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Strikes: What are they good for?

As CUPE 3903 members (York University’s Contract Faculty, Teaching Assistants, and Graduate Assistants) rejected the University’s offer on Tuesday, only one thing is certain: the 11-week strike will go on.

More than two months have passed since the members of CUPE 3903 (Canadian Union of Public Employees) went on strike at Toronto’s York University. The strike began shortly after the members of CUPE 3903 rejected the University’s offer in Novemeber. The offer included a 9.25% wage increase (10.5% including benefits) over 3 years and other improvements such as funding and job security. The strike has resulted in the University canceling classes.

Many people across Ontario have been asking “what good has the strike done for anybody?” To many, it has been nothing but trouble. It is evident that the only people suffering as a result of this labour dispute are the 50,000 students of YorkU, who have been out of classes for more than 11 weeks, unsure of when they can resume their studies. The CUPE 3903 strike has essentially placed the academic year in jeopardy, and has therefore placed the educational status of this students in limbo.There is a high possibility that members of the student population might drop out as they can no longer afford the costs of University as a result of the strike or that it has become to expensive to stay in Canada as several of these students are from other countries. The cost to 4th year students are great as well. For many 4th year students, this year is suppose to be their final year of University. The possibility of returning next year to complete degree requirements means that there is a great chance that they will miss the opportunity to enter into a career in their field of study. As a result, the competition would be a lot higher when that opportunity arises again the following year.

This strike is an example of a selfish action by the CUPE and their members. It seems that CUPE 3903 is forgetting that there is a global economic crisis at hand. And that this economic crisis has greatly affected many people around the world, especially the People of the Province of Ontario. Since 2004, over 200,000 men and women in the manufacturing and auto sector have lost their jobs. That number is even greater when including other sectors in Ontario. They also seem to forget that there are many people out there in the Ontario that wished that they made $18,000 a year plus the prospect of 9.25% increase over three year. CUPE 3903 members should accept the deal, stop complaining for once, and get back to work for the good of the students.

The Provincial Government has to also take some blame in this ridiculous 11-week strike. As the principle funder of Universities in Ontario, the Government of Ontario has an obligation to ensure that an educational institution under its watch function as it is suppose to. Which means that if a labour action is hurting the studies and education of Ontario students, especially after a long period of time, it has a responsibility to the students of Ontario to step in and set things straight. In regards to the York Strike, McGuinty should have recalled the Legislature and place into motion a back-to-work legislation. But as usual, the Premier has failed the students and Ontarians by taking minimal action by appointing a mediator instead of helping students by getting them back into class by Monday. Peter Shurman (PC MPP for Thornhill) is correct when he states that McGuinty and his Liberal Government are “irresponsible”.



One thought on “Strikes: What are they good for?

  1. The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty supports the right to strike by CUPE 3903 and we will continue to be there to support them.

    If the McGuinty government enacts a law to force these workers back to work the workers should refuse to follow such an unjust abuse of their human rights!

    Posted by OCAP | January 25, 2009, 6:49 PM

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