---------- Forwarded message ----------

November 7, 2000.


Dr. Lorna Marsden


York University.


Dear President Marsden:


Faculty members in the School of Social Sciences in the Atkinson Faculty

of Liberal and Professional Studies met on Monday, November 6, to discuss

the impact of the current strike on our undergraduate programme and on the

graduate programmes in which we teach.


Like other academic units throughout York, the School of Social Sciences

benefits from the dedicated and conscientious contribution that contract

course directors and teaching assistants make as teachers in our

undergraduate programme.  Many of us benefit from the research and other

support of graduate assistants.  Our faculty members also teach in several

graduate programmes and supervise graduate students.


We fear that a prolonged strike will have a strongly negative impact on

courses in this academic year and will cause lasting damage to York's

reputation as a place to pursue an education, whether graduate or

undergraduate.  Two possible sources of a prolonged strike concern us

particularly.  The first is the administration's response to CUPE's

position on the indexation of tuition fees; the second is possible

external influence on York negotiations.


On the "Frequently Asked Questions" page of the York website, the

administration takes the position on indexation that "we must not confuse

employment compensation with student financial assistance".  This

statement appears to ignore the realities of the dual relationship of

teaching assistants to the University, as essential members of the

teaching staff and as fees-paying graduate students.  While teaching

salaries and tuition may appear as separate items in the University's

budget, they converge rather starkly in the life of a teaching assistant.

The deregulation of tuition means that the administration will have a

great deal of discretion over future tuition increases.  This could create

a situation at York oddly reminiscent of the old-time company town where

the wages an employee received in his/her wage packet were immediately

lost through the purchase of the necessities of life at the company store.

No group of employees has ever considered such an arrangement just, and no

union could find it acceptable.  We believe that a failure on the part of

the administration to recognize the crucial importance to current and

future teaching assistants of the relationship between salaries and

tuition fees will lead to a long strike.


Our second concern arises from the widely discussed suggestion that the

administration is under pressure from the provincial government and other

university administrations to refuse to agree to a settlement that

maintains and builds on the existing CUPE contract.  We hope this

suggestion is ill founded. If not, the strike will needlessly be prolonged

by the priorities of others.


We share the view already expressed by other academic units that the

existing collective agreement is a source of strength for both the

graduate and undergraduate programmes at York University.  Its provisions

respond to the particular York situation where contract faculty and

teaching assistants play a very significant role in the undergraduate

teaching programme and where large numbers of graduate students rely on

employment as teaching and graduate assistants as the main way they

finance their graduate education.  We believe a "made for York" settlement

that responds fairly to the legitimate concerns of members of CUPE 3903

around salaries and benefits, protection of earnings against erosion by

inflation and tuition increases, and job security is the only way to bring

about a fair and speedy settlement.


On behalf of the School of Social Sciences,


Barbara Cameron



Frank Barrett

Co-ordinator, Geography & Urban Studies


Michael Michie

Co-ordinator, Political Science


Wenona Giles

Co-ordinator, Social Science


Tania Das Gupta

Co-ordinator, Sociology.




Dean Ron Bordessa

Bob Drummond, Chair, Senate

Louise Ripley, Chair, Atkinson Faculty Council

York University Faculty Association

Canadian Union of Public Employees, local 3903.