York University may find itself embroiled in a strike next week. The strike may be the last resort for teaching assistants, graduate assistants, research assistants, and contract faculty, if negotiations regarding wage increases and job security, among other things, do not prove fruitful. Sadly, the media, with its poor research and resultant inaccuracies, has not been helping the situation.
The Globe and Mail published an article today covering this development but omitted some key facts and, frankly, got others completely wrong. The article says that the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the representative and organizing body for the teaching assistants, graduate assistants, research assistants, and contract faculty, “is seeking a 30-per-cent wage increase”.
Yet from a third-party, I obtained an email from the union’s Chief Steward, Tyler Shipley, and he wrote this about their wage demands: “we have been clear with the employer that our wage demand – currently 15.6% – is flexible and subject to change”. That was 15.6% – not 30. How did the Globe get this wrong? Couldn’t they have spoken with any one of the union’s representatives for some accurate numbers? The article ends with the line “Union officials did not respond to calls”; perhaps this serves as an answer?
Well, unfortunately, that is simply untrue. Tyler Shipley, in the same email, writes this: “I got a message at 10:00 this morning from the Globe and Mail asking for a comment on negotiations. When I called back at 12:00, no one answered the phone. At 12:15, I noticed this article”. Continuing, he says “the union did respond, I phoned the individual reporter myself, but…the Globe and Mail chose not to answer the phone.”