Thursday, January 8, 2009

CUPE Ontario to Extend Anti-Israel Campaign

Once upon a time employers viewed their employees as expendable tools. Employees had very few rights in terms of job security, saftey, reasonable salary and time being allocated to be spent away from work. The Union emerged as the voice of the worker. Over the years workers received more and more rights. A lot was due to the proactive nature of the Union. Other factors included: improved technology both in the business and transportation for employees, increase in education of workforce effecting supply and demand for labour, government regulations ranging from health and safty to minimum standards of treatment for employees. Many Unions have grown in power to a point beyond what they need to protect their employees. They find themselves needing to justify their existence.

Once again York University has been crippled by another TA strike. As the strike moves into it's third month students are already in danger of losing their summer jobs and possibly their academic year. At the beginning of the strike the TAs were complaining they were living under the poverty line while working 10-15 hours a week. The Union is losing credability and the constant strikes will one day cut into the demand for enrollment at York.

Sid Ryan, President of CUPE Ontario decided that this is the perfect time to advance the Union's foreign policy. A proposal is being drafted requiring all Israeli University Proffessors to publicly denounce the attack by Israel on the University in Gaza. It was bombed by Israel after it was used to fire rockets at Israeli civilians. All Israeli Proffessors failing to condemn their government harshly enough will be banned from Ontario campusses.

This policy is misdirected for many different reasons. A Union's job is to protect the interests of the employees they represent. Developing a compreshensive foreign policy is job left to governments and those individuals or lobby groups who wish to influence public policy. Diverting union dues to special interest projects of the leadership choosing is taking advantage of the Union membership. The employees receive no benefit from these activities although Union rules obligate them to pay for it.

Since when does a Univeristy force proffesors to adopt specific political view as condition for employment. CUPE stood silent while Israel has had to deal with missles and suicide bombers directed at civilians. Where are the calls for Arab proffessors to condemn these attacks? Where are the calls for American Preoffessors to condemn the Iraq War, George Bush or other American Foreign Policy that contradicts CUPE values. What about Russia blocking European fuel from the Ukraine? What about real humanitarian crisis going on in different parts of Africa? Why does Israel get singled out by the thought police?

If Israeli professors are not aloud to support their government, what about Jewish Professors? Could they risk not being hired for supporting Israel? Will students take this as a sign that they could face academic discipline for supporting Israel. A University campus is designed to be a place of free speech. That is why teachers are granted tenior. Keep in mind that this is the same Union that refused to allow John Tory to attend their annual meeting for elementary teachers because he wanted Jewish schools to have the same funding formula as Catholic Schools. The other political leaders were welcomed with open arms.

This proposal takes the Union in areas of public discourse it doesn't belong. It undermines the basic principle of free speech that a University is supposed to protect. If Sid Ryan wants to continue is Anti-Israel campaign he should resign from is position as head of the union and join an appropriate lobby group.

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