Apr 27 2009

Majority of Members Abstain from Ratifying New Collective Agreement

Category: Post-strike Discussion (2009)Bob Hanke @ 12:51 pm

While the April 24, 2009 headlines read CUPE 3903 ratifies mediated multi-year agreements with York University, here is a breakdown of the actual Unit 2 voting results:

70% Yes (117 people voted)
28% No (46 people voted)
2% spoiled ballots (4 people voted)

With about 900 members, this represents only 18.5 % of the eligible voters. 733 people, or 81.4%, abstained from voting altogether. If participation in voting is essential to give legitimacy to political-economic authority and decision making, these results suggest that this “negotiated agreement” lacks such legitimacy.

President Shoukri claims that York “values the skills and talents of our employees.” In reality, graduate employees and contract faculty are the ghosts in the massified teaching factory. More of the curriculum has been allocated to them but they appear and disappear only to be replaced by new Ph.Ds or hired on per-course contracts to fill curricular holes as needed. The 2008-09 York University strike was, in the first instance, symptomatic of a university system in crisis. The results indicate that contract faculty feel too demoralized and depressed to vote when they have been stripped of their democractic right to collective bargaining in the name of  “financial stability.” They may feel devalued when the interests of “students based upon academic integrity” are pitted against any collective effort to expose the casualization of acadmic labour and its consequences.

In short, the results show that we have much work to do before the next round of collective bargaining begins. In the double crisis of the university and the economy, continuous organizing and mobilizing will be necessary. Let us work together so as to not waste this crisis.

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