Quickly trickling down my network of contacts is the news that members of CUPE 3903, of which I am a member, have rejected the offer that was put to a forced ratification vote.1
Also surfacing, in the form of a press release, is York University’s President York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. When York has anything to say, it’s usually done through spokesperson Alex Bilyk, so Shoukri getting a voice now is especially noteworthy. And what does he have to say?
â€œWe made it clear before the vote that we were making a fair, reasonable and comprehensive offer to settle the contract, especially in this worsening economic climate. The Union characterized our offer to its members as a negotiating tactic, but it was not. We have no intention of negotiating for the sake of appearance. This is our offer for settlement. Now it is up to the Union and its members to reconsider their demands and step back from the brink.â€
‘Dems fighting words, no? Shoukri goes on to say “the clock has run out on CUPE” (whatever that means) he’ll make plans to shorten or cancel the summer term.
I’ll make the quick point that the University is just as much a part of this brinkmanship as the union they’re blaming. It seems that we’ve now moved into the phase of the strike were the University tries to union bust.
For some context, in the often quoted 2000-2001 strike, the University forced a rejection vote, received a no vote from two units withing the union and within less than a week, there was a new offer and a settlement. I say often quoted because this is the same logic the union was using to, in part, convince members to vote no to this forced ratification. A no vote would force the University back to the bargaining table.
Here where the past doesn’t map to the present: I don’t think the administration of the University feels it has anything to gain from making concessions to the union. This means no quick settlement. I, obviously, have no proof of this beyond their actions for the past seventy days. Yet, they have shown me by negotiating for only seven eleven days in the past seventy, by sending out a deal to be ratified that was wholly underwhelming (and likely to be voted down by the union), by upping the economic rhetoric and by playing the media game almost perfectly, that they’re in no rush to come back to the bargaining table.
Image: “At the edge of the glacier.” Creative Commons License.Â Thanks to Beppie K.
I hope I’m proven wrong; that there is a quick return to barganing and a new, negotiated contract. A return to the classroom to teach and the posibility of finishing degrees (undergrad and grad and grad alike). I’m writing this hunch down because I’m frustrated by the President’s statement and the brink we’ve both come to. That he lacks the ability to see the other side is just more proof that we’re nowhere close to being done this strike.
- The official results: 63% overall, 61.7% from Unit 1 (TAs), 59.3% from Unit 2 (Course Directors) & 70% from Unit 3 (Graduate Assistants) [↩]