Saturday, January 24, 2009

Higher Education, Lower Intelligence

Ever since November 6th of last year, over three thousand teaching assistants, contract teachers and graduate assistants from Toronto's York University have been on strike. As is often the case, they are striking over wages, benefits, job security, and allow their members to have a two-year contract with the university, which would bring up to Ontario university standards. There have been many offers at the negotiating table, and every last one of them was turned down by the union. Now, I'm all in favour of anyone -- particularly workers -- standing up for themselves. However, there is a line to be drawn somewhere, and most would agree that when York's students have been severely affected, but the demands themselves have become unreasonable, that line has been crossed.

Let's start this by looking at the other people that the union and the university have dragged into this tug of war: York University's student body. They've already lost about half of their school year; this in itself is a huge pain in the neck, especially to out of town students, and anyone who will now have to co-ordinate a summer job around make-up classes that will likely extend to July. However, in addition to that, several senior students have now lost their chance at applying to grad school, because of this nonsense. The university is doing its best to accommodate the teaching union, but because the union isn't budging, who knows how much damage they've now done to the careers of these students? Hold your horses, though, I haven't even got to the best part.

The latest offer from the university -- the one turned down by over half of the union -- would have enriched their benefits, given them a five-year contract, and -- get this -- a 9.25% wage increase. And they didn't think this was good enough! What the hell is the matter with them? Who else in the country even gets OFFERED a pay raise that big? ...Okay, other than the government.

Look, while I agree that unions have a valid purpose, it's at times like this when I wonder if they're run by a bunch of six year olds. Presumably they have noticed that in the real world, the economy EVERYWHERE has gone completely down the crapper. This is why companies all over the place are cutting back to the bone, it's called trimming costs. So not only is the offer the union had just plain shocking, but the fact that they turned it down is fucking stupid. Where exactly do these people think the money for a better offer will come from?? Jesus H. Christ, that was a great offer! You should have taken it, you dumbass bastards!!

By the way, I looked around some news forums the afternoon after the vote to reject this offer. There were hundreds of comments. The vast majority of them are slamming the union for this, and clearly I don't blame them at all. Not only is this whole fiasco wrecking York's reputation, but to be honest, it's cases like these that make a good argument for not going to university at all, taking up a trade, and just working for a living. After all, if the people you're supposed to rely on for your classroom learning will just fuck you over at the drop of a hat, what's the point? Enough said.

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