Sunday, November 16, 2008


This is the last blog that I am going to be writing for my Mass Communication class and the topic for this week is to find an activist project and to speak to my own political engagement with a given cause. I figured that the CUPE 3903 activist project and the York University strike would be a great target for my last Mass Comm. blog because I have many friends who are enrolled at York University and are currently sitting at home, working extra hours, or hoping that the strike ends soon. However, not only are the students at York being effected by the project but so are their parents. Imagine how they feel, first they dished out large checks for their son or daughter’s application fees, tuition, residence fees, and parking permits and now they are wondering where their money is going. So let’s set the record straight and figure out exactly what CUPE is demanding.

York University says that the company is demanding a 41% increase over two years plus benefits which adds up to a huge $26 million dollars (“DOES CUPE”). Apparently, York’s Teacher’s Assistants are paid the most, $65.00 an hour, and are only required to work for 10 hours (Viklund). However, they argue that no T.A. works just 10 hours because it is impossible to just stop what they are doing when working with their students or marking papers and exams (Viklund). As a result, CUPE has been on strike for just over a week. The last strike lasted 11 weeks and this strike is predicted to last for 3 months.

Students will be making up what they’ve missed but this involves schooling over reading week and summer break. From my personal experience, I know a student who is thinking of transferring universities in the fall and is in his first year at York. What if the strike lasts so long that he won’t be able to have his grades posted in time to re-apply to another university by the required deadline?

Without a doubt, CUPE has a reason to be on strike—they are not being paid for all the work they do—however do the students have a reason to suffer? While I am busy studying for exams and finishing final assignments, students at York have nothing to do but wait. I wish I could say that the strike will be ending shortly, putting York’s 50000 students back in classes, but I do not think this is the case. The University has continued to offer a 9.25% increase over three years and is using binding arbitration but despite this, the two employers are extremely far away from any meeting point.

It is easy to see that the cause of the strike is because CUPE feels that York University is not paying their T.A.’s enough for the amount of time they put into their jobs. It is also easy to see that the University’s cause for binding arbitration is to have students in classes again as soon as possible. Even though what I think will most likely not change the current situation, I am going to say it anyway. At first, students were happy that they did not have to go to class. Then, as they started to realize that they would be studying for exams while all their friends are out of school, making money, and partying they wanted to get back to school as soon as possible. It’s sad that education, a right that everyone has might I add, has turned into a battle over money.

For more information check out this website:

13 11 2008. York University. 16 Nov 2008 .

Viklund, Andreas. "Cupe 3903 Strike Video." [Weblog Cupe 3903 Strike Video]
15 11 2008. Wordpress. 16 Nov 2008 .

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