At October’s GMM members CUPE 3903 voted to endorse the YFS We The Students campaign and the One Day Student Strike on November 6th. We encourage all members to enact solidarity in whatever way they can, and outline some of the protections and limitations members have as course directors and TAs below.
Why a student strike?
In January, the Ford Conservatives introduced changes to post-secondary education that seriously threaten access to education. Ontario students already pay the highest tuition fees in the country. While the goal must be free education for all, it is unconscionable that the grants and loans that make education possible for many in the province are now under attack.
The Ford conservatives have eliminated over $600 million in non-repayable grants and the six-month interest-free grace period after graduation for OSAP loans. While they patted themselves on the back for a 10% tuition reduction these changes mean many students will see no practical benefit as instead of grants they are forced to take out private loans, and as their loans accumulate greater amounts of interest. This has left many students, especially those from low income backgrounds, struggling to remain in their programs or forced to withdraw.
The dismal state of public funding for post-secondary institutions and the Conservatives’ refusal to supplement the loss of tuition revenue has forced universities to turn to privatization and international student fees to make up the loss. International students already pay around three times more than domestic students and their exploitation should not be used to fund our educational system!
Learn more from the YFS’s We the Students page.
Why does CUPE 3903 support a student strike?
Many of our members have been affected by these changes, especially those to the student loan and grant structure. More devastating changes are still to come, including a 1% cap on any negotiated contract increases that will further erode our working conditions and the quality of education our institutions can provide.
We must support each other, across the sector, in fighting against the Ford conservatives. It is only by working together that we can build a high quality post-secondary educational system that is accessible to all.
Education is a right and not a privilege. CUPE 3903 supports the York Federation of Students in their actions against the regressive policies of the Ford government. United we will never be defeated!
How can CUPE 3903 members support the student strike?
Members have academic freedom protections (Article 14 in the Units 1 and 2 collective agreements) which give members who have the primary responsibility for the course the right to decide how to best deliver course material. This means that, while situations will vary, most of our members have control over policies in their course or tutorial.
Course directors and many TAs should not be punished for delaying non-essential activities or waving attendance requirements, especially if low attendance on the day potentially compromises the academic integrity of the course. Some members may be able to more actively encourage students to join the One Day Strike by turning a picket visit into a learning activity.
If you are not directly responsible for the delivery of course material, talk to your course director or supervisor about what accommodations can be made to support students and protect the academic integrity of the course. If you have concerns about your rights please contact your Chief Steward.
Members who are not teaching on November 6th are encouraged to join the picket line and rally in solidarity!