CUPE3903 ruined our academic year. Totally ruined this year academically. But, finally, with legislation pending like a long-lost sword of Damocles over 3903 heads, chances are now excellent the year will not be lost entirely. And while the damage done the York community — including ourselves — is tragic, the relief is almost comic. Almost. Here’s why.
Panic wasn’t even thinly veiled in the urgent call to action — to support CUPE3903 — distributed at 4:39 a.m. this morning:
… now they are threatening us with legislation. Let’s be clear, this threat serves to stall negotiations. Back-to-work legislation does not occur in our sector. If it should pass it would be a precedent-setting attack on workers in Ontario, an attack on public sector unions, an attack on organized labour.
Wrong. Our 3903 local has been so ideologically loco in the way we’ve been striking out — to cripple York rather than benefit our own membership — we have totally distinguished ourselves from other public sector unions. The legislation pending over our heads can be called an attack, honestly enough. But not an attack on workers, unions and labour in general. This attack is targeted most specifically. It is an attack on 3903 only. Our loco 3903 local has so distinguished itself from sane, responsible organized labour — we’ve given organized labour everywhere such a black eye — even CUPE national now participates attacking us.
Just what public enmity 3903 has incurred from all quarters was fully corroborated by one 3903 member’s eye-witness report, distributed at 5:37 a.m. this morning:
The situation is pretty nuts. I was at the hotel from about 11:30pm to three in the morning and it’s clear that the mediator is completely
within the pocket of the employer. Both the mediator and the reps from CUPE national (!) tried to pressure us into accepting binding
arbitration on all outstanding issues.
So — just to get this straight. Everyone has turned on our loco 3903 local. Even CUPE national. And while it’s ever so clear how completely the mediator got bought by York — what about CUPE national? Did York buy CUPE national as well? Did York go out and purchase our entire Liberal government? This is an outrage. The funds York expended purchasing CUPE national ought to have been used to comply with our impossible demands instead.
None of this means, of course, that our loco 3903 local admits how totally wrong we are. Not for one moment. In the bargaining update issued 5:12 a.m. this morning, the concluding paragraph declares:
While it’s still possible that we will be able to extract some miraculous movement from the employer tomorrow, the more prudent final message of the evening should be: Prepare for a mobilization against what appears to be a looming back-to-work legislation! The fight is not finished, folks! In fact, if events do follow this route, then perhaps we have a new chance, a chance at making our long and hard strike meaningful on a more widespread political level…
Seriously. Not kidding. Tragic — yet so comic. Because if our loco ideology were either true or even coherent? If there were any institution or government actually practicing “neo-liberalism” in this day and age? We 3903s would be the poster-kids for the young neo-liberals in training. We’d be the neo-liberal youth movement.
It’s the students that are the powerless, voiceless, alienated, victimized, oppressed here. And far as students are concerned — who are the oppressors? York and, much more so, 3903 — that’s who. The 3903 grad-student leisure class, the 3903 exploiters-in-training, play-acting how to become a niche ruling elite on the backs of students’ labour.
Had we 3903s not been quite so insanely ideological? We might have puckered, scrunched face and kissed the rat. Ratified what, in all realism, was a tremendously generous offer. We didn’t, though. Now we’ll be reduced to begging for the offer we rejected. We clung to our impossible demands like utter ideologues — and it looks like we’ll finally be getting that back to reality spanking we so richly deserve.