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?

Statement by Ricardo Grinspun, at Senate Meeting, April 26, 2018 Reply

April 26, 2018

President Lenton, I rise today to ask that either you commit to making a meaningfully improved offer to CUPE 3903 in order to end the strike immediately or, failing that, offer your resignation, since you will have failed the academic mandate of this institution. Your letting down of the community of faculty, staff, students and their families will be beyond repair, unless we settle this strike now. If you are not able to take the necessary steps, it is time for you to step down and allow us to move on with the fundamental work of our university: To advance knowledge and scholarly work through a vibrant community of students and faculty – working together – for the betterment of our minds, lives and society.

The managerial and leadership approach that defines your administration is unsustainable and detrimental to the common good that characterizes a healthy university. Your uncompromising and unnecessarily aggressive approach displayed throughout the CUPE 3903 strike is profoundly inimical to the university as a public trust and the values espoused in our mission statement, such as collegial governance and academic freedom. The hardball approach to both governance and labour relations contradicts York’s publicly stated espousal of social justice, and the social justice-engaged research that defines so much of our university. Unfortunately, your actions confirm the concerns expressed by the 900 full time faculty who responded to the YUFA poll in November 2016, of whom only 11% supported your candidacy to be President of York.

The university is paying a very heavy price for your appointment. Your intransigent actions during the labour dispute, and the complete disregard of the impact on York’s academic reputation, speak clear. The community feels shocked and helpless in the face of your categorical refusal to bargain, your reckless brinkmanship, regardless of the cost for students, academic standing and our reputation. While pursuing a scorched earth approach to labour negotiations in the hope of crippling the union representing graduate students and contract faculty at York, you have hurt the lives of tens of thousands of students and brought disarray to our university.

Because of your refusal to bargain and your disdain for York’s students, the winter semester is threatened, and you have eroded academic integrity beyond recognition by proposed accommodations on a broad scale. Now your administration has announced the imminent cancellation of summer semesters. This announcement once again usurps the authority of Senate and Senate Executive to make decisions on class suspension due to a labour disruption. The Senate Executive Committee, on which you sit, has managed remediation in full deference to this administrative approach. It has created chaos and dysfunction within York, intensified the anxiety and stress of students, faculty and staff, and undermined the faith of the public in our university.

No amount of money poured into public relations or private security can obscure this reality. You now wear this reality.

President Lenton, speaking on behalf of thousands of faculty, staff and students, please know your actions so far do not have our confidence. Unless you move to settle this strike, we call for your resignation.

Important links to the presidential search Reply

York University site on presidential search – Official documents and links

Urgent call for action: Say no to Rhonda Lenton as the next president of York University – 10 November 2016

Statements regarding the consideration of Provost Rhonda Lenton for President – 14 November 2016

Letter from Prof. Agnes Whitfield to the Presidential Search Committee – 14 November 2016

York profs slam presidential search in open letter – 18 November 2016, Excalibur

Follow-up letter from Prof Agnes Whitfield regarding the presidential search – 20 November 2016

YUFA poll results on presidential search – 22 November 2016. Detailed poll results are here.

York University urged to make search for new president more transparent – 22 November 2016, Globe and Mail

YUFA statement on the presidential search – 23 November 2016

YUGSA Statement on York’s Presidential Search – 23 November 2016

York Cross-Campus Alliance – Joint-statement about presidential search – 25 November 2016

York community members decry university corporatization – 26 November 2016, Excalibur

GHSA statement on presidential search – 29 November 2016

Open Statement to the York University Community on the Flawed Integrity of the Presidential Search Process – 14 December 2016

York Cross-Campus Alliance response to Board of Governors’ statement on York’s presidential search – 10 January 2017

York Board of Governors appears ready to appoint Rhonda Lenton as president despite overwhelming rejection from cross-campus constituencies -Statement to the York Community – 23 February 2017


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