>-----Original Message-----

>From: Jamie Paquin [mailto:jamiepaquin@hotmail.com]

>Sent: December 8, 2000 5:35 PM

>To: CULTSTUD-L: A listserv devoted to Cultural Studies

>Subject: [cultstud-l] York University (Toronto) Strike



>Hello list members,


>On behalf of striking TAs, GAs, and contract faculty at York, I am


>a brief on our now 6 week long strike.  I hope you can show us

>some support.



>Jamie Paquin

>PhD I, Sociology

>York University


>(4th December, 2000)





>2000 Teaching Assistants, Contract Faculty and Graduate/Research


>have shut down York University, an institution that serves 40 000


>for SIX weeks now!!!


>We, members of CUPE local 3903 (Canadian Union of Public Employees), have

>been on strike at York University for tuition indexation, job

>security and a

>fair first contract for the newly unionized Graduate/Research Assistants.

>The employer - at this seemingly public institution with an increasing

>corporate attitude (their bargaining team is run by an outside

>lawyer from a

>notorious union-busting firm) - refuses to consider our proposals.


>We have amended our demands twice in bargaining, and yet, this past week,

>talks broke down when the employer told us they would only bargain if we

>‘move significantly on the outstanding issues’. This means bargaining with

>conditions. Our only condition is that the employer explore a broader

>vocabulary that expands significantly beyond their intransigent ‘no’.


>More activity has certainly taken place outside of bargaining -

>the employer

>has been aggressively using every tactic in the book to bust our strike.

>They have threatened us with eviction off their private property,

>served us

>with a trespassing notice, faxed criminal allegations to the police and

>media that have yet to be substantiated, turned off campus lights at a

>university entrance during a night picket shift, and confiscated our fire

>barrels and safety equipment. We have called their bluff on each occasion.

>Our union will not be divided, our union will not be broken and

>our members

>cannot be demoralized.


>Why are our demands important? Why will we not give up? Although

>it comes at

>a huge personal cost for our members, we believe we are engaged in a

>political strike. We believe our struggle could serve to mobilize graduate

>student workers and contract faculty elsewhere in Canada, and

>beyond. We are

>opposed to the corporatization of public education. We are struggling for

>accessible and quality public education. We have already struggled hard in

>the past and have the best contracts in the country in this sector. Last

>year other graduate student workers went out on strike and

>demanded ‘parity

>with York’. We now risk losing what makes our contract unique, but WE WILL



>What do we want? Some of our members have taught on contracts at York

>University for many years. They have been, and continue to be, the


>of what makes York University a popular university (in social sciences -

>which admittedly is not a prestigious scholarly pursuit in the upcoming

>corporatized academic world of information technology). And yet

>they have to

>apply for their job every single year. They accept incredible workloads,

>just to be able to carve out a living. They are frustrated and overworked.

>They want a measure of JOB SECURITY, so that they can focus on

>their work -



>Our teaching assistants and graduate/research assistants want tuition

>indexation. Some of our current members already have it, and yet

>they strike

>- as our union demands that tuition indexation be guaranteed to those

>student workers coming into the university in future years. Our newest

>members are demanding it for the first time. What we are doing is opposing

>the deregulation of tuition, by demanding that it be re-regulated in our

>contract. We are the only graduate student workers in Canada that have

>regulated tuition through our contract. AND WE WILL NOT GIVE UP THE FIGHT

>FOR IT!!!


>For a more detailed summary of our issues, facts and figures, please visit

>our website at http://3903.cupe.ca


>You can help us in our struggle by e-mailing, faxing or phoning the

>President of York University, Lorna Marsden, and demand that our employer,

>York University, SETTLE NOW, with a just contract for CUPE 3903. Lorna

>Marsden can be contacted at:


>e-mail: presidnt@yorku.ca (please cc. cupe3903@tao.ca)


>fax: 416 - 736 5641


>phone: 416 - 736 5200


>Please forward to others who demand and struggle for the quality and

>accessibility of public education.





>In solidarity, CUPE 3903