Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Media Sucks: Strike Coverage

I wanted to entitle this one, "The Media Sucks Cock", but I've never used the word "cock" derogatorily (or even in the sense of fowl) on this blog, and I don't want to start now.

The York Faculty Strike has been going on for weeks now and what does the globe and mail bring us? There's a strike. No one wants to negotiate. The NDP is stalling. The workers aren't happy. The mediator never really tried to mediate.

And ... the issues are? No, seriously. Why are they striking? I've heard vaguely, from non-mainstream sources, that there's something going on that has to do not with salary but from the fact that the lecturers have to re-apply for their jobs every year regardless of how many years they've been there. Is that true?

How about the OC transpo strike? Ottawa has been without bus services for almost 50 days now. What are the issues there.

Nothing. Just a bland, vapid coverage that allows the right wing blowhards to scream bloody murder about unions.

The media sucks.

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Raymond R. said...

The OC Transpo strike is about the ATU 279 members (bus drivers) choosing their own schedule which results in a lot of overtime and double shifts. The city wants to take control of the schedule and the drivers do not want that. We operate under Federal Rules because some of our buses cross over to the province of Quebec.

Greg said...

There are some other tricks as well, involving two people calling in sick and taking eachother's shifts for extra pay.

But how much work do you have to do in order to get that information? It's not easy and most don't have time. In most respects, I agree with the city's position (i.e. in stamping out cash cows like this). But the coverage is awful in the media.

Ian said...

This was awesome: "I wanted to entitle this one, "The Media Sucks Cock", but I've never used the word "cock" derogatorily (or even in the sense of fowl) on this blog, and I don't want to start now."

Well I guess those two uses don't officially count... Made me laugh at least.

ADHR said...

Just to be a pedant: Ian, technically, Greg mentioned "cock", he didn't use it. ;)

To the point: about the York strike. There were originally four main issues on the table. First, graduate student funding at York is shit. It's nowhere near what it needs to be in order to be adequate to meet the needs of graduate students. So, the union asked for at least a cost of living adjustment so that wages wouldn't be continually undercut. This issue is now off the table, and the union has accepted the university's wage offer.

Second, the benefits packages were calculated as fixed dollar amounts rather than proportional to members in the union. This has been settled through negotiation, except when it comes to childcare -- that's still outstanding.

Third, CUPE 3903 wanted to be part of the CUPE Ontario plan to coordinate a sector-wide strike in 2010. That issue is now off the table.

Fourth, one unit of CUPE 3903 consists of contract faculty. Chet explained how this works very well over here. But, Cliff's Notes version: contract faculty are hired on a per-course basis and are not entitled to any job security whatsoever; not even a presumption that they will be rehired to teach the same course the next time it's offered. They also usually can't be hired to more secure tenure-stream positions. CUPE 3903 wanted to convert some of these positions into tenured positions. York offered about a dozen five-year contracts over the life of the collective agreement -- and wouldn't move from that. Even though about 67 members of CUPE 3903 have been teaching at York for more than 10 years, and CUPE 3903 members do more than 50% of the teaching at York.

That's the gist of it, at any rate. There's longstanding issues under the surface with how York works as an institution and its habits of dealing with its unions, but that would take a very long time to explain.