Statement by CUPE 3903 Member, Devin Clancy at Senate Meeting, April 26, 2018 1

April 26, 2018

I’m Devin Clancy and in case anyone in this administration has forgotten, I am a member of this community. After being forced to picket outside for 8 weeks, in the cold, the wind, and freezing rain, you start to wonder if anyone at the top making six figures actually cares about those of us that do the work of this university. So to be clear, I am a student, teaching assistant, and CUPE 3903’s representative in the senate.

Two weeks ago on April 12 the senate passed this motion:

“Senate urges both sides in the labour disruption to immediately return to the bargaining table and take the necessary steps to settle the dispute as soon as possible”

As we all saw when entering the meeting today, CUPE 3903’s democratically elected bargaining team is sitting outside these doors as we speak, waiting for York to come to the table.

Where is Kathryn McPherson?

Where is Rob Lawson? If you know, please let our health and safety committee know, we’ve been waiting for his response to our Vari Hall inspection since December.

Where is Noura Shaw?

Where is Barry Miller?

And where is York’s union busting lawyer Simon Mortimer?

Lyndon Martin, Senator Martin, why are you not outside right now sitting at that table? Why are you not calling everyone on your team to join you?

Senator Martin, you have been directed by the most senior collegial decision making body of this university to “immediately return to the bargaining table” and “settle the dispute as soon as possible.”

What gives you the right to disregard your colleges’ direction? What gives you the right to refuse the direction of the senate? What empowers you to abdicate your responsibility to bargain?

Have you, like 800 graduate assistants, also been “liberated from work obligation” by the Board of Governors and the corrupt executive of the senate?

For two weeks now, York and CUPE have been involved in a process of mediation and inquiry. Our union’s bargaining team met with commissioner Kaplan, revised our proposals, and clearly showed a desire to negotiate a deal to end this strike.

Yet, even before the mediation period ended, York emailed the entire community to brazenly state the university would never negotiate. And it said this despite being expressly directed by the senate to do so. This is, without a doubt, a crisis of collegial governance, but it is also a crisis of the values and principles of York University.

How can anyone in this administration honestly believe that York’s actions in this strike represent a commitment to “social justice”?

What hollow notion of justice do you pretend to hold Rhonda? Is your justice always brought to us by TD bank? Does it rely on investing in arms and occupation? Does your justice depend on investing in TransCanada pipelines?

The only social justice at this university comes from students and workers on the ground who stand up against corporate interests and fight for the generations of students and workers to come.

For our local, social justice is not an exercise in branding, but a lived reality. It’s embedded in our union’s commitment to the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, to Jane and Finch Action Against Poverty, to supporting Indigenous struggles for self-determination.

And it is embedded in our union’s commitment to direct democratic representation of its members in the collective bargaining process.

Yet, in York’s submission to the Industrial Inquiry, our model of democratic organizing and open bargaining—which is an active practice of social justice—has been directly attacked. And Simon Mortimer used our members’ written academic work in order to attack it.

This is an assault on our members’ academic freedom. Our own critical analysis of York University is being used against us in a legal process to break our union.

What new era of bargaining does the Lenton regime want to normalize here? Clearly it involves as little bargaining as possible, and as much security, fake websites, and bogus PR that money can buy.

This administration does not care about students. This administration does not care about academic integrity or academic freedom. This administration does not care about its own reputation. And it certainly doesn’t care about its workers.

All this “social justice” university cares about is breaking CUPE 3903, by any means necessary. Even if that means destroying the summer semester and losing millions of dollars in the hope that next provincial government will introduce unconstitutional back-to-work legislation in June.

Rhonda Lenton, “social justice” president, are you really hoping for the next government to fulfill your wishes?

That’s a direct question, but I don’t expect a truthful answer. And I don’t think anyone does anymore. York University’s “social justice” president lacks integrity. And your sorry excuse of leadership is falling apart.

A growing list of student groups, departments, and faculties are passing motions of non-confidence in the senior administration, President Rhonda Lenton and in the Board of Governors led by Rick Waugh.

Rhonda, our own department of sociology has expressed its loss of confidence in you.

So I ask: President Lenton, will you stop destroying everything this university stands for and resign immediately?

One comment

  1. These statements are both very clearly and militantly (but sanely) presented, by Devon and Ricardo, and are somewhat restoring of my pride in having York U highlighted quite so prominently all over my CV – but this is grim and humiliating spot to find ourselves in nonetheless (not least for me as I celebrate by 80th birthday this week, thus marking a span that has included many decades at York) – one can think of so many sensible ways in which differences of opinion and approach might have been discussed more effectively, but I have seen little sign of the Admin’s willingness to do so – very sad and disheartening – in solidarity – jss

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