Hampton’s NDPs sure were talking tough today. Fighting words. All defiant. All 8 of them.
Guided by Hampton’s tone and fiery rhetoric, NDP stalwards will likely delay the Liberal bill more than a couple days. More like a couple weeks. They can’t stop it, though. However fiery the NDP rhetoric, it amounts to fidgeting while York burns.
And once we 3903s finally do get legislated back to work — then what? Will we just lie down for it? Get our routed drooping backsides back to work in full spirits of civil obedience?
Hard to say. Due to how furious we seem to be right now. As if it had been York refusing to realistically bargain these past 3 months. Rather than us 3903s bragging demanding everything impossible so that nobody — including mediators — could conceive sitting across from us. So that this academic year would get so jeopardized, York would have no option but capitulating every impossibility we demanded in the first place.
As if demanding the impossible, refusing to bargain, returning to asking the impossible and, only when threatened by legislation, bargaining at the last split second could ever mean it was York refusing to bargain. Hell. Even threatened by legislation at that final split second — our bargaining team still wasn’t authorized to bargain. Our bargaining team was supposed to backtrack. Track all the way back to November 5th. The day before the strike.
That’s why we expect the Supreme Court to rescue us. Since, to our way of thinking? Pretending to bargain for a split second after we’d already lost means it was York refusing to bargain. It means the deadlock was faked. It means employers will generally begin using government to legislate unions back to work — just by being intransigent.
Let’s get real. York did not refuse to bargain. York merely refused to have its time wasted. Even the original mediator refused to have more time wasted. It was only in the scowling face of our intransigence that nobody could imagine bargaining. And, under circumstances so uniquely instigated by our loco 3903 local — no legislated initiative can be considered a general measure against more conventional organized labour. Lest we forget — there’s plenty evidence even CUPE national has had too much of us.
However, seeking to challenge the Liberals’ bill legally is the least some of us 3903s intend to do. Because some of us are that ideologically committed. It doesn’t matter how no government or institution practices “neo-liberalism” in this day and age. It doesn’t matter how, in fact, we are the closest there is to a neo-liberal youth movement. Striking out as a leisure ruling-elite to better exploit the fruits of student labour — the very means of student productivity. None of that matters. Our most committed 3903 ideologues will continue striking out — regardless how defeated and humiliated.
So what, though? Will the general membership follow our formerly beloved ideologues? Sure — we general members turned out to follow 3903 ideological leadership when they had us and themselves convinced what winners they were. But now? After such spectacular public spanking? Not so likely. Because now all that ideological committment comes across charming as loser sores. Not appetizing. And that’s why cracks beween our ideological leadership and our more general membership begin to gape. As the following exchange attests.
More general member:
I want to lend my support to what [nameless1] is saying. We are being legislated back. There is little chance of stopping that now, although we can try to influence the contract that results. I think extending an olive branch would be a better strategy than poking people in the eye.
Once we are sent back it would be unwise and irresponsible (and illegal!) for the executive to counsel individual members to defy this legislation and risk the fines ($2,000 per day, per person – strict individual liability, which means you pay and the union cannot reimburse you); it would be equally unwise and irresponsible for exec to bankrupt this union by subjecting it to fines ($25,000 per day) and to completely ruin its reputation. It was nice to read in this morning’s Star that Tyler Shipley has said the executive will not be endorsing any wildcat strike. I assume that the Executive will hold to that and that the gates, trucks, signs, flags, and cash flow to strike actions will disappear. I also assume that the Executive will actively tell members who wildcat to return to work – as the law dictates it must.
But, hey, if you want to disobey the law and pay the fines and suffer the jail time as an individual, then I think there’s a line forming behind [nameless2] and [nameless3]. I assume they’ll be going first.
If you read the history of Canadian resistance you will understand that laws tend to be (a) flexible, (b) subject to change through resistance and legal challenges, and (c) subject to enforceability. When enforcement officials have decided it is in their best interest to proceed with charges they have been constrained by their ability to lay charges and proceed through the courts system to achieve convictions. In short, the historical precedent is that a few visible leaders usually get nailed with charges that may or may not stick. The capacity to prosecute large numbers of rank-and-file members does not exist.
More general member:
My view is that for civil disobedience to successfully defy a Canadian law it requires:
(a) A cause that the public and the participants feel is just.
The right to strike for 90 days and to fiddle about at negotiations by ‘waiting until they just give us everything’ isn’t a just cause, sorry – not in the public’s view, not in mine.
(b) Wide-scale action and allies.
I doubt we would be able to find 100 members willing to defy legislation. We might not even find 50. I won’t be joining you. We’re dreaming if we think any CUPE local is coming to our aid, not after the way we have consistently pissed on National in this strike.
Our lawyer tells us that a SCC challenge on the BC Health case took 5 years to wend its way through the courts. A Court challenge does not stay the back to work legislation. Court challenge or not, we have to go back. (If you don’t believe me, ask our lawyer – who apparently you don’t believe either.)
We don’t have any. I don’t have any. Do you?
However, I won’t be participating in any civil disobedience this time around – especially not to cover the asses of the CUPE 3903 aristocracy who have made bad decision, after bad decision, after bad decision. The mediator, our lawyer, CUPE National, and goodly number of people on hand Friday night told the Exec/BT to wrap up a deal or expect back to work legislation the next morning. As usual, the BT/Exec knew better than all these people. The BT/Exec decided that all these people were wrong, that there was little chance of BTWL. Guess what? It didn’t work. It cost us a few bucks too. You lost what little was left of my confidence with that incredibly ill-advised move.