On behalf of the Conference Organizing Committee of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association 2015, we would like to provide all participants and presenters first, with an update on the current political struggles here at York University and second, to release the Conference Schedule and the plenary details.
The graduate assistants, teaching assistants and contract faculty of York University were on a month-long legal strike as CUPE local 3903. We were fighting for liveable wages, job security, and equity. This is the third time CUPE 3903 has been on strike in the past 15 years, allowing education workers to have a stronger Collective Agreement each bargaining term. Each win means one more person from oppressed communities can access post-secondary education at York University — where tuition indexation*, job security and hiring equity practices have ensured relatively better working and learning conditions for Black, Indigenous, racialized, trans, and disabled peoples, compared to other universities in the province of Ontario.
While we were on strike here at York University, the teaching assistants of the University of Toronto, CUPE 3902, also went on a month-long strike fighting for similar things to our demands at York.
The majority of the Conference Organizing Committee are members of CUPE 3903, most of us are currently active members of the strike related subcommittees, as well as organizers outside of the Academic Industrial Complex (AIC). Picketing and performing other strike-related activities take up a lot of time and have proven to be exhausting. During this time, we were not able to meet our internal deadlines for the CESA conference program, could not regularly check the CESA general emails, or fill any logistical gaps. We would like to extend our sincerest apologies for any inconveniences this may have caused. We at the Conference Organizing Committee continually worked to ensure that we can deliver an accessible and engaging conference, strike or no strike.
The strike at York University has officially ended on March 30, our union has officially declared it a ‘win’, considering most of our economic demands were gained. The strike may be over, but we recognize that the political struggles must continue until we are able to transform the Academic Industrial Complex into institutions that truly serve our communities. We believe that the CESA conference can be a continuation of that struggle.