April 25, 2018
To: Mr. William Kaplan, Investigator, Ontario Ministry of Labour Industrial Inquiry into the CUPE 3903 Strike at York University.
We, the faculty members of the Department of Cinema and Media Arts, join our colleagues from Glendon, the Department of English and many other colleagues across the university, in expressing our outrage at York administration’s continued refusal to negotiate with CUPE 3903 in good faith. We condemn the administration’s strategy and, with our colleagues, present this vote of non-confidence in President Rhonda Lenton, her senior administrators, and the Board of Governors of York University.
Rationale: For eight weeks, the administration has played a game of hardball, insisting the two sides in the current labour dispute are too far apart to even consider negotiating. This is a misguided strategy as evidenced by the resounding 85% of the union membership of CUPE 3903 that voted ‘no’ in the forced ratification vote, April 9, 2018.
We believe collegial governance is what distinguishes universities as institutions committed to a public good. This core aspect of the university’s mission, however, has been steadily eroded over the past decades as decision making has become centralized and, in particular, Senate authority has been challenged and breached both prior to and during the current labour disruption. Spending on administrator salaries has skyrocketed. Please see Mathew Kurtz’s illuminating article in Excalibur, “The rising cost of high-income administrators at York.”
We believe that much of the erosion of collegial governance stems from a Board of Governors, chaired by Rick Waugh, that is increasingly unrepresentative, undemocratic and whose orientation is blatantly anti-union. Their vision of a corporatized university is not the vision we share. The refusal to negotiate, which we believe is informed by an explicit desire to break the union, is undermining the integrity of our academic offerings, demoralizing faculty, punishing students – including students who, as TAs and GAs, are walking the picket line – and is ruining the reputation of York University.