further from 20% to make york come to the table? did anything significant happened at yesterday’s GMM regarding this? I am really anxious.. do you know the union’s situation?

  35. Cupe Doll


    Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not even bothering with GMMs. Not yet. Until rank and file members (all units) in 3903 are hurting lots worse the radicals remain in charge.

    I’ve been shown there’s some vicious infighting among 3903 radicals. But I don’t think it means anything when it comes to bargaining.

    Look, there was huge clashing inside 3903 just before the strike started. One faction had a petition going to impeach the whole executive and their radical friends. And the executive and their radical friends came up with a competing petition to impeach the faction trying to impeach them. Total circus — and it all came to absolute nothing. Except maybe for a couple the most radicals leaving for parts unknown.

    Then, not that long ago when more general membership got wind how radicals weren’t letting the bargaining team bargain, we came out in huge numbers. Couldn’t even count the number of motions to let the bargaining team bargain already. Still came to nothing.

    For what it’s worth, I think the bargaining team might actually be trying to bargain now. Maybe. But you got’ta understand. There’s no going back after in blood getting steeped that far. Can’t just go, “Oh, whoops, never mind, we were just kidding,” after asking the utterly impossible in order to hurt the other side as much as possible. How do you say “never mind” after starting that kind of shooting war? How can you completely drop or moderate hundreds absurd demands without admitting you were being an absolute idiot in the first place? No way.

    It’s just gone too far. There’s exactly 4 ways this to end. By York humiliatingly defeating 3903. Or by 3903 humiliatingly defeating York. Or by students totally humiliating both (by returning to classes despite lacking all classes to return to). Or by the academic year being lost to all.

    You know which I’m rooting for.

  36. clennis

    @cupe doll
    I think the type of arguments you’re making need to be called out.
    You manage to put up several posts a day, all of which pertain to the feelings of the cupe ‘radicals’ you claim to know so well (i.e., “this is how cupe FEELS and i know it – forget about what they’re saying…”).
    You thereby avoid confronting the actual issues on the table, which to you seem to be secondary.
    Yours is precisely the kind of rhetoric that will keep us out of the classroom.

  37. ram

    Thnks a lot cupe doll.. I really thank you for the response.. I can understand the situation from your comment…Good that we have some one to give the actual picture when none of the concerned parties is updating the students with necessary info.. Thanks again

  38. clennis

    technically speaking, there wasn’t any ‘info’ in the post from cupe doll.
    there was just another handful of speculation and projection regarding others feelings.

  39. Cupe Doll

    clennis. dear.

    Don’t be bitter. I’ll explain you how this works.

    The reason (not only) ram thanked me was for providing some explanation. See, it’s completely legitimate when people get oppressed to ask why.

    Now, you are certainly entitled to disagree the explanations I offered why 3903 and York been oppressing students. But have you got any alternative theories to explain why? I mean, surely you don’t expect anyone thanking you just for having agreeable or disagreeable emotional reactions. Right?

    Ok. So let’s pretend you’d like to offer some better alternative theory — thereby refuting everything I tried to explain. First, you’d need to understand what my theory is. Particularly concerning our 3903 local.

    Ready? In easy steps. My theory’s that 3903 has been acting crazed hurting people to better fight against.. wait for it.. ready? “Neo-Liberalism”. More precisely: 3903 is not fighting for its own membership — especially not for unit2. 3903 is fighting to hurt everyone and especially York as a “neo-liberal” employer.

    The evidence? Repeatedly eye and ear-witnessed inside 3903. Totally crazed-seeming outside 3903.
    What would you deny?

    Our pre-strike internal clashes complete with dueling collective impeachment petitions? How our more general membership had to struggle to let our bargaining team bargain at all? How our earlier demands got advertised as asking the impossible in their very title? How unit2 is getting sold down the river and out to sea — again? The common-as-mud 3903 talk about how we’ve got to bring this .. wait for it.. ready? “neo-liberal” employer to its knees?

    Admittedly, you don’t have to struggle with false denials. You could conceivably formulate a better alternative theory to explain how 3903’s been striking out. (Not only) I would be very interested to hear it. Just as my final helpful advice to you, though — don’t go saying 3903 is hurting students for their own good. Don’t repeat the message insinuated all over 3903’s strike blog — that 3903 destroys the education students paid for because students shouldn’t have to pay for their education.
    Since that’s not a theory. That’s insults on top of injuries.

  40. clennis

    first things first:
    twice now you have accused cupe members (this time me personally) of claiming to ‘hurt students for their own good’.
    maybe you should answer the question from noesis above as to where you get this slanderous piece of misinformation.
    (i’d prefer the reference in mla format please).

  41. clennis

    (sorry if this argument is inappropriate for this particular forum)
    I appreciate that you’re willing to call your reading of the strike a ‘theory’, and that you would like to hear mine.
    First, there’s a distinction I think is useful here, between theories that locate political problems in the dealings of a ‘few bad apples’ (within otherwise smooth-functioning institutions), and those that tend to emphasize systemic problems.
    My accusation is that you’ve misunderstood the strike to the extent that you’ve suggested it’s motivated by the feelings of a few radicals.
    This is patently false because these alleged radicals, like you, get one vote on contract-related decisions made by cupe.
    Also, a majority of cupe members rejected the employer’s offer, and i’m not sure what definition of ‘radical’ permits such an overwhelming majority approval.
    That being said, the current impasse (whether the fault of cupe or not) is not reducible to the agenda of a few bad apples.
    Instead, there are very clearly outlined and documented reasons why this majority rejected such a concessionary offer from their employer, and they don’t require reading between the lines – they just require reading them:
    “Why is it that we are out on strike? On November 6th the Employer tabled an offer that demanded substantial concessions from our existing contracts in leaves, funds and job security. The administration has continued to propose this offer throughout negotiations. Although it included wages that are average in the post-secondary sector, the offer did not adequately address our other proposals. In previous, tough rounds of negotiations, we have attained great provisions on leaves and funds in our collective agreements. However, due to management decisions that the University has made, these provisions in our CA have been undermined. We withdrew our labour because the integrity of the gains that we had made in past rounds of negotiation had been undermined and were in further jeopardy with the employer’s offer” (cupe homepage). (See? No neoliberalism here.)

    Also, you’ve asked what I disagree with that you’ve claimed.
    Starting with the obvious:
    “3903 is fighting to hurt everyone and especially York as a “neo-liberal” employer.”
    Fighting to hurt everyone? I’m not sure that warrants a response, but suffice it to say it’s not in any of the literature… And so again you’re claiming to be privy to undisclosed motivations.

    “Our pre-strike internal clashes complete with dueling collective impeachment petitions?”
    Sure, there were clashes prior to the strike involving the executive and a relatively small number of members.
    Yet, I deny the connection you’re insinuating between those clashes and the strike – again, a majority of 3903 had to reject the offer to put us on the picket lines.
    Finally, I reject your insistence that the strike is actually about neoliberalism (as opposed to unit 2 job security, and a return of wages and benefits to 2005 levels).
    As you may or may not know, a group of members presented their case in a gmm not so long ago that the current labour dispute was a manifestation of the neoliberalization of the university. My sympathies (or lack thereof) with their position aside, they were met with a lot of disapproval (more than half the room) who felt like such a sweeping and abstract approach risked muddying up the specificity of cupe’s demands.
    You have all the voting power of any other cupe member, and if you disagree with the majority, then you should be at gmms taking part in the democratic process you’re claiming doesn’t exist.

  42. Mike Oxbig

    people..what happens when the strike ends? do assignments get cut out of the curriculum?

    year shortened obviously…

    whats the pass option?

  43. Cupe Doll

    No clennis. I would not have accused anyone in 3903 “of claiming to ‘hurt students for their own good’. Since I would not have accused anyone in 3903 of claiming to hurt students in the first place.

    See? We 3903 members tend to deny how much this strike hurts students. Sure — I wish more 3903 members would acknowledge how outrageously this strike hurts students. But however I might wish it, I certainly don’t accuse it. Were I to accuse anything remotely related, it would be how we 3903 members tend to deny or rationalize hurting students. Totally contrary to us claiming hurting students.

    Can you follow? My position isn’t that 3903 members claim hurting student. Rather, it is that regardless what 3903 members claim, students are getting outrageously hurt by this strike of ours. As a matter of plainest fact.

    So — no accusation yet. See? One doesn’t accuse facts. One accuses people.

    It is plain fact students are getting outrageously hurt by this strike of 3903’s.

    Stay with me, now. We’re getting to the accusation part. Which is that when 3903 members do acknowledge how hurt students are getting by this strike of ours, we tend to rationalize it. Rationalize how our strike hurts the students. How so? By strongly suggesting, even implying we strike for students’ own good.

    What implication, you ask? Hell — isn’t it obvious? Haven’t you heard? Haven’t googled — wait for it — “neo-liberalism” yet? Come now clennis — are you not also striking against students having to pay so much for their education? If not(?) then yours is quite the novel pro-strike voice. What — do you think students don’t pay too much? Or don’t you even care?

    Anyhow. Time to put it all together for you.

    Students are getting obscenely hurt by 3903’s strike. And it’s absurd any 3903 members saying this strike of ours is in any way beneficial for students — i.e., for their own good. For how can anyone believe we also strike against them paying too much for their education — when this strike of ours destroys the education they already paid for?

    Ok. In case that was too much for (not only) you — let me summarize.

    When I say we in 3903 insinuate we destroy the education students paid for BECAUSE students shouldn’t have to pay so much for their education? I DON’T mean we insinuate destroying students’ education. Students’ education getting destroyed by this strike of ours is just brute fact. What we insinuate is the “BECAUSE”. However much our strike hurts students, our strike is nevertheless justified BECAUSE (insert rationalization here).

    What slimeful rationalizations that “BECAUSE” precedes.

    Now then. Thank you for this opportunity to clear up our terminological confusion. Is there something substantive on your mind?

  44. clennis

    yeah, could you address my question when you get a chance?

  45. Cupe Doll

    Ok clennis, I see there was something substantive on your mind.

    But come on. Get serious. I’m a 3903 member too — and neither blind nor deaf. Is our anti-“neoliberalization” agenda restricted to that presentation by one group of members at the one GMM? Hardly. Neither at just one GMM — nor only at GMMs. Nor does the more general sentiment that we’ll bring the employer to its knees always get justified the same way. As part and parcel of fighting “neo-liberalism”. The too-ideological foundation of our striking isn’t always identically expressed — just always too ideologically. We don’t bother keeping it behind closed doors, do we?

    But certainly it’s possible nobody you hang out with in 3903 mentions either “neo-liberalism” or bringing the employer to its knees. I don’t believe it — in fact I’d put money you’re getting strike-paid for e-picketing here. I don’t believe it for a moment — yet must admit the possibility. Look, though — you don’t have to take my words for it. Right? Just check out the “3903 Strike vs McJobs in the University Teaching Sector” thread republished December 3rd @ this very forum.

    “The neoliberal university is affected by privatization and underfunding in the same way that all public services are… CUPE 3903 walked off the job on November 6 in response to these pressures, and to try to make important gains for its members.”

    So. Let’s dispense with these false denials. We are striking against (yes — gasp!) “neo-liberalism” first. And for the membership — second.

    And everything I’ve argued reduces to nothing more than this. That the way we’ve been striking out against “neo-liberalism” has been nothing but inconsistent with striking to benefit the general membership — especially unit2s. And that it’s harmed students irretrievably. Our striking out against “neo-liberalism” prior anything else. That’s what I’ve been calling “too ideological”. That’s why we initially refused to even bargain. That’s why we can’t figure out how to bargain reasonably even now — despite believing we’re ready to.

    Yes, I do understand your belief we are ready to get back to the table. But don’t even bother trying to persuade me any more. Just persuade the mediator. Once you do I’ll totally believe it too.

  46. Pally Wally

    CUPE Doll,

    I guess my point was that all strikes are sort of strikes against some ideology. Unions are socialist organizations – no? If we honestly believed that our wage was best determined by market factors, there would be no reason for a union in the first place.

    I think what you are getting at, is that a lot of people are reacting to the casualization of university teaching – and that people who are upset about the trends are trying to fight to make sure they are trends and no ‘the writing on the wall’.

  47. Bobert

    @clennis & Cupe Doll

    So I did a bit of digging, and here’s what I found out about the strike vote

    First of all based on York’s YFile update dated October 29th 2008 CUPE3903’s total membership is 3,350 members the numbers are broken down as follows:

    Unit 1 (TA) : 1,850
    Unit 2 (Contract Faculty) : 950
    Unit 3 (GA) : 550

    The strike vote itself was held between October 14 and October 17th,

    The total turnout was 1192 voters, breaking this down,

    Unit 1: 748 voters (658 yes, 90 no)
    Unit 2: 237 voters (176 yes, 61 no)
    Unit 3: 207 voters (190 yes, 17 no)

    those totals in percentages is: 85.9% yes, 14.1% no

    Again broken down:

    Unit 1: 87.97% yes , 17.03% no
    Unit 2: 74.26% yes, 25.74% no
    Unit 3: 91.79% yes, 8.21% no

    Now yes the vote did result in an 85.6% vote in favor of strike action which is considered an “overwhelming majority.” However only 1024 out of a possible 3,350 people voted, that’s a turnout rate of 30.57% which means about 69.43% of members didn’t vote while 2 votes were spoiled.
    In other words only a third of CUPE3903 members voted for or against the strike while over 2 thirds did not.

    Now that’s hardly a majority of overall members is it?

  48. Bobert

    you can find these voting numbers on cupe3903’s website if you’d like

  49. Stef

    Hey Bobert,
    I believe those numbers are comparable to that of the voter turnout in Canada for the last federal election. (At least voter apathy is across the board…) So, unfortunately, while it may not best represent the views of the entire population, those that wanted their voices heard showed up to vote, and the decision was made.
    PS – What is E-Picketing??? Does someone really get paid for it?

  50. Bobert

    A turnout of 59.1% in the last Canadian Federal election is hardly comparable,

  51. Cupe Doll

    Hi Pally Wally,

    You raise interesting political and economic questions. What’s socialist about collective contracting? And does socialism really entail nothing more than interfering with market forces? I mean, by that definition Bush is a socialist. Everyone has been socialist since inception of income taxation and dispensing with gold standards. At least since then.

    But look. I’m the one (ab)using the term “ideological”. And I even went to the trouble defining it for you (as clinging to false or absurd or harmful ideals).

    So, if you’re asking whether a strike is too ideological as opposed merely to implement certain ideals — that’s not a political question. Unless I go along and stop talking about “ideology” as defined — but not without beer. No point talking politics without beer.

    In the defined sense, you asking whether a strike (or anything) is due to wanting to implement ideals or cling to ideologies — that’s an epistemic question. That is: how can we know when ideals are false (or absurd or harmful) and when they aren’t? Or, it could be a psychological question. That is: when and why do we cling to ideals regardless how false (or absurd or harmful) they prove?

    See, Pally Wally, I went with that original definition for a few reasons. One was how much sense it made. Another was to not wind up talking politics without beer.

  52. Cupe Doll

    Ok, this has been a great thread. For me, probably the most interesting @ the entire forum. (Not to suggest anything negative re the forum — you’ve done amazingly, Yorkstrike08)

    Anyhow, thanks Pally Wally, clennin, Bobert et al. But I’m done here. See, my hidden agenda is to try helping students — and the discussions here, however interesting, don’t. Moreover, my time here doesn’t get alternative strike-paid — as I suspect that of some others does.

    So, unless someone offers to cut me in on their strike pay, I’m off to implement my hidden agenda. Thanks again.

  53. An observation

    Cupe Doll,

    While I can’t offer you a cut in my strike pay, since I decided to fore go it for similar reasons to your own, I’m certainly up for having a beer with you.

  54. Cupe Doll

    An observation,

    That’s a great idea. Send an email to and we’ll figure out where 🙂

  55. clennis

    you’re right.
    only the overwhelming majority of those who took part in the deliberative process and strike vote decided to strike.
    if the rest of the membership would have voted against (which i’m not sure there’s reason to believe) than it really is a tragedy that they didn’t turn out to vote.
    i support the democratic and deliberative process in place at the union above any of our demands.

  56. clennis

    @cupe doll
    i appreciate the dialogue.
    it does bother me a little, though, that you assume i’m collecting alt-duty strike pay (greedy self-interested supporter of the union) whereas you refuse to collect pay for your time online (disinterested, clean hands representative of objective neutrality).
    for what it’s worth to you, i think alt duty pay is best left for those who can’t walk the lines for one reason or another.
    this conversation (to the extent that the web allows such a thing) surrounds issues i care deeply about – not neoliberalism (i resent this term for a number of reasons) but UNIT 2 JOB SECURITY, AND A RETURN OF WAGES AND BENEFITS TO 2005 LEVELS.
    thanks again

  57. Marj

    Job security does not exist in this society. No one is safe and secure and all tucked in until they turn 65.. That’s just bygone days…Leave it to Beaver comes to mind………

  58. Bobert

    It is still a bit of a misnomer to claim an overwhelming majority when only a third participated in the process and gives credence to those who believe its not a union that serves the interests of the members it supposedly represents and that its represented by a “few radicals” if the union does stand for democracy, and equal representation of all its members then why didn’t they leave alternative ways for its members to make its voices heard for such an important issue?

    The fact that a turnout of anything less than 50% of the members voting for or against job action is completely unacceptable and I have yet to hear the union publicly acknowledge this democratic deficit.

    No what I see instead is that it hides behind talking points of convenience like “oh well it’s still our process” and “well its still an overwhelming majority of us who wanted this to happen.” and please none of this second guessing history with “what if more people voted” the reality right now is that the union isn’t doing its job, its barely letting the bargaining team do its job as it is.

    This is in stark contrast to the language I read when looking through cupe3903’s website with words like feminism, equality, progressiveness, solidarity, accessibility, trans, equality, accomodation.

    So why is it on an issue that affected nearly 50,000 undergraduate students didn’t it accommodate its members? Please explain that to me, this is a Union, its not some sort of representative democracy, its not a lunch choice, its a direct participatory collective, and its failed its members, and its failed its students

  59. Cupe Doll

    Damn. This thread keeps getting more interesting. Just when I thought I got out — they pulled me back in.

    @Bobert: you’re not wrong. For sure the outcome would have seriously differed had there been any option to vote electronically. But there wasn’t — and the more militant membership took charge. As usual. Not genuinely democratic — but then, what is at this stage in history? Liberty does take some vigilance. And since most unit2s couldn’t come vote because they had to walk their dog — well, we get precisely the governance we deserve.

    @clennis: I do tend to assume there’s alt-strike-paid e-picketing here. Ever since I got offered to do just that. Get alt-strike-paid for electronic pamphleteering and e-picketing. Which, in better conscience, I turned down.

    Not because I’m necessarily against e-picketing, you understand. It’s all very clever, really. I wouldn’t have turned it down if I could (like you?) have performed it in good conscience. Alas, understanding did not permit.

    Understanding how bringing the employer to its knees wounds students, contract faculty and eventually all in 3903 did not permit. That’s why I turned it down. Because this strike of ours is so ideological, so maliciously out to harm our “labour-casualizing” employer — some might not unreasonably call it evil.

    Our movement against casualization of labour had better start taking into account when our tactics lead to unacceptable labour casualties. Being even minimally realistic means *NOT* demanding the impossible. But we aren’t into being realistic, are we? We’re proud of our ideology. We were proud titling our demands as “impossible”. We flew banners ever so proudly declaring our version of being realistic actually was demanding the impossible.

    We’re proud because fighting against “labour casualization” must mean we’re the good guys. No matter whom we hurt however badly. And now, because all our damaging, the public despises us. So we have become bitter. For aren’t we the good guys? Aren’t we “valued educators”?

    I don’t know what being a “valued educator” means to you, clennis. But what it means to me is this. No pyrrhic victory against “labour casualization” can begin making up for destroying this academic year. Even if this strike of ours could ever result in greater job security for contract faculty — which it definitively can’t — I would be against it for contradicting everything I take pride in being a “valued educator”. I say this as contract faculty who will not be hired next year precisely due to this strike. But I do not say it because our too-ideological strike will cost my job. Only because it costs my integrity as a “valued educator”.

    And even if our ideology gets too out of hand to permit “realistic” — how does that mean

  60. clennis

    Maybe you’ll think I’m naive (or so it seems), but I’m certain that if cupe receives the demands it has on the table (a return of wages and benefits to 2005 levels and tangible unit 2 job security) then whether or not the casualization of labour or neoliberal hegemony (or what-not) persists, the strike will end immediately.
    I also hope (and maybe even believe) that York can and will negotiate such an agreement before they do further harm to students, whose suffering anti-union/pro-adminstration sentiments have claimed a monopoly on. Neither the proposed SRC program, nor the wage and benefit demands are without precedent at York.
    Perhaps cupe’s less than perfect pr campaign is largely to blame for how often that’s forgotten.

    Blaming the strike on the absence of electronic or alternative voting procedures seems a little bit less than one-sided.
    Did the members who didn’t turn up stay home, assured that there wouldn’t be a strike?
    Or did only those who opposed the contract offered by the employer show up to the meeting?
    I’m not sure why you think the sample (of overwhelming support) is not representative of the general sentiment of the union.
    It’s equally plausible that more people would have voted to strike had everyone turned up…

  61. Bobert

    Honestly I have no idea how this strike vote would have turned out had more than 50% turned up, I do know the larger the sample the more variations that become possible.

    The point I’d really like to make is that because of this apathy we’ll never really know. If its a union that holds itself to strong democratic ideals than aiming for a turnout that no modern state in the world has ever achieved then running around telling everyone a majority of you believes in this outcome is a joke.

    Who knows maybe the University might have been more inclined to negotiate had more members turned up, you can’t tell me you’ve gauged the sentiments of even half the union membership yourself can you? You alone don’t have that power, but the union did have that responsibility and they failed at that job, at a moment when it really counted.

    Or maybe the administration were planning on a for a forced ratification vote whatever the outcome. From what history has taught us, the union has yet to win any meaningful victory, Unit 2’s lost the SRC in 2000 and I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t get it back in 2008.

  62. Cupe Doll

    No clennis, I know that you are not naive. And while I can’t know, I continue to assume you’re getting strike-paid e-picketing here. Since, earlier, you indicated resenting anyone thinking you’re getting strike-paid here — yet you never denied it.

    But none of that matters. If you can support 3903 in good enough conscience to accept getting strike-paid for e-picketing here — fine. More power to you. No issue there. We can relate collegially while disagreeing. For instance, you indicated strong dislike for the “neo-liberalism” term. So I went to the trouble of employing “labour casualization” instead.

    But not everything washes right off. Not everything gets that easily glossed.

    For (more striking) instance. Like when you wrote, “.. if cupe receives.. 2005 levels and tangible unit 2 job security.. whether or not the casualization of labour.. persists, the strike will end immediately.”

    You must well know (not only) I have heard these purportedly “naive” party lines before. Countless times. Too many times. So enough already.

    First, the “casualization of labour” gets trotted out at each meeting — whether general or not — to justify what we’ve done and to inform what we will continue doing. The putative “casualization of labour” didn’t just get mentioned at one GMM only — as you so not-naively insinuated earlier. And this alone tears your thinly veiled implication that we strike for benefits and security of our members, that we aren’t striking out for too-ideological motives, that we would totally stop striking out if only we got our reasonable demands met. Just the ubiquity of our “labour casualization” and “bringing this neo-liberal employer to its knees” discourse shreds your thinly veiled implication.

    Fighting “labour casualization” is how we justify everything strike related we ever do. That’s how we justify among ourselves, and, so foolishly, to the public at large. That’s why you — an intellectually competent 3903 member — denying our ideological agenda can’t seriously be taken as naive. Not by anyone in any public already exposed to how we keep (not only exposing but) raving our ideological justifications out to the public. It isn’t “naive”, clennis. It isn’t intellectually incompetent. It’s intellectually dishonest.

    But wait. There’s more. It isn’t just your general implication that’s galling. Your more particular implication that 3903 strikes especially for the totally reasonable goal of unit2 job security isn’t just galling. It’s appalling, outrageous, odious and offensive. As if our goals were not primarily ideological — since we’d oh-so-gladly stop if only unit2s finally, at long last got some job security.

    Let’s review some few very brute facts. Such as how proudly we flew those banners declaring, “Be realistic: demand the impossible.” Such as how absolutely our beloved radical faction kept the bargaining team from bargaining before the more general membership got wind of it. None of which is to debate what is and isn’t reasonable. It’s to prove how well we knew how reasonable we were *NOT*. Titling our demands as “impossible” demonstrates beyond any shadow of doubting how well we knew we were not being reasonably realistic — but rather impossibly ideological. And our flying them banners so proves how proud we were to be that ideological. “Be realistic: demand the impossible?” Hell. We were so proud of our ideology — we just had to rub it in public faces how our notion of the realistic was their notion of the impossible. That’s how too-ideological we were, are and, all else remaining equal, will continue being.

    Here comes the rub, clennis. During all that time making hundreds impossible demands? Do you realize what we forgot asking for? What we always invariably neglected demanding? It pertains to what we keep emphasizing as the most legitimate issue this strike, clennis. It pertains to what many recognize as the only legitimate issue this strike. Some however minimal non-zero progress for unit2 absolute zero job security. That’s what.

    All the while demanding the impossible — why never one single demand for rank & file unit2 job security, clennis? Oh.. what’s that? You disagree? The bargaining team has been discussing unit2 job security? Unit2 job security is firmly on the table? No, clennis. It totally isn’t. Not for any rank & files in unit2.

    What’s on the table, clennis, are provisions to rescue maybe 10 individuals from CUPE3903 to third-class membership in YUFA. Maybe 10, maybe a few more than 10. That’s what we’ve been quibbling on behalf our unit2s. But clennis? Proportionately and literally, that accounts for no more than 1 in every hundred unit2 3903 members. And we have done *nothing* more than quibbling whether .009 or .011 of unit2 membership should get rescued to YUFA. Whether a bit more or less than 1 in every hundred get rescued to YUFA. So tell us, clennis — in all the time we so proud and boldly hail making impossible demands? How could we never find any opportunity to demand any modicum improved job security for our rank & files in unit2?

    Doesn’t that seem a little insane, clennis? Huh? Well, it isn’t. It’s not insane. Just too-ideological. So ideological that neither the manner our strike has wounded students nor the way we sell unit2 down the river and out to sea yet again bother us. We’re the good guys! We are fighting — wait for it — “neo-liberalism”! Come on, already — where’s the love?

    The yet more pathetic hilarity? It’s actually a little worse than I just said. Not only are we no less bothered than the employer selling unit2 downriver out to sea. But because — YFS aside — we have nagging suspicions students are not entirely on our side — more than some among us get satisfied the way students are hurt. Since we’re the good guys and, if not entirely on our side, they aren’t. And finally, for the most radical among us, hurting everyone is what best passes for self-esteem and most satisfies our need for self-actualization. Because when we see how we hurt others, that’s when we can finally feel that we are not to be trifled with. We will wound them deep as we possibly can prior our defeat. Nothing less than assassinating this academic year will give our battle against — wait for it — “neo-liberalism” enough meaning.

    By now, clennis, you are likely thinking happiness is a warm gun. See? I do empathize. But I’m not quite finished. Because I am writing all this as a unit2 3903 member. And it is this strike of ours that will mean York takes a severe enrollment hit next year. It is this strike of ours that means this academic year has become a truly sad joke.

    I love my job, clennis. I take great pride in it. I’m *good* at it. I am not exploited, clennis. I would continue doing my job as a “valued educator” even if I got paid less for it — and would still be delighted. Otherwise, I absolutely would chase money somewhere else.

    I don’t do this job primarily for money, clennis. I do this job because I’m good at it and because I’m good for my students. Can you relate to that, clennis? If you can — I only ask that you stop *ever* saying you’re striking for unit2. That you’re striking out for me. Everything else, I don’t expect we’ll ever agree. But don’t you expletively dare say you’re striking for me.

    Because of this strike I will not be able to do my students any good this year. Because of this strike I will not be hired next year. And it is for the students and for unit2s that I return here day after day. To try to help them and us in whatever small way I can.

    So go on. All you collectively driving this strike in 3903. Do your worst. But stop saying you’re doing it so students can pay less for education — when you’re destroying the education they already paid for. And for god’s sake. Stop saying you’re fighting against “labour casualization” when talking at the very people — like me, members of our local — whom you are turning into labour casualties.

  63. clennis

    there’s a lot in here, and i have to work all night – be back around 5am.

  64. Pally Wally

    I was under the impression that some form of ‘fixed term’ renewable contracts were on the table for Unit 2s still?
    (ie. 2 or 3 year contracts for rank and filers)

    That the 10 guaranteed conversions/year were in addition to this more meaningful gesture towards job security…but perhaps I have misread/heard.

  65. Cupe Doll

    Pally Wally,

    Nope — was talking about SRCs in the first place. No clue what conversions may be on the table. Don’t matter none.

    Either SRCs or conversions. Both apply to fewer than 1 in a hundred. Both involve rescuing 3903 serfs to servitor quarters in the YUFA manor. Through service entrances only. And never while the sun shines.

    There is *nothing* on the table that can’t correctly be described as rescuing 1 from each hundred unit2s. From 3903 to third-class YUFA membership. Nothing been asked — nothing been offered for rank & files in unit2.

    How can this be? Did we just forget? All that time demanding hundreds impossible things. Nobody ever think to ask one job security improvement for our rank & files in unit2? Are we just happy with unit2 rank & files having absolute zero job security?

    Yes. We (in 3903) totally are. When it comes to ideology, 3903 and York are mortal enemies. But when it comes to job insecurity for unit2 rank & files, York and 3903 work hand in glove. Working together selling unit2 rank & files downriver out to sea.

    Why? Why would 3903 collaborate with York against our own unit2s? Well — it’s actually sort of obvious. York exploits and squeezes unit2 for every possible economic advantage to be had from it as a migrant labour pool. While 3903 exploits unit2 to better justify striking. Like, just because unit2 job insecurity provides the only legitimate issue this strike — does that mean we in 3903 fight for unit2 job security? Hardly. It should. But it doesn’t.

    York and 3903 can totally work together. As when exploiting unit2. And it absolutely doesn’t matter how they exploit unit2 for different reasons. Unit2 job insecurity is a totally joint venture between 3903 and York. They’re equally despicable for exploiting unit2 in the first place.

  66. Cupe Doll

    I was wrong saying (last post) that 3903 and York are equally despicable when exploiting unit2. They’re equally culpable. They are not equally despicable.

    How despicable is York for exploiting unit2? On December 2nd I debated this very issue with someone whose views appeared to represent York Admin’s. And while s/he denied any affiliation with York — you can judge for yourself.

    John Smith from United States writes: CUPE is misleading the public, as well as the full time faculty union, YUFA. While CUPE states that the strike is about “quality” and ensuring that part time faculty are “not just treated like bodies filling a position,” if one checks the CUPE Collective Agreement, the word “quality” is only used 3 times. And in two of those instances, the term quality refers to student teaching evaluations which “can only be used to improve an instructor’s quality of teaching.” Which means that poor teaching evaluations cannot be used to deny a bad instructor a renewal.

    YUFA’s Collective Agreement is built upon a cornerstone of “Academic Excellence.” CUPE’s Collective Agreement is built upon “seniority.” There is no such thing as “precarious employment” for CUPE. Yes, they do need to reapply for their positions each semester, but owing to the rules of seniority in their own Collective Agreement, they cannot be denied being rehired once they have taught the course–even if someone else is better qualified, more current or a better teacher. One of the desired clauses in their proposed new Collective Agreement states, “A CUPE member will be deemed qualified to teach a course once they have taught it twice.” That’s clearly all about seniority, not quality. So assuming that having taught a course once for the first time, and it went badly, one would be loathe to assign a CUPE member a second opportunity to teach it again because if the same instructor taught it a second time and it went poorly again–proving that they are not suited for the course–one is stuck with that CUPE instructor forever because their Collective Agreement protects them.

    As to “fair wages,” CUPE Unit 2 course directors are paid $13,838 PER COURSE! (You can easily find the pay rates on the URL included above.) That is among the highest part time rate in Canada…. CUPE faculty speak of being “qualified” and comparable to YUFA tenure-stream faculty, but their bargaining team is refusing to permit any review to occur while they are demanding what is essentially a permanent job (5-year contracts that are automatically renewable). While they may not need the same stringent criteria as YUFA faculty, they should agree to some level of review if they demand a secure, permanent job. Without some review process, there is no guarantee of academic excellence.

    You (Cupe Doll, from Toronto, Canada) wrote: … John Smith is being absurd. Of course the seniority provisions in 3903 are a bit much. With good reason. How else can modicum of fairness get assured when some 3903 members are starting their Master’s — one first step beyond undergrad — while others are almost qualified as YUFA faculty — completed Ph.D.s or Master’s plus professional degrees along with some publication?

    John Smith comparing YUFA to CUPE3903 job security requirements adds up like apples and oranges. Doesn’t add up. Of course nobody in 3903 seeks anything remotely like tenure tracking. But how can that even suggest 3903 contract faculty deserve absolute zero job security? Just because tenure tracking isn’t an option?

    Even back in dark ages, after 7 years’ faithful service, servants received at least some security and consideration from whatever masters they served. Not so at York. That’s the point. After however long employment, contract faculty get routinely dismissed without cause or a moment’s notice. That’s how it is at York University.

    Stop talking “conversions”. Where some select few get rescued from CUPE to YUFA. As if aristocracy were to ride into the serfs’ village and select some few worthy elevating to third-class status back at their manors. Let’s get some non-zero progress when it comes to absolute zero contract faculty job security. That’s the legitimate issue this strike. Let’s get out of dark ages.

    John Smith from United States writes: What amazes me about any pro CUPE response above is how much they refer to how “depressing” and “demoralizing” and “unfair” it is to have to constantly reapply for their jobs, and how it is “unfair” to compare tenure stream to contract faculty. But none of the responses address the issue of accountability. Why do CUPE members feel they deserve job security without accountability? They do not have to have the same stringent reviews that tenure stream faculty undergo, but there should be some process to weed out bad quality instructors. After all, even CUPE uses the argument they are “striking for quality” and for “the good of the students.” If CUPE were smart, they would agree to some sort of review process and be involved with the writing of those terms of review.

    You (Cupe Doll, from Toronto, Canada) wrote: John Smith: sure there ought be more accountability in 3903. But it sounds like you’re using lack of accountability to justify absolute zero job security. As if absolute zero job security is somehow due to lack of accountability. And that’s just false.

    Or am I wrong, John? Are you putting on the table and on the record that if only 3903 contract faculty agree to some whatever accountability provisions — that we’ll also receive our job security? Are you willing to do that, John? If so, we need to talk for real. Fast.

    John Smith from United States writes: I am no longer affiliated with York… Again, to claim that CUPE members have “absolute zero job security” is patently false. CUPE Doll’s circular logic points to the lack of quality I am stating should be weeded out. But it is nearly impossible to remove a CUPE member. They “bump” others who have less seniority but who may have better qualifications, simply because they have been around punching the clock longer.

    You (Cupe Doll, from Toronto, Canada) wrote: “CUPE Doll’s circular logic points to the lack of quality I am stating should be weeded out”?

    Thanks John. It is good for you to recognize my logic. Circular or not — I rely on logic. Clearly, you don’t. Maybe can’t? Goes to show what gets false tenured these days.

    First you equate job security with accountability as if one led to the other. As if there’s no job security in 3903 BECAUSE there’s no accountability. Did you even know how you were insinuating that “BECAUSE” each time you posted? Yes? If so, make sure never to admit it out loud. Or no? No probs then. No need to thank me. That’s just the kind of rudimentary intellectual incompetence I help my students weed out.

    Then, right above, you conflate job security with seniority. Unless you totally shifted your focus to seniority un-announced. As if you had declared one thesis in your first year paper — then began justifying another. A thesis you’d never declared.

    Separate issues, John. Have you given up harping lack of accountability? Do you now wish to harp too much seniority? If so — don’t wait for others to tell you. Try being first to tell what you’d like to harp on. Yes? Good idea you think?

    Yes, there’s relative seniority among contract faculty. Means nothing. Highest unit2 seniority offers zero protection from either losing out to any unit1 (graduate student) — or from not getting rehired at employer’s whim.

    Seniority is not job security with respect to the employer. Conversely, the employer is the only party wrt whom job security has any meaning.

    Anyhow — I’ll explain it better next I have time to waste here. But come on — none this can be among your scholarly interests. You’d at least know how to disguise intellectual incompetence the sort you’ve put on display here.

    (cont’d next post)

  67. Cupe Doll

    If John Smith was expressing York admin’s party line — yeah, pretty despicable. But nothing John Smith wrote can serve as candle-holders to 3903. Because it’s not York’s job to stand up for unit2. Standing up for unit2 is 3903’s job.

    Does 3903 not know about unit2 job insecurity? Has 3903 maybe not heard? Well — yes, 3903 has probably heard. Don’t believe it? Check it out right here — how earnestly unit1s claim to fight for unit2 job security:

    Why, then, after so loudly and boastfully making 100s impossible absurd demands, has 3903 never asked any improvement to unit2 rank & file job security? Why does 3903 settle for quibbling over conversion or special contracts for 1 out of every hundred unit2s only?

    I’ve answered this question times enough. Got to do with 3903 fighting against “labour casualization”. And what’s ultimately despicable about 3903’s fighting against “labour casualization” is how “neo-liberally” 3903 contributes turning its own unit2 membership into labour casualties.

  68. clennis

    “Why does 3903 settle for quibbling over conversion or special contracts for 1 out of every hundred unit2s only?”
    This offer was tabled by the administration, and not only will cupe reject it (the bt, you and me, that is) but even YUFA has expressed vocal opposition, noting it would create a two-tiered employment with second-class teaching staff.
    Straw men burn easily, but cupe didn’t ask for, or accept, this despicable offer by the employer.

  69. clennis

    “If its a union that holds itself to strong democratic ideals than aiming [What makes you think CUPE ‘aimed’ for such a low turnout?] for a turnout that no modern state in the world has ever achieved then running around telling everyone a majority of you believes in this outcome is a joke.”
    I see your point, and don’t mean to belittle it in any way.
    However, modern democratic states elect leaders to make decisions for them, whereas in the union scarcely is there ever a decision made in which members (unlike citizens) cannot take part.
    The strike vote didn’t elect a bargaining team to make decisions for us, it was us making a decision as equal members.
    I don’t think the strike snuck up on cupe members and caught them by surprise.
    And since it was clear (unless I’m wrong) that there was going to be a strike, then not voting is a vote for the status quo.

  70. Commuter

    Question about forced ratification…

    – Bob Drummond recently said in an Excalibur interview it takes TEN days from the time they call the vote until it actually happens.

    – CUPE claims it takes THREE days for this to occur.

    Where’s the truth? All I see is misinformation.

  71. Bobert

    It’s implicitly aiming for a low turnout if it sees what is going on and does nothing about it. Goodness knows this process didn’t spring up overnight at the last minute.

    The collective bargaining contract expired months ago there were more than ample opportunities to get the union membership involved, this along with terrible P.R exercises as a substitution for proper bargaining on both sides demonstrates terrible union leadership. Both sides to this strike aren’t entirely innocent in this mess.

    You work to achieve the goals you want, and you can’t achieve a proper “mandate” without getting as many people as possible to have their say and join the process.

    I’ll re-iterate my earlier point, in case you missed it or if I seemed vague at the time, a union is supposed to work as a direct participatory collective. What I mean by that is that its job is to get people involved in its decisions, since the end result of negotiating a collective bargaining contract affects all union members. I’d like to say direct democracy, but I don’t entirely find it a fitting term for this type of worker organization.

    I should say I find the view of how your union works admirable, but I just don’t see room for apathy in it. In other words I don’t buy the argument that not showing up is a vote for the status quo.

    So that leaves me with a few questions to ask. If it is union members calling all the shots (which I am sure, at least I hope is the case) why aren’t there more of you doing it at now?

    I am fairly certain nearly 3,500 give or take (depending on various personal and professional obligations within this membership we’re all human not everyone can be around, but if its important enough we will be there) can get quite a lot accomplished by way of pressuring the administration to draft an amicable contract.

    How do you decide who gets to join the bargaining team and who gets join the picket lines whether the real-life or e-version? Do you get to switch roles every few days?

    Can I ask who’s idea it was to make the apple parody ads? I respect that it was for the sake of boosting morale, though more of us would have appreciated it if you kept it internally amongst yourselves and not drag 3rd parties not directly involved in a contract dispute.

    Most of us would have just preferred pamphlets and a five minute lecture while crossing picket lines, there’s a little more dignity in that.

  72. Cupe Doll

    @Commuter: if memory serves, 2000/01 ratification notice was received in regular mail about two weeks prior. I was actually expecting it by now. But this strike started a week later so.. I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t get out by New Year’s.

    @clennis: “.. cupe didn’t ask for, or accept, this despicable offer by the employer.”

    You’re very tired, aren’t you? You’ve managed to sound disagreeable. But you totally failed to disagree with me.

    3903 neither asking nor accepting York’s despicable offer does not go beyond “quibbling”. Going beyond quibbling would require that 3903 demand some job security for unit2 rank & files.

    Conversions and/or special contracts to YUFA for 1 of every 100 unit2s in 3903 does nothing for unit2 rank & files. Leaves all unit2 files ranked with absolute job insecurity. So 3903 doesn’t accept 1 unit2 from every 100 getting rescued to YUFA? 3903 demands — gasp — that 2 get rescued from every 100?

    Quibbling. Tokenism.

    After all our hundreds impossible demands? What? Forgot to ask something — anything — to help with rank & file unit2 job insecurity?

    To even disagree with me, clennis, you need to tell me 3903 has demanded some increased job security for each our unit2 rank & files. Meaning, of course, something quite contrary to SRC or Conversion related. Something entirely beyond just tokenism.

    And to refute my claim that we in 3903 haven’t even bothered — you’d need to prove it. Show me something. Anything I’ve missed in strike updates, at GMMs, at our 3903 site, here, elsewhere on line.. anywhere at all.

    I am confident you won’t have anything to show, clennis. But if perchance you will, I’ll thank you and revise my thinking accordingly.

  73. Marj

    Oh why don’t you just go back to work, get your big money, and get on with life..most of you sound like little school girls…

  74. clennis

    by big money, do you mean $659/month? that’s what i make.

    again, i think you’re right.
    i did as much as i could (which i’ll be the first to admit wasn’t nearly enough – i’m not innocent).
    the catch is, though, that the union whose job it is to get people involved is composed of little more than those people its supposed to mobilize.
    members can be involved as much or as little as they choose, and most have elected not to be involved at all.
    it’s a familiar scenario of a self-disempowering majority, who have all the power to make profound changes to the extent that they’re involved.
    it’s our job as members to make cupe work the way we want it to.
    if we could think through this problem (of apathy-driven disempowerment), we will have done a lot more than make cupe democratic, we will have solved one of the paradigmatic crises of modern democracy.

    @cupe doll
    perhaps you can correct me, but i thought the 2/100 unit 2 conversions was beyond controversial within the membership (perhaps i hang out with too many unit 2s?).
    i oppose it. don’t you?
    and while you’ve told me not to “dare” claim i care about unit 2 job security – a little aggressive, maybe? that rhetoric could go on forever (‘don’t you dare dare me not to claim i care about unit 2 job security’) etc. – the fact is i have voted, and will vote, against any proposed collective agreement that doesn’t include more substantial concessions to unit 2s.
    though, while we’re on the topic, it’s hardly ‘quibbling’ to demand (minimally and controversially) double what’s being offered by the employer.
    1/50 and 1/100 isn’t a difference one quibbles over.
    and when you’re angry that cupe’s wasting its time quibbling, do you prefer it settles on the offer? or prefer it makes higher demands for unit 2s?
    what, for you, would constitute a fair deal for contract faculty?
    are SRCs acceptable improvements at all – i’ve heard mixed reviews on this and would like to hear more?
    would 4/100 be more appropriate?
    would 10/100 be too many?
    i ask all of this sincerely as someone who hopes to learn something.
    thanks for the conversation

  75. clennis

    oh yeah!
    cupe doll,
    i explicitly state that i have not received one cent for e-picketing/alt-duty (better?). though, perhaps i should have submitted some hours, since i’m not opposed to it and i have been off the lines chronically ill for weeks (thus my frequent attendance here).
    maybe we can drop the hermeneutics of suspicion at this point, since it makes dialogue impossible – “a method of interpretation which assumes that the literal or surface-level meaning of a text is an effort to conceal the political interests which are served by the text” (
    i said i resented it because it’s a) not true; and b) you’re only trying to distance yourself from the type of person you’ve decided i am, and i don’t buy it. your hands aren’t clean either.

  76. Cupe Doll

    “1/50 and 1/100 isn’t a difference one quibbles over”?

    Damn, clennis. What is wrong with you? When talking about job security for rank & file unit2s, the difference between 1/100 and 2/100 absolutely is nothing more than quibbling. Since “rank & file” means everyone. We’re talking about job security for *all* unit2s.

    1/100, 2/100, 10/100 — it’s all quibbling. What wouldn’t be quibbling? Demanding some improvement for all unit2s, of course. 100/100. Unless you find it acceptable any percentage of unit2s should remain at absolute zero job security.

    Any discussion or bargaining restricted to SRCs or conversion regimes is quibbling over degrees of despicable tokenism.

    And that’s exactly all we’ve done. Nothing but quibble over degrees of tokenism. How come? After making hundreds other impossible demands. While throughout claiming we fight for unit2 job security. Never once have we even asked some non-zero improvement for *all* rank & file unit2 absolute zero job security.

    Why? Did we just forget to ask something, anything get done about unit2 rank & file job insecurity?

    No — of course not. We are not sufficiently impaired to forget asking that which we claim fighting for.

    Why then? Here’s why. Just because unit2 job security is NOT what local 3903 is fighting for. Of course we never even asked any job security for contract faculty. We’re fine with 90, 95, even 98 of every hundred contract faculty at absolute zero job security.

    So why don’t we bother fighting for our unit2 membership — despite claiming to? Because we don’t fight for. We fight against. We fight against “neo-liberalism” and the “casualization of labour”.

    However often we might claim to fight for our contract faculty or for students in general — that’s not the talk we walk. Our fight isn’t *for* anyone — it is against our ideological enemies. That’s why it doesn’t trouble us destroying the education students already paid for — since we fight against students having to pay for education in the first place. And so what if York University takes huge enrollment hits due to our striking out? So what if many contract faculty wind up not getting hired again? It doesn’t trouble us condemning contract faculty to becoming labour casualties — since we fight against “labour casualization”.

    Good eggs get broken when making ideological omelets. Fine. Just quit saying 3903 is fighting for contract faculty and students. It’s obscene. Contract faculty and students are the people 3903 is hurting most.

  77. Cupe Doll

    As for whether you get strike paid here? I told you I’ve concluded you are. Your belated protestation to the contrary notwithstanding. But so what? I so don’t care. That’s between you and your conscience. My only interest is in how (falsely) you justify the 3903 strike action.

  78. Pally Wally

    CUPE Doll,

    What is your problem with e-picketing? It seems like a prudent way to get the word out to those frustrated by the strike and let them know what the union’s position is.

    Sure, it would be nice if more people were holding the lines, but that’s another issue entirely.

    Isn’t it more of an issue that you see the ‘rank-and file’ as the Falwell-esque ‘moral majority’ who don’t bother to engage in the issue at all; even when the lives of so many undergraduates are being a/effected by their (in)action?

    This idea that the strike is only “anti-neoliberalism” or “anti-ideology” is misleading. In the words of Howard Beale the first step is that “you have got to get mad” – I think it is important to give name to what it is that the problems are, problems that I think we can agree extend beyond the contract in dispute at the moment.

    In this sense, Unit 2s are getting the shortest shrift of all. Placing demands in a larger context that sees the expansion of contract faculty positions as problematic to begin with (which the attacks on neoliberalism, casualization of academic labour, etc. does), bolsters in my estimate, the bargaining position in the long run.

    Perhaps this is idealistic, or ideologically motivated, but the project that I see being formulated is a different way of doing things and not nearly as negative and hurtful as you argue.

    There is no question that undergrads are being ‘hurt’ by this; but those undergrads will be tomorrow’s 3903 members; or their kids will be, or their family members, and they will be the beneficiaries of what happens here and now. Some might argue that undergraduates suffer because too much of their education is delivered in huge classrooms where interaction with faculty is nigh impossible. Is there any sign that the students you perceive as being hurt by this are offended by this situation? Or have they not the right to demand quality, in other words: is it merely ‘in class hours’ that we count as education these days?

    As for Unit2’s position within the Union – it is outrageous that 3903 is not using the power of the case made by Unit2s to their advantage. That said, it does not invalidate the claims (ideological or not) of the union as a whole.

    Anyway, that’s my piece for now.

  79. KAZZA

    Does anyone out there remember in the 70’s when legislation was passed so that unions were not allowed to ask for large increases or strike to help stop the rise in inflation??? Where is our government now?? oh thats right the one we have is on Christmas break! (and dont expect any help from our provincial government, they are Liberal and support the Unions openly)

  80. Cupe Doll

    Bravo, Pally Wally. Bravo.

    You have just placed yourself on public display as exhibit 1 how ideologically evil this strike of ours is. And because you’ve done such a superlative job, I will take you as an authorized qualified representative of our 3903 radical thinking and motives behind this strike. Thank you.

    So. I’ve already made the case against this strike for unit2. Let’s focus on the students now.

    You readily admit being aware the harm our strike does students: “There is no question that undergrads are being ‘hurt’ by this”. But that’s alright with you because: “those undergrads will be tomorrow’s 3903 members; or their kids will be, or their family members, and they will be the beneficiaries of what happens here and now.”

    That’s the heart of your argument. Precisely every ideologues classic defense. Today’s evil actions are justified by tomorrow’s or someday’s good outcome. Sufficiently beneficial ends justify harmful means.

    But ask yourself, Pally Wally. If all the means are harmful — how can resulting ends ever become beneficial? How can bad means ever lead anywhere but bad ends?

    There’s another popular way ideologues express that their particular superlative ends require and justify evil means. By saying they’ve got to break some eggs to make an omelet.

    Like people didn’t know that already. Who raises the chickens? Who carries the eggs to and from market? Who cooks with utmost care not to needlessly break eggs? Come on. People are not as easily confused as used to be. Glorious ends no longer blind people to those indiscriminately breaking and confiscating eggs – or baskets or farms or whatever people plant in our gardens. People know precisely how many eggs it takes to make an omelet. How endless many it takes to feed corruption. How infinitely many it takes to sustain armies of egg and head-breaking thugs. Breaking people’s eggs to make an omelet. Yeah. It isn’t an omelet those indiscriminately breaking everyone else’s eggs are making.

    And that’s what we in 3903 have been doing. Indiscriminately breaking other people’s eggs. Destroying students’ education.

    There is no omelet in this parable, Pally Wally. Nobody can benefit from this strike. Everybody including us in 3903 would have done better bargaining reasonably and realistically. Instead of striking out like we have been.

    But because some of us are such total thugs — we just can’t stop. We tell students that we destroy the education they paid for because they shouldn’t have to pay for their education. But they know. They can tell how it is with us. They understand why we destroy their education. That we harm them because it makes us feel powerful. Makes us feel like we really matter.

    It makes us feel special the harm we do. It gives us meaning. And we will not stop of our own accord. Nothing less than assassinating this academic year and destroying everything we possibly can will give us glorious fighters against “neo-liberalism” enough meaning.

    That’s the ugly truth, Pally Wally. We are not harming students for their own good. It just makes us feel good to harm (not only) students.

  81. Pally Wally

    “If all the means are harmful — how can resulting ends ever become beneficial? How can bad means ever lead anywhere but bad ends?”

    I’m not convinced all the means are harmful, and if we want to get truly philosophical about it, as you always point in that direction – I would argue that all institutionalized power are a form of violence, so really it is about picking your poison. In other words – it isn’t that those you call ‘radical’ are ideologically motivated – it’s that everyone is – whether they happen to think so or not.

    As for the rest of what you said, I really am sorry that you feel as though undergraduates have had their ‘education ruined’ by this strike, I just don’t think that is true.

    I would hardly characterize the harm being done by the strike as ”breaking (h)ommelettes” – nor would I go so far to say that anyone’s education has been ‘ruined’. If an education is counted in class hours, then we’ve got some deep rooted pedagogical issues here that we can’t even begin to talk about.

    Believe me when I tell you that I have a relatively low tolerance for people that get their kicks playing the leftist radical – I think I understand a major source of your ire in that regard. But when you write, I get the impression that you think the leadership and BT are some ridiculous caricatures of what they should be and that they deeply want to go on strike for the sake of it. That they’re fighting windmills for the ‘glory’ as you would have it.

    “Nobody can benefit from this strike. Everybody including us in 3903 would have done better bargaining reasonably and realistically.”

    There is a lot of blame to go around – so who gets to say ‘enough is enough’ – or are we to simply let the market take its course until higher education is just another degree mill, and we expect students (at least the ones that don’t just buy the degree online!ugh) to sit through 23+ years of institutionalized learning before we’ll let them get that entry level job they’ve heard so much about?

    What is ‘reasonable’ or ‘realistic’? What is unreasonable about comparing Canada’s higher educational system and funding to countries with a similar government/social system?

    In short – I hope there is a omelet, CUPE Doll, because if the university is just a degree granting institution – well then…eggs were being broken long before the strike started, and I’ve got a feeling they’re gonna keep cracking ’em for all they’re worth long after it ends, and no one in the whole damn place – 3903, faculty, janitor, admin, or whoever, no one’s hands are clean when an ‘education’ comes in name only.

  82. clennis

    Sorry cupe doll,
    you didn’t answer my question, so it’s difficult for me to respond.
    what do you have in mind for 100/100 unit 2s, that isn’t ideological or hurtful to students?

  83. ram

    Hey guys here we have another update on the union’s website. It says that the demands come only to 11% over two years and still york says no to negotiations it seems.. IT IS RIDICULOUS…
    (? %) to 40 % to 28 % to 20% to 11%.. Hey i think it is true that they started initially, asking for the “impossible”. If they had a clear mind set they would have started with a realistic figure even at first.. What does this percentage decrease indicate according to you??
    @ cupe doll
    Looking at this trend, do you think a settlement is near (over holidays)?? I am just to laugh at the union’s demand decrease..

  84. Cupe Doll

    @ram: I never trust either side’s advertised figures. After demanding the impossible and not even asking what we should (for unit2) — can we in 3903 ever bargain reasonably without admitting what total idiots we’ve been? No. Are we now ready to admit what total idiots we’ve been? No. Not now, not ever. And there’s no doubt the mediator understands this. Nothing will get settled at the bargaining table. There never was reasonable or realistic bargaining to begin with — and it’s far too late to start now.

    @clennis: isn’t it obvious? if we hadn’t been too ideological, we would have bargained reasonably realistically in the first place. We wouldn’t have demanded anything impossible but we would have asked some realistic improvement for rank & file unit2s. Then, either there would have been no strike to begin with — or the strike would have long been settled by now. Therefore this academic year wouldn’t have been turned into a joke or lost altogether — and students would not have been irretrievable harmed.

    But I’m glad to see that you, at least, admit how harmful our ideological striking out has been to students.

    @Pally Wally: “I really am sorry that you feel as though undergraduates have had their ‘education ruined’ by this strike, I just don’t think that is true.”

    What’s your point? That our students haven’t been harmed too badly by this strike of ours? Are you delusional? Do you read anything @ this forum? Everything @ this forum testifies against what you don’t think.

    Not just at this forum. Everywhere in public eyes, hearts and minds. Read some comments at most recent Toronto Star article pertaining to our strike. Like this one:

    “Perhaps CUPE is bent on revolutionizing the education system… but how are we students supposed to feel? To all the Union members out there who read these posts and comment on how they are fighting for a better education: can you honestly say you care about your students? You have left us all out in the cold and I don’t think you truly understand what you have done to the lives of your students, both academically and financially. You have poisoned your students. It will never be the same.”

    Do you understand, Pally Wally? No? Too bad. Because the Canadian public does understand. This student’s comment was agreed with by 17 Toronto Star readers — and disagreed with by only 2. That’s right. Relatively union-friendly Toronto Star readers. Not union bashing National Post readers.

    This idiotic strike of ours isn’t just irretrievably harming our students. It’s casting the entire Canadian labour movement into increasing disrepute. Rightly so.

  85. anon

    wow cupe doll you were not joking when you were saying it is likely that this strike will go into february

  86. Pally Wally

    CUPE Doll,

    Like I said, the number of undergrads actively blogging is probably in the neighbourhood of ~5 -10%; most people might be frustrated, but they know they are getting the piece of paper, and unfortunately, if you talk to undergrads, that is really all they care about. That and marks, which are only ancillary concerns, as they are what are viewed as necessary for entry into professional schools.

    As for the Toronto Star readers – they generally have had trouble understanding the concept of ‘offensive’ and have frequently marked the most benign comments as ‘offensive’ – who cares? Are we to let the general public dictate what graduate schooling entails? That grad students should be working 2-3 jobs on top of TAing and doing their actual graduate work?

    It’s a shame that so much of the blame is being foisted on the union, when there is blame to go around.

    We have people walking around thinking GM workers make $70/hr – which is just ridiculous; no one is citing the profits that GM delivered to its shareholders year after year while failing to adequately contribute the the pension fund they agreed to.

    The general public, Toronto Star readership included, are widely anti-union at this point. The idea that this strike is some kind of camel back breaking implement is at best speculative, and at worst the ideological machinations of anti-labour activism.

  87. Cupe Doll

    Pally Wally,

    In your past couple posts you’ve established that you don’t think students are getting harmed too badly by this strike of ours — and that public opinion of our strike doesn’t concern you.

    After everything our 3903 local has and will continue putting them through, you’ve given students the opportunity to read that, “.. undergrads.. might be frustrated, but they know they are getting the piece of paper, and unfortunately, if you talk to undergrads, that is really all they care about.”

    How about that, undergrad students? Isn’t it nice knowing how our 3903 radicals (like Pally Wally) think you “might be frustrated”? Don’t worry, everyone — we in 3903 only ruin the education you paid for because we don’t want you paying for education in the first place.

    Thanks for self-outing what it’s like to be a 3903 radical, Pally Wally. Take a bow.

  88. Mike Oxbig

    have they been talking during this christmas break or what? ye dig

  89. Commuter

    @ Mike Oxbig

    To my knowledge, no, not yet.

  90. Pally Wally

    CUPE Doll,

    You’re the one always asking people to be realistic, yet it seems as though you’ve had little contact with the undergrads you claim to speak for. For most people, their education is selfsame with the conferring of a degree. Once they leave with a BA they consider themselves ‘educatED’ and so further learning is no longer necessary.

    You can try and rally the handful of people who might be listening, that might be on the fence on this issue to your side, or you can be realistic about things – most undergrads would like to be back in school, but as Tom Petty says ‘waiting is the hardest part’. Things might be messed up, frustrating and unfair, but ruined? Hardly – degrees will be conferred, jobs will be taken, the status quo will be maintained and kids will continue to dive into debt.

    Undergrads are so busy working jobs in addition to going to school that most of them don’t really have time to read the papers, or blog, or engage on issues even if they wanted to. It’s kind of funny to see people rallying these kids to their cause when they don’t even care about dropping their own tuition fees for the most part. Those that do care are probably frustrated by the apathy of others anyway, so calling me out about my politics to try and rally the troops is just preaching to the converted.

    You don’t see undergrads pissed off that the entire reason there is a strike is because over 50% of their classes depend upon 3903 labour in the first place. Let’s say 3902 goes on strike – I can give you dollars to doughnuts that the UofT won’t be canceling classes. As it stands, a lot of undergrads have trouble understanding why their profs won’t cross picket lines.

    I think it is you and not me that is having trouble understanding which way the wind is blowing with undergraduate activity. We’ll see what happens in January though.

    It isn’t that harm is not being done, but that you are over-stating the number of people that are really being harmed, and politicking just as much as the next person to try and rally those impressionable ears that are ready to hear what you’re saying.

    Search your feelings, CUPE Doll, you know it to be true.

  91. Cupe Doll

    I am not over-stating the number of people getting severely harmed by our strike Pally Wally. Since I state no numbers in the first place. I freely admit I don’t know how many are harmed. The statistics will surely be televised. Eventually. Right now I don’t know — and you don’t know either.

    But regardless exactly how many get severely harmed — we’ve got this forum right here to read how severely harmed at least some students are getting. Not only this forum. For instance, as reminder to you, I’ll paste again from Toronto Star:

    “Perhaps CUPE is bent on revolutionizing the education system… but how are we students supposed to feel? To all the Union members out there who read these posts and comment on how they are fighting for a better education: can you honestly say you care about your students? You have left us all out in the cold and I don’t think you truly understand what you have done to the lives of your students, both academically and financially. You have poisoned your students. It will never be the same.”

    The statistics will certainly be televised. Eventually. But we both know those statistics won’t change your mind — as they won’t change my mind. The difference between you and I, Pally Wally, is that I don’t want any students getting turned into statistics. Whereas you, Pally Wally, would never admit students are getting harmed too badly regardless what the statistics turn out to be.

    See? It’s not how many students getting harmed how badly you and I are arguing about. What we are arguing about is whether students are getting harmed in a good cause or not. If any cause could conceivable be so good to justify harming students like our striking out does.

    You believe we are harming students in a good cause. While I wouldn’t waste good spit on the cause we claim to justify how we hurt students.

    So, once again in closing, it’s time to ridicule why we in 3903 keep harming students.

    Ready? All together now. We in 3903 ruin the education students already paid for — because students shouldn’t have to pay for education. And because class sizes are too large at York — we in 3903 have screwed all York students out of their classes.

    p.s.: Too bad we weren’t talking about unit2. I didn’t get a chance to share my contract faculty ditty. You know. Because we in 3903 fight against “labour casualisation” — we turn out own contract faculty membership into labour casualties.

  92. Pally Wally

    CUPE Doll,

    Your category “students” seems to me a catch-all for undergraduates and assumes that all undergrads are effected equally by the strike – they are not. Certainly you agree to this, at least you posts imply so – and all I am saying is that the average undergraduate (not citing numbers) really could care less about the strike, and their main concern is when they have to go back to school, and possibly what they should do in the mean time (so as not to be screwed when classes eventually resume). None of that equates to the zeal you seem to attribute to ‘students’.

    I wish students were more involved in politics in general, but they aren’t. Graduate students are being harmed, and are doing something about it – is there ‘collateral damage’? Unquestionably. But is that reason to do nothing, or to accept the status quo? Certainly not.

    You still have yet to explain exactly how anyone’s education is being ‘ruined’ other than having class hours limited. In my opinion, people that are actually getting an education will do so regardless of how much in class time they have – are they being short changed? Yes. Ruined? Definitely not. Education is an ongoing process – it is life-long.

    Televised statistics? What kind of academic puts stock in what a talking head who draws a paycheck from Conrad Black or Ted Turner says? This is our arbiter of truth?

    The means are the means – anyone coming to York should know what the 3903 is about by now – as for the ends and the treatment of Unit2s – that’s another kettle of fish, and I agree that there is a great injustice taking place, but that does not mean that the demands of Units 1 and 3 are not themselves valid, or even desirable; and I don’t see other unions around the province omitting 3903’s wages from their bargaining strategies, so if not York, then who?

  93. Cupe Doll

    Pally Wally,

    This academic year is ruined. That’s a fact. Whether or not it is entirely lost, this year is academically ruined.

    Does that mean all York students’ whole entire university education is ruined? Not for most. Certainly the case for some. Since, while some those quitting will eventually return — others will not.

    Once more, in a student’s own words:

    “Perhaps CUPE is bent on revolutionizing the education system… but how are we students supposed to feel? To all the Union members out there who read these posts and comment on how they are fighting for a better education: can you honestly say you care about your students? You have left us all out in the cold and I don’t think you truly understand what you have done to the lives of your students, both academically and financially. You have poisoned your students. It will never be the same.”

    Does it matter that only some York students’ university education is ruined by how uselessly 3903 strikes out? Not in the least. I say, “Because we in 3903 don’t believe students should have to pay for education, we ruin the education students already paid for .” I never say that we ruin every York student’s entire university education. And I certainly never say that we ruin any student’s whole life-long education.

    What nonsense. Education is “life-long”? Sure — not the education students have already paid us to provide. The “life-long” education you refer to consists in learning experiences while living — and is necessarily free. To ruin “life-long” education you’d need to kill people.

    Fortunately, killing people is not something false-victimhood-claiming over-privileged 3903 grad students can accomplish under existing labour laws.

  94. ...sigh...

    So I realize that your debate (CUPE Doll and Pally Wally) doesn’t really seem very open to a third party but…


    While I will grudgingly concede your point that,

    ‘For most people, (undergrads) education is selfsame with the conferring of a degree. Once they leave with a BA they consider themselves ‘educatED’ and so further learning is no longer necessary.’

    I would say that is a horrific generalization, which you then go on to accuse CUPE DOLL of making,

    ‘Your category “students” seems to me a catch-all for undergraduates and assumes that all undergrads are effected equally by the strike – they are not. Certainly you agree to this, at least you posts imply so – and all I am saying is that the average undergraduate (not citing numbers) really could care less about the strike, and their main concern is when they have to go back to school, and possibly what they should do in the mean time (so as not to be screwed when classes eventually resume). None of that equates to the zeal you seem to attribute to ’students’.’

    Basically your are saying CUPE DOLL you are over-generalizing, students who want to study are still getting an education, keeping up with their school work, but for the most part, the average student doesn’t care about their education, will still get their degree, and so this hypothetical average group of students is ok to use a blanket for any students negatively affected by the strike.

    But that is just rhetoric and semantics.

    As to your point, I agree that there are SOME students just interested in a degree. Hell I remember being in first-year, as long as I was sober enough to go to class, could walk in a straight line and didn’t fail, I was happy as a clam. But after that, priorities change.

    It is a reality that university is not just a place for academic education, but learning responsibility. Sure I had a year of alcohol and marijuana-fused delirium (not so different from high-school), but for a lot of people that’s what first-year was all about. But what happened after that year…. I grew up! I started to take an active interest in school, my grades went from C’s and B’s to all A’s, I started going to every single class, etc. etc. This is definately because I grew up after finishing my first and second year. In fact the upper level classes of undergrad are so different from the lower levels. I remember in my first 2 years after a few weeks half the class stopped showing up, now everyone comes… because we learnt responsibility.

    I am trying to say that education is not all academic, university education is not all academic, that I myself as a fairly dedicated student, experienced a month of apathy and laziness at the start of this strike, not really willing to do any work. I can only imagine what would have happened had this happened in first year.

    Basically my argument comes down to… first and second year students (or the average undergrad to use your words) probably don’t all have their best academic interests in mind yet. Not only that, they aren’t always the ones paying. Parents (like mine) who put away a good chunk of their earnings every month to provide their children with an education are thinking wtf did I spend all that time putting away money for, when the union can just decide to go on strike.

    Academically, it is really difficult to maintain where I was before the strike started. I was up to date with all my classes, reviewing isn’t something I find all that stimulating when I could be learning about new stuff. In fact since the strike started I have taken out about 50 different books from the library, read through, and continued my education TANGENTIALLY with regards to my actual degree, because I have the time to do it.

    So you are right in that sense, students who want to continue their education will… unfortunately I feel like my tuition at the moment is really just adding up to a rather expensive library pass… And as I am given to understand, that really puts me in CUPE’s shoes, and I don’t like it to be honest.

    P.S. Why is the school swimming with you damn grad students. I go there most days and the library seems to be filled with you guys, whether talking to your mommies about how the strike went, or doing research on your own. In fact I met a friend who is also a CUPE member on campus on Monday and the first words he said to me were ‘Why are you here, you’re not a grad student.’

    Don’t you think it is a little self-serving to strike, to make it difficult for undergrads to get access to their education (I tore every ligament in my right foot over the summer and still walk with a distinct limp, having to walk from Keele street onto campus isn’t helpful, my foot is often pained by the extra strain every day, as just my personal example), to complain about everything the school does, and then to still take advantage of their resources. Even if you paid for them, you are striking against them, if anything that at the very least weakens your cause.

    Anyway I’m not very impressed.

    -Pissed off undergrad, who just wants to graduate so he can be in control of his own education, which will continue somewhere… anywhere but York university.

  95. Pally Wally

    CUPE Doll,

    “Because we in 3903 don’t believe students should have to pay for education, we ruin the education students already paid for .”

    What is the origin of this quote? Or is it a caricature of the supposed Poisoned Advisors that hijacked your union while you were sleeping (the 5-6 months before the strike vote)?

    You know as well as I do that a BA is treated by most as a credential and prerequisite for ‘a job’ – nothing more. To them, anything they learn is incidental, the expectations and the demands placed on students are pretty low.

    Who is out to ruin anything, asides from the fabricated quotes you are able to muster to back up your case?

    CUPE Doll, what frustrates me is that you pick and choose what parts of people’s responses to you that you will harp on – and you’ve now posted the same lame quote from some random TorStar reader 3 times in a row. I don’t know how to put it other than THAT IS NOT TYPICAL OF MOST UNDERGRADUATES – and the idea is that MAYBE THINGS SHOULD NOT BE THE SAME, maybe the same was and is bad, and maybe if this causes undergraduates to do something other than throw dollar after dollar at institutions or act in their own self interest – then perhaps it isn’t so bad after all; but I think you’ll find they aren’t going to identify the union as the bad guys when they bother to think about it. Even if some undergrads are ‘mad as hell’ they most certainly appear to be taking it – more and more, and this strike is just another expression of how they’re taking it. At least someone around here is doing something – could it be done better? Unquestionably. But I still think a strike was necessary this year, although I might disagree on some of the tactics and demands.

    When I look at what you’re saying – about undergrads being hurt by this, their education ruined because they are not in class – using the same logic, an undergraduate strike would be unfathomable – why would undergraduates ‘ruin’ their own education that they had paid for? You have yet to explain how ‘students’ educations are being ‘ruined’ – when everyone will get the same credit at the end. What else marks an education? There is a large gap between being short changed and having something ruined.

    Not everyone in 3903 is over-privileged by the way, even if by and large most people in post-graduate studies hail from higher socio-economic brackets.

    What concerns me is that you view the strikes in 2000 and the bargaining in 2005 as meaningful, despite the fact that the administration’s rhetoric in both those instances was much the same. “These demands are unrealistic and its hurting undergrads” – in the time since, things have become even more bleak, and that isn’t because there has been any lack of unions in Ontario to sit down nice a neatly and work out ‘realistic’ and ‘reasonable’ “solutions” with their institutions.

    I’ll let you imagine where the undergrads fit into this.

  96. ...sigh...

    Seen as you seemed to ignore my post Pally Wally I take issue with another point of your new post.

    ‘When I look at what you’re saying – about undergrads being hurt by this, their education ruined because they are not in class – using the same logic, an undergraduate strike would be unfathomable – why would undergraduates ‘ruin’ their own education that they had paid for? You have yet to explain how ’students’ educations are being ‘ruined’ – when everyone will get the same credit at the end. What else marks an education? There is a large gap between being short changed and having something ruined.’

    It really frightens me to think that my TAs consider receiving a credit to be part and parcel with an education. We are being short-changed of an education, we are having are education disrupted. Just because some students are apathetic towards it, doesn’t mean that the students who busted their butt to get an education should also merely be ‘short-changed’.

  97. Soraya

    I don’t have time to go through all the posts so can someone just tell me what the latest news in regards to going back on January 5th is? Is there a realistic chance we will be going back or is it looking more like mid-late January?

  98. Pally Wally

    Hey Sigh,

    Sorry – didn’t mean to ignore you, didn’t see your post until this evening, I think maybe it was ‘waiting for moderation’? or maybe I just missed it – I’ve been running around a bit today.

    “It really frightens me to think that my TAs consider receiving a credit to be part and parcel with an education. We are being short-changed of an education, we are having are education disrupted. Just because some students are apathetic towards it, doesn’t mean that the students who busted their butt to get an education should also merely be ’short-changed’.”

    For the record – I’m not a TA. I don’t think that credit is part and parcel with education – I loathe the idea – but I am resigned to the fact that many students I’ve spoken to are fairly committed to the notion. These are students that if you said “if you were guaranteed an A in this class, what would you do?” their answer would invariably be: “stop showing up”. There have been plenty of profs over the years who have guaranteed certain marks to effectively decrease class sizes who have realized this sad slice of academia.

    Yes, you are right, and so is CUPE Doll, people working their asses of in their final year(s) are being harmed to a far greater extent with looming grad applications – it isn’t looking good for those applying to other schools. I guess my point is that in the those same students are short changed by huge class sizes, and so on as well. And, you’re telling proof of what I’m saying – ‘students’ will go on learning, educating themselves regardless of the labour situation. Those that have yet to take that upon themselves, or who haven’t had a chance to make the same realizations you made are also being short changed.

    I’m not sure what the answers are. There probably aren’t any that will make everyone happy. Some days I wake up and think that the university might really be a horrible place for liberal arts education, that all it does is further entrench privilege. That ‘disestablishing’ higher education would be a great idea – but most of the time I’m more pragmatic – and hence, part of this mess.

  99. ...sigh...

    I agree very much with you that University is a horrible place for an arts education, especially the more creatively driven you are. I find university courses in general tend towards reductionism, in certain cases because of lazy teaching, but generally because high school teaches a sheep mentality more appropriate for sciences. The acquiescence of knowledge that is then regurgitated at a later date. This shouldn’t be how an arts class is taught (my major is English and that is mainly what my comments are directed towards).

    I feel like John Cage was right when he decided university was absolutely no place for an artist to find himself, and I agree completely. Ideally I’d love to travel, if I teach ESL overseas, I can get my plane ticket paid for. In order for this to happen I need my degree.

    While I do well academically, my university career has been a constant struggle, knowing I would rather pursue my own intellectual interests (which at the moment encompass, Lacan’s Ecrits, Jung and Freud’s canon, as well as the Qur’an, Bible and Talmud for good measure, as well as for reference for a creative assignment I’ve undertaken), knowing that during my time off I am far more productive, being actually motivated, and for the most part much more challenged than I find myself in class.

    I was anticipating getting through this year, and taking a nice long hiatus from Academia. Now, the greater I involve myself in my own aspirations which I feel a much stronger drive for, the more difficult it will be for me to return to university, which I had already once grudgingly conceded to.

    Anyway I know most of this post can be summed up as an ‘unapologetic self-indulgent whine’ what I’m trying to get at is… if University is not only seen by most of the students as an ends to a means (and lets be honest, most BAs don’t necessarily use their knowledge of 18th Century Drama, Film Scholarship, History or even sociology or psychology if they don’t pursue it past their bachelors), why is it treated as such a necessity? Why should everyone have a right, (indeed most people see it as more, as an obligation) to engage themselves in 4 years of frivolous education that really offers them only a piece of paper and not much more.

    I think this is further complicated by the fact that educators, as you say, will bribe students with good marks in order to reduce class sizes, that the general apathy of the student populous is further mirrored by the educators projection. That educators assumption of a disinterest in their students will at the VERY least antagonize a latent propensity of the students. But then the question is, how many students are really pre-disposed to such disinterest, and how many adopt it, based on their educators assumptions.

    Anyway I hope that made sense.

    So Pally Wally, if you’re not a TA, what are you? I assumed a member of CUPE… but I could have been wrong.

    Oh and thanks also for responding, I think in general a dialogue is a good way to diffuse some of the built up tensions on both sides, and it is always nice when people reciprocate, even if you don’t agree 🙂

  100. Mike Oxbig

    lol as of right now…the school is going to be closed down forever…eternity…


    duh duh duhhhhhhhhhhhh


    do you like sushi?

  101. Pally Wally

    Hey Sigh,

    I have myself wondered:
    “how many students are really pre-disposed to such disinterest, and how many adopt it, based on their educators assumptions.”

    I think part of the idea of making courses less demanding is a response to what High Schools are handing over. Lots are reticent about assigning the Ecrits in first or second year, or even stuff which in hindsight looks like light reading in comparison because it may ‘turn off’ students before they even have a chance to ‘open up’. I think that is the difficulty of being a lecturer, trying to mediate between pushing students to work as hard as possible (which I am saying High School does not do) – and making sure that you aren’t being elitist by assuming knowledge that many have had no access to previously (while some have grown up with Lacan at the dinner table, so to speak).

    As to your question: “Why should everyone have a right, (indeed most people see it as more, as an obligation) to engage themselves in 4 years of frivolous education that really offers them only a piece of paper and not much more.” I think the idea extends back to a time when a BA in itself was enough to guarantee a ‘white collar’ existence. If you had a BA you generally slid out of university and into a management position somewhere – I believe that role is now being filled by MBAs who seem to find themselves trained quite well in the ability to sack thousand with one fell swoop. Interesting the price tag attached has risen to keep pace with the times. When you return to a system where that first degree is out of reach, then I would argue that you are limiting people’s choices even further.

    It isn’t that University is a bad place for the liberal arts – but it is a bad place for undergraduates to be herded into classes with 500+ other people trying to learn an art form, with many under the presumption that you describe that they are about to be fed information into what they undoubtedly assume to be their ’empty’ heads, by the ‘subject supposed to know’ at the front of the room.

    If we could sit down and talk about what an arts education should be then I think it would become clear very quickly that the idea of 4 years post HS of herding students into classes will not be as necessary as many think. The level of expense is probably much closer to professional schools than it is to undergraduate. Again, I think these solutions call for an open and ongoing discussion.

    I do think that education should be a right, but I also think that High Schools are failing students by sending them under prepared to university. I remember learning the ‘hamburger essay’ format in my final year of high school in English. I was shocked, this class was supposed to be preparing us to write at a university level. If we’re going to guarantee people an education, we might as well guarantee excellence at all levels, and that requires a sit down with the government – those that fund public education all the way up to, and including (some of) university.

    I don’t know how possible that is, or reasonable, but I think we’ve shared the experience that many of our peers are being short-changed already, not to suggest that they bear no responsibility in their education, but we can’t ignore that people aren’t stupid and while some might take the path you have (ie. becoming more self directed) I’ve seen most acquiesce to other things – a belief that they lack the ability, or worse yet, that the arts themselves are useless and that the credential they receive is indicative that they are ‘educated’.

  102. clennis

    cupe doll:
    given that you think i lie blatantly i understand why you don’t take questions from me seriously, or respond to them. if i thought that what you were saying was the opposite of what you meant, i wouldn’t bother having a conversation either.

  103. clennis

    “I never trust either side’s advertised figures” (cupe doll)
    no kidding.
    i’d love to hear about some figures that you do trust.

  104. clennis

    “Fortunately, killing people is not something false-victimhood-claiming over-privileged 3903 grad students can accomplish under existing labour laws.”
    you’re probably right. cupe workers would be out killing undergrads in the name of revolution if only labour laws would allow it. that’s a valid way of arguing, and you eat babies for breakfast.

  105. Lazy_Soraya

    I don’t have time to read Soraya’s posts so can someone just tell me if there a realistic chance they will read the info that has been posted before asking someone else to do it for them?
    Going back over other people’s postings is too hard and will take me until mid-late January.

  106. ...sigh...

    Pally Wally, I would say that while (were I to teach a 1st or 2nd year class) I would not teach Ecrits in it, at least directly, that’s probably all kinds of bad ideas, my 4th year class seems to have enough trouble with Freud’s primary works. But I think this is more part and parcel with people’s general apathy towards more challenging assignments. I think the whole BA->Managment somewhere, or MBa now -> managment really proves one of the real flaws with university education. If four years of education, in most cases, (as I will readily admit) does not serve as anything but proof that you have the capacity to work, if most of what people learn during these years is forgotten by the majority, then surely there is a distinct possibility that the education isn’t worth it.

    By billing it as a right, especially when students aren’t necessarily going to use the education they gain, are just interested in the piece of paper, only write their assignments at midnight the night before, maybe students don’t really want the education, maybe we need to re-think how we sell post-secondary education.

    I do think that high-school trains you to just follow in line, but I think university can lead you either two ways (for the liberal arts major, who is not necessarily looking for a doctoral education at least), to compensate for whatever is lacking by pursuing your own education (as I have chosen to do), or by just getting the work done to get a piece of paper in the end. I mean even if a student works really hard, just focuses on their course work, and comes out in the end at the top of their class, with a degree, and then gets some unrelated work that they gradually forget all they learnt, what good has the education done then really?

    I often hear that university is billed as not just an education but a ‘life experience’. I once worked 80 hour weeks for 4 months doing door-to-door sales, I learned more about life and myself in those 4 months than I did about university.

    I as well know people who are in their late-20s, 30s, some went and learnt a trade right out of high school and now make 90-100 grand a year, own their house and cars, then others who are just finishing up their PhDs and are 20-40 grand in debt. It is the path they chose, I do necessarily think that there is something wrong with the huge difference in their finances BUT I am not necessarily using this as an argument for higher wages. More that higher education is not always the optimal alternative as so many students are lead to believe.

    If we take into account a lot of the problems CUPE members are striking over, it becomes clear that many would be ameliorated should high-schoolers be given information so they might make a more informed decision on their post-secondary options. If you are going to university just for the degree, just for the life experience, it is very possible that a diploma would set you on a much better track. If we were to lose all the disinterested, or ‘sheep’ students from our folds, class sizes would be smaller. In fact I would go so far as to say, we would need to hire less TAs and pay would probably rise back to the 2005 levels.

    But all this considered, the university is a beast of societies makings, to strike for the ideal, to make this problem purely one that York has created, really misses some of the base roots of the problem.

    I don’t think higher educations should be a right, it should be a privilege, not a privilege for the wealthy but a privilege for the dedicated.

    I think either way, the professors should not ever (even if blatantly presented with a class of disinterested students) presume the apathy of their pupils, this just snowballs the problem.

    And just btw, I have had a third year TA teach my third year english class to write essays by the hamburger method. She also spent 20 minutes of an hour long seminar doing a halloween costume contest, as well as about 3-4 hours of all our seminars thus far playing name games, when we toss a ball to someone in the class and say their name and their favourite food. While she is no doubt one of the most incompetent TAs I have ever had the displeasure of being stuck with, she is also one of the most popular due to her ‘fun’ ‘non-academic’ style. What really scare me is that she runs workshops for professors on making her classes more ‘interactive’ for students, while the interactivity is very rarely based in education, and most of the time does not allow for discussion (like telling everyone in the class to come up with some point either for or against some issue in a novel, then we systematically go through and say the point we thought of, which thereby eliminates any possibility of discussion whatsoever). This has led to some of my rather large resentment towards higher education.

  107. Soraya

    Can someone PLEASE answer my question?!

    @ Mike Oxbig
    No, I’m not a fan.

  108. ...sigh...


    School probably isn’t going to return on January 5th, if there was any movement towards school returning it would be plastered over the front of this page with both YorkU and CUPE claiming that they are the side responsible for the movement on their websites. You’ll know if there is any progress at all forward (if two people from each side end up going to the same bagel place at the same time, you’ll hear the propaganda a mile away)

  109. Soraya

    Alright. Thank you! 🙂

  110. Lazy_Soraya

    I don’t have time to read through Soraya’s posts so can someone just tell them to read the info that has been posted?
    Is there a realistic chance they’ll figure it out on their own?

  111. Cupe Doll

    @sigh: Sorry didn’t reply your post earlier. Out of town.

    Glad you posted your story. And for what (little) it’s worth, I am terribly sorry for the damages my local 3903 is needlessly causing you and York students in general. I know how little that’s really worth — I’m doing what I can to expose my local 3903’s irresponsibility.

    Don’t be concerned with Pally Wally’s caricature of undergraduate students. Most of the grad students driving this strike were born with silver spoons in their pie-holes. Never got down with the working classes and never will make any contribution whatsoever in their own fields. Some of them will still be “working” at their Ph.D.s 30 years from now.

  112. Cupe Doll

    @clennis: What do you care if I think you lie? What’s it to you what I think? I’m just another alias on the internet.

    The reason I didn’t answer your question (how we can better bargain with York) directly isn’t because I think you lie. Sure I think so — but that’s not why. The reason is simply because it’s too late. By this point we can’t even get the mediator to take us seriously — never mind better bargaining with York.

    And I did answer your question — indirectly. We could easily have bargained with York better had we not been so irresponsible and caused such needless damages.

    We acted like malicious infants and deserve the spanking we’ll get. Not that I hold York blameless — but our tantrum makes the York fork look extremely reasonable compared to the 3903 silver spoon.

  113. Cupe Doll

    @Pally Wally: Don’t tell me your frustrations. This here isn’t personal.

    My slogans aren’t borrowed from elsewhere.

    Because we in 3903 don’t believe students should have to pay for education, we ruin the education students already paid for.

    We only ruin academic classes this year because we in 3903 oppose students attending large classes.

    We in 3903 are fighting “labour-casualization” — that’s why we’re turning so many our unit2s into labour casualties.

    The point of these slogans is very simple. To cut through crap. It’s because of the first slogan, for instance, that you must argue we aren’t really harming students. You can’t seriously keep arguing we harm students in a good cause — since the slogan too effectively ridicules the notion of harming students in a good cause for their own good.

    Just a way to keep your kind from hiding behind false ideals (i.e., ideology). See? Whether or not students get economically and educationally harmed is a question of fact. Like, drop the omelet in the sky crap — how many eggs did you break?

  114. Mike Oxbig

    cupe should come out with a new slogan that says “Every student deserves and A”

  115. Pally Wally

    CUPE Doll,

    I am tired of discussing things with you – you’re worse than a politician when it comes to actually answering questions put to you and it seems as though you are more interested in fustian grand standing and ad hominem attacks on those you disagree with. For example, you praise ‘sigh’ for sharing a personal story, and then a few minutes later tell me “this here isn’t personal” – that’s cheap politics no matter how you slice it.

    It’s difficult for me to justify spending (a term I’m employing loosely, since it seems more like wasting) time writing up responses to your formulaic rants when your replies are consistently aimed at stifling discussion in favour of supercilious didacticism.

    I’m not presenting my opinion as anything but that – if you find this too ‘personal’ then perhaps you should re-evaluate the politics/espiteme of your own position(ality).

  116. Diplomacy

    Well, it’s not difficult to see where both parties are coming from (York v.s CUPE).

    One wants to maximize profits while the other wants their rights to be protected. If I were the capitalist ideal, I would support York. Or I would go for CUPE if I were a liberal or socialist.

    This fight reminds me of the war between the U.S and Iraq. The war’s been on for so long and there’s never an end to it. However, sadly, both countries get hammerd hard, especially, the army and the innocent.

    The newly elected president of U.S, Obama, smartly chooses the diplomacy way in order to put out the fire.

    Hmmm don’t you think opening a war should be the least option?

    It not only puts the innocent in danger, but also harms the economy even more. And look at our world now!

    CUPE members, I wonder if you guys are getting paid currently by York, even on the strike? Or are you currently looking for an additional job to cover the loss from York?If you’re not getting any new income now, don’t you think your hurting your own financial stability now?

    Keep trying the diplomacy way and negotiations!
    Good luck!

  117. Marj

    Someone, somewhere, please, please advise this mom if I should attempt reimbursement, have my son quit the year and lose money(?), or ‘hang in there’ and see what happens………….in limbo is so unsettling….

    so if the students do go back sometime in Jan. or Feb., when do they make up the first semester…I am so confused by this…My son wants to leave York and work until August and start over at another univ. or college….but I don’t want all my money wasted…someone please comment sensibly..

  118. Andrew

    Ok Marj I’ll give you an answer. Straight put, you and your son need to just calm down and let it go. Remember, he is 1 of 50,000 being screwed by this, whose money is going to waste, so he isn’t alone.

    What happens to our semester has been answered many times. They push back the winter (second) semester and finish off the fall, do exams, then start the winter semester. It could be moved along faster then normal pace, it could not. It depends what the school wants to do, but the fall semester is not going to be dropped. (forget what these people say about cupe willing to give up the full year)

    If your son wants to quit, this says to me that there is more then just a strike that is making him want to quit. I’ve been in the college/university system for 6 years now, and let me tell you as advice to him, you want to get it done with. I know, not something you want to hear, but by your final years you do get tired and want to be done. If he is willing to add an extra year to his school in order to drop out, then so be it.

    Since you care about your money, and I don’t blame you, let me tell you some other things. I switched schools myself from Windsor to Toronto. It cost me a lot of money. It will probably cost you more money to move him to another school then to keep him at York. The education I have got from York has been great. The admin side is terrible. And I think the mistake so many students are making is leaving the great education because of stupid admin BS (on both sides). As I said, I’ve been in this long enough and I have been twisted around every way by admin in every school I have been to. You will always have an issue. The only reason he should think of leaving is because he dislikes what is being taught to him. I left Windsor because my education was being hurt by their system. A prof at Windsor said to me “you are paying for this, if you are not getting the education out of it for what you pay for, then move somewhere else.” Now, I don’t think he had a strike in mind when he said that, but ask you son if he enjoys his classes and enjoys what he learns. If he says yes, then tell him to stay. All this will be put behind him in a month or so, and then he will go on his way and probably have no other issues for the rest of the time he is at York. Is it worth giving up a year of classes that you enjoy and money you won’t get back, just because of a strike? I say it is not, because finding material you like being taught and finding people who are good at teaching it are hard to come by. If he likes what he is being taught, then moving would be foolish.

    My first year here at York I had to deal with the admin a lot over a lot of issue because I moved schools. It added so much stress and was a pain in the ass. This year, I hardly ever talk to admin and I enjoy the classes (mostly) that I am taking.

    I understand you are a concerned parent, as I have the same issues with my parents as well. I am taking it your son is in his first year, probably 18 years old (sorry if I am wrong) and you care about his education and your money. Yes this is a pain in the ass to everyone. (I’m 5 months out from being finished, so you can probably guess how pissed I am) But really the thing you need to worry about is what is being taught, and not bother yourself with admin things, a lesson I learned fairly quickly. Yes we are not being taught anything right now, but in a few weeks (I say this is over mid-jan) we will be back to school, and everything will go on. Yes people will have issues during the summer and it will cost people money, but it will cost you more money to drop out and start again then it will to wait.

    In very simple terms, all the money your son will make working till next August will not equal everything he will be giving up. If he wants to change schools fine, but finish the year. We all hate the thought that two months have been wasted. Can you live with the thought of a year being wasted? If I had to pick, I’d take the 2 months and my education continuing.

    I hope this helps. And sorry if at any point it seemed rude. I just really think so many people are willing to jump ship too quickly. And being 23, and with close to $50,000 in debt from my loans, I can’t imagine jumping off because of a relatively small thing to me. 2 months to my 6 years. Not a big deal to me. But when your son starts looking at 4-5-6 years to complete his 4 year BA because he left school, you will wonder if your money is well spent.

  119. Millhouse

    Here’s how I see things.

    1) Forget about reimbursement(s). It’s some kind of strange
    fallacy that there is the possibility for the return of funds.

    2) If it’s an economic decision you want advice on, most of
    the answer has to come from you and your son. What are your
    perceived benefits of hanging in there? What are the
    opportunity costs of -not- going to work?
    i.e. what would you get from working for a 1/2 year, that
    you otherwise would not get if you were hanging-in?
    Some money, some work (hopefully career-related) experience,
    some time away from school to think about good reasons for
    going back, some exposure to opportunities (work and
    otherwise) that could not occur in an academic setting.

    On the other hand, hanging-in keeps you in the program
    so you don’t have the hassles associated with trying to
    re-enter or enroll elsewhere. You don’t feel that seductive
    pull of the paycheck that you’d have to give up if you
    were working. You stay connected, in some tangible ways
    to academia. You learn how to commit to the important
    things you’ve started.

    3) Changing schools is not so easy, some (many) credits are
    not accepted at other institutions. Depending on the program,
    and how far along you are, you may wind up losing more time
    than you stand to gain. If your son is 1st year, then it
    becomes a matter of assuming that the whole year is a write-off
    for him. So far there is no indication that York would allow that
    to happen. The current plans at York are to shorten both fall and winter terms and run a compressed exam schedule. They would likely extend the school calendar to run long, after a resolution to the strike. So the year will be completed
    (eventually), and there will be no refunds.

    Of course, as the strike is still on-going why not apply to
    transfer to another school? If they accept for sept 09, you
    can take some time off and start again next fall.
    If the transfer won’t work out, you’re still in a program that
    you can pick up when things settle down again.

    4) When classes resume is still a variable. There has been
    little action to move this dispute forward. The legislature
    is still out for xmas break so any b.t.w legislation will not
    be coming out any time soon. There are some other
    variables but speculation on those is pointless, you’ve
    go to make decisions based on the info you have not the
    info you want.

  120. Marj

    Andrew………..great response and points made….In reading your comments I have calmed down and discussed with son…He loves university and is a scholar…however, he is very disillusioned by the ‘professional’ teaching staff..that they would strike. We are not union people so don’t understand all there is about it, so we plead ignorance there. He does not like the fact that TAs are teaching him…He had expected Profs to teach. A little concerned about the youthfulness of some asst.s….His main point of upset is that the teaching staff don’t seem to care enough about the students’ education…or they wouldn’t can you leave 50,000 kids in limbo?? I appreciate your response and it is certainly more down to earth and real than what I have been reading…I do hope you get your year asap. I will encourage my son to continue and we will carry on…..damn shame tho…

  121. Cupe Doll

    @Pally Wally.. first you take the “@” symbol personally — then you take issue that I’m agreeable to ‘sigh’ and disagreeable to you. Well, guess what? That’s because I actually disagree with everything you’ve expressed here. If you need to take that personally — go ahead. I won’t even bother telling you to stop wasting your own time that way. I don’t come here to provide you free therapy.

    As for you not wanting to talk to me any longer.. allow me to assure you how totally crushed I am by that. Yes, I must go “re-evaluate” my own “position(ality)” — just because I got under Pally Wally’s onion-paper-thin skin.

  122. Cupe Doll

    Marj, for what (little) it’s worth, I am terribly sorry for the damages my local 3903 is needlessly causing your son and York students in general. I know how little that’s really worth — too few of us in 3903 are responsible adults willing to stop or ever apologise how badly we’ve harmed our students. But some of us are doing what we can to expose local 3903’s irresponsibility in this strike.

    Please don’t make any decisions during the next 2-3 weeks. Unless there’s some settlement — which there won’t — the consequences of our 3903 strike won’t become clear until later in January 09. For better or worse, you will only then become able to make an informed decision.

    I wish you and your son all the best, Marj. Know that your son will not be singled out either at York or other institutions. There’s 50000 students in the same untenable situation right now — through absolutely no fault of their own. I have no doubt they will be treated with courtesy and great sympathy wherever their futures take them.

  123. ...sigh...

    Pally Wally,
    I think when CUPE Doll spoke about making this personal, she was referring to the political dialectic about CUPE’s ethics in going on strike, and how the university has chosen to deal with it.

    To be personally sympathetic to the effects that this strike has had on the students at York, I feel, is very different from having an ’emotional’ dialectic about the reality of this strike.

    In other words, the strike has not occurred because CUPE members feel they have a case completely derived on their pathetic situation (by pathetic I mean Pathos), that this is for the most part an ethical battle between the admin and CUPE and thus a dialogue about the strike should be treated unemotionally, but based on the ethics of the situation.

    The students on the other hand, have been forced into this situation, we are in such a ‘strong’ position in terms of sympathy with the community (as CUPE Doll has been pointing out) because there is no logical or ethical reason why we have been booted out of class and denied an education that we have worked hard to pay for. In fact we are swimming in pathos, I think YUFA tried to lend you guys some of our pathos in their support, but I think they should be impeached for that. You guys aren’t at all in the same category as us in this situation. As CUPE members constantly affirm, that undergrads have no idea of the reality of life as a grad student. CUPE members (Units 1 and 3 at least) are in no way the same ‘class’ of students as the undergrads in this situation.

    Anyway @ All,

    No one really responded to my comment on how university education has been billed as a right, and even a necessity in high-school propogandizing, when it is clear from a number of student’s constant paranoia of having to (brace yourself) go back to school, as well as CUPE members constantly affirming (such as Pally Wally) that a majority of students are only getting their education for the degree, that the content and material they learn is ultimately meaningless for a fairly large majority.

    In this case, why such an emphasis on higher education? College and trades clearly provide better avenues to well paying introductory work. In fact the people I know who have benefited most from the Canadian university system are those who recieved a diploma, gained work experience, and then returned to university sometime later to increase their avenues. This seems like a far more rational approach to university education. While our situation now, bills it as a necessity when if anything it is only serving to oversaturate the work-force with applicants with B.S.BAs, leaving a desperate need for both trades people and skilled workers (college grads).

    By removing the emphasis on higher education as a right, or necessity, we would have smaller class sizes, we would need less TAs and thus wages would increase w/ the diminishing size of the employee pool.

    Shouldn’t higher education be a privelege reserved for those willing to take it seriously?


  124. Pally Wally

    I gave up flame wars around the time I hit puberty, so you’ll have to excuse my ‘onion-paper’ self from bowing out. It is truly sad to see someone that gets to teach students treating ones they disagree with in such a roughshod manner. Maybe that’s how you get your kicks, but hey, I’m not your therapist.

    The issue isn’t that I have a problem with how you’re talking to me – it is that you can’t answer questions, and instead you attack posters with your own ideological riffs and present them as if they were passed down on high as the word of some god. Believe me, I have been called much worse by far better (and intelligent) people.

    It is almost a shame, because I know that this is how bullies like you get off, and you will consider this a ‘win’ – even though you say you think that CUPE3903 are doing the same thing and condemn them for it.


    “Shouldn’t higher education be a privelege reserved for those willing to take it seriously?


    Sounds good, but when you look at who traditionally has ‘taken higher education seriously’ you see that it is kids from middle-class families and above. In other words, you underestimate the social capital that is part and parcel with growing up in a home with professionals; and vastly underestimate how someone might take university ‘seriously’ but still fall short when Lacan isn’t being bantered about the dinner table.

    I will agree that university entrance should be more merit based, that enrollments are too high – but the business (I thought this was education?) models being used by the institutions seems to demand higher enrollments every year. There are notable exceptions like how UofT just cut Undergraduate enrollment by ~10-15K across their campuses because recent graduates kept giving them horrible reviews, and complaining openly about the ‘value’ their degrees.

    There are no easy answers – because when we talk about making things only merit based we risk returning universities to the elitist institutions they were before they were effectively opened up in the late 60s. Which I don’t think is something
    we want either.

  125. Andrew

    Post-secondary education isn’t a right, it is a choice. High school is a right, public school is a right. University is something you decide to do for many reason. Some people come for just the degree, the piece of paper. Some come because they want to become more. Some (like myself) come to experience things I wouldn’t get in my little city of Sarnia.

    My marks are not amazing. By some people’s standards I shouldn’t be in University because I’m not pulling A’s in every class and studying my ass off every night. University opened up so much for me that I wouldn’t have got if I had stayed home and just worked. But this is my choice. Yes I want the paper because lets face it, job applications want to see that. But the insight I have gained for this year alone has changed my career path to the point where I don’t care about marks and GPA, but rather care about skills. I’d be happy if all my classes were pass/fail. I’m in writing classes and really want to become a better writer. My teachers hate giving marks out because as they say “how do you say that is a 7/10 and that is an 8/10. Why can’t we say “you did this real well, but you need to work on this.” I agree, we would all learn more.

    There are a few elitist who think they SHOULD be here and others should not. To be honest, my reason to come to school is none of anyone’s business but my own. And any TA/GA who complains about it I’ll simply say, without a large student population, you wouldn’t have a job.

    Put it this way.
    I understand when I am finished I will have a BA in English.
    I also understand I am one English major among hundreds also getting a BA at York.
    I also understand I am one English major among thousands in Canada getting the same BA.
    I understand that what ever reason I or anyone else came to university for won’t matter on a job application. Our BA’s will look the same.

    So because of all that, I understand I need to work on my skills that I want to use in my career, because at the end of the day, a magazine or newspaper is going to hire me because I have amazing journalism/creative writing abilities. They won’t even bother looking at my GPA.

  126. ...sigh...

    Maybe I should clarify my position a little. My lambast on higher education is more on the streamlined effect of it, the apathy that some teachers exude that I think degrades the moral of the student populace.

    Andrew, I am as well also an English major, I work for the paper because it will probably help me, but I feel it speaks to something intrinsically flawed in the system, that the paper really outdoes the education in terms of value. I am a fairly independent learner, I learn best when I discover things for myself, this is something that I feel university should push more, but it really doesn’t, it just leads to learning what is set out for you, with maybe a bit more freedom for discovery than high-school. I’ve been told what I’m looking for can be found in graduate studies but I don’t think I could continue university, without a few years off in the real world. It just feels far too institutionalized.

    I’m all for education for educations sake, but in that case I think the drive should be primarily based in the want to learn, not in the want of some degree, that should be a nice bonus.

    Most of that comment was a response to Pally Wally’s point that the value of the degree far out weighs the value of the education. I can understand that some students are doing this for the paper. I can’t accept though, that teachers will accept this as a fact. If it comes to the point that you need to institute a state of absolute denial, so you believe your students are just in class to learn, I feel thats necessary. In no way should a student’s education be compromised with regards to the apathy their teacher feels towards them.

    I think I should also clarify my feelings about Lacan, why I mentioned him. Lacan is someone I discovered after taking interest in Freud whom I was introduced to in class. Do I think Lacan should be taught thoroughly in any year of undergrad? Hell no! My class, as I said in a previous post has more than enough trouble with Freud, that I pursue Lacan out of my own interest. The problem is, the class has maybe had me read 120 pages worth of Freud in the 3 months of school that I have had. I was interested in Freud so I went forward, read 4 of his books, a couple books by Jung and then went on to Lacan. I wrote an essay using material I had gained from all this reading, it was far more comprehensive than I would have been able to write should I have restricted myself to only the required readings. I was then penalized because I wrote my essay as a fairly advanced criticism on Oedipus Rex with reference to a lot of material I had read of my own volition, I then had marks detracted because I didn’t focus my essay on EXACTLY the material covered in class. Regurgitation is not an education.

    To be fair though, most of my professors really encourage and praise any kind of extra-curricular scholarly enthusiasm, this just stands pricks a bit harder for me due to my own interest in the material.

    Finally to get to your point Pally Wally,
    “Sounds good, but when you look at who traditionally has ‘taken higher education seriously’ you see that it is kids from middle-class families and above. In other words, you underestimate the social capital that is part and parcel with growing up in a home with professionals; and vastly underestimate how someone might take university ’seriously’ but still fall short when Lacan isn’t being bantered about the dinner table.”

    First of all I don’t come from a particularly ‘educated’ household, I don’t think a member of my immediate family has read a page of plato let alone Lacan, but thats just some strange assumption you made.

    My ideal for education is perhaps a bit more like what Obama seems to be theorizing. Where, similar to the GI bill instituted for WWII draftees, people can be provided with a university education on the governments bill should they perform a civil service (whether community or military), I think this offers an incredible opportunity for the lower income demographics to obtain a higher education. I also, should this be instituted, would not be too perturbed by a rise in tuition fees (even if it meant that I had to pay more), realistically university in Ontario is incredibly cheap compared to the states, if the tax money that pays for half my education is siphoned to help the financially impoverished attain a higher education I think I could live with that.

    Look at the amount of students with so much superfluous technologies (iPods and iPhones abound), look at the pictures of CUPE members standing outside in warm new winter jackets. Some people, like myself, don’t really have the luxury of being able to pay for all these things, yet at I have a feeling if you look at the demographics that make up the ‘lower tuition fees’ movements, I don’t think the impoverished would necessarily comprise a substantial majority.

    Anyway thats enough for now.

  127. ...sigh...

    Pally Wally, just out of curiousity, how does Lacan come up at the dinner table anyway, like hypothetically…

    ‘How was school today Johnny.’
    ‘I got in a fight with Billy during art class, it was almost time for recess when he started to hit me. I think his aggression stemmed from him seeing how much better my finger painting was than his and this triggered an inner discordance which propogated a feeling of inferiority. He attempted to manifest a level of superiority over me and thus try and satisfy his anxiety by creating an external mirror through his violence.’

    That was just off the top of my head, but yeah… I dunno doesn’t seem like it would happen. My family was more like,
    ‘I got in a fight today.’
    ‘Go to your room! No dinner for you tonight!’ ahahaha……

  128. Cupe Doll

    @Pally Wally: of course I express contempt in your general direction. But you must not take it personally. Here’s why — and don’t worry, this one time therapy is free.

    Imagine there’s an ideologue named Wally Pally posting here. Lamely attempting to justify this absurd strike of ours. When anyone complains our strike harms students too badly, Wally Pally replies that we only harm students in a good cause. Then, when anyone complains our cause is no good, Wally Pally replies that we aren’t harming students. Not too badly. And then again, when anyone complains our strike harms students too badly, Wally Pally also again replies we only harm students in a good cause.

    Imagine how Wally Pally keeps going around. And around. Until someone comes up with a nifty notion. Address both cause (3903 anti-“neo-liberalism”) and effect (harming students too badly) in one phrase. For instance:

    “Because we in 3903 don’t believe students should have to pay for education, we ruin the education students already paid for.”

    Now Wally Pally has a problem, yes? The circle has just become too small for Wally Pally to get around. So what can Wally Pally do? Infinitely many things, of course. But what Wally Pally chooses to do is change the subject without once admitting how wrong s/he was. How? By substituting the education students already paid for (the subject matter of prior discussion here) with “life-long education” (which is free, can’t be paid for, can only be harmed by cutting life itself short — and has no more relevance to our student-harming 3903 strike than it does to inbred toenails).

    Can you imagine all this, Pally Wally? Ok, imagine just one more thing. Namely, that someone aliased Kewpie Dollie expresses some mild contempt at Wally Pally’s intellectual dishonesty, cowardice and general lack of character. Which Wally Pally takes bitterly and personally to heart.

    Under such circumstances, what should Kewpie Dollie say to Wally Pally? Most obviously, that Wally Pally ought not take it so personally. Because Kewpie Dollie would have expressed contempt at anyone engaging in the sort of intellectual dishonesty, cowardice and general lack of character Wally Pally did. Anyone at all. For instance, had it been someone named Pally Wally engaging in such intellectual dishonesty — why, someone else aliased Cupe Doll might have expressed the precise same contempt.

    So. In short, Pally Wally. You could alter your alias entirely unbeknown to me. And — nothing personal — you’d get precisely identical contempt.
    But count on it — the alias which keeps apologizing to students and parents for all the needless harm we in 3903 have done them can have nothing but contempt for the alias which keeps claiming we in 3903 haven’t harmed our students. Like, not too badly.

  129. Stef

    lol …sigh…, lol.

  130. Andrew

    “Andrew, I am as well also an English major, I work for the paper because it will probably help me, but I feel it speaks to something intrinsically flawed in the system, that the paper really outdoes the education in terms of value. I am a fairly independent learner, I learn best when I discover things for myself, this is something that I feel university should push more, but it really doesn’t, it just leads to learning what is set out for you, with maybe a bit more freedom for discovery than high-school. I’ve been told what I’m looking for can be found in graduate studies but I don’t think I could continue university, without a few years off in the real world. It just feels far too institutionalized.”

    I’m the same way, I’d rather find something on my own then have someone tell me where it is, or in our English world, what it means. It bothers me going into classes and having to live with these pre-assumptions about text. Teachers will say “no answer will be shot down” but forget to add “but we won’t touch any one that I don’t agree with, or that doesn’t follow my lesson plan”. It is why I enjoy writing because in the end, it is what I want to put into my own stories and poems and articles that matters. I am by no means an amazing student. As I have pointed out before, I’m not an A student, I can’t seem to get over a B most the time, I’m just starting to become better at reading, my spelling is getting better every year (something I actually take pride in considering prime-school screwed me on that) and I’m starting to get the “lingo”.

    Take this conversation going on here. Half the time I have no idea what any of these two are talking about, or the language they use. Does it bother me? Some days it does, because I think I am doing something wrong. Should after 4 years I have a high vocab? Other days I remember I’m going most likely into Creative Fiction and Sports Journalism, so massive language isn’t going to get me anywhere. I couldn’t tell you anything about neo-liberalism or about this strike beyond what I have heard, but I could speak for hours on why Canada’s 15-0 win over Kazakhstan is a reason the IIHF needs to change the format of the world juniors.

    English has taught me very well to be critical of a lot of things. That I love because when talking about sports, it gives you a whole new insight. So yeah, I’m in University to talk about sports. I have no interest in being an academic the rest of my life, or working in a school (unless I could teach writing).

  131. Marj

    Millhouse…….. I feel such a loss of time for the students of York. I am lucky in that my son returned to his p/t job to build the coffers. In his first year and thinking so highly of York, and so impressionable, he obtained an ‘I don’t think York is about education, just politics’ attitude. We have since simmered down and look forward to returning. Back in my day, and yes, I am an older parent, the word ‘strike’ would have sent folks into a panic. We come from working class people, blue collar if you like, and follow the rules, and play the cards as dealt. A post secondary education was far from reach.

    When we started the savings for York I thought it an impossible goal. So we finally get there, and these months are wasted…..sure we can play catch up, but the feeling is just not the same. My son will continue at York, I hope, and we will just sit and wait for the return date…..thanks for letting me ramble..

  132. Cupe Doll

    @Andrew: “I couldn’t tell you anything about neo-liberalism…”

    Lol. No reason you should, Andrew. Not unless you like hanging out at 3903 meetings.

    “Neo-liberals” essentially believe in economic Darwinism. They believe that societies which don’t allow their markets to be completely free can’t be either healthy or just. Far as neo-liberals are concerned, the only legitimate role of government is to keep people from pushing each other around physically. But otherwise, they regard any economic actions taken by governments as illegitimate — even criminal — interference against open markets and the pursuit of happiness.

    “Neo-liberals” don’t just believe in stuff like free-trade. They also believe that taxation is theft. Why? Because that’s how definitively they believe government is the seat of nothing but total corruption. So, if you were to tell a neo-liberal we need taxation to help the poor, they’d say: “Oh yeah? If, while mugging you, I told you not to resist because I’ll give the money to charity — would that make it alright? Would you even believe it?”

    “Neo-liberalists”, on the other hand, are those who truly believe neo-liberalism is how our society works. And they go around accusing everyone who doesn’t fully agree with them of being neo-liberals (as per above). Just like the core ideologues in our 3903 local keep accusing York of being a “neo-liberal employer”. They believe there’s no way to get rich without exploiting the poor. That there’s no way for society to become just and healthy without the poor rising up, liberating and expropriating everything that got exploited from them in the first place. And if you’ve got a job you really like? No way. Ask any neo-liberalist and they’ll tell you how exploited you’re getting.

    And that’s why I keep shouting-out “neo-liberalism”. Because I’m so sick getting told by my local 3903 how exploited I am. Sure — I’d like some job security. But I love my job. I’m *good* at it. I totally chose my job regardless how much more money I could make somewhere else. And that’s *my* choice. I’ve had it up to here having my job and everyone else’s job (as “valued educators” — yeah, right) ruined this academic year.

    Academically, my local 3903 has already ruined this entire year. But hey — it’s only because we in 3903 don’t believe students should have to pay for education that we ruin the education students already paid for. So come on already, undergrad allies — where’s the love?

  133. Commuter

    CUPE’s website says negotiations will resume this Saturday, January 3rd.

  134. B

    now the questions is, is either side bringing anything new to the table to make this upcoming round of negotiations the push to the end of this strike?

  135. D

    CupeDoll- Your commentary during the strike have been fantastic. It is an absolute pleasure to read what you write. Do write a book one day 🙂

  136. Andrew


    Maybe I should add more to that. I don’t know much about neo-liberalism, nor do I care to know more about what it is. That’s your thing, not mine. You completely missed what I was saying. You only grabbed one little point and ran way too far with it. I was pointing out, that I couldn’t talk about something like that, even though I have taken classes in politics and talked neo-liberalism, but I could go on about the IIHF for hours. If you read the start of the paragraph I even say that some days it can bother me because I’m not in on the language, yet I remind myself I have no interest in that and it isn’t really where I am going in life. My entire post was about the “right/privilege of education” and how some people believe others shouldn’t be here even more so if they are not at your level. The neo-liberalism thing was an example.

    You’re like a keyword shark. You see certain keywords, and you attack those. When clearly if you read my post I wasn’t asking for definition of what it is, but rather just simply saying “I’m not sure off it, and some days it bothers me, but more days then not, it really has nothing to add to me and where I am going.”

    (I should point out, I’m not meaning to be a prick, but this is the type of stuff I deal with a lot. I get to many people trying to teach me something, rather then listening to what I am saying.)

    Just a little story.
    I was in a politics class last year where the TA tried to put his neo-liberal view on the class ALL THE TIME. Hell, I was doing a massive essay on the Canada Council for the Arts and he was making me do the essay about how Neo-liberalism adds to it. He was an arrogant prick who was hated by everyone, and many of his peers wished he would have kept his mouth shut. (Another TA told me he had to be removed by force from a conference when he went off on people). I switch classes to this other TA (as I said, he was full of himself. Many people were leaving his tutorial) and she told me to totally drop my essay topic. All my work from September to December was dropped. I basically restarted and I couldn’t have been happier to do so.

    Maybe a problem in schools is forced education. Telling people how they should think. Why not allow people to look into things they want to? If I want to do a “politics and the NHL” why should I not be allowed to? Rather then being forced into doing an essay I really have no interest in doing. Would that simply not improve the outcome? It is common sense. It’s like being given a choice, would you rather wash dishes or go play a game? Clearly you are going to go do the one that interests you more, and you will put more effort into that. That is how I wish schools would change. University claims to let people explore, but really, it only lets you explore what is in the lesson plan.

    Another example of this is, this year I wanted to do a research project for an English credit. I wanted to do “Depictions of Sports in Literature” and read sports novels and how the games are actually translated into writing. I couldn’t find a single teacher who would take on the project and the answer I got most of the time was “it’s not in my field”. That bothers me. Yet if I would have done say “Poetry of William Blake” I would have 10 teachers, but no real interest in doing the project.

  137. ram

    @ cupe doll:
    hey recently i saw this update on the universiy website that talks are resuming on saturay..(3 Jan).
    I think there is a good chance of Jan 5 restart!

  138. B

    ram – that’s a long shot.

  139. Cupe Doll


    I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear & obvious enough — but I meant there really is *no* reason you need to know about “neo-liberalism”. That was my message to you. I only went on about “neo-liberalism” to emphasize what ridiculous ideological nonsense the very concept is.

    Guess what? If you never had T.A.s from 3903 and I wasn’t a member of this loco local? Neither one of us would have heard that term in the first place. That’s how fringe it is.

    “Neo-liberalism” isn’t my thing any more than it’s your thing. I only keep pointing it out because that’s the brainwave destroying this academic year — and to let everyone know how loco my 3903 local is.

  140. Cupe Doll


    My best guess is they’re not getting together to bargain — at least not primarily. I can only imagine York will issue 3903 an ultimatum — let them know the big guns are coming over town.

  141. york student

    just out of curiousity if the union and admin do reach an agreement, would the ratification vote take place on the union’s next planned GMM date (Jan 8th)

  142. Andrew

    @ Cupe doll

    It wasn’t that it wasn’t clear, it was more, I skimmed and saw the amount of times the word was used and thought better to just avoid it. Remember, I started the drinking game for every time you said neo-liberalism. If I drank to that one post, I’d need to go to the ICU. lol

    Thankfully I’m not a politics major, or I fear by this year I would have punched out a TA by now for their overuse of that term. 😦 Though I’m sure not many students would have an issue with that right now ;).

  143. Andrew

    @ York Student

    Damn well better! I do believe though, that as soon as they have come to some agreement, a vote is put forth right away. Could be wrong.

  144. Cupe Doll

    @york student: “.. would the ratification vote take place on the union’s next planned GMM date (Jan 8th)”?

    Probably not. During last strike 3903 members got ratification notice in the mail 2 weeks ahead of the vote. Which would mean even if we get noticed in the next few days, the vote wouldn’t happen until second half of January. And that’s almost too late to save the academic year.

    By this time last strike people had already received notice over a week earlier. I’m starting to think York won’t force ratification this time.

    Also, there’s yet another difference from last time. This time, everyone in 3903 got their Records of Employment (ROEs). Which never happened last time around. I thought this was only to allow 3903 members to apply for E.I. — but it seems a lawyer has confirmed it means York has officially terminated all 3903 contracts.

    Nobody has clue what York plans to do. I can tell you one thing, though. 3903 members have started freaking at a much higher level.

  145. Commuter

    @ CUPE Doll

    I think what york student meant to ask was when a vote to ratify a potential tentative agreement would take place, not a “forced” ratification vote called by the administration.

  146. york student

    @ commuter yup, that is what i meant, but thanks for the info cupe doll

  147. york student

    @ cupe doll
    do you know when a vote to ratify a “tentative agreement” could take the earliest if an agreement is reached over the weekend.

  148. Cupe Doll

    @york student

    Almost certainly before January 5th. But there won’t be any agreement. York will give 3903 one last chance to get real — and 3903 will conclude York must be really desperate.

  149. clennis

    hey cupe doll,
    actually, i went to university of toronto and spent years learning about neoliberalism and there’s nothing fringe about it (bill clinton was a big fan – fringe figure that he was as president of the united states at the time).
    also, your mischaracterization of neoliberalism clearly disqualifies you from teaching international realtions theory.
    i’m disappointed. with all you’ve had to say about it, i thought you might have read or thing or two…
    oh well, i’m getting used to the empty rhetoric.

  150. clennis

    “@clennis: What do you care if I think you lie? What’s it to you what I think? I’m just another alias on the internet.”

    Why should I care if you lie? I wasted my time thinking we were having a conversation. I even dared to think for a moment that we could do so in person, and better understand one another’s positions. That’s how I think politics is done – you demonstrate over and over again that for you, it’s about accusations and personal attacks.
    What proud political history do you identify with, that founds itself on not having conversations?

  151. clennis

    most impressively, you managed to not answer my question again.
    what if i were to tell you that my position on american foreign policy was ‘it’s too late’. would that strike you as a reasonable argument?

    let’s hear it already. you’re just as much a part of cupe as anyone else, and perhaps that scares you the most.
    you could actually take part in bargaining instead of making empty personal attacks, but you never have so far as i can tell.
    therefore, the strike is as much your fault as it is anyone elses (again, we all have one vote as you ought to know).

  152. clennis

    check mate?

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