Teachers at York University have been on strike since Nov. 6. That’s 81 days and counting that students have been denied the education they paid for.
OK, strikes are sometimes justified. But York University experiences more strikes than your average institution of higher education:
York University has a history of faculty/TA strikes. In 1997, there was a faculty strike by YUFA that lasted seven weeks. At the time, this was the second longest strike in Canadian University history. Key issues in the strike included retirement, funding, and institutional governance. In 2001, TAs and contract faculty went on strike for 11 weeks, when the university broke its own record.
York has now broken its own record again. (News media have inaccurately described this strike as the longest strike at a university in Canadian history. In fact, it’s the third longest, according to studentactivism.net.)
I was briefly a student at York in 1981-82, and I remember that classes were disrupted by a strike then. Chris, a commenter at CTV.ca, says, “I went to York from 1981-1986 and 4 of those” were strike years.
If memory serves, there was another strike sometime between 1987-1991. Add those strikes to the ones mentioned by Wikipedia, in 1997 and 2001. Now factor in the current strike, and it’s safe to conclude that the faculty at York University don’t give a shit about providing students with an education.
The provincial government has introduced legislation to order the York faculty back to work. I don’t agree with that decision: I don’t regard a university as an essential public service.
(Here in Ottawa, we’re enduring a transit strike that has continued for a month and a half, with no end in sight. I think OC Transpo provides an essential public service and, in this case, drivers should be legislated back to work. The whole city has been disrupted, and a transit strike hits the working poor hardest of all. People in low-paying jobs may have no choice but to walk to work, no matter how long the walk, or they’ll be fired. And yet the government fails to act.)
In future, students should think twice about enrolling at York. Look at the history, guys and gals: you stand a very good chance of having classes disrupted by a strike at some point in a four-year program. Maybe for as long as three months.
A university is not an essential public service, and teachers shouldn’t be legislated back to work. But students should enroll elsewhere: let York University suffer the consequences of its appalling labour relations record.