Adversarial Labour Relations: Lose-lose-lose for York, 3903 and 50,000 Students

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.

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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.

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126 Comments

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126 responses to “Adversarial Labour Relations: Lose-lose-lose for York, 3903 and 50,000 Students

  1. rawrz

    I think whoever came up with this theory of ‘fighting against society’ is just being unrealistic.

    No matter who you are, you don’t have that much power to change society. Your just creating chaos and digging a hole for everyone. Not only are you not able to find jobs in the future, your students won’t be able to either after you screwed them over. Now no one can graduate on time, and current CUPE3903 members have created a horrible reputation for themselves as reckless or careless employees who fail to have compassion for people they work with (the students). Even though that might not be the case, it would look bad.

    So before this reputation for the CUPE members and the students solidify and remain stuck to us, please just end the strike. Realistically, I don’t think us students really care anymore how much you get paid. We just want our education, which we all paid for, but are not receiving anymore.

  2. yorkstrike2008

    @Sheiiiiiiit

    You clearly didn’t read through the entire article. The beginning is satire, Cupe Doll is indeed agreeing with you that Cupe 3903 is being incredily selfish and beyond that, wreckless.

  3. Student

    Their strike cause more damage than benefit to the society. Their are not only selfish, they are criminals who stilling from us our time, out money and our dreams.

  4. Brilliant.

    It’s kind of like “The Secret”, except in a negative light.

    More fuel for the fire to burn unions out of existence…

  5. rawrz

    @ Angry Chinese Driver

    Agreed. Theres a reason why some places aren’t allowed to have big unions.

    @Student
    I think they just want to ‘Add oil on top of fire’ (It’s a Chinese saying)

  6. 4th year student

    You are selfish.. you are ruining many lives for personal gain.. this money is going in your pocket and the students will not see it.. we are the ones that have no voice in this matter.

    Get rid of Unions and this shit wont happen.. they exist for absolutely no good reason.. they do not belong in a country like Canada…. you ppl dont work in factory conditions and you get paid well enough for doing nothing.. all the York TA’s that i’ve had were lazy and completely useless.. either get back to work or make room for someone who wants this job.. you are lucky for having a job at this time.. i would hold on to it for dear life… after this strike ends no other university would ever want to hire any one of you.

  7. rawrz

    @4th Year Student

    Actually if it gives you a little hope, I have ONE TA thats not lazy. But I completely agree with you. I would give it all I got if I had a job like that which paid $63 per hour, for about 10 hours per week.

    Let’s not talk about the TA’s. They’re ruining even the students reputation because the strike will greatly affect our reliability and availability to work.

  8. blackflame28

    While I do believe the need for unions and strikes, CUPE takes it too far. I’ll be honest, I skimmed the article. Reading any justication, whether satire or not, just makes me more mad. This doesn’t change anything. CUPE complains that they want only a 4.3% raise? I’m sorry, most people, if they are lucky, get 2%. I haven’t had a raise in over 2 years. Will I strike? Well… I don’t have a union, but if I brought it up, I’d probably be fired.

    Whatever, CUPE, stuck it up. I’m tired of this strike already.

    And York, just so you don’t think there is no hatred for you.. trust me. There is. A whole bucket of “I’m not coming back next year” hatred.

  9. 4th year student

    @ rawrz

    i would be happy with 40$ an hour.. lol.

    these CUPE members are pigs.. they dont deserve shit.. i hope they realize that back in the classroom the students will not welcome them back.. i have absolutely no respect for them..

    you people will not get any jobs after this strike.. just wait and see… NOBODY will want to hire you after this shit

  10. Unimperessed

    Well, I certainly wouldn’t want my class to be led by the author of this rant. “Best paid in our sector anywhere in Canada…” I am sorry, what? What planet is she from. Unions exists to protect people from exploitation and abuse. And CUPE is doing exactly that in this case. And sure, yes, you may not like that, but tough, princess. Not everyone is willing to watch themselves get screwed by kents/barbies and their loyal retainers and do nothing about it.

  11. Mike Oxbig

    so there’s probably not going to be school next week either right?

  12. 4th year student

    probably not..

  13. Haiden

    This strike did just as much good for the Union as the writers strike did for WGA.

    CUPE members are geniuses. How about striking against the internet. Internet’s got lots of money, don’t you guys want some of that sweet internet money?

    Please drag your sorry selves back to work.

  14. Unimperessed

    Just because a bunch of you are afraid of standing up for yourselves, it doesn’t give you moral right to high brow those who do choose to fight. Keep bending over if you wish, but at least find decency not to get in the way when other people choose to fight back.

  15. my part time job pays me 8.75. and somehow i manage to pay tuition, cellphone, transportation, and books.

    hell if i made 63 bucks an hour……..wow i cant imagine what i’d be able to achieve.

    putting aside the extreme minority of ta’s that actually do something, the position of the ta is totally useless. you guys can be easily replaced by people who would take less pay and do a better job.

    i’ve talked to york professors and even they agree (although many were ta’s themselves) that regardless ta’s are essentially useless. [edited by moderator] 50,000 of us dont give a fat rats ass if your suffering by not getting your pay raise, and losing your time. Your wasting our time. I dont give a shit about the money. i’ll survive somehow. however i am spiteful since you are wasting my life. i wanted to do summer school to fast track and get ahead then enjoy a bit of the summer months but now you have cut into this. you selfish [edited by moderator].

    and one more thing what pisses me off is when YFS is interviewed on the news they say the students and YFS support the ta’s. my ass. yfs does sure. but i can tell you that the majority of students will tell you [edited by moderator].

    thank you.

  16. Unimperessed

    If that’s how most students feel, it only shows how poor the admission requirements have become.

  17. Haiden

    To Unimperessed

    As much I’d to live in a world of butterflies and rainbows and naive optimism… the reality is, thousands of students are already getting bent over.. You can march and protest with flowers all you like… do it on your own time.

  18. DF

    I pray and hope that the summer school gets saved. I want to get done with some classes over the summer so i can take some electives next year in hopes of raising my gpa because once we get back to classes, i know my GPA will suffer. This is FUBAR….SAVE SUMMER SCHOOl

  19. Unimperessed

    How about growing a spine, Haiden. Why don’t the loudmouthes who are crying about about big bad scarry union present York management with demands for financial compensation. Those overpaid clerks could care less for either students or their staff.

  20. one of the main problems is having teachers and t/ga’s in the same union, they have very different needs and should be in separate unions. I get the contract faculty wanting to know if they’re working for the whole academic year or not and I personally think that a 4 month contract for teaching courses that are mostly full year is a bit nuts, just not to the faculty, but to the students too. having to adjust to a new prof half way through the year is not my idea of a good education.

  21. rawrz

    @4th Year Student and Greasy Mike
    Exactly. I mean lets give them the taxes, $40 per hour after taxes, thats about right. even if I got paid $30 and worked 10 hours per week, I’d probably pick up one more job and work 15 hours a week and I can probably pay for tuition, books, transportation, bills, and a mortgage. I have no idea why they’re complaining. Not to mention, theres people like me who are willing to work even for $8 and only get 4 hours per week when I used to get 20.

    @DF
    Everyone’s GPA will suffer a lot. Realistically I forgot all the stuff I learned in Fall term after the 10th day of the strike.

    I heard though, sometimes professors will allow the option for students to base the mark on midterm. or maybe have like midterm worth 80% and 20%.

  22. rawrz

    @ Unimpressed

    I completely agree with you. If York didn’t pay their staff more than the average TA’s, we probably wouldn’t have this problem.

    It’s human nature to be greedy I guess…

  23. The forced ratification was today! ! !

    They voted and 71% of CUPE members accepted York’s offer; The STRIKE IS OVER! !! !

    Classes Wednesday, Jan 14

    http://www.thestar.ca <–check it oot!

  24. Commuter

    *Facepalm*

    If you actually want to trick us, try using the accurate website for The Star.

  25. Student

    Simply by saying that you are striking for what YOU believe is fair, does not make you unselfish.
    In the eyes of everyone else, it is BECAUSE you choose to continue to strike for more, that is why we believe you are selfish.

  26. Haiden

    Unimperessed,

    Your right, maybe if we all gave York Management puppies and smiles and said a little prayer they would take time of listen to the students, I mean surely they care about what the students have to say?

    Your entitled to your opinion. I applaud you for applauding others in their fight against “the man”.

    No one’s probably had it worse then the TA’s. These people have to show up on time and get paid for a job they have to do. It’s a good thing we don’t have a thing called the poverty line to measure how rough people actually have it.

  27. rawrz

    if the forced ratification was today, it’ll probably be all over the news.

    Not to mention, they did say somewhere that they physically send mail to each CUPE member to inform them of the forced vote. Letters don’t just teleport.

  28. AndrewB

    Plus there was a post two below this one that says when the vote is. lol

    FAIL!

  29. The vote will be held at the following date and time:
    Monday, January 19th and 20th
    9am-1pm and 3pm-7pm at the Novotel Hotel
    3 Park Home Avenue
    North York
    Nearest subway: North York Center

    if i read that post right, it was set my the Ministry of Labour so it would’ve been all over the news, 6 and 10/11 o’clock

  30. AndrewB

    Umm, I’m going to go with that the vast VAST majority of university students are under the poverty line. Hell if you added up all the money I have earned in the last 5 years, I wouldn’t make it over the poverty line.

    This all just keeps putting a bad taste in everyones mouth because all it says is “TA/GA’s are more important then undergrads.” It is perfectly fine for me to have penny pinch and for students to work 2-3 jobs, but god help us if a TA only works 10 hrs and makes as much as a undergrad working 40 hours.

  31. 4th year student

    @ Andrew B

    I totally agree with you!

  32. Haiden

    Totally agree with Andrew B

    and I was being sarcastic earlier, TA’s are pretty spoiled.

  33. 4th year student

    is there are a point when York can start firing these idiots?

    can they start replacing them? i know there are many people who would love to have a job at this time…

  34. 4th year student

    i hope they freeze in this upcoming weather.. you assholes dont deserve anything better

  35. Kelso

    I only see it as selfish when the best offer in Canada isn’t good enough for you… all you want is more more more

  36. SOLUTION

    Nice article, At least ALL Cupe isn’t unreasonable… Cupe members don’t bend over to your union leaders.. show your support for education, and Vote YES – PLEEASE !

    And an unrelated question for all you math majors:

    Whats 75% of 25% of 4000?

  37. theowne

    It’s just the same CUPE Doll posted rant, “CUPE, neoliberalisation, blah blah blah”

    I got tired of reading these a few weeks ago.

  38. Unimperessed

    What a sorry bunch most of you are. Grow some balls (applicable to females also, only figuratively, please… not that I have anything against that though, it’s your body), get over yourselves and take a serious look at this f***ed up world. If you are fine with how things are, I’ve got news for you – it will not last. Because there are people who are willing to put their livelihood on the line for the benefit of the future generations and they do so every day. They stand up and they will continue to do so, regardless of how much more pathetic your wining may get.

    Call them selfish if you wish, I call you selfish in return. Have you ever thought about anything but your own petty needs? If you don’t want to do anything significant to help the parties to resolve the situation, just STFU and do something useful with yourself… go catch up on those readings in the syllabus.

  39. rawrz

    @ Solution

    I’m not a math major, but thats 750.

  40. SOLUTION

    @ unimperessed.. funny how you accuse us of not being considerate of other people (namely Cupe members) when expressing how we feel about a strike.

    If maybe Cupe, had some consideration for anyone but themselves, we would afford them that same courtesy.

    Why dont you listen to your own advice and be considerate of students for a change.

  41. B

    Wow, for someone that wants us to grow up and take a serious look at the world, you sure do set yourself back by using such profane, sexist and derogatory.

    This isn’t some noble fight against conservatism, liberalism, capitalism or whatever ideological sticking it to the man philosophy you want.

    Consideration for 50,000 students has never gone beyond PR stunts by both the admin and 3903. Suddenly, we students are suppose to set aside caring for our educations because that would be too selfish?

    Take a better look at the world. There is no ultimate moral or noble cause to fight for. What 3903 is doing is no more worthy then anything else going on.

  42. dawn1111

    all i can say is that article is loaded with tones of BS

  43. B

    *obviously meant neoliberalism and not liberalism.

  44. @ cupe doll

    I have a few questions for you. Since what you are striking for cannot be measured in value, how and when are you planning to end the strike? The current goal is technically unreachable, and unmeasurable, hence its not something you can reach at a bargaining table, you guys act like bunch of immature kids; disoriented, dis coordinated, and unaware of anything. What is the point of all of this?!

  45. rawrz

    @ HA3AP

    maybe its just a stunt like how little kids pull to whine when they don’t want to do something. But in this case, maybe its because the TA’s don’t want to work so its the only legitimate time for them to not lose their jobs but still be able to have some sort of a vacation and get what they want, temporarily that is.

  46. Mike S

    This is a giant movement that kills my money that is based on a political theory most second year Poli Sci students know to laugh at…

    I have friend. Last year he transfered from York, where due a parent going working at York, his degree was either heavily subsidized or free I forget. He left because of people like you to Trinity College… now how I wish I had followed his example.

  47. TRUTH

    I did picket for CUPE and I received no money for it. We must sacrifice everything we have in order to make this strike successful. Losing a year or semester is nothing compare to the benefits of victory which is putting down these capitalists

    Majority of these students never show up to class, play with their laptops during the lectures and use doctors note to get away with exams. Now, all of a sudden they care about University. What a lie. Why are you students so eager to become tools for capitalists and York university?

    This is the most important part of your university time. To fight for humans and make things better. You should all be thankful to lose your semester or year. That means you all have contributed to the victory over imperialism

    As someone said : Viva la Revolución
    Go CUPE Go!

  48. theowne

    You’re an idiot.

  49. SOLUTION

    Just like TRUTH says we all should be happy and Thank Cupe for forcing all of us to reaarange our lives. We are doing a great service to them and society as a whole!

    We are helping them to achieve something far greater like he said victory over imperialism!!!!

    Don’t be fooled fellow students … On the surface this strike just APPEARS to be a self-serving Money grab… it’s really NOT about that at all… its about victory over imperialism!!!! Make Humans better.. by stepping on the backs of other Humans !
    Go Cupe Go !

  50. stricken

    “Why are you students so eager to become tools for capitalists and York university?” It’s considerably better than being tools for marxists, whose philosophy you appear to be advocating. The latter hasn’t worked out so well.

    “To fight for humans and make things better.”

    In fact, things only get better where capitalism has — to some extent — been embraced, e.g. China and Vietnam in the last couple of decades. If you really want to understand “living below the poverty line,” I suggest you talk to someone who has lived in one of the countries where that deadly ideology has been recently practiced. (For some perspective, my girlfriend, who is from China, didn’t have a refrigerator until after I had Internet access in my living room.)

    “Viva la Revolución”
    Indeed. Take down that Che poster and grow up.

  51. clennis

    @cupe doll
    well, i thought i could resist dragging myself into the mud again, but you never cease to amaze me with your campaign of false information, and you ought to be checked at every false step you’ve ever made on this forum (though, you’ve refused issue-based questions many times before).
    what surprises me most is that this alleged union member (cupe doll) has won a privileged status on this website, in spite of a blatantly one-sided opinion that’s short on facts and long on personal attack (and all this on what i naively hoped was a more nuanced forum – fooled again). for a time, i thought that this forum held a somewhat journalistic and descriptive position on the strike – thanks, yorkstrike2008 for your personal influence here (and ban me, if it pleases you).
    let’s rehash cupe doll’s rhetoric, if we must:
    cupe doll claims to have special, insider information about cupe’s position as a ‘member’ – apparently, the strike is secretly about neoliberalism, not restoring wages and benefits to 2005 levels, or reinstating job security for contract faculty (nothing shocking here, he/she has never said anything else, period – see previous 100 posts from cupe doll).
    the claim is that while some of you may have been fooled by the official, public and legally accountable position of cupe, cupe doll knows the REAL issue(s) (and she speaks for all 3,500 of us, and can tell us what we really mean – even when we disagree – like a mean and all-knowing psychiatrist).
    conspiracy theorists are a dime a dozen, and always claim the system itself is fine, but there are a few bad apples who are ruining it for everyone (see previous 100 posts from cupe doll).
    cupe doll is just another example of this rhetoric, and so i’ll leave it to those willing to decide whether or not all 3,499 members of cupe can be summed up in the knee-jerk, anti-union and conspiratorial rhetoric that parades itself as journalistic revelation at yorkstrike2008.
    gravely disappointed and voting against the same offer put on the table in july 2008.
    clennis.

  52. clennis

    @truth:

    “I did picket for CUPE and I received no money for it. We must sacrifice everything we have in order to make this strike successful. Losing a year or semester is nothing compare to the benefits of victory which is putting down these capitalists

    Majority of these students never show up to class, play with their laptops during the lectures and use doctors note to get away with exams. Now, all of a sudden they care about University. What a lie. Why are you students so eager to become tools for capitalists and York university?

    This is the most important part of your university time. To fight for humans and make things better. You should all be thankful to lose your semester or year. That means you all have contributed to the victory over imperialism

    As someone said : Viva la Revolución
    Go CUPE Go!”

    yours is the only kind of rhetoric more offensive to me than cupe doll’s.
    or are you cupe doll under a self-reinforcing pseudonym?

  53. clennis

    @cupe doll:
    i encourage you to try and back up your calculated misinformation on your toes.
    since the ministry will take some time to institute a forced rat vote (a week?), we should meet at a public space and try our arguments in person:
    let’s call each other out at city hall’s ‘public opinion podium’ in front of Nathan Philips’ Square (Winston Churchill statue, I believe). Maybe Sunday at 3:00pm?
    let’s not talk on this forum, let’s talk for real.
    but more importantly, let’s not refuse to talk (’cause that’s what got all of us where we are in the first place).
    hope to see all contributors there,
    clennis

  54. a disappointed canadian

    no one cares about your reasons anymore, get back to work.

  55. rawrz

    Honestly, those of you that are FOR CUPE probably aren’t students.

    Whatever reasons they have, I don’t think we care.
    Call us selfish or what not but I think CUPE has screwed us over enough and haven’t gotten anywhere to ‘the big picture’. So why not be realistic and stop ruining our lives? Especially if you don’t even get paid to picket…

    If you look at this in a practical way, CUPE is just being stupid, ignorant, and unrealistic, and taking everyone down with them.

    Even if you think its for a ‘greater cause’, theres always a right time for them.

    Its called the EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT.
    I really hope that none of the Atkinson Prof’s and TA’s think this is the time for the ‘greater cause’ regardless if its meaningless or not.
    I mean, this is what you teach us in ADMS 1000… so lets not be hypocrites here.

  56. 4th Year Student

    cupe ppl open your eyes… people are getting laid off right left and center.. you are lucky to have a job… you should hold on to it..

    did anyone see the paper this morning? people are telling parents to keep their kids away from York University.. to choose another school…

    with less students attending the University there will also be a need for less Ta’s/less profs.. less money coming into the university.. after most of you get fired no other university will want to hire you after this shit…

    GET RID OF UNIONS!

  57. 3rd year n counting

    unimpressed, cupe is not putting their lives on the line. nothing will happen to you. you’ll all go back to work, you’ll juts have a good excuse for taking longer on getting your MAs and PhDs done cuz of the strike. and your profs will understand and move on.
    you claim you’re not selfish? you’re fighting for the greater ideological and sociological good? good for you. while you’re out there being cold and righteous, we’re being stiffed of what is rightfully ours, of what we, students in this capitalist society paid for. we have a life to live and bills to pay. you are ruining it and at this point, no greater good can fix it. find a different way to fight for your cause, one that does not happen to be at the expense of 50 000 other people.
    oh and most of us have balls, if not all of us. except nobody gives a damn about our balls. especially not YOU, cupe people cuz you obviously havent been listening to us.

    and while you are out fighting, consider this: i teach dance to kids in several different places. i make 40 bucks an hour but due to the bills i pay and how little time i have i work very limited hours each week (and i cant increase or decrease the number of hours as they get set in sept according to the kids schedules). i have 4 recitals and 4 competitions to take care of in may/june. except i’ll be in school. which means that i will not be able to be there for my kids. which means that they will have no guidance, no support and will not be able to perform some of the numbers bcs they cant do it without me (too long a story to explain here). they paid money for it, which cannot be returned (unrefundable fees) and the parents are upset. economy is bad enough and throwing away money is not sth they planned. so at this point, this strike cost these people about 200 bucks each. seeing as im losing money as a result it costs me quite a bit too.
    i also had to give up a full time job offer bcs i wont be able to graduate next year bcs of this strike, and i gave up a part time one for May-June-July, so thats money out of my pocket and on top of that i cant go on my 2nd wedding anniversary vacation this summer bcs of the money lost bcs of the strike.

    this is one story out of 50000. who cares about your greater good? how is it going to fix my life after what you’ve done this year?

  58. 4th Year Student

    its personal gain..

    if its the greater good then i assume they will share the extra income earned with 50,000 students.. bastards

  59. JMac

    I’d like one of these CUPE people to explain how you would have York “restore wages to 2005 levels”.

    And in that same post, maybe you could explain how York’s offer of about 3% per year is any less than the approximately 3% per year that Ontario school teachers have been accepting from the Ontario government recently.

  60. 3rd year n counting

    @4th year student….
    NOW thats a good idea! lets share the winnings!

  61. demarche

    A suggestion for CUPE members:

    Instead of asking for your contract members to be given tenured jobs, why not demand that York create a large number of tenured jobs that will be filled by open job searches, i.e., anyone can apply, like normal? Of course your members can apply for those.

    What makes your current demand unacceptable to York is that you’re taking one kind of job (contract instructor) and trying to convert it into another kind of job (professor). When you were hired, you were evaluated on the skills required for the first job (teaching), and not on the very different skills required for the second job (teaching, research, administration, graduate student supervision, getting grants, etc.). So why should York hire you for a kind of job that you didn’t even apply for, and weren’t evaluated for? A lifetime job, at that?

    You might say that under the conversion process, you would have to apply for the professorial job now. But when you apply for the new job, why shouldn’t you have to compete against all the other bright young Ph.D.’s in the world who also want to be professors? We want York to have the best professors, right? Surely undergraduate students, graduate students, and current professors want York to get the best new professors.

    I’m not just saying this to provoke. I think this is something that has not really been addressed by CUPE to date. Further, I would gently suggest that it’s this kind of thing that makes it difficult to see CUPE as the kind of progressive social force that it claims to be.

  62. 4th Year Student

    the dont want to compete against all the other bright PHDs in the world because they know that they will loose. and the position will be filled with those more qualified and more deserving.

    they just want everything handed to them on a silver platter without having to put in any effort..

  63. Bobert

    @demarche

    I agree, this conversion proposal is an unreasonable demand, because it goes against one of the very purposes of having tenured faculty in the first place. You can’t tie up the best and the brightest when the university’s hands are tied because they have to pay salaries of people who got ‘converted’ ONLY for the sole reason of being a
    contract prof for something like 20 years

    and I am not saying contract profs aren’t necessarily as talented as professors who get tenure early on in their career, in fact I am sure in most people’s experience the quality between the two types varies.

    But most of us would like to still believe that a tenured prof got their job and kept it through one application process and a contract prof got their job and kept it through a different process, and not because of some policy dictated by a union.

  64. Tired student

    Very interesting article. Hope the other members of CUPE read it carefully.

  65. Kita

    Parents come to Canada for a better education and a better life, what kind of example are we setting, when we use education and its students as a pawn for personal gain??
    50,000 students and we have absolutely NO say in what happens to us…thats just unbelievable.

  66. KH

    Look at what happened to the public schools when we allowed the teacher’s union to get out of hand. Job security is so good that it is almost impossible to hold teachers accountable for their actions. The longer they’re in the system ruining children’s lives with their incompetence, the harder it is to get rid of them.

    An education system where teachers are hired and re-hired based on merit, and tenure is given only to the most qualified candidates, creates the best learning environment for students. It’s as simple as that. Are we going to let this union send York down a path that protects incompetency and stifles competition?

  67. JMac

    But what about the prof who played the game well when he/she was new and ended up with tenure and who now sucks at the job? How many of those are there, and how easy is it to get rid of them?

  68. Flying J

    @ CUPE doll and clennis,
    To be fair, I understand both of the arguments that have been presented by the aforementioned posters, respectively.

    However, as a consecutive Faculty of Ed student, my life is being affected in such a way that this strike is now threatening to take food off the table that I need to feed my wife who stays at home with our two small children. Come May, rather than being able to work and provide for my family, I will be searching the food banks for sustenance. But when I mention this to other CUPE members such as Pally Wally, her only response is, to paraphrase, “I feel sorry for your predicament, but we need to fight for what’s right”.

    This is why I believe that CUPE doll is not being misleading. There seems to be an underlying ideology driving CUPE members who are in favour of the strike.

    @clennis:
    To address your point- I hate York. Even if York is right and the union’s request has been unreasonable (which I personally believe to be the case), I hate York so much at this point that I want to see the university brought to its knees. And I hope parents realize that this damn school is a joke. So I guess I am the ultimate antagonist. While I believe on the one hand that the union is full of greedy radicals, I’m willing to wait this out and witness the fallout this strike will have on York’s reputation in the long term. I also hope that somehow York refuses to hire all members of CUPE 3903 in the future so they can end up jobless and pushed to the brink of despair as they search for their next meal at the local food bank. In short- to hell with all y’all!

  69. Dray, with some historical context.

    Hi, all. I was looking at old CUPE listserve posts, and I discovered the following note. It helped provide some of the historical context of the current strike.

    It reminded me that the current strike is not strictly the result of a bunch of radicals decided suddenly to “demand the impossible” and prosecute a protracted strike. Rather, it was the result of more than two years of failed attempts to redress a through more conventional means.

    The following e-mail is just one example of this, and it concerns just one issue: York rolled back the 3% raise for Unit 3. It’s dated April 12, 2006.

    Dear Members of CUPE 3903,

    Urgent Notice: York Admin Backtracks on Agreement with 3903

    The 3903 Executive Committee is sending this letter as a call to action by all members, in response to one of the most severe violations of our collective agreement in recent memory.

    The York administration has recently informed the union that, beginning in September, some of our members will not receive their 3% negotiated wage increase. In fact, we are alarmed that many Graduate Assistants (GAs in Unit 3) members will see a 3% reduction in wages from the previous year!

    As a last-minute resolution to this issue averted a strike early last November, the union will be pursuing all available courses of action, including launching a work-to-rule campaign, to ensure that the negotiated terms of settlement are followed, in an effort to ensure labour peace on campus in coming months and years.

    The 3903 Executive has given the employer until Noon on Tuesday, April 18th to meet with us and commit to both ensuring that union-won GA money goes into the pockets of GAs and not operating budgets this coming year,and to begin working with the union on a permanent solution inequities in GA wages.

    Information will be put on our website, http://www.cupe3903.tao.ca as it becomes available, and we will announce after Noon on April 18th whether the issue has been resolved or the campaign has begun.

    We thank all members for their support. Together, we can ensure that this ongoing issue is resolve peacefully and permanently.

    The CUPE 3903 Executive Committee

    ****Please read below for more details and background****

    Problem and Background

    – Beginning in September, the negotiated 3% wage increase will not be received by many members of Unit 3

    -Worse, we have been informed that some members will receive a 3% wage decrease.

    – For example, in the Faculty of Environmental Studies, where members already receive more than $2000 less than most GAs, negotiated GA funds provided by the Faculty of Graduate Studies for this purpose are not being allocated towards this negotiated wage increase, or to increase the number of available positions.

    – This practice, if allowed to continue, effectively negates gains made for many Unit 3 members and, ultimately, threatens collegial employment relations and labour peace on campus for years to come. [Dray: no shit!]

    Demands

    We demand that the employer honour the commitments it made to CUPE 3903 during collective bargaining. Specifically, we demand that,

    -GA wages in departments that historically offer full-GAships will be increased by 3% beginning in September

    – That GA rates in departments that offer partial-GAships be at least maintained at 2005-06 levels, and that funds provided by FGS not put into wage increases in the next two years be used to create extra GAships of additional value

    – That the employer provide the union with a signed commitment to work
    through
    the Labour/Management Committee to draft a Letter of Intent that will
    permanently resolve this matter

    Plan of Action

    – We will launch a grievance regarding this administration of the collective
    agreement, which violates minuted commitments made in bargaining

    – We will file a complain with the Labour Board, charging the employer with bad faith, in efforts to rectify the beach of faith in the employment
    relationship caused by this violation.

    – We will launch a work-to-rule campaign of withholding final work documents, including final grades by members of Units 1 and 2 and final documentation of research and administrative tasks, both because the legal processes pursued are weighted against union rights and because these procedures are lengthy and this issue requires a more timely resolution

    ———

    The issue was not resolved on the 16th, and all the events in the “plan” above were carried out. I don’t remember if York capitulated or not, but I do know that CUPE did concede something big (don’t remember what).

    Last year, there was another work-to-rule campaign surrounding the benefits issue (28% membership growth, but no growth in benefits funds), in which people (including me) were denied some benefit claims (because the funds ran out). That failed outright.

    Anyway, there you go. cupedoll is still right to *parody* CUPE as a bunch of crazy radicals, of course.

  70. ^^^^^

    Damn that was a good post, Flying J. I think this represents the view of many Undergraduates at this point.

  71. Dray, with some historical context.

    Hi, all. I was looking at old CUPE listserve posts, and I discovered the following note. It helped provide some of the historical context of the current strike.

    It reminded me that the current strike is not strictly the result of a bunch of radicals decided suddenly to “demand the impossible” and prosecute a protracted strike. Rather, it was the result of more than two years of failed attempts to redress a through more conventional means.

    The following e-mail is just one example of this, and it concerns just one issue: York rolled back the 3% raise for Unit 3. It’s dated April 12, 2006.

    Dear Members of CUPE 3903,

    Urgent Notice: York Admin Backtracks on Agreement with 3903

    The 3903 Executive Committee is sending this letter as a call to action by all members, in response to one of the most severe violations of our collective agreement in recent memory.

    The York administration has recently informed the union that, beginning in September, some of our members will not receive their 3% negotiated wage increase. In fact, we are alarmed that many Graduate Assistants (GAs in Unit 3) members will see a 3% reduction in wages from the previous year!

    As a last-minute resolution to this issue averted a strike early last November, the union will be pursuing all available courses of action, including launching a work-to-rule campaign, to ensure that the negotiated terms of settlement are followed, in an effort to ensure labour peace on campus in coming months and years.

    The 3903 Executive has given the employer until Noon on Tuesday, April 18th to meet with us and commit to both ensuring that union-won GA money goes into the pockets of GAs and not operating budgets this coming year,and to begin working with the union on a permanent solution inequities in GA wages.

    Information will be put on our website, http://www.cupe3903.tao.ca as it becomes available, and we will announce after Noon on April 18th whether the issue has been resolved or the campaign has begun.

    We thank all members for their support. Together, we can ensure that this ongoing issue is resolve peacefully and permanently.

    The CUPE 3903 Executive Committee

    —–

    (to be continued…)

  72. Dray, with historical context

    (continued April 12, 2006 e-mail )

    ****Please read below for more details and background****

    Problem and Background

    – Beginning in September, the negotiated 3% wage increase will not be received by many members of Unit 3

    -Worse, we have been informed that some members will receive a 3% wage decrease.

    – For example, in the Faculty of Environmental Studies, where members already receive more than $2000 less than most GAs, negotiated GA funds provided by the Faculty of Graduate Studies for this purpose are not being allocated towards this negotiated wage increase, or to increase the number of available positions.

    – This practice, if allowed to continue, effectively negates gains made for many Unit 3 members and, ultimately, threatens collegial employment relations and labour peace on campus for years to come. [Dray: no shit!]

    Demands

    We demand that the employer honour the commitments it made to CUPE 3903 during collective bargaining. Specifically, we demand that,

    -GA wages in departments that historically offer full-GAships will be increased by 3% beginning in September

    – That GA rates in departments that offer partial-GAships be at least maintained at 2005-06 levels, and that funds provided by FGS not put into wage increases in the next two years be used to create extra GAships of additional value

    – That the employer provide the union with a signed commitment to work
    through
    the Labour/Management Committee to draft a Letter of Intent that will
    permanently resolve this matter

    Plan of Action

    – We will launch a grievance regarding this administration of the collective
    agreement, which violates minuted commitments made in bargaining

    – We will file a complain with the Labour Board, charging the employer with bad faith, in efforts to rectify the beach of faith in the employment
    relationship caused by this violation.

    – We will launch a work-to-rule campaign of withholding final work documents, including final grades by members of Units 1 and 2 and final documentation of research and administrative tasks, both because the legal processes pursued are weighted against union rights and because these procedures are lengthy and this issue requires a more timely resolution

    ———

    The issue was not resolved on the 16th, and all the events in the “plan” above were carried out. I don’t remember if York capitulated or not, but I do know that CUPE did concede something big (don’t remember what).

    Last year, there was another work-to-rule campaign surrounding the benefits issue (28% membership growth, but no growth in benefits funds), in which people (including me) were denied some benefit claims (because the funds ran out). That failed outright.

    Anyway, there you go. cupedoll is still right to *parody* CUPE as a bunch of crazy radicals, of course.

  73. Dray, apologizing

    Sorry for the duplicate posts. I thought that, because of the size, the first post didn’t go through.

  74. Dray, agreeing seriously with cupedoll

    Cupedoll wrote: “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. ”

    (S)he’s identified that, in the Markian analysis of labour relations, there is an assumption that, in a free market, the economy is a zero-sum game. This assumption permeates the thinking in 3903.

    Indeed, I agree with her that this is unreasonable. Others don’t necessarily lose wealth in order for you to gain wealth. Everyone’s wealth grows together, through participation in a free market, and there are countless examples of how this is true.

    I agree, as well, that Skinner’s analysis was really weak.

  75. Enough

    When I read comments about how union members must sacrifice everything in order to make this strike successful, and yet how sacrificing a semester is equivalent to victory which is putting down capitalists, I can’t help but wonder, what type of communist country does the union think Canada is?

    Secondly, whether the students show up to class, text message, or play on laptops during lectures, or regardless of whether they use doctors notes to get out of exams, I don’t understand what this has to do with the union’s position. If you feel as if your teaching is going in vain, and you are so insulted by the student’s perceived lack of interest in their education, then you are free to choose another job. Not contribute to holding an entire university in limbo.

    And whoever uses “Viva la Revolución” to promote this strike, please, let us not forget that revolution comes as a tool for the masses, not as a pawn for any particular party.

    Also, don’t believe that because one is causing civil unrest it means that they are bringing forth a revolution – which actually means a far-reaching change in mindset.

    It’s actually sad when those who claim they are setting a revolution needs revolution themselves.

    If you ask me, we all need a revolution.

  76. Bobert

    @JMac

    you don’t think a committee of peers won’t get rid of someone who “sucks” now?

  77. JMac

    It was an honest question Bobert. If that happens, then the system works. So universities have nothing to fear by transferring contract profs to tenure?

  78. CUPE member with child

    Actually Dray and Cupedoll, in Marxist analysis economies are not zero-sum games. Marx was the first political economist to recognize this in opposition to the theories of Smith, Ricardo, Malthus and others, all who assumed that the finitude of land necessitated a phenomenon of ‘diminishing returns’. Marx’s critique of political economy explained the dynamic nature of economic growth. Nonetheless, in any given micro situation the distribution of an organization’s income is zero-sum. Both workers and investors can’t both be in posession of the same unit of currency at the same time.

    Whether or not you agree or disagree with Skinner’s analysis, it’s not very becoming to make stuff up and attribute it to others.

  79. cupedull

    @cupedoll

    I swore I wasn’t going to post anything on this forum as I only come here to try to keep up with the (real, verified) facts about what’s going on.

    But Cupedoll’s latest paranoid rant broke me down. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM???

    You and that right wing business kid they keep putting on City TV are made for each other. You both seem to be having so much FUN with all this. Him with his made-for-TV “we’re being held hostage” clips…you, with your semi-literate entirely nuance-free rants that are perhaps supposed to seem witty (caustic? deluded?). WHY?

    If you love teaching so much, then spend all this energy organizing free teach-ins for your beloved students. You obviously don’t support the strike, so scab it up and show those “radicals” what ya’ got.

    Or, just continue to whine about how everyone only hates you because they disagree with your brilliant opinions.
    I have to admit, it’s almost entertaining…in a listening to Rush Limbaugh spew racist invectives kinda’ way.

  80. Bobert

    Its not about having anything to fear some conversions may work some won’t. It’s about respecting the established tenure track process and bypassing it over some arbitrary rule put in a contract.

    It should be up to the colleagues involved to make these kinds of decisions, if they’re the ones who have to live with it and if they do need to decide who needs to go.
    It’s also about taking away the University’s right to decide who’s earned tenure and who doesn’t.

  81. Moving on

    I applaud Cupe DULL….I was getting tired of Cupe Doll’s “I am with you” rants

  82. Aaron

    Cupe Doll repeats the same things again and again about the union being full of ideologues, and conspiratorial rants about the union deliberately wanting to destroy the academic year.

  83. Dray

    @Cupe Member w/ Child:

    Thanks for correcting me about Marx. If CUPE members think the economy is zero-sum, it doesn’t mean that Marx therefore must’ve thought so, too.

    “Nonetheless, in any given micro situation the distribution of an organization’s income is zero-sum.”

    I appreciate that, but, Skinner’s analysis was about the economic behavior of “employers” and “employees”, was it not?

    On your point that “both workers and investors can’t both be in possession of the same unit of currency at the same time”, though, I need to return to the thinking behind “the economy is not a zero-sum game”.

    One doesn’t have to hold currency to hold wealth. Investors in particular may own a firm that has employees. The firm does not have to pay a penny to its investors for its investors to accrue wealth from the firm’s being in operation. The firm itself is capital. It itself has value. For an investor to *realise* that value, she would have to convert the firm into currency — by selling it. That cash wouldn’t come from within the firm necessarily (unless it were a management buy-out or employees were getting shares). So, you see? The fact that employees and investors cannot hold the same dollar bill is not actually a problem. What’s more, the better the employee does in the firm, the better the firm does and, thus, the richer the investor gets.

    In other words, although currency is zero-sum (excluding when the government prints or burns bills), the economy itself is not.

    It’s not merely theory. The York University Pension Plan and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan are excellent examples of this.

    p.s. I hope you caught my *sarcasm* in my post about Cupedoll’s rantings. I still think she’s crackers.

    @ Others:

    Oh, and SRC’s having nothing to do with tenure. Conversions have nothing to do with tenure, either. That’s been made abundantly clear, REPEATEDLY, despite what some members of YUFA might think.

    The issues in this strike are extremely difficult to follow. Nobody can be faulted for not understanding Labour Relations at York. I think the Middle East Crisis is easier to understand!

  84. tired

    Supposing that the deal gets rejected ( which most probably will be the case) when can we be back to have our compressed semester? at least by Jan 26? please.

  85. Suzy

    i doubt jan 26 cause next mon and tues they are having the vote…then probably we will get to know the results on wed or thurs..and if its a NO, then for them to decide to be bck on the bargaining table and actually start negotiating will for sure take the jan26 week away was well

  86. Suzy

    i doubt jan 26 cause next mon and tues they are having the vote…then probably we will get to know the results on wed or thurs..and if its a NO, then for them to decide to be bck on the bargaining table and actually start negotiating will for sure take the jan26 week away was well

  87. Dray

    @tired:

    If the offer gets accepted, expect to return before the 26th. If the offer gets rejected, expect either back-to-work legislation or round-the-clock negotiations (like last strike).

    Round-the-clock negotiations will be over in a few days, most likely. (The sides are not far apart at all.)

    Back-to-work legislation would require a special sitting of Legislature, since the Legislature is not scheduled to re-open until mid February.

    I really think that, this time, the forced rat vote will pass with a slim majority.

  88. Suzy

    i doubt jan 26 cause next mon and tues they are having the vote…then probably we will get to know the results on wed or thurs..and if its a NO, then for them to decide to be bck on the bargaining table and actually start negotiating will for sure take the jan26 week away was well

  89. theowne

    Cupe Doll is only slightly more tolerable than the CUPE trolls who come on here to defend everything. This a students website. We come here to get news on how much CUPE’s stupid little strike is going to ruin our education.

    Cupe Doll was okay when she started out, helping students along. Right now I think she’s gotten into celebrity mode. These copy and pasted rants are getting repetitive. Just the same “neoliberal, evil CUPE” gibberish. Why doesn’t she spend this time doing something productive if she actually wants to help students out? Cause it’s easier to just come on websites and play internet celeb.

  90. Suzy

    i doubt jan 26 cause next mon and tues they are having the vote…then probably we will get to know the results on wed or thurs..and if its a NO, then for them to decide to be bck on the bargaining table and actually start negotiating will for sure take the jan26 week away was well

  91. Andrew

    @Dray — If the forced rat fails in all three units, it’s not obvious to me that the admin will go sprinting back to the bargaining table. Sure, that’s what happened last time, but I can’t see a good reason why history must repeat itself. I expect a “no” vote will mean that things will drag on well into February and the summer term will be canceled, while the admin will at least test the waters for btwl, once the legislature reconvenes.

    Incidentally, I have a bet going with CMwC to that effect …

  92. tyred

    Hey Suzy! Here’s a question for you …

    …. supposing that the deal gets rejected ( which most probably will be the case) when can we be back to have our compressed semester? at least by Jan 26? please.

  93. Andrew

    @Dray — also, is there somewhere that SRCs and conversions are explained in detail?

  94. Dray the Troll

    @Andrew:

    “… it’s not obvious to me that the admin will go sprinting back to the bargaining table..”

    I suppose what you’re saying is that the Admin wouldn’t necessarily be returning to the bargaining table to concede.

    I see your point, but the pressure would be very much on at this point to try to resolve the strike, as significant summer term tuition and matching funds would be lost in this situation. (It’s well known 3903 is *counting* on this, of course. But that doesn’t mean it’s unreasonable thinking.)

    If they wanted to return to the bargaining table, however, I’m sure you’ll agree that both sides would want to work very quickly. I know that 3903 is committed to it.

    “also, is there somewhere that SRCs and conversions are explained in detail?”

    I wish I could answer definitely. I get my information from the cupe listserves. (I’d advise to check the 3903 website. I’m sure it must be buried in there somewhere.) But I know that the demands were communicated to YUFA directly, because YUFA had some role in defining the proposed language, from what I understand. My point is that YUFA people actually have access to those details.

    Did you get your paper submitted on time?

  95. Andrew

    @Dray

    Working on the paper as we speak. It’s due Thursday at 3 AM EST (midnight Wednesday on the west coast). Tonight and tomorrow will be late nights.

    I’m asking because there is a raging debate on the YUFA listservs about exactly that, and I want to be sure I have the facts straight.

  96. demarche

    @ dray

    What do you mean when you say “conversions have nothing to do with tenure”? Conversions are appointments to tenure-track positions. At most Canadian universities, and especially at York, once you’re in a tenure-track position you have a very high probability of getting tenure. You’re hired into a tenure-track position with the expectation that you will get tenure, and only if you perform exceedingly poorly are you denied tenure. The tenure-confirmation rate at York is well over 90%. (This is different from, say, Harvard, where most people hired into tenure-track positions end up being denied tenure.) So at York, once you hire someone into a tenure-stream position, you have to realize that it’s going to be almost impossible to get rid of them. For better or for worse, that’s the way it is.

    And what CUPE wants for SRC’s is not tenure, but it’s close to tenure. In “Why We Strike”, CUPE describes SRC’s as appointments with “an initial term of five years that is easily renewable and eligible for sabbatical”. They object to York’s counter-proposal that SRC renewals be “subject to academic need and availability” and without sabbatical.

    So it is absolutely true that this demand would undermine the usual, more effective ways of hiring the best professors.

  97. Dray the Trolly Troll Troll

    @Andrew.

    I suppose wrangling with LaTeX makes procrastination easy 🙂

    Okay. Let me see what I can dig up for you. I’d love for you to have the facts.

  98. Suzy

    sorry for the multiple post’s up…..something went wrong!
    @tryed
    i don’t think that we will be back in by jan 26 if CUPE votes aganist york because for york to agree to be back at the bargaining table and actually start the process will for sure take away jan26 week as well….but lets just hope that we can be bck by jan 26

  99. CUPE member with child

    @Dray,

    I am not fimilar enough with Skinner’s argument to discuss it at length with any accuracey. I read it days ago and have since deleted it. Nonetheless, I agree with most of your assertions and see them as complimentary to the point I was making (nor do they, coincidentally, contradict Marxist analysis – whether we are sympathetic to its politics or not).

    I will however disagree with one assumption that you advance, and I suspect Marx would as well:

    “What’s more, the better the employee does in the firm, the better the firm does and, thus, the richer the investor gets.”

    If what I take you to mean by “the better the emploeyee does in the firm” as in the better her pay and/or benefits rather than her efficiency/productivity, etc. then I’ll simply remind you that in any company’s ledgers that these are listed as expenditures rather than assets. Nor do they have any resale value, as would be the case if a contruction company bought a hammer.

    There is no guaranteed causal relationship between the the size of the packages a company pays to its employees and its overall success.

  100. Dray

    @demarche (sucking me in again — but I guess I’m letting him suck me in again)

    Hi, friend.

    “Conversions are appointments to tenure-track positions.”

    Yes, they are. I should really say that “conversions are not appointments to tenured positions.”

    “once you’re in a tenure-track position you have a very high probability of getting tenure”

    I think you’re saying that conversions are effectively appointments to tenured positions. (I agree that, at York, tenure is practically a *fait accompli*. Sad.)

    So, you’re saying that, since the real tenure review is at hiring, that conversions circumvent the hiring process and, therefore, the tenure review process.

    I think that’s a silly argument, because the problem hereis not with CUPE’s demands but, rather, with the *official* tenure review process, obviously.

    But, I agree. With York’s current tenure review process, conversions effectively circumvent tenure review.

    I would argue that, as a tenured faculty member at York, the onus is on *you* and *your colleagues* to improve the tenure review process so that all tenure-track hires are not a shoe-in for tenure.

    “So it is absolutely true that this demand would undermine the usual, more effective ways of hiring the best professors.”

    I can’t argue with that in principle.

    Now that Andrew tells me this is being debated on your union’s listserve, I’ll let you fight your battle there, as I’m not interested in defending demands. My aims here are only to provide information and offer clarification.

  101. Dray

    @Cmwc:

    Thanks for your reply.

    “Nor do they have any resale value, as would be the case if a construction company bought a hammer.”

    And I would disagree. The employees in a firm are part of a firm’s value. When you buy a company, you’re buying the employment contracts, too. The hammer is a part of the construction company’s value. Just like the employees’ contracts, the hammer is a capital asset.

    “There is no guaranteed causal relationship between the the size of the packages a company pays to its employees and its overall success.”

    What do you mean? Of course there is. A company’s success depends on its people. Better, more productive or knowledgeable people command higher compensation. This is a basic rule of thumb in business. Better capitalized companies can afford higher quality people and will perform better.

    (In the case of chief officer compensation, on the other hand, this performance-compensation relationship is very much in question.)

  102. demarche

    @ dray

    – “My aims here are only to provide information and offer clarification.”

    Fair enough, but you did say:

    “Oh, and SRC’s having nothing to do with tenure. Conversions have nothing to do with tenure, either. That’s been made abundantly clear, REPEATEDLY, despite what some members of YUFA might think.”

    I’m sure you didn’t deliberately misrepresent things, but I don’t think this really gives a clear picture of the situation. Things being how they are, CUPE is effectively asking for tenure for many contract instructors. And of course this will reduce the number of tenured positions that can be offered to competitive Ph.D.’s from other universities, and it will reduce the role that current professors have in shaping the future direction of their departments, and replace that with a union-led process. So I think the concerns that many YUFA members have expressed are real and legitimate.

    Also, for what it’s worth, in the wider academic world, hiring your own graduates is perceived as a kind of embarrassing, third-rate thing to do, at least until they’ve gone away for a good stretch of time and gotten experience in another research and teaching setting. Otherwise, what new and interesting perspective are they really bringing to the university? And I would guess that a disproportionate number of CUPE instructors are York graduates.

  103. Dray

    @demarche:

    “Things being how they are, CUPE is effectively asking for tenure for many contract instructors. ”

    Yeah, but my point is 1) that CUPE is *NOT* actually “asking for tenure for many (few!) contract instructors;” and, 2) that the problem you cited is completely unrelated to CUPE contracts.

    CUPE doesn’t even THINK about the tenure-review process when discussing conversions, except to note that many conversions have gone on to win many awards for research and teaching and, subsequently, tenure. (I can’t cite specific cases.)

    York does seem to hire its own graduates disproportionately. That’s unrelated to CUPE, though.

    I personally agree that SRC’s shouldn’t include sabbaticals but perhaps, instead, a 7 for 6 arrangement (do seven years’ work in six and take a year off) is better.

  104. CUPE member with child

    Dray,

    If there were a direct causal relationship between an employees financial package and the success of the company, then there would be no need for minimum wages,. ALL company assets would be liquidated and paid directly to the employees with the expectation of a profit windfall at the end of the day, week, or month. We’re just getting into symantics though.

    What you’re referring to is the ‘tendency’ for higher wages to attract better workers in a competitive market and thus for them to outperform/outproduce lower paid employees is competitive firms. While I agree that sometimes this is the case, don’t forget that ‘outsourcing’ to cheaper wage markets is by all means attractive to many-a-companies’ bottom line and thus a counter-tendency to what you assume to be a hard and fast law.

  105. noesis

    the rights of workers to
    a) withdraw their labour, and
    b) negotiate their recompensation contracts
    is a significant part of what distinguishes wage labour from slavery.
    this ‘get back to work, whether you like it or not’ attitude is morally despicable.

  106. B

    But so is the disregard for the 50,000 students caught in the middle here.

    There is no moral high ground with this mess.

  107. rawrz

    personally I think B is right. There IS no high ground.
    Not to mention, most of the world runs with a capitalist society, and we get by okay-ish.

    I don’t think we should be complaining here in Canada. Even though the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer, the poorer can climb up the ladder to middle or upper class easily given the right education. And here, we do have easy access to education, and its fairly cheap… right?

    unless you go to York. Then thats not the case since OUR TEACHERS ARE ON STRIKE.

    So what sense does this make?
    Who’s doing more harm?
    the school and society? or the union?

  108. rawrz

    so muchfor freedom and equality for everyone to receive the same human rights.

    yes you have rights to free speech and act upon your own will, but students have the right to an education. not to mention we pay for it.

    we pay you. you teach us. sounds fair doesn’t it?
    students are just innocent in this mess so why can’t the union or the school just spare us and atleast have bonding atribition (probably spelt wrong but the point still stands…) or something?

  109. demarche

    @ dray

    – “Yeah, but my point is 1) that CUPE is *NOT* actually ‘asking for tenure for many (few!) contract instructors;’ and, 2) that the problem you cited is completely unrelated to CUPE contracts.
    CUPE doesn’t even THINK about the tenure-review process when discussing conversions.”

    Yes, I see what you mean, but still, the fact remains that, things being as they are, if these people are appointed to tenure-stream positions, they will in all probability get tenure without competing against outside applicants. So would it be good or bad to do this? I say bad.

    Maybe rather than splitting hairs on this point, a better way of explaining what I mean is this, from an earlier post of mine (sorry for the replication):

    When hired, contract faculty were evaluated on the skills required for one job (teaching), and not on the very different skills required for another job (teaching, research, administration, graduate student supervision, getting grants, etc.). So why should York hire them for a kind of job that they didn’t even apply for, and weren’t evaluated for?

    You might say that under the conversion process, they would have to apply for the second job now. But when they apply for the new job, why shouldn’t they have to compete against all the other bright young Ph.D.’s in the world who also want to be professors?

    That’s the crux of my case: CUPE members are not entitled to these positions at all, and have never demonstrated any kind of aptitude for these positions! They are certainly entitled to some kind of better job security for teaching positions. But not to tenure-track research positions that should be open to applicants from all over the world.

  110. Bobert

    ^ hit the nail right on the head

  111. CityZen

    I wish I could have you folks meet my students. Some of them are incredibly bright, some of them a little bratty, but overall, they are the reason I love being a TA. A month after our course began, I had a breakthrough tutorial, where my students were engaged and excited and stayed back for two hours after the tutorial had ended, still talking about the issues that were raised. Needless to say, I was not thrilled when I heard we were going on strike. I knew a number of my students were juggling several jobs to be here, but I thought the union needed to do what it did.

    Shortly after, I saw an offensive CUPE skit on youtube that compared our TAships to shoe-shining. Then there was the use of terms like ‘sweatshop’, to describe our work. While I agree that York exploits its TA’s, I cannot accept this gross misuse of language, or the gross equivalences made with the truly underprivileged. These comments can only be made by people who have not seen real poverty – people who pose with their Macbooks on facebook sit-in updates, while complaining about living below the poverty-line.

    While I don’t support the tokenism shown by the administration in its Unit 2 conversions – I know far too many valuable unit 2 members who are treated disgracefully by York – I cannot abide the derogatory language used by CUPE in its reports on York’s offers either. This CUPE executive does not represent me, and I suspect it does not represent the silent majority either.

    It goes against the grain for me to oppose a union, because I strongly believe in the right to protest against unfair conditions and I have benefitted from the results of past negotiations. However, my patience is now wearing thin, and I am too disgusted with the behavior of the current executive to continue in my unquestioning support of the union. I miss my tutorial discussions, and I worry that when I get back my students will view me as someone with little concern for their welfare – something that will taint the mentorship I hope to offer them. I also worry that my old students might be missing deadlines for their graduate applications, as well as their graduation dates.

    All this struggle and inconvenience would have been worthwhile, if the union had mounted a better PR campaign from the beginning – but there’s far too much internal conflict to do that. In addition, any internal dissent is treated as ‘reactionary’ and back we go to the good old days of Stalinist purges, so that only those who agree with the executive can be ‘true’ members of the party.

    With the latest thinly-veiled threat to visit non-picketing members in their homes, CUPE goes too far. This is no longer a consensual relationship, but one kept in place by threats and intimidation. Let’s end this nonsense for the sake of our students. Please call upon your friends to vote on Monday or Tuesday, and let’s get back to work.

  112. B

    ^ Very, very well put.

  113. Cupe Doll

    CityZen — thank you. Truely and wonderfully well said.

  114. Cupe Doll

    Citizen — thank you. Truely and wonderfully well said.

  115. clennis

    cityzen:

    how would you square the following two quotes?

    “…any internal dissent is treated as ‘reactionary’ and back we go to the good old days of Stalinist purges…”

    and

    “I cannot accept this gross misuse of language, or the gross equivalences made with the truly underprivileged”

    i’m not unsympathetic at all to your story, or frustration, but we should be sure we’re willing to be judged by the standards we hold others to.
    equating membership in cupe 3903 with citizenship in stalinist russia is just as hyperbolic as paralleling TAs and sweatshop workers.

  116. CityZen

    @ clennis

    You’re right, I would be guilty of hyperbole if I equated membership in CUPE with citizenship in Stalinist Russia. But I wasn’t. I was merely paralleling the lack of tolerance for dissent, and the labeling of a disagreeing member as ‘reactionary’, with the Stalinist purges. I’m referring specifically to Jesse Ovadia’s response to an open letter to CUPE by someone called Genevieve. If you are not familiar with this exchange, I can post it here. It was certainly widely circulated. The vitriolic tone of the response certainly silenced that person, as well as a few others who have since expressed to me that they feel intimidated into going along with CUPE.
    We’re all members of CUPE, why aren’t all our opinions relevant? Who decides who is reactionary?

  117. CityZen

    Undergraduates: The Most Vulnerable Sector

    As a CUPE 3903 member, albeit a reluctant one at this point, I have to agree with the arguments made by Dipperwell. S/he is absolutely right in saying that there has been very little attempt to reach out to undergraduates, except as ‘clients’, by the York administration. CUPE has not even done that.

    In his response to an open letter, Jesse Ovadia – a member of the executive – stated that the grand plan of the strike was to ‘bring down the neo-liberal university’ among other things. The executive widely forwarded this letter via e-mail, touting it as the opinion of the executive, and not just a lone radical. Very well.

    Media releases by CUPE decried the fact that graduate students ought to pay tuition at all, and suggested that they ought to be paid for their academic labor. Very well.

    Do these statements not reveal a blatant hypocrisy on the part of a union that does not represent the undergraduates who pay just as much, if not more, tuition as graduate students? Do they not constitute labor, under CUPE’s standards? Unlike the graduate-elite, undergraduates have to take on a wide variety of ‘non-academic’ labor in order to pay for their increasingly expensive education, and while union members can look forward to raises and the possibility of making up their lost pay, undergraduates have to deal with the stress of balancing their academic work with their increased summer labor. Wouldn’t it have been worthwhile to ask undergraduates to withhold their tuition in lieu of a strike?

    In that vein, while we accuse York of being corporate and undemocratic, how is it possible that undergraduates cannot appeal to their TA’s and faculty on behalf of their own economic and academic interests, when CUPE can go so far as to send its members on a door-to-door campaign? By all standards of democracy, shouldn’t the undergraduate sector mount a similar campaign, to ensure that a truly ‘informed’ ratification vote is held on Monday/Tuesday? If we can make claims about the value of ‘face to face’ dialogue, why is our most vulnerable sector kept out of this dialogue? Why are students being told by their TA’s that their e-mails will not be read or responded to? Because they don’t pay union dues?

    As for the nonsense on the ninth floor, it is nothing more than the performance of protest by people who have the temerity to fetishize poverty. In the interests of democracy, I invite the undergraduate population to the Novotel on Monday and Tuesday, so you can ensure you are not ‘de-faced’ in this conflict.

  118. clennis

    so the lack of toleration of dissent in cupe and stalinist russia are equivalent in some way…

  119. Lack of tolerance and silencing dissent are just some of many ways 3903 resembles Stalinism. Here’s another. The false idealization of economic class consciousness by Party elites in Stalinist Russia — and the fetishization of poverty by silver-spoon grad students in 3903.

  120. john

    I dont understand why a yes vote is going to make things better, the damage is done, u have been out this long…. its only going to cause more labour strife.. a no vote gets what you have been on strike for along, a fair deal…

  121. john

    the article in todays star shows the uncertainty a bad deal would generate… that poor women la cour, I feel for her, she derserves a good contract… vote no

  122. john

    I hope all cupe members have read that article, and have an ounce of compassion to make the right decision and vote NO

  123. clennis

    cupe doll:
    with your extreme and characteristic confidence, i`m sure you have substantial examples, and not just another load of ideologically-motivated accusations.
    if all you`ve got is the usual “a few bad apples are ruining an otherwise perfectly functioning institution” argument, then i`m not interested.
    hope i`m not being too much of a mass-murdering dictator in disagreeing with you again.

  124. Please feel free to poke fun at my arguments, Clennis. Just try to make sure it’s my argument you’re poking fun at. See, for instance my 6:25 reply to Cmwc here: https://yorkstrike2008.wordpress.com/2009/01/19/what-3903-cant-say/#comments

    As to examples.. which do you require examples of? The false idealization of economic class consciousness by Party elites in Stalinist Russia? The fetishization of poverty by silver-spoon grad students in 3903? Both?

    Regardless. Practically speaking, I doubt it signifies any longer.

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