NOTE: This is an editorial by Cupe Doll and contains no new developments or news concerning the strike. It is, however, a very interesting read and I encourage all to review this perspective of the Union from a Union member.
THIS ARTICLE IS A WORK OF SATIRE, IT IS NOT JUSTIFYING THE CURRENT STRIKE. PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE BEFORE YOU WRITE YOUR COMMENTS.
Many here keep saying we 3903s are just looking out for ourselves. As if we 3903s were just being selfish. But don’t let the few 3903s who don’t understand why we keep striking mislead you. We are definitely not just being selfish. We aren’t being selfish at all.
When we didn’t strike — in 2005/06 — we got 4.1% increases every year until 2008/09. If we were just being selfish — if we could do better just bargaining realistically — why would we go bragging about demanding everything impossible? Why even go striking in the first place? And only last week, we got outraged by York’s latest offer — despite it having been generous beyond anything offered and accepted by other campus locals and despite how it would have made us best paid in our sector anywhere in Canada. If we were just selfish — why would we keep all-out striking? How selfish can that be? When striking more adversarially after getting offered most, we damage every part of the York community. Including ourselves. How is that selfish? We don’t even factor the damages. Because we are not striking selfishly for our membership. We don’t care what our strike mandate was. We simply must keep striking out against our employer. Not by our selfish strike mandate but for a greater cause. For a cause greater than our strike mandate and ourselves combined.
In or out of 3903, everyone should know our cause by now. As pointed out in numerous articles, declarations and at this forum. Like Sharon Davidson spurred from the podium at our Thursday, January 8th GMM: “There can be no question we fight against labour casualization! We fight to roll back York Neo-Liberalism!”
There can be no more questions that’s our cause — and that our cause is not selfish. The only questions are: why does our cause mean we have to get so totally adversarial against our employer? Why can’t we bargain realistically as anyone else? If bargaining realistically means compromising to mutual satisfaction, why does our cause mean we 3903s can never compromise?
Fortunately, an article titled “Adversarial Labour Relations and the Rationality of Striking to Win and Voting No” by Michael Skinner — a 3903 researcher with the York Centre for International and Security Studies — got forwarded my way. And the answer was right there in the first few lines:
.. an adversarial relationship between employers and workers inherently exists within a capitalist economic system. Employers and workers compete for economic resources in a capitalist market; otherwise it is not a capitalist system by the very definition of capitalism.
In other words, it’s not that we 3903s got totally adversarial for no good reason. Nope. Rather, adversarial is just the way things are between workers like us and employers like York in our society. In our capitalist society. Things are adversarial all on their own — and we’re just being good adversaries like we’re supposed to. The fact that it’s war between workers and employers is not our fault.
Clever how Skinner’s rationalized why 3903s must keep striking because we live in a so-called capitalist society. Similar to why private employment was forbidden in Marxist societies behind iron curtains. Workers pretended working for the state — while the state pretended paying workers — since private employment would have meant utter exploitation. But we don’t want to work for the state and get legislated — or beaten — back to working. Right? Nobody went on strike in the old Soviet Union. So, to justify continuing employment and continued striking, Skinner pulls us back a bit from depicting private employment as complete utter exploitation. To us, private employment isn’t quite so evil. We like our part-time private employment — how it pays near full-time wages. So, in our capitalist society, 3903 private employment is competitive — not utterly exploitative. “Employers and workers [merely] compete for economic resources in a capitalist market…”
Here’s the thing, though. The way workers and employers supposedly compete in our capitalist society? It’s not so mere. It’s good enough to justify continued 3903 striking regardless what York offers. Because competition between workers and employers is alleged to be nothing but adversarial – inherently adversarial. If there’s an economic resource pie on the table? Either the workers get it or the employers do. Not both. Never both. There can’t be any compromising. There can be no collaborating between workers and employers. No slicing the pie so everyone gets some. Who gets the pie is only and entirely adversarial. That’s how workers and employers supposedly compete in our capitalist society.
Is it true, though? Is that how we compete in our society? Hell, no. It would take full-time work even imagining a society like that. Employment agreements are voluntary in our society. Except in event of monopoly, workers and employers either manage slicing the economic pie to mutual advantage — or they don’t enter into employment agreements in the first place. Not only do workers and employers choose each other quite freely in our somewhat open markets. Also, we can’t even distinguish from one moment to the next who the workers and employers are. Anyone can be an employee one day, self-employed the next — and an employer of others the day after.
In our free and democratic Canadian society, open market competition does not entail adversariality nearly so much as liberty to collaborate where, when, how and with whom one chooses. But when it comes to 3903? The society imagined to justify our incessant — intransigent — striking would be no good place to live. Not the place to visit. A society so completely totally stratified between mutually exclusive worker and employer collectives. A society where there’d be no point working. Since only the most adversarial fighting could secure the entire indivisible economic resource pie. Nothing and nobody could work again. But striking would get very physical very fast.
No free democratic society could be so dysfunctional. Not without immediate collapsing. For a society to persist that way, it would have to become fully totalitarian. No place to live or visit — though there’s nothing wrong imagining it.
What’s so sad isn’t 3903s imagining nightmare societies. But justifying how we strike by pretending our society is some kind of nightmare, 3903s now cause precisely the oppression we so honestly believe ourselves unselfishly fighting against. That’s what’s saddest. How we drag our York community into the very nightmare we imagine to justify ourselves.