Author Archives: Cupe Doll

This Is Where It’s @

Yesterday, Adrian made a commitment. “I will never delete the blog,” he wrote. “There are over 200 blog posts and nearly 8,000 comments here. I am sure this will be a valuable resource to someone at some time in the future.”

Good to hear you’ll never delete this blog, Adrian. Damn right it will prove a valuable resource to the future.

For a period of 3 months, between Nov. 6, 2008 and February 2, 2009, a relatively small band of 3000 striking workers held 50,000 students hostage — and brought an institution of almost 70,000 to its knees. Even though the strikers were by no means essential workers, Ontario’s Provincial government had no choice but legislating Cupe local 3903 back to work.

Whether York University ever recovers from the consequences of 3903’s economic siege remains to be seen. Ontario’s labour relations will certainly never be the same. And while there will generally emerge consensus how pivotally significant the 2008/09 York strike was, the meaning of it might well remain forever contested across the Canadian political spectrum.

Even though 3903’s strike ended in utter defeat — how should it be understood? How should it be remembered? Was it a heroic struggle for economic justice? Or was it a complete abuse of the right to strike — by a local gone way over the ideological deep end?

As left and right extremes grow increasingly polarized in Canadian politics, so the meaning of this strike will become increasingly contested in the future. More lies will be told. But to ensure future lies don’t grow too tremendous — the raw data is here. Right here @ this electronic space Adrian built.

It will not be controlled and censored fora the future shall glean backward to figure what happened this strike. Not the absurdly dishonest 3903 strike pages. Not the prissyly incomplete York narrative. Not even all the shallowly credulous media coverage. Not while this record of open, honest and often vehement dispute remains accessible.

This is the annotation of ideologies clashing over York these past 3 months. Keep it up, Adrian. Both the blog — and whatever good work you turn to next.



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Fidgeting While York Burns

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.

Generic ideologue:

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.

(c)  Time.

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.)

(d)  Money.

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.


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Please Rescue Us, International Socialism (part 2) — We Are Being Legislated

by CupeDoll

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.


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Please Help Us, International Socialism — We Are Being Mediated

by CupeDoll

We 3903s killed the rat. Whooped and hollered victory from tops of our lungs. Partied all over pummeling York symbolically — and Alex Bilyk physically. What, then, has consternated our carousing? Why now do we grind and gnash our teeth?

Seems as if the mediator might have threatened us with legislation pending over our heads. Unless, that is, we get real — fast. And what have we ever done to deserve such vicious mediation? It isn’t even conceivable asking innocent ideologues like us to get real.

Kidding aside. The following 3903 chatter just got forwarded my way. Hinging on personal leaning and inclination, you can read it and laugh — or weep.

I am at a loss to understand the massive drop in our demands, especially in the face of the absolute intransigence of the employer. Our membership has spoken very clearly on rejecting the “ballpark” that the York admin wants us to play in, and it is an outrage that we are moderating our demands in this fashion. I can understand why the BT and even radical rank-and-file members are breaking down at this point, but this kind of capitulation will destroy our union and our capacity to take anything positive out of this strike as it will completely demoralize our activist base — something that has been broadened and deepened in the course of the strike, and which would be massively consolidated if we win. We need to do everything we can to withdraw these proposals if at all possible, and people need to take a break from negotiating and step back from the brink before it is too late!

In my estimation, it would be a far worse thing for us to break our own strike by giving away all of our desperately needed demands (including fighting the science claw back, the unit three minimum guarantee, and of course job security) then for us to get legislated back to work.. It’s one thing for the government to step in and break our strike, and quite another thing for us to break our own strike especially after so many long cold days of sacrifice.

If we organize we can develop the capacity to actually fight back to work legislation on the picket lines. What we need is a massive turnout from unionists and social movement activists to join us on our lines and to hold the lines in defiance of back to work legislation. Yes, that will mean the union being fined and people going to jail, but if we can stress the broader significance of our struggle in the context of fighting neoliberalism we can get those numbers, and we could actually make this strike a key turning point in the fight against the corporatization of our campuses. 3903 has been a key ally to folks in the Palestinian liberation struggle, to the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, to various indigenous struggles, to groups like No One Is Illegal, etc. etc. All of these allies have the capacity to bring out
hundreds of supporters to our lines if we stress how important it is to have them.

If we were to be legislated back to work, and tens of thousands of students came back to campus, but we stood firm and with our allies, and kept our picket lines up even in the face of state repression, we could cause York such a massive PR disaster and so much chaos and confusion on campus, we could force a political crisis that would win our demands. If we organize with this conception, it will also make it much less likely that the Liberals will even consider doing it.

The major problem with this whole issue of back to work legislation is that so many of our members — even the most radical — can’t seem to consider that we could actually organize and mobilize in such a way as to defeat back to work legislation on the picket lines by standing strong. This is how the union movement has historically our major victories, and if we are serious about winning a major victory, then we have to be prepared to do this. This will only happen if we make the political argument to our own members and to our allies across the city that we need their support in order to take this course of action. I think we have 300 to 400 members that would hold the lines in the face of back to work legislation and be willing to get arrested for doing so. I think that we have another 300 members that would watch from the sidelines and be there for moral support but would not be willing or able to be arrested. I think we could get similar numbers of participants and observers from our social movement allies if we start organizing for this now.

Even if we lost in a context of having our lines physically crushed by the state and having hundreds of our members and supporters arrested on the picket lines we would create such a situation of crisis for York that they would for many years in the future seek to appease us by giving us much improved contracts. It would also strengthen and greatly developed the activist base that is so crucial for building union power both in our own local and other workplaces. And we wouldn’t be going back to work accepting a shitty deal that is even worse than the one our membership rejected in the forced ratification, one that we ourselves would have crammed down our own throats.

Can everything this 3903 member calls for happen? Can any of it? Maybe it can. But I highly doubt it will. Because we 3903s still haven’t decided whether to strike for the best interests of our own membership — or whether to ideologically go striking all out against York. Far too many of us still think we can do both. Which is why, despite the horrific damage we’ve done to every aspect of the York community, our strike action remains such a farce. Seriously. It’s funny. And if you don’t get what the joke is, read my Post comment below. Written all the way back on November 14th. I think you’ll get it. What the joke is with why and how striking we 3903s get.

“Talks between York and striking union break down”? Of course they do.

Don’t get me wrong. As a contract faculty member at York I’d love some job security. It’s worse than medieval how York treats contract faculty. Even back in dark ages, after 10 years’ faithful service servants likely received at least some security and recognition from whatever masters they served. Not so at York. Not when it comes to contract faculty.

But can this strike help contract faculty? Help anyone? Of course not. This strike can offer no relief except comic. Comic relief.

Imagine you’re checking out computers at a store. And one computer, price listed $450, catches your eye. So you go to the retail counter and ask to negotiate the price. Because you don’t have $450.

The counter-clerk agrees to negotiate and asks how much you’ve got. You reply: “$39.33.”

The clerk looks you up and down — then directs you leave the store. And don’t come back until you’re prepared to negotiate. Since your absurd offer totally contradicts what you asked in the first place. To negotiate that computer you liked.

And that’s how this strike is. All about impossible demands — not about negotiating or anyhow compromising. The sides are so far apart they might as well be babbling different languages.

This strike is ideological. I’ve heard more than once, within 3903, how we’ll bring the employer to its knees. And you know what? I can get up for a good fight. Lots of us are eager for the good fight. But if we are to strike any blows against exploitation of workers everywhere — then let’s get clear that’s what we’re doing. Let’s let this neo-liberal exploiter know not to bother with offers — since we won’t even try choking them down. This here is a matter of principle. We’ve shut York exploitation down before — this time we’ll do it again and more besides.

Otherwise, if not in pursuit of ideals or ideologies, if it’s about the best pragmatic interests of the membership here and now — then let’s try negotiating like intelligent life forms.

Let’s either negotiate that computer reasonably — or do what needs doing to shut the computer store down. But let’s stop contradicting and humiliating ourselves doing both. Let’s not be offering $39.33 for anything listed $450. No positive relief can result from humiliating ourselves that way. Nothing but comic relief.


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The Rat is Dead (It is time to converge on OUR UNIVERSITY!)



I’m sorry and ashamed to be a 3903 member.  It seems only about 1400 members bothered voting — so there may still be a sane, silent majority out there.  But I don’t care any more.  Since they didn’t bother voting — they might as well not exist.  Not as far as I am concerned.  Not as far as students are concerned.  Not now — with the year so clearly in jeopardy.

What now, then?  What can students do?  There’s countless suggestions at the prior “OFFER REJECTED!” thread.  Including this one by “Think logically”:

I personally work at york university… If you want to make a big statement and do it right, go to Queens Park and fight the government.

And just before reading that suggestion?  I was about to retire Cupe Doll.  But that suggestion pissed me off.  So I thought, what the hell.  Why don’t I repeat what I first suggested almost 2 months ago:

Bullshit. You want to do it right? Then don’t go to Queens Park unless you want to get ignored. Don’t fight the government — unless you want to get arrested. Don’t sign more petitions — unless you want to waste more of your time.  [And don’t start lawsuits — wasting more your money and years of time just to find out you’ve got zero legal recourse.]

If you want to do it right then march on York, embarrass the bodily fluids out of York *and* 3903* at the same time — and get the government fighting for you.

Stop and think. News media gets told you’re coming. York gets told you’re coming. 3903 gets told you’re coming. Media is waiting for you. Police cruisers are waiting for you. Picketers are waiting for you.

2000 of you converge just off campus. You peacefully march onto your own campus. You want nothing more than to get either your education or your money back for the education you paid for. You march peacefully onto campus. But 100 picketers try to stop you. Nervous police observe closely. Media cameras pan over you and you can hear a news reporter excitedly speculating the potential for violence.

You are not violent. You are only marching onto your own campus. You have already paid far more than just the right to be there. You simply walk around the picketers, into Vary Hall and Scott Building. You wait.

Not for long. It is too embarrassing for the government that’s already ignored you too long. It is too humiliating for York and 3903. The strike would be over in 48 hours. Whether via legislation or compromise doesn’t matter. Nobody would dare ignore York students longer if you took your own campus back.

If students decide to stand up for yourselves?  March and take back your campus?  I’ll stand and march with you.  And I quote what I already said:

If students do decide to take their campus back I’ll march with you. And I’ll call on all YUFAs and 3903s and York admin that are on the side of students to join us…  I’ll bring a pitchfork (York fork) and silver painted shovel (3903 silver spoon) to burn in effigy.

Well, maybe nix the burning part.  Not peaceful.  But anyway — that was it for me.  Did my part.  Either students decide to stand up — in which case I’ll stand with students.  As myself.  Or students will lie down taking it some more.  In which case I’d rather not even watch any longer.  Either way, Cupe Doll was done.  But then “UnderGrad Int’l” wrote:

CUPEDOLL, please start another thread about students interested in forming a rally please. dont you ahve that privilege on this site? Thanks babes.

So — here it is.  Another thread started.  Sink or swim, flight or fight — ball’s in your court now.  If you have’em or not.  Either way, Cupe Doll is done.  Even I have had enough of Cupe Doll.  Only if there’s anything really important you can email



Here is all the information concerning the organising of a rally:



Time and Place
21 January 2009
19:00 – 22:00

Facebook group:


I urge you to all come to this meeting. These are dire straights and we must unite.


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What 3903 Can’t Say

by Cupe Doll

Check out the latest article @ 3903’s site.

No.  I mean it.  Browse on over to 3903’s site and read the article.

Done?  Ok — so what do you think?  Can whoever wrote that article have meant it seriously?  Like, seriously meant that article to be read — and believed by anyone?

Not just because it’s a pack of lies.  But just because how transparent and incompetent the lying is.  Whoever wrote that article can’t be that incompetent — only they put no effort whatsoever into it.  That article got written-off by its own author.

How can I be so sure?  Well — I could have been the author of that article.  In a very slightly alternate universe.

When the strike was young I was asked to help 3903 out by writing in its behalf.  I was told that I’d get full strike-paid for this alternative duty — since nobody could prove whether writing took me 3 hours or 20 each week.  And, yeah — I was tempted.  I’m not one to go sneezing on $200 each week.

But you know what?  I thought I’d hold out for more.  I can be bought cheap enough — but not that cheap.  $200 for 3 hours’ work?  Hell — us 3903’s were almost making that before the strike.  What’s the point striking forever if you can’t make an extra buck?

But how could I get 3903 to offer me the money I so richly deserve?  Not by making impossible demands — too weak.  So I decided to strike against the strike.  I’d come right here and expose everything 3903 — for free for all.  Be worth it in the end.  3903 would have to make me a better offer just to shut me up.  And from then on I would make at least $1000 every week — without having to work at all.

Ok — seriously.  That article wasn’t.  Whoever authored that article wasn’t the least serious.  Probably decided to take the weekly $200 — but only do like 10 minutes’ work for it.

That article wasn’t written seriously.  There’s no reason to read it seriously.  From the start there’s the suggestion us 3903s will now vote “in support of our students”.  As if it’s for our students we’ve been striking in the first place.  As if.  Since we only ruined the education students paid for because we don’t want students paying for education.

And after that point every claim remains false.  York sees 3903 unit2s as “the weakest link”?  Nope — it’s 3903, fearing unit2 will vote YES as we did in 2000/01, who see unit2 as the weakest link.  York has been bargaining in bad faith?  Nope — it was us 3903s bargaining in bad faith.  We bragged what bad faith we were bargaining in.  When we had “demand the impossible” t-shirts made.  When we refused to let our own bargaining team bargain.  And now, when we’ve decided to go back to square one.  Right back to our impossible November 5th demands before we even started striking.  So how can York or any mediator take our bargaining seriously — when bargaining means nothing to us in the first place?  When strike organizers openly declare to all 3903s that:

Today, the [most recent] GMM affirmed a series of principles that should be the bedrock of CUPE 3903.  This is that – to put it really simply – that the bargaining is to come from below.  To be sure, this is not to say that the bargaining team – as the diplomatic body of a totality of different bodies working towards a common goal – does not have flexibility…  [BUT] Thanks to the bargaining team in advance, for respecting that the definition of “flexibility” is “nov. 5”

Then there’s a claim our 3903 proposals are modest.  When, in reality, we so proudly bragged how impossible our demands are.  Right?  Not “proposals”.  Demands.

Then there’s a claim that if we 3903s vote YES then the whole strike will have been a waste.  But can’t anyone guess what a waste it’s been anyhow? Since we 3903s will go back to square one if we continue striking?  Since we 3903s got the best biggest 4.1% yearly increases when we didn’t strike?  As if we wouldn’t have done better to negotiate reasonably and bargain realistically.  As if this whole strike isn’t an ideological waste in the first place.  As if ending this strike already would be making waste — instead of stopping it already.

Then there’s the claim that York has plenty money for us 3903s — but is too mean to give it.  York is supposed to have plenty of money just because all sorts of YUFAs will be retiring — and because York spent such huge money it should have given us on FedEx packages instead.  Yeah.  Right.  As if York were immune from the current recession, approaching calamity of economic depreciation and, most of all, the enrollment decreases due our own intentionally ruinous 3903 striking.  As if retirements and FedEx packaging mattered when York will not only not be hiring anyone anywhere — but will in fact have to slash bone-deep.  And who’ll get hurt most — after students this year?  3903 unit2s next year.  Everyone 3903 keeps lying about fighting for.

And talking about FedEx.  what’s up with that?  First we 3903s complain York springs forced rats on us without proper long enough notice.  Then we snivel about the notice being too long.  Then we freak about how York sends out the notice.  Just freaking.  With messages like this going round:

I think we should save the materials and give them back to the
administration on Sunday en masse.

>On door to door duty today at locations close to campus we were virtually
>following the FedEx guy delivering York’s missives–I was sorely tempted to
>steal any FedEx envelopes from people’s mailboxes…

“Voting NO will bring about serious negotiation and a quick resolution”?  3903 needs to get some decent pamphleteers.  But don’t look at me.  No matter how much money 3903 gets out of striking — it’s too morally bankrupt for me.


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Good News and Bad News

by CupeDoll

2 email items worth telling landed in my inbox Saturday night.  The first was a shout-out for unit2s to rock the YES vote.  Yay!  Clearly, us contract faculty are not entirely without hearts, minds — or guts.

Dear Unit 2 Colleagues,

As you know, a supervised vote has been arranged by the Ministry of Labour in an effort to end the 3 month long CUPE 3903 strike at York University .  Members of CUPE 3903 are being asked to vote on a settlement offer tabled recently by York University .

As Unit 2 members and contract faculty teaching colleagues at York , we are writing to ask your support by voting “yes” to the settlement offer. Only a “yes” vote will end the strike.

There are many urgent reasons to vote “yes” to the settlement offer.

Only a “yes” vote will secure the terms of the current offer, including a 9.25% pay increase, 17 new “teaching stream” appointments at a salary of $70,000, 5 tenure-track conversions, improvements to funds and paid leaves, and a significant expansion of our health benefits program. It is vital to lock in these gains now during a time of economic unertainty. While many other workers face wage cuts and layoffs amid prospects of economic deflation and depression, the 10.7% increase in the value of our copllective agreement will keep us the best paid in our sector.

Only a “yes” vote will return our students to the classroom in time to salvage the academic year. If the strike continues, irreparable damage will be done
to the academic year and will soon result in the cancellation of the summer term — and further job losses for the many Unit 2 members who rely on income
generated by summer teaching.

Only a “yes” vote will enable us to recover 90% of the income we have lost during the strike, as part of the back-to-work protocol included in the settlement offer. If the strike continues we will not be able to recover this lost income. A longer strike will also result in lost EI benefits for many members who rely on them because they will not have worked enough hours to qualify.

The union executive has told members that rejecting the offer will help us get a better deal, but this is not the case. It will only prolong the strike.

The executive tells members that the supervised vote has interrupted a round of tremendously productive bargaining, that a settlement was near and that if we reject the offer we will have another opportunity to resume and equitably conclude bargaining at the table. This is not the case. Instead, in the past week the strike organizers have directed the bargaining team to backtrack on all progress and all agreements made during bargaining and revert to a set of demands dating to November 5th — before the strike began. This directive, in favour of impossible demands, means that a rejection of the settlement offer will undo everything gained at the table — and will also expose us to serious charges of bad faith bargaining. Rejecting the settlement offer will put us further from a settlement than before the strike started.

Only a “yes” vote will end the strike and secure the gains we have made to our collective agreements.

It is not necessary for all three bargaining units to vote “yes”. Even one unit voting “yes” will end the strike, just as it did during the 2000-01 strike, when a “yes” vote from Unit 2 members forced the sides to reach a negotiated solution within 48 hours.

Only a “yes” vote will help mitigate damage already done to York ‘s reputation and our teaching careers. Only a “yes” vote will save the academic year and prevent the damage to our students from escalating beyond repair. Only a “yes” vote will help turn the tide on the the 15% drop in undergraduate applications to York for next year, reported widely in the media — a frightening prospect given that declining enrolment will result in Unit 2 job losses. Only a “yes” vote will secure the gains made to our collective agreements. Only a “yes” vote will end the strike.

As Unit 2 members it is vital that we make our voices heard. Voting “yes” is not only in our best interest — it is also a genuine rescue mission for our students.  But we can accomplish this only if we come out and vote in numbers large enough to make a difference. Every “yes” vote counts urgently — for the sake of our students and our collective agreements.

Let’s do the right thing.  Vote “yes” to save the academic year and end the strike.

Please forward widely.


DATES: Monday January 19, 2009 and Tuesday January 20, 2009. Voting both days from 9-1 and 3-7.

LOCATION: The Novotel Hotel at the North York Civic Centre ( 3 Park Home Ave. just north of Yonge and Sheppard)

Voting is by SECRET BALLOT and is conducted by the Ministry of Labour.

The second item, on the other hand, saddened me.  It was an email from a fellow contract faculty whom I’ve come to thinking highly of.  Long story short, this contract faculty revealed intentions to vote YES — and was told not to expect working at York next year.  Consequently, this one contract faculty has had enough and will no longer apply at York.  Begs questions how many other contract faculty have already had it, won’t even wait to lose their jobs due to declining enrollment expected next year — and won’t be bothered voting this Monday.


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