Labour Issues - Strike at York

Published: 2021-06-29 06:45:48
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Category: Social Issues

Type of paper: Essay

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As society speeds into the future, we are constantly bombarded with changes and unexpected twists and turns. What the world was like one hundred years ago is vastly different from what the world is now. This is especially true when we talk about work and labour relations. With the introduction of mass production and better business practices in our society, people seem to be more and more concerned with making profits and therefore more concerned with how to cut costs, cut labour and keep themselves financially afloat. This is especially true in the recent past as we have been experiencing a global recession that has affected the way that many businesses function. But even without this global economic recession, we have seen in recent history a growing trend with businesses trying to keep production as lean as possible. In this paper I will be examining the York University strike of 2008/2009 throughout a number of different sociological perspectives in order to better understand the sociological significance of the ongoing strike.
Currently there is a strike being held at York University by the local CUPE 3903 union. Even though negotiations have been going on from months, the union and the university have not been able to reach an agreement. As of November 6, 2008, CUPE 3903 which consists of 1850 graduate students working as teaching assistants, 550 who work as research and administrative assistants ,and 950 contract faculty members have been picketing on the grounds of the university demanding better wages, more job security as well as more funding (Brown). The union has stated in many newspaper articles that what they are looking for is not unfair; as York University would have the public believe. The biggest change that the union is fighting for is a two year collective bargaining agreement that would allow them to join the province wide university sector union initiative in 2010 (Upping the Anti) which would allow them to team up with other Ontario universities. This province wide union would help union members stay competitive for their salaries as cost of living rises and give them more bargaining power to fight for more funding and improvement of working conditions in the future. CUPE 3903 is also looking for a competitive wage increase to meet the needs of a rising cost of living. They are asking for 7 percent in the first year and 4 percent in the second year of the two year deal they are willing to sign (Brown, and Ogilvie). The union is also fighting hard on the issue of job security. The contract faculty of York University currently teacher 40-60 percent of the curriculum (Upping the Anti), yet have no job security. The university took away the five year contracts they were offering back in 2001 and ever since contract faculty has had to re-sign their contract at the end of every term even if they have been teaching at the university for 10-15 years (Brown, and Ogilvie). The university on the other hand has mentioned that they cannot meet these demands as they feel the union is being unfair in these troublesome economic times. They state that they cannot meet these demands as they themselves are being forced to make 2 percent cuts from their overall operating budget in each of the next three years. It is clear that the two sides are not sitting on any common ground and that the strike is the result of two opposing sides not being able to meet anywhere in the middle. The strike is affecting over 50,000 students and has no indication of letting up any time soon.

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