CUPE 3906 Condemns Arrests and Detention of 900 G20 Protesters

Nancy MacBainGeneral, News

Photo by the Toronto Media Co-op

The following statement was sent to the Movement Legal Defense Committee (NOTE: the number of reported arrests increased to 900 after the drafting of this statement):

I am writing on behalf of CUPE 3906, representing over 3000 academic workers at McMaster University, to condemn the arrest, detention and abuse of nearly 500 G20 protesters.

Reports from the Movement Defense Committee?s Summit Legal Support Project indicate that protesters are given incorrect information about the bail process and denied timely access to counsel and release.  Meanwhile, those peacefully protesting the detention are subject to police assault and illegal detention.

G20 Protesters are standing up for values of justice, equality, and rights for working class people, indigenous people and the environment.  The unprecedented, violent response of the Harper government, the Toronto Police, and the Integrated Security Unit marks an attack on all of our democratic rights.  It is a clear program of intimidation, silencing and assault on people of conscience who oppose the neoliberal agenda of the G20 leaders.

CUPE 3906 calls upon the government to ensure that courts and crown attorneys act to enforce constitutional rights, to end of the program of police violence and intimidation against G20 protesters and their families and to hold accountable those officers and elected officials responsible for this attack on democracy.

CUPE 3906 stands in solidarity with the detained G20 protesters in their fight for release, fair representation, and justice.

In solidarity,
Mary Ellen Campbell
President, CUPE 3906

Website Calendar Temporarily Out-of-Service

Nancy MacBainCommunications, General, News

Some people may have noticed that the website was down for a short period yesterday. We were undergoing some routine software upgrades that have temporarily rendered the Events Calendar incompatible. A fix is expected to arise in the next few days, and the calendar will be restored at that time.

Sorry for any inconvenience!


June 21: National Aboriginal Day

Maria MustafaEquity

By Jennifer Adese

On June 13, 1996, the then Governor General of Canada declared June 21 to be National Aboriginal Day (also sometimes referred to as National Aboriginal Solidarity Day), a day for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples to share their various cultural expressions with the rest of Canada.  Celebrated annually around the time of the summer solstice, National Aboriginal Day is celebrated by Indigenous peoples across what is often referred to as “Turtle Island.”

In recent years, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has marketed the day as “an opportunity to learn more about Aboriginal people and their contributions to Canada.”  It is marketed as but one in an eleven day series that includes Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, Canadian Multiculturalism Day, and Canada Day, titled “Celebrate Canada!” aimed at celebrating the history of the Canadian nation.

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Surveying the field

Brad WalchukGeneral

A couple of months ago I told you about an upcoming survey of Contract Faculty. This is an important project since Stats Canada, for instance, stopped collecting data on these workers in the mid-1990s. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that data collection stopped just as universities, especially in Ontario, decided on faculty non-renewal policies and turned to contract workers instead. CAUT is only now including them in their surveys. Read More

Stop the Special Diet Cut! – Rally

Brad WalchukGeneral

On June 17th, we will rally in Hamilton against the Liberal Government’s decision as part of their 2010 budget to CUT the Special Diet Allowance. The Special Diet Allowance is money that people on Welfare (OW) and Disability (ODSP) rely on in order to access healthy food and pay the rent. For hundreds of thousands in Ontario, the Special Diet is the only means left to try to survive on shamefully inadequate OW and ODSP rates.

In March, the Ontario Liberal Government, including local Hamilton-Mountain Liberal MPP Sophia Aggelonitis, put forth the most anti-poor budget since Harris in 1995. In cutting the Special Diet Allowance, the Liberals are only the third Government in Ontario’s history to cut Social Assistance. It is a 200 million dollar cut to Social Assistance! This is a brutal move that will make hundreds of thousands of people hungry, sick, at risk of being evicted, or homeless.

In Hamilton this cut to Social Assistance will be devastating. Hamilton is a community that has faced huge job losses in this economic crisis and attacks on the Public Sector. Statistics estimate that 22% of Hamilton residents live below the Poverty Line, with official unemployment being well over 8%.

We are demanding that the Ontario Government reinstate the Special Diet immediately, and that they finally reverse the 1995 Harris cut by raising OW and ODSP rates at which people can live with health and dignity.

Contact the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty  / (416) 925-6939

CUPE Ontario Recognizes 3906!

Nancy MacBainNews

CUPE Ontario held its annual Convention in Windsor from May 26-29. On the convention floor Local 3906 received a plaque “Celebrating the strength of your members in your struggle for equality, respect and fairness in the workplace.” The award recognized the strength and solidarity of the membership stemming from the Unit 1 strike in November.

The award was accepted on behalf of the Local by Nick Longaphy, a bargaining team during both Unit 1 and Unit 2 bargaining.

Nick Longaphy (centre) accepts the award on behalf of CUPE 3906 members. (Photo by J. Duff)

May 3-9, 2010: Mental Awareness Week

Maria MustafaEquity

Written by Srishti Hukku

Rita Mae Brown, an influential American writer, has been quoted as saying “The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness.  Think of your three best friends.  If they’re okay, then it’s you.” However, all jokes aside, the stigma associated with mental illness and the resultant discrimination prove to be an even more debilitating side effect for the mentally ill than the illness itself (Dingfelder 2009, 56-8).  A negative reception of the mentally ill has remained an unceasing societal norm.  In 2008, the Canadian Medical Association released its eighth annual national health care report card.  The findings with relation to mental health indicate that a significant portion of the Canadian population continues to stigmatize those suffering from ental illness.  Some of the most relevant findings indicate that 27% of Canadians would be fearful of being around someone with a serious mental illness and that 46% of Canadians think people use the term mental illness as an excuse for bad behavior.  Additionally, the majority of Canadians said that they would be unlikely to enter into a spousal relationship with someone who has a mental illness or hire a person with a mental illness as a lawyer, child care worker, financial advisor or family doctor (Canadian Mental Health Association 2008, 4).  It is most significant to realize that the aforementioned stigmas can manifest themselves as real barriers to appropriate care, employment opportunities and social integration.Read More

Report from CAUT workshop

Brad WalchukCommunications, Events, News, Unit 2

This past weekend–while seemingly everyone else was at the CUPE Ontario Convention–I was attending the  “New Presidents Workshop” hosted by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). Now, I am neither new nor the president, but the President has delegated me to represent us (the Unit 2 members, that is) who are in fact new to CAUT membership. The purpose of the membership was to outline the responsibilities of local executive, to offer solutions for the challenges that await them, and to introduce and highlight the resources CAUT provides its members. Since we have a fairly elaborate and thorough structure within CUPE, we are ahead of the curve as compared to many of the faculty associations, who in many cases also do not enjoy the benefits of being members of a certified union. That said, the workshop did offer many helpful tips and insights. Moreover, in terms of resources, CAUT can provide complementary and also supplementary services to those we already within CUPE. The most obvious example is Academic Freedom. Simply put, if this is under threat, CAUT is the place to turn to defend this cornerstone of academic life. The CAUT Benefits Trust was also interesting. It operates similarly to our own practice of benefits funds being allocated with and through a third-party. However, in this case, CAUT will use its size and leverage to negotiate the best deal for members. Unfortunately, it is in its infancy and only one group has signed up for it. Nobody wants to be the first and it has yet to be implemented for Contract Academic Staff.

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Asian Heritage Month

Maria MustafaEquity

Written by Malissa Phung

On December 6, 2001 the Canadian government adopted a motion proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy to officially declare the month of May to be Asian Heritage Month in Canada.

Since 2002, in major cities across the nation, cultural festivals, art and photography exhibitions, film screenings, lectures, literary readings, theatrical performances, documentaries, and radio shows have been produced throughout the month of May to not only bring attention to the histories of marginalization and oppression of Asian migrants and their descendants but also to commemorate the achievements and contributions of Asian Canadians to Canada’s national building project.

While it is important to both remember these histories of oppression and acknowledge the marginalized labour of Asian migrants as important contributions to Canada’s economic infrastructure and national heritage,  it is equally important to not lose sight of Canada’s ongoing settler colonial policies towards Indigenous peoples and to remain vigilant of the ways in which Canadian multiculturalism disciplines and manages difference even as it openly supports such efforts to address and correct historical injustices.

As admirable as such efforts to commemorate the culture and history of Asian migrants are, recent backlash against “illegal” migrants or potential “terrorists” across the globe indicate that achieving human equality is far from being realized.  We need to be wary of the ways in which history repeats itself.  In the words of Rita Wong from her poetry collection, Monkeypuzzle, “now head taxes apply/to all immigrants/not just us”—that is, in the form of landing fees.

For more information on Asian heritage in Canada, check out the following links:

  • Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage (launched by the Asian Heritage Month-Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture Inc.)
  • 2010 Asian Heritage Month Festival Events in GTA (there are still exhibitions being held throughout May; most notably, Wayson Choy is delivering the 3rd Asian Heritage Lecture, “Asian Identity: Becoming Canadian” at York University on May 25)
  • CBC radio and video programs
  • Asian Arts Freedom School (an art-based radical Asian history and activism program for Asians/Pacific Islanders in the GTA under the age of 30.  They hold creative writing, media, and performance workshops with a heavy focus on community activism and Indigenous solidarity.  Cycle 10 of their creative writing workshop has already started and ends June 1!)

Oppressive Migrant Profiling South and North of the Border

Maria MustafaEquity

Written by Sharlee Reimer

On April 23, 2010, some deeply disturbing racist legislation was passed in Arizona: Senate Bill 1070. The new legislation, allegedly intended to curb illegal immigration, makes it law that police officers must ask for immigration papers from anyone who they suspect might be in the state illegally. If a person cannot produce these papers, they can be detained. How, you might be wondering, would the police know who might be ‘an illegal’? Though the Arizona government is saying that it will not be racially profiling people, many of the people who oppose the legislation argue that the police will inevitably racially profile, judging people by looks and accented speech.

There have been widespread protests about and criticisms of this legislation—it has been criticized for encouraging racial profiling, for being racist, and has been likened to Nazi practices. There have also been a number of boycotts of Arizona. This legislation exists in conjunction with a new education policy, House Bill 2281, that will likely eliminate ethnic studies departments and programs in schools and universities. And just so that we don’t forget the role of Canada in terrifying racist practices, there have been a number of anti-immigration raids in Toronto of late (see No One Is Illegal).

For more sources on these issues, check out the following links: