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Non-answers from Ont. gov on York strike

Queen’s Park owes York students answers, but haven’t given any yet


 

UPDATE: Maclean’s OnCampus spoke with the Minister’s staff today and we’ve been promised an interview with the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities following the end of the York University strike.

A spokesperson for the Ministry says they don’t want to interfere with negotiations at York and are not able to answer questions at the present time.  They also don’t want to speculate on what might happen and are advising students to monitor the York University website for updates on the strike and financial supports for students.

Keep checking OnCampus regularly for the most up-to-date information on the 2008 York University strike.

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Eleven days ago, I tried to ask Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges, and University John Milloy a few detailed questions related to the York University strike. Specifically, the questions were related to government support for York students affected by the ongoing York strike.

That day, I submitted the following questions to the Ministry by email:

Will OSAP payments by administered in January if the strike is ongoing?

What assistance is available for students if there is an extension of classes into May, will their receive addition OSAP funding while maintaining the $7,000 repayment cap?

What government supports are available for students who are laid off from work-study placements?

What supports are available for students laid off from non-work study on-campus jobs?

Some students have been working during the strike. Due to the use of tax returns by OSAP, this could result in receiving overpayment notices. Is OSAP going to account for the strike when issuing assessments?

I emailed the Ministry earlier today to ask the status of my request. Ministry staff responded to my emails with an answer that didn’t address issues that are the responsibility of the Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities.

I’ve emailed back asking for more. I will wait until 4 p.m. tomorrow in the hope that the government answers (or at least says it is reviewing the situation) my questions before posting the exact statement sent to me by Ministry staff.

I’m hoping this blog post will get somebody’s attention in the government and somebody in the Minister or Premier office will be kind enough to provide answers to students.

The government owes students answers, especially since the government is allowing this strike to continue without end. Had the government acted to end this strike, there is a real possibility that students would not face many of the OSAP-related questions I’ve sent them.

Or maybe the opposition is right and the government doesn’t care. I hate to admit it, but I’m starting to wonder myself.


 

Non-answers from Ont. gov on York strike

  1. Isn’t the ability to give non-answers a prerequisite skill to get into politics of any kind?

  2. How is ending the strike is the government’s business? Ending the strike is the business of the University and the Union. Letting them off the hook for solving their problems will just put everyone through the wringer in 2-3 (or whatever) years. And again and again and again. As long as the parties can keep running to the government to solve their problems, York’s institutional failings will not get addressed.

    That said, I suspect you did get punked. (Sorry!) Emails and letters are easy to ignore, especially for Ministers with staff members to do the filtering. Someone putting a microphone — or a camera — in your face is harder to brush off. Unfortunately, unless you want to camp outside the Minister’s constituency office, you’re probably not going to get another shot until February….

  3. I see the government has being able to end the strike one of two ways:

    1) The most commonly mentioned: Back-to-work legislation

    2) Providing funding to York University to meet the union’s contract goals.

    The government choose neither one of these options. Instead, they stuck to the line they always use when there is a challenge in the university sector: “They are autonomous institutions.”

  4. In response to ADHR…the government shouldn’t be part of the bargining process, but it should move these two parties to at least talk to one another. The people being held hostage by this strike are the students and any hard working parents who put money aside for the last 18 years to put them in University. Shame on those who can’t see that…

  5. Since neither York nor the union are able to come up with a solution that ‘satisfies’ both sides, it’s time for the government to step in. It’s great that the union is not satisfied with their ‘lousy’ wage of $35+/an hour. Yes, I know they are limited to working 10 hours per week, and they want greater job stability etc. etc, but look around you, people are losing jobs everywhere, the union members should be happy that they at least HAVE a job. Yes, York can go along with the union’s request, but this will likely be reflected in higher tuition fees next year because the money does not come out of thin air. Since the York students haven’t suffer enough, it seems only logical that they should have higher tuition fees.

    Everyone is so worried about York University’s or the union’s view, but I would like to know who is considering the student interests in this whole fiasco. I think it’s about time that the government steps in and does something for a change! The government needs to stop sitting around and providing their typical, politically correct answers, like “Universities are autonomous institutions… we are encouraging both sides to get back to the table.” Yes, it is evident that this ‘encouragement really paid off. Students are paying $5500+ in tuition fees, to sit at home. Thank you York, and thank you CUPE 3903. But most importantly I would like to thank our government about representing the student body and looking after their needs!

  6. It’s not surprising to read yet another McLean’s article critical of the strike. The very individuals who run McLean’s are entrenched in the board that oversees York University. Just another example of media concentration.

  7. In response to Eli’s comment, this has nothing to do with Macleans being critical. Many people disagree with the strike, including the students, York University, general public, and even some of the CUPE members. Cudos to Joey for putting pressure on the government to do something.

  8. Eli- give some proof! I’d like to see that.

    If York is looking for scabs, I’ll work for $20/hr!

  9. haha.. Alex, you’re a sucker if you took the job for $20/hour.
    But I guess the way this world works is it takes the desperate (you) and makes lots of money off of them.
    Of course, after 5 years of making $10400/year you’d crack and form a union to demand higher wages ;)

  10. Of course not James- I’m not an idiot. I’d take the job as a STUDENT, use it to buff my resume and then move onto the real world. Isn’t that what the halls of academia was created for? The problem here is that CUPE 3903 has too many different units within it. Why are contract faculty in the same union as TAs and GAs? Care to answer that, James?

  11. Due in large part to this strike and the potential for a 2010 replay province-wide, my grant and I are moving to a Tier I research university in the United States. I’m not the only York faculty member doing this, either. Thanks, CUPE, and so long.

  12. I’m with you, YorkProf2. I’m transferring my ass out of Ontario. To all CUPE members, there used to be a time when unions were beacons of social justice. I find it ironic that unions like CUPE 3903 have become the very thing that they have tried to fight.

  13. I think all the prof’s should move to another school, this one is a waste of time and money.

    The government should not get involved with numbers, but rather, it should be mandating the two sides to at least have talks, as well as set a deadline for a decision with repercussions to both sides if the deadline is not met.

    Students should not be punished because the two sides cannot reach an agreement. If that means back-to-work legislation, then so be it. They’ve brought it upon themselves. Either way you look at it, students need to get back to class NOW (and by now I mean January 5th).

  14. @YorkProf2:

    People who really do have job offers from Tier I American universities don’t need to go about bragging on childish Maclean’s comment boards. Plus, the way hiring processes work in these universities, you would have had the offer before the strike began, and thus CUPE wouldn’t have been your reason for leaving.

    If you really are leaving York, abandoning your current graduate students suddenly, thanks for the faculty opening, *******.

  15. Offers are made in late December to early February, well after the strike date.

  16. As for the job opening, it doesn’t exist. York’s departments are facing the following Presidentially mandated budget cuts: 2% in 2009-10, 2-3% in 2010-11, and 2% in 2011-12. In the Humanities, Social Sciences, and more theoretical sciences, the only way to make these cuts is to reduce the number of tenure track faculty. (You don’t hear YUFA whining about concessions, mind you.) Since the pension fund has been reduced to the point where new retirees will face the minimum benefit, they have no incentive to retire. This leaves resignations, which are rare. In other words, no tenure track hires are likely to be made in these departments for 2-3 years. This is certainly the case in my department.

  17. Finally, my Ph.D. student has the opportunity to come with me–this was part of my offer.

  18. Bill- how is that childish? It seems reasonable.

    Thank you YUFA- at least SOME academics still support social justice and the responsible use of union power.

  19. Steven, so you’re saying it’s reasonable to encourage the anonymous harassment of academics for their political views, namely the 154 professors who signed this petition?

  20. Let me assure you, Steven, that YUFA does not speak for all of its members. Its contributions to CUPE, both financial and in kind, were made without consulting its membership, and are an affront to the basic democracy that it is supposed to espouse. Support by YUFA’s Executive is no serious kind of support at all.

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