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					                                                        On Strike!
                            Frequently Asked Questions
                                                              November 2008

WHY      A RE Y OU ON S TR IK E ?            W H Y N OT A GR EE T O TH E
The university is effectively refusing to    U NIV E RSI TY ’ S OF FE R OF
bargain with us and has pushed us into
                                             BI ND IN G A R BI TR A TI ON ?
this strike. We feel we were railroaded
                                             This offer is the University’s way of
into a strike and left with no choice but
                                             avoiding negotiating with us. Binding
to strike to force them back to the
                                             arbitration is appropriate when there are
bargaining table. But now that we’re
                                             one or two sticky issues holding up a
out, our members have shown
                                             settlement NOT when one party has
overwhelming support for the action.
                                             hardly been negotiating at all. The fact
The University has picked this fight and
                                             that the University brought up binding
now have a fight on their hands.
                                             arbitration at the very same time as they
                                             brought forward their first monetary
CUPE 3903 members as students and
                                             proposal makes us wonder if they are
teachers have no interest in disrupting
                                             bargaining in good faith.
classes. Education is what we do
everyday – it’s our main concern – it’s
                                             Binding arbitration is often settled by
our jobs and for many of our members,
                                             taking the median average of similar
their graduate degrees have been
                                             unions’ collective agreements. This
stopped. The strike is our legal right
                                             would be tantamount to giving a
and, now, the only option we have to
                                             student’s paper a C+ because that’s the
put pressure on the administration to
                                             class average. Considering that we’re
deal fairly with our membership.
                                             doing A-level work, the median average
                                             is of no benefit to us which is why we
W H AT ’ S W R ON G WIT H T HE               will NOT agree to binding arbitration.
A D MIN IST R AT I ON ’ S M OST              The only way to end this strike is for the
                                             administration to stop their public
RE CE NT OF FE R OF 9.25%?
                                             relations tactics and come back to the
The latest offer from the administration
                                             bargaining table.
is not what it appears – it only refers to
proposed wage levels. But when you
take wages AND BENEFTIS together             D ON ’ T   Y OU H AVE T HE B EST
and set them against inflation it adds up    W A GE S & C ONT R A CT IN T HE
to a 1.4% reduction.                         SE CT OR ?
                                             Most people don’t understand that
The University is using a lot of numbers     neither TAs or GAs are allowed to work
to confuse and mislead the public.           other jobs outside of York. If they do,
While the wage increase offered is           the York administration could take away
9.25% over 3 years, collective               their full-time student status and any
agreements have more than just wages         work or funding they get. Also, there’s
such as benefits and professional            tremendous pressure on graduate
development funds. When calculating          students to finish their degrees on time
the actual offer in terms of total           so even if a graduate student took
compensation, the offer is just 2.3%.        another job against the rules, they
The inflation rate when comparing            would have a really hard time keeping
August 2008 to the previous year was at      up.
The combined pressures of below             knowledge sector as the way forward.
poverty wages, accumulated debt plus        Also when unemployment goes up
an incredibly demanding academic            people go back to school to upgrade
timetable has meant York’s attrition rate   their skills so university enrolments
for PhD Students is more than 50%.          actually increase. And tuition fees have
That means less than half of all the        been going up for many programs.
people who enter a Ph D program             These are three increasing revenue
finish.                                     streams of for the University but they
                                            are not being reinvested into the
Actually a number of graduate students      classroom.
exceed “Poverty Line” wages, the
Union is only asking for the additional     Also, York is getting excellent value
funding for those students whose            from its contract faculty. A course with
funding package does not meet the low       60 students, yields about $100,000 in
income cut off.                             revenue between tuition and
                                            government grants and yet contract
We have fought hard as a union local        faculty are paid only $14,000 – where is
for the rights, protections and             the rest going? We’re saying the
compensation our members have right         university needs to make academic
now. But the best contract in a very low    teaching a priority. We strongly believe
wage sector still adds up to less than      that fair recognition of our contract
we need to survive.                         faculty through job security and
                                            promotions, investing in professional
A contract Faculty member teaching 2.5      development and good health benefits
courses makes $35,000 a year. That’s        and pensions will enhance the learning
less than half the $80,000+ salary of       environment.
tenure track faculty teaching the same
number of courses. Teaching Assistants      O UR     QUES TI ON T O Y OR K …
(TAs) make $17,000 a year but still have    is the “belt-tightening” due to hard
to pay tuition fees. Also, if we get any    economic times going to affect
extra scholarships or awards, the           administration salaries? Most of the
University drops this amount by clawing     people we are negotiating with took
back our hours. Graduate Assistants         salary increases two to four times what
make less than $10,000 a year and           has been offered to CUPE. We
most have finished their undergraduate      conservatively estimate that the law firm
degrees with an enormous student debt       that York retains for negotiations
despite working many part-time jobs.        charges about $400/hour. York hires
We feel investing more money for            Human Resource managers at well over
Graduate Students would make                $100 000 who are trained to negotiate
Masters programs accessible to all.         collective agreements. The tens of
                                            thousands of dollars spent on legal fees
H OW   C A N Y OU EX PE CT                  in this round of bargaining would have
IN CR E ASE S I N A N E C ON OMI C          gone a long way to settle many
                                            monetary issues with us and for all the
                                            workers on campus.
The University is in a unique position
during tough economic times because
                                            FOR MORE INFORMATION:
this is exactly when Governments and
Industry put a premium on the               3903strike.ca

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