From: YUFA in solidarity with CUPE 3903 [YUFA-CUPE@YorkU.CA] on behalf
of Walter Whiteley [whiteley@PASCAL.MATH.YORKU.CA]
Sent: November 4, 2000 8:14 AM
Subject: Strike at York - Tuition as key issue
There has been a strike on a York University for 10 days now.
The strike is by CUPE local 3903 - the union representing the
'part-time' faculty, the teaching assistants, and just recently,
a pool of graduate assistants. Their web site is:
For the teaching assistants, a central issue is 'indexing support'
to any increases in graduate tuition. In the mid 90s, the university
first eliminated the 'post residency' fees - requiring full tuition
as long as students were registered, then required full summer tuition.
This was a massive increase in tuition - and the only compromise was to
'grandfather' existing students. In the last two contracts here,
the CUPE local did have a clause guaranteeing that increases in tuition
would be matched by increases in overall support. In effect, for
TAs they 'reregulated' tuition. They have asked for similar guarantees
For GAs. The Adinistration has set out to eliminate this guarantee.
They made a compromise proposal that existing TAs would be grandfathered,
but even current GAs (typically the newest students) would not get a guarantee,
Even when they become TAs. So for the TAs this is very much a 'Tuition Strike'.
I would point out, that in my experience as a graduate students in the US,
And with my students going to graduate school in the US, the STANDARD
there is 'tuition plus support'. This is precisely what CUPE wants here.
I would also point out that this same demand for 'tuition plus support'
was a key issue in the strikes at U of T and McMaster last year - demands
which were lost. York does indeed have the best contract in Ontario in this
area - and the universities as a group (and perhaps the provincial government)
would like to 'roll back' this leading contract so that other people stop asking!
A few years ago, a committee of the Faculty of Graduate Studies looked
at fees and support. Our findings (I was a member) included the fact
that the typical support was around $16,000 per year, while the
university estimated the costs for a year, at around $20,000.
We recommended a 'zero cost' degree - support should match costs
and recommended that Graduate Tuition NOT be increased - but rather
decreased. [Note MBAs were NOT part of this study, and we
have no medical school.]
A second major issue is the fate of long time, high intensity part time
teachers. We have people who have taught 3 or more courses per year, on
contract, for up to 30 years. The last contract established (with the
cooperation of YUFA) a pool of 43 people who had at least 15 years of
teaching of this type, and began to move some of them into YUFA with
five year, renewable contracts. The contracts give more security,
better benefits, higher salaries, and time to do service and
scholarship in addition to teaching (previously at the rate upt 5 or
more full courses per year - to pay the bills),
the right to one full year sabbatical in the life of such an appointment.
8 people received appointments last July, and 5 more will receive them
next July. However, as the next wave of budget squeeze happened last winter,
the administration decided they could not afford such decent treatment,
and moved to terminate the program after this initial 13 appointments.
(The appointments were NOT by seniority - but were by nomination from
department, and a 'selection' by the Deans and higher admin.)
The admin have offered 4 more in July 2002 - something that will
leave a majority of the group still outside - some moving into their 60s.
>From the point of view of full time faculty, this is a mixed situation
- substantial improvement of the conditions for these individuals and
creation of a low wage, possibly higher intensity teaching group
within our contract. YUFA has filed a grievance about some
of the ways this was implemented. While this would increase the
costs, per person, the indication is that the resistance of the
administration is NOT based on these additional costs, but on
the overall costs (estimated at about $40,000 per position per year).
For the GAs, just unionized after a long struggle at the Labour Board
About when GAS are 'employees of the university' and when they are
scholarships or bursaries in disguise. I think the current dividing line
is whether the work being done is directly related to their own research,
thesis, research papers etc. or either unrelated to their filed of work,
or work or a faculty member etc. The demands there are to get more
uniformity across the university, and improve the benefits (including
indexation of support to Tuition increases).
YUFA has given $10,000, plus a large, interest free loan.
OCUFA has sent people to speak in support, at an all union rally this week.
A number of YUFA faculty are walking the lines, and some are not crossing.
A substantial number of courses are either not happening, happening with
very low attendance, or are in chaos. In some cases, one section proceeds
while another (taught by a part-timer) is not. Some are continuing with most
students struggling through the picket lines (typically by bus to the edge
of campus). Line-ups at Picket lines can be long (in time and distance).
I am sure that CUPE would welcome any support that can be offered.
Information about similar issues in terms of tuition and long term
part time (contract) faculty would be helpful in terms of building support.
Of course, the underlying issues ARE related to the chronic underfunding
of universities - made worse by the relative underfunding of places like
York, compared to, say, places like U of T.
Co-chair, Contract and Grievance Committee
York University Faculty Association