More thoughts about the strike

2015-03-19

in Daily updates, Economics, Politics, The environment, Toronto

I am in a bit of a vise right now. Nobody else can finish the fossil fuel divestment brief update, but the strike and picket duties are ongoing. Even totally neglecting my PhD work, reconciling the two is impossible. And now I have come down with a cold.

The prospect of pulling back from union duties is uncomfortable. The University of Toronto’s position remains unconscionable. They are failing to recognize how running an institution of learning requires mutual respect, and some respect for social justice. Being unable to be fully effective for two social justice fights – and two distinct groups of allies – is vexing.

Tomorrow afternoon there is a union meeting to discuss the latest offer from the employer. It is based in a way on the proposal from our meeting last Friday, where we decided to give up on aspirations like poverty-line pay for TAs in exchange for structural gains in the contract: recognition that tuition and the funding package are appropriate bargaining items for the union, and that funding assigned to individuals makes more sense and is more just than pools of funding that must be split among as many TA graduate students as the university cares to admit. The offer from the administration being voted on tomorrow jettisons the structural gains being sought, raising questions about what purpose the strike has served and how much more corroded and precarious the position of graduate students at U of T will become.

As far as TA work goes, I am happy to strike for as long as is required to get a deal with real gains. At the same time, the special burden of completing the brief weighs heavily on me.

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