Pages tagged "beyond"
At its meeting on July 14, 2015, the YUFA Executive voted to express its support to UNITE HERE Local 75 in their fight to defend well-paying jobs in the Jane-Finch community. Local 75 is currently attempting to bargain a new collective agreement with the Holiday Inn Toronto-North York, managed by the Hamilton, ON-based Vrancor Group. Vrancor is refusing to accept the city-wide standard agreement that UNITE HERE has negotiated with twenty other Toronto hotels. This standard would include a 10.5% wage increase over four years. The employer has recently left the bargaining table and the local has begun job actions, including a one-day walkout on July 13.
The YUFA Executive supports UNITE HERE in their pursuit of a fair collective agreement consistent with others in the Toronto hotel sector and commends their principled stand in defence of high quality jobs in the Jane-Finch community. As members know, through our Community Projects Committee, our union has had a long-standing commitment to working with organizations in the communities that surround our campus to increase access to post-secondary education, strengthen neighbourhoods, and reduce socio-economic inequalities. We can think of no better way to contribute to that cause than to defend well-paying, unionized jobs in Jane-Finch.
The YUFA Executive also calls on both our members and York University administration to refrain from using York University’s block of rooms at the Holiday Inn Toronto-North York until a fair settlement is reached. As expressed in our University Academic Plan, York University is itself committed to social justice, equity, and community engagement in the service of the public good. We believe it would be inconsistent with the values of our university to validate the attempts of an employer to pay wages and benefits that are below the Toronto hotel industry standard, particularly given the negative impact that will have on our neighbours in Jane-Finch.
For more information about UNITE HERE's struggle at the Holiday Inn Toronto-North York, see the Toronto Star's recent coverage.
The federal election that is expected on 19 October will be important for universities. The present government has made a number of moves that have upset faculty, students, workers, and even administrators, including:
• Reducing funding to the major granting agencies and tying new funds to research in support of private-sector projects;
• Cutting support for or abolishing a host of research-oriented institutions, including Statistics Canada, Libraries and Archives Canada, and departmental libraries;
• Muzzling government scientists;
• Avoiding evidence-based decision-making in favour of ideological commitment;
• Introducing sweeping legislation to combat ill-defined “terrorism” that could be used against critical voices within universities; and
• Bringing in legislation to tie up unions like ours in complex public reporting processes not required from any other comparable non-governmental bodies.
Like faculty associations across the country, YUFA believes it will important to try to inject our issues into the election campaign. For more than a year, we have been supporting the work of the group known as Scientists for the Right to Know, which is building a network of more than twenty organizations committed to getting federal public policy on issues of public knowledge back on track, and which is planning to raise such issues in the federal campaign. Our national organization, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), has conducted polls on Canadians’ attitudes to some of these big questions, and has found surprisingly high levels of support for a different approach to government science policy. CAUT is preparing an election-preparation kit for member associations. The goal is not to organize support for particular parties, but to get all parties to address the issues that concern us.
Meanwhile, the Ontario Federation of Labour and local labour councils are mobilizing member unions like ours to participate in election preparation events on the theme of “Time for Change.”
The YUFA Executive has decided that we need to begin preparation here at York. We are therefore calling for members to join a Working Group on the Federal Election. If you are interested, please send your name to [email protected].
The University recently released the Institutional Integrated Resource Plan (IIRP) document to the York community. Two community discussion sessions to solicit feedback on the document are scheduled for Thursday, June 25 from 12:00 to 1:30 pm in the Moot Court, Osgoode Hall Law School (Ignat Kaneff Building) and Friday, June 26 from 12:00 to 1:30 pm at the BMO Conference Centre, Glendon Hall.
Over the last 18 months, YUFA members have expressed deep concern about the flawed methodology and problematic design of the AAPR process upon which the IIRP document rests. YUFA Executive is working on developing responses to IIRP which we will convey to the employer and the community (especially around the inadequate level of collegial input). We find it disappointing that community consultation is taking place in a brief two day period over the summer when many members are attending to research commitments and when committees and department councils are not holding meetings. For this reason we encourage as many colleagues as possible to attend the sessions over the next two days so that a strong faculty voice may be heard.
Over the past two weeks, both the federal and provincial governments produced budgets that touch on post-secondary education.
The Ontario budget had relatively little to say about colleges and universities. Funding will rise from $3.48 billion to $3.49 billion, amounting to an effective cut when inflation is factored in. For the first time, student tuition fees will comprise more than half the operating revenue. The budget also extends the government’s commitment to net zero agreements in the broader public sector, requiring that the cost of any wage increases be offset by other measures. There is a promise of a new funding model, which has yet to be revealed, though a consultation paper was released in April (see: http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/pepg/audiences/universities/uff/uff_ConsultationPaper.pdf) The government also announced another $15 million for Ontario Online, which will begin operation in 2015-16. There were some minor changes in the OSAP plan. No announcement was made about infrastructure, including new campuses.
For OCUFA’s fuller assessment, see http://ocufa.on.ca/assets/FINAL-Post-Budget-Analysis-2015.pdf.
As CAUT writes: “The 2015 federal budget continues with the overriding focus of the federal government’s approach to science: to support industry in the commercialization of ideas and knowledge under an umbrella called ‘innovation,’ while undervaluing basic, discovery-driven research.” No new money has been granted to the funding agencies beyond funds for market-driven research partnerships. New funds have been allocated to fund Mitac internships as partnerships with the private sector. “The forced marriage between post-secondary institutions and market needs in a few key sectors of the economy as a condition to get federal research funding lets politicians and CEOs decide what gets funded and undermines discover-driven research,” CAUT argues. Cash transfers to the provinces to support post-secondary education will rise only 3% per year, which, as CAUT says, “does not adequately reflect the rising costs and increased demand for post-secondary education.” As for student aid, Canada Student Grants will be made available to qualifying students from low and middle-income families enrolled for at least 34 weeks (rather than the previous 60 weeks). The majority of the 42,000 students who will benefit from this change, however, are those attending private career colleges. The Canada Student Loans Program will also be slightly expanded.
For a fuller assessment, see http://www.caut.ca/docs/default-source/better-funding/caut-response---2015-2016-federal-budget-%282015-04%29f48634f1c6ef6d389810ff00005eecd3.pdf?sfvrsn=0
Few of us would deny that science matters. It can be a contested set of practices, but we nonetheless rely on the work of many physical and social scientists to sustain public policy covering our environment, public health, transportation, social welfare, and so much more. As a society we have come to expect that knowledge-based decision-making is essential for our collective well-being, that public agencies should be in place to sustain independent scientific research, and that the professionals in these agencies should be free to share their findings with the rest of us. At least, that’s the way it used to be.
About two years ago, a group of concerned citizens from many backgrounds decided that the Canadian federal government has been waging a systematic assault on science as the basis of relevant information for policy making, and for knowing ourselves as a country and a society. They looked at the curtailing or outright closing of government agencies and programs – from fresh-water research to the long-form census – and the muzzling of scientific researchers, and decided to organize against this process. They created a new organization known as Scientists for the Right to Know (SRK). This spring, in an effort to make clear that membership is not restricted to scientists, the name has been changed to Our Right to Know (ORK).
The group began by documenting what had been attacked, undermined, and eliminated along a shockingly dense timeline starting in 2006 (see their website at http://scientistsfortherighttoknow.wildapricot.org). They have posted a short list of some of the things we no longer know:
• Accurate detailed information about recent immigrants, people with disabilities, Aboriginal people, people with lower levels of education, and post-secondary students because of the abolition of the mandatory long census form.
• Information about the environmental effects of almost 3,000 projects -- information collection which was cancelled by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency after passing of the Omnibus Bill.
• The number of Aboriginal women gone missing or murdered through the cutting of the Sisters in Spirit database.
• Detailed information on the lives of low-income Canadians through the abolition of the National Council of Welfare.
The group set out to raise public awareness of these issues and held a series of well-attended public events featuring high-profile, articulate critical voices. In the fall of 2013 YUFA agreed to support these efforts, and, as VP External, I joined the group’s Organizing Committee. Since then, Natasha Myers and Christianne Stephens from Anthropology have also joined the committee.
Last fall, the group set its sights on the upcoming federal election, and reached out to more than twenty other groups with a shared concern about “the right to know” in order to create a Right2Know Network, including CAUT, Canadian Science Writers’ Association, Centre for Policy Alternatives, Council of Canadians, Democracy Watch, Evidence for Democracy, and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. These organizations come together every couple of months to discuss individual groups’ programs or campaigns that other member groups could support. They also consider common action. The most successful to date was a major social-media blitz in February, spearheaded by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, in support of a private member’s bill to bring back the long-form census. Even though the Conservatives used their majority to defeat the bill, the national media gave this issue an astonishing level of publicity and critical analysis. Our campaign was credited with giving it that higher public profile. Stay tuned for more such co-operation aimed at making science an issue in the federal election.
YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
• Join Our Right to Know (ORK) ($50 for regular members, $10 for students).
• Follow the blogs on the ORK website.
• Sign onto the listserv through the website.
• Attend the events listed on the website.
• Check out the other campaigns being run by partners in the R2K Network.
CUPE 3903 has started a campaign entitled, A Better York is Possible.