York strike looks headed into new year

It looks like the five-week-old strike at York University might extend into the new year with both the administration and the union representing 3,300 contract faculty, teaching assistants and graduate assistants, still no closer to coming to an agreement, wrote the North York Mirror Dec. 9.

No further talks have been scheduled since a provincially appointed mediator ended a three-day bargaining session last week, recognizing both sides were too far apart in negotiating a settlement offer. The administration updated its Web site Monday stating its latest "fair, responsible and sustainable offer" to address the issue of job security for contract faculty, which is one of the major sticking points in the negotiations with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3903.

The University has tabled "a new, ongoing category of full-time faculty appointments for Unit 2 contract faculty," which includes 10 new full-time teaching stream appointments over a three-year collective agreement, wrote the Mirror. "CUPE 3903’s Special Renewable Contracts proposal requires 67 new teaching-based appointments under the YUFA (York University Faculty Association) collective agreement made solely on the basis of seniority with near-automatic renewal until retirement," the University statement read.

But CUPE Local 3903 spokesperson Punam Khosla said the University isn’t telling the real story. "It’s more work for less money," said Khosla, noting the administration is offering job security to teach more courses with bigger class sizes for less money than the existing contract. "It’s a completely humiliating offer." She added the union isn’t fighting to secure contract faculty "jobs for life" but rather ending the "exploitation" of qualified teachers who have already been working as long as 20 years. "They’re unwilling to budge to provide proper job security," Khosla said.

  • York University officials have decided that if the strike by teaching staff does not end by next Monday, Dec. 15, classes will not resume in 2008, wrote the Toronto Star Dec. 10.

Strike at York mirrors crisis in Parliament

As a student at York University, I have become a victim of the current labour dispute between the York administration and contract faculty, wrote Eric Kupp in a letter to the Toronto Star Dec. 10. These two parties seem to be struck by the same malaise that is currently affecting our federal government.

The opposing sides can’t seem to find a way to put aside their differences and work together in order to bring the system back on track. Because of this playground mentality, many people are becoming victims, just like myself and more than 50,000 University students.

Someone needs to step in and smack both groups upside the head. Neither seems to understand how many people are worse off because of their petty skirmishes. This is a time of economic sickness, and a side effect of that seems to be overwhelming stubbornness. When will someone start paying attention to those who are losing their jobs and their education because of these debates?

Constitutional know-how

Michaëlle Jean knows how to pick an adviser, wrote The Globe and Mail Dec. 10. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper walked into Rideau Hall last week to make his historic request to prorogue his embattled government, the Governor General had been well briefed by Canada’s most respected constitutional voice. Her adviser was Peter Hogg, scholar in residence at Blakes LLP and former dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. He literally wrote the book on the subject, Constitutional Law of Canada, his writings are cited more than any other by the Supreme Court of Canada and he regularly advises federal and provincial governments.

Photos show changing world

The Falls Brook Centre hosted Photos of a Changing World at Fusion Café on Dec. 4, wrote Woodstock, NB’s Bugle-Observer Dec. 9. The exhibit was organized to promote the National Day of Climate Action on Dec. 7, and featured photos showcasing climate change through the eyes of Canadians. These photos by Pascal Murphy, an environmental studies graduate student at York University, show the receding glacier at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and, above, the inside melt of a glacier in Jasper, Alta.

Former Glendon student named director of National Gallery

It’s official. Marc Mayer is leaving the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal to take over as director of the National Gallery of Canada, wrote The Gazette (Montreal) Dec. 10. Unconfirmed media reports last month said the 52-year-old Franco-Ontarian was being courted by the National Gallery. James Moore, minister of Canadian heritage and official languages, announced the appointment yesterday.

Before coming to Montreal’s contemporary art museum in September 2004, Mayer worked as deputy director for art at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York, director of the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto and was curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY.

Mayer studied at Glendon College, York University in 1979-1980. He is considered to be a star in the world of contemporary art management, wrote The Gazette.

  • CBC News online also reported the appointment and mentioned Mayer’s time at York.