NDPs and Hampton Supporting CUPE


By Michael Oliveira, The Canadian Press

TORONTO – The Ontario government introduced back-to-work legislation Sunday to end a protracted strike at York University, but hopes for a quick end to the 11-week dispute vanished when the New Democrats voted against the bill.


As a result, it’s likely to be at least another several days before some 50,000 students, fearful they are close to losing their academic year, will be back in class.


Sunday’s rare sitting of the legislature was scheduled by Premier Dalton McGuinty after the province’s top labour mediator reported no reasonable prospect of a negotiated settlement between the university and the union representing contract faculty and other staff.


The government wanted unanimous consent for the bill, which would have ended the strike – about 3,300 workers have been off the job since Nov. 6. – and restored classes as early as Monday for students at Canada’s third-largest university.


That hope was dashed by the eight members of the NDP who voted against the legislation, including leader Howard Hampton, who wanted to make sure the bill was properly debated before being passed.


“There are real and important issues to raise,” Hampton said as he defended the party’s stalling of the legislation.


“(Striking workers) are doing virtually full-time work but are getting part-time pay. Many of them are surviving on salaries that are less than the poverty line, yet they’re doing the work of full-time professors.”


The New Democrats could potentially delay passage of the legislation for several days if they use all their time allotted for debate, but Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said he hopes it doesn’t come to that.


“I respect fully the right and the opportunity he wants to take to state his views and put his objections to this on the record,” Tory said of Hampton’s position.


“I only hope having now delayed it one day, he decides tomorrow will be enough, he can say his peace … and they would then agree to pass this bill so this school can be open again on Tuesday.”


Hundreds of protesters rallied outside the legislature before the legislation was introduced, the din of their demonstration echoing inside the legislative chamber as the votes were being counted.


“I think it’s a dangerous precedent to the entire labour movement,” teaching assistant Sean Starrs said of the looming back-to-work legislation.


“And I’m a little disappointed we don’t have 100,000 to a million people out here right now.”


A spokesman for York University said classes will likely resume 24 hours after the legislation passes.


York has seen three of the country’s five longest faculty association strikes. Saturday marked Day 80 of the current strike, while in 2001 there was a 78-day strike and in 1997 a strike lasted 55 days.


The length of those strikes are surpassed only by strikes at the University of Quebec in 1976-77 and Laval University in 1976, which both lasted about four months.





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12 responses to “NDPs and Hampton Supporting CUPE

  1. R

    Resistance is futile at this point pretty much. Liberals introduced the bill and Conservative has been behind it too (for a while). Look, if Conservative introduced this bill and I would definitely say we’re in for a long fight – but apparently, this one will be a short and easy fight.

    CUPE 3903 could fight this in court and all, however, once it passed – they need to get back to work or face consequences.

  2. CUPE greed fail

    Just unnecessarily resisting to save face. Whats the point of delaying the inevitable?

    Thanks for holding us hostage unnecessarily for a few more days NDP.

  3. A to the B

    I sent a email to my MPP. Yes the strike has gone on long enough but the damage is done. Might as well negotiate and respect the bargaining process rather then CUPE demanding the same thing 2 or 3 years from now and were all in the mess once again. Im in my first year and i care more for my later year grades then my first year for those will be the most important for grad schools. Also, BTWL totally just made this strike worthless.

  4. Arjun Gandhi

    Face it the strike is pretty much over. CUPE 3903 has lost and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. The legislation should pass soon and we will all be back to school. CUPE 3903 should have cut and run when they had the chance. They made the common mistake of holding out for too long, and now it will bite them in the ass. Serves them right.

  5. Nia

    CUPE is being ridiculous. I usually do agree with negotiating, but how can they think of prolonging this? Clearly, they’re getting nowhere. It’s not just wasting time, it’s wasting OUR [students’] money. That’s unfair considering if not for us they wouldn’t have a job anyway.

  6. Back to Learning!

    Want to place bets that CUPE 3903 members try to re-enact “work to rule” again? Oh joy. What is it like to have TAs respond to emails?

    And I have this one “fantastic” TA who taught us CUPE propoganda instead of the course material, and it was not a labour class whatsoever. I just can’t wait to see him after this prolonged strike and BTWL. Ugh.

  7. Student with fears

    I also agree with negotiations … IF .. only IF

    – We weren’t waiting 3 MONTHS for them to sit like human beings and really negotiate; (York adm. tried 2 times or even less … Cupe was more concerned with their ideologies .. “let’s destroy neoliberalism” ” let’s win”) than with settling a fair agreement
    – Their mistakes: too many demands .. not focus … waited three months and thought was funny that York adms weren’t moving their ass
    – NEVER ever included or respected our undergrad. opinion. Many times publicly saying” This is A WORKER’S strike .. and workers decide when to end this”
    – So now they want to negotiate?

    GUESS WHAT? nooo!!! Wake up Cupe and York , students are not your pawns!!!

  8. tester

    CUPE wants more than York can afford to give. A settlement cannot be reached, as there are some issues that the cannot compromise to.

    SOOoo…BTWL is the only thing that will end the madness. Time is up.

  9. fracas


    since noone knows what was still on the table at the end of this last round, how can you say that York still can’t afford what CUPE wants? a CUPE member on one of the threads earlier suggested that the two sides were only a million dollars apart when the mediator called it quits. that’s peanuts, and if true, then york certainly can afford that. no cupe members, including virulent anti-union ones have yet contradicted that statement, so my guess is it’s probably fairly accurate.

    york most likely knew that btwl was already prepared and coming (as most likely did the mediator), and so knew they didn’t need to move. cupe’s website provides an accounting of what happened at the end – they were presssured to accept binding arbitration or face btwl. i don’t necessarily agree with their choice, but certainly it means that actual negotiated settlement was not an option, even though it seems they weren’t far apart monetarily.

    the fight clearly was about the principle of conversions which york wanted to eliminate, not the cost of them. ironically, the conversion program is still preserved although for the next 3 years it’ll be minimal. as are the SRCs, although with some different terms than before. and since the btw bill is not imposing york’s last offer, and instead is sending the remaining issues to arbitration, it may be that the union will get some small improvements in both of these areas (a couple more conversions, for example). and york will have to afford whatever the arbitrator will impose (which is likely to improve the last offer in some ways).

  10. tester

    fracas- whether there were $1 million or $10 million, it was more than York said they could afford.

    Also, lets not forget the 2010 demand. Neither side want to give in on that issue.

    BTWL was the only solution, other than let CUPE and York play their game until who knows when.

  11. Wiz

    Strike again and run away with me on a rollercoaster ride
    Strike again and see your wildest dreams slowly come alive
    Strike again and gotta break the rules and party all the time
    Strike again we gotta steal the show you know that ain’t no crime
    So steal all that you can
    The magic you begun
    Let’s shout, break out
    Come on once again lets hear it

    Strike again and feel the beat of the rhythm of the night
    Strike again and hear the voices calling creatures of the night
    Strike again and see the shadows dancing in the pale moonlight
    Strike again and feel your heartbeat pumping now the time is right
    So go walk out the door
    Get down….get on the floor
    Let’s shout break out
    Come on once again lets hear it

    And when strike comes your way
    You’ll know its here to stay
    You’ll steal the chance ‘ cose
    You’re the thief of rights
    You’ll win with a glance
    And walk away with your fights
    There’s no more there’s no backing out now

    Strike again and make the whole world crazy set your spirit free
    Strike again and take a break right now come celebrate with me
    Strike again ‘ cos all I wanna do is steal the show some how
    Strike again ‘ cos all I wanna say is hey the time is now
    Let nothing get you down
    Go out and paint the town
    Let’s shout break out
    Come on once again lets hear it
    ___Rights are reserved___

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