Monday, December 15, 2008

A hand overplayed

Now that the strike at York has gone on long enough that cancellation of the school year has become a worry, you have to think that the appetite for another bruising strike in two years has diminished, not just at York but elsewhere.

Indeed, the York strike has already been cited as one reason why PSAC's unionization drive at Queen's has likely gone down to defeat. Same thing for U of T's relatively small strike mandate, where "the difficult situation at York University" is noted on the union's own web site. We're also hearing that a surprising number of tenure-stream York professors have vocally opposed their union's support of CUPE.

CUPE will have to do some serious damage control, and quickly, if it wants to regain its momentum for the 2010 project -- starting with finding a solution at York.


Anonymous said...

I am a member of the CUPE 3903 union, currently on strike as part of York U. First off, it's gone on long enough, as I see it. That said, I wonder about the issue of "job security" for contract faculty. I am puzzled by these juxtaposed concepts. Contract positions are just that - contract positions, right? While I understand that having some security after teaching year after year, and teaching up to 4 courses (like a sessional lecturer) is desirable, the way the union hires contract faculty (in terms of their experience, etc). ensures that those with most relevant experience at York are hired first. So, if they are truly the best qualified, aren't they really guaranteed the position anyways? Is this need for job security really just about trying to formulate full-time positions for faculty who don't wish to be profs (with research commitments)? In any event, York U has 50% of its courses taught by contract faculty. That is something to be concerned about. How can contract faculty provide the consistency and quality that a university needs?

CUPE Watch 2010 said...

Thanks for the comment. I'm under the impression that contract hiring at York gives the right of first refusal to anyone who has taught in the same department. Is that right?

I'm also wondering about the 50% number. I've heard it thrown around in various contexts, like "CUPE members do 50% of the teaching". If it's true that contract faculty teach 50% of lecture hours, I would find that rather surprising. However, my suspicion is that contract faculty and TA's combine to provide 50% of teaching-related contact hours, which include lectures, labs, tutorials, and office hours. That I would find far less surprising. Do you know where I could find a bit more data?

Anonymous said...

Hi CupeWatch 2010:
I'm not sure about how or where you could verify the 50% figure. The 50% figure that I stated is a repeat of a statement of a faculty member, who had recently been in a meeting regarding the strike.

York U. certainly offers right of first refusal. As long as the application has been made, and the course identified, they are pretty respectful to individuals who return year after year.

A ratification vote has been asked for by York today. Hopefully, things will move toward resolution asap.