Like most undergraduate students at York, I would be extremely happy if the university and CUPE Local 3903 came to a satisfactory agreement soon so that a strike can be avoided and summer classes can begin without any disruption.
Since it was announced that CUPE 3903 would be in a strike position on April 12, students and faculty have been on the edge of their seats, hoping the strike will be averted. Students are blaming the strike on teaching assistants and the whole union for starting this strike and making them into victims once again.
I also blamed the union for their poor decision for a while, but until recently, I began to wonder if students truly are the victims of a potential strike, and if the union is truly the bad guy here. And after looking at the facts and what the union wants, I can honestly say the union isn’t the villain.
If you are a student and you are reading this, ask yourself: would you want job security when you look for a job after graduation? Would you want a reasonable amount of benefits? Would you want wage increases over a period of years?
On the back of the assumption that you have answered “yes” to all the aforementioned questions, guess what? The bulk of CUPE Local 3903’s members want a similar list of demands, and if they are victorious this time around, imagine how their achievement will affect the quality of education they provide us.
CUPE 3903 members argue that because of low wages, many of them are coerced to find themselves in situations of multiple job-holding to make ends meet. It is even worse when we consider the fact that many faculty members have to do research alongside holding multiple jobs, which leads to a poorer quality of teaching and marking.
Furthermore, universities across North America have increased the number of students per class so that they do not have to hire as many teachers. In my opinion, increasing the number of students per class just to cut down on labour costs tells me that the quality of education is at serious risk in Canada right now.
If a strike actually does occur, it is better for students to support CUPE so that the university cannot get away with cheating these workers out of what they deserve.
If the University of Toronto can ratify an agreement with their union members and give their TAs what they want, then York University can do the same.
These people have the courage to show solidarity in one area and this act serves as a nudge to awaken and inspire others in similar situations. This isn’t a strike to annoy students and make their university life unfortunate, this is a strike to secure a career and goals for the future.