On Campus

Quick thoughts on York strike supervised vote

Is a supervised vote insulting to the union leadership? Yes, it is. So what?

I’m presently delivering a session at the Canadian University Press conference and apologize for the briefness of the post.

Today York University asked Ontario’s Minister of Labour to conduct a forced supervised vote on the university’s latest offer to CUPE.

I don’t need to repeat a lot of what is already out there. In short, the offer from York is fair and union members will have to decide if they want to go for more.

The normal economics of labour disputes do not exist here. The TAs and contract faculty are not actually losing money on the picket line; they are merely deferring their income until they return to work. (In comparison, salaried workers do lose wages and this typically results in them taking a reasonable offer because there is a cost in not doing so.)

CUPE has responded to the forced vote by, once again, issuing over-the-top statements that ultimately hurt their standing in public opinion.

Calling the vote a “charade with the Ministry of Labour” does not reflect well on an union that consists of individuals with high levels of education. To say it’s “insulting” doesn’t help either.

It is not a charade, nor is it insulting to the average member of a union to have the ability to democratically express their opinion on a contract offer. The secret ballot is one of the most cherished fundamentals in a democratic society and should be cherished, by extension, in an organization that claims to be democratic in nature.

I’m hard-pressed to see how a process which will, finally, give everyone involved an accurate assessment of where CUPE 3903 members stand is a charade.

Is it insulting to the union leadership? Yes, it is. So what? The union leadership doesn’t like not having control over the method in which their members get to express their opinion. Having people pack a hall and face the peer pressure of supporting the union leadership is what they prefer. Who can blame them? Any group in power wishes to control the circumstances to their advantage.

This problem exists wherever there is power. Why do you think Prime Minister Harper broke his own fixed-election-date law?

This supervised voted is going to answer a lot of questions. One that I have is how much does the McGuinty government really care about York students?

The ball is now in McGuinty’s court. His Minister of Labour should be working this weekend and pay whatever overtime expenses are necessary in order to announce details of the vote Monday morning and to conduct it early next week.

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