Baseball Title Strike OneWEEK SEVEN

Strike One: The YUFA Grand Strike of 1997
WEEK SEVEN

By now we were into our seventh week of striking, seven weeks out on the picket lines, seven weeks without a regular paycheque. At least by now the weather had improved, somewhat. It was frequently still cold.

We adjourned an important meeting of Senate, stalling an effort to start the summer session without settling the strike first. My years of service in Senate, and those years of other strikers who so diligently served our administration, served us well in knowing the formalities and rules.


Date: Thu, 01 May 1997 10:18:06
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Women& Men Together

Drew, I was so deeply touched by your e-mail to YUFA-L about the Women of YUFA and their extraordinary role in the strike. Ever since we moved the focus of the strike to Equity, I agree, there has seemed to be a special role played by women, an extra sense of purpose, of hard work, of discipline and devotion, of intellectual contribution, of a force behind the strike. To have it said publicly by a male colleague was heartwarming. I too have read about Rosa Luxemburg and Emma Goldman and I would add to your comment about what women YUFA members can and will do to reform this university, what we ALL as YUFA members can and will do together.

The women also appreciate the fine men who stand with us, you know, all of you. Just because sometimes we march in a women’s picket doesn’t mean we aren’t still all members of the same union, standing together in solidarity. And not only our colleagues. It was my husband who insisted I speak directly to my position as the sole financial support of our family, because too many people have already said to me, “It’s easy for you to stay out, you’ve got a working husband,” but I don’t. Now a full-time house-husband, Bert is the son of a founder of the CCF, and my strongest supporter, along with our twelve-year-old son. I cannot imagine a happier place to have celebrated our anniversary than with YUFA at Senate yesterday!

p.s.: I learned all those delaying techniques when I chaired Senate, and I used to hate it when people pulled such miserable, low-down, underhanded tricks. As I tell my students, take every opportunity to learn; you never know when it’s going to come in handy.

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Date: Thu, 01 May 1997 10:27:00
To: Marcia Peale
Subject: Re: Happy Anniversary

Marcia, thank you for your Anniversary wishes. And may I offer my heartiest congratulations on a “First Chairing of Senate” extremely well handled. There was not a thing you did that was out of place, incorrect, offensive, or questionable, and you handled everything with grace and dignity.

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Date: 01 May 1997 10:42:02
To: (student)
Subject: Re: Today’s Senate Meeting

Don’t worry about being nervous; you were eloquent and spirited. You gave a strong message that the un-amended policy would be unacceptable from the students’ point of view. I am sure you were nervous, but it did not show. Would it help if I told you that after more than twenty years of teaching and after years standing up in Senate and speaking, and of chairing it, I was still so nervous yesterday that I could not sit still for the hour before the meeting? I paced the room like a nervous cat.

Do not underestimate yourself; you were great, and you are right, practice makes it even better, so come to the Senate meeting on Friday and do it again! Also know how much we in YUFA appreciate the support of the students who have been here at Senate and at the gates helping us turn cars back, and elsewhere. Increasing student pressure on the administration will help to reach a fair and just settlement.

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Date: Thu, 01 May 1997 11:34:52
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Unreliable Cars

Yes, Lefty, a colleague’s car once broke down in a lane at Sentinel Road. It sat there for a number of hours with the hood up until he was finally able to get help. My own purple Taurus has been known to break down. It is a shame that these cars seem often now to break down in the roads leading into York. Gee, they just don’t seem to make cars like they used to, do they? It’s hard to get good hired help if you don’t pay a competitive wage.

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Date: Thu, 01 May 1997 12:23:15
To: (one of my current students)
Subject: Re: Advice

Keep this Watchword in Your Mind:

ALL SENATE GUIDELINES ARE SUBORDINATED TO BACK-TO-WORK PROTOCOL.

You cannot make any assumptions whatsoever about Senate Guidelines. They are just that, guidelines, what we hope will happen. But until the strike is settled, nothing is guaranteed. I am one of the many professors who are bending over backwards to be fair to students, while at the same time standing strongly in support of our union’s position on the need for a fair settlement. We will do what we can for you once this strike is settled. Fill out the form, for all it’s worth. You can’t, under the guidelines, make the decision on my course till you get the marks back that I still hold and you won’t get those until the strike settles. Period.

And, no, all is not well. We are in our seventh week of a bitter strike. The administration shows no signs of even caring to come to the table to talk. I am living on a sliver of money called strike pay. But we are out for as long as it takes to earn a fair settlement.

ALL SENATE GUIDELINES ARE SUBORDINATED TO BACK-TO-WORK PROTOCOL.

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We were still on the lines, still supporting each other, and still battling some irrational members of the public who tried to cross our lines.


Date: Thu, 01 May 1997 19:43:51
To: Kyd Carter
Subject: Pickets Please!

Kyd, please pass this on to the people who deliver equipment in the mornings. We must have at least one real picket sign at each gate at each shift. Today I walked the line with Madeleine Kieran captaining. It was one of those days when she was dancing the Macarena to keep us entertained. At one point a furious young woman in a huge black SUV tried to run the line. You know me. You’ve seen me in action. Safety is Job 1 but morale is Job 2. I do not allow anyone to run the line. I grabbed my Carter’s Blinker and ran over to hold it in front of her windshield. Imagine my chagrin when, a few seconds later, I realized the image I was creating: I did not hold a picket sign but only the stick from a picket sign, because it was all that was there on the line.

I do not think any damage was done. She was furious even before we even began to speak to her. She got out of her car and yelled at us that we had no right to stop her because her truck was worth $150,000. Then she informed us, an interesting thing to yell at people picketing at least in part for better salaries, that none of us could afford this truck. We kept her from running the line, but I would have felt better about my own image as a picketer if I had been holding a true Carter’s Blinker, instead of a stick, which I nevertheless held at the same angle as a Carter’s Blinker and did not shake at her or threaten her with in any way.

Send, please, at least one real picket sign to every line on every shift, even on rainy days.

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Date: Thu, 01 May 1997 19:58:27
To: YUFA-L Subject: Re: Unreliable Cars Harper, a private note since we’re chatting about cars and such. My good friend in Nova Scotia who taught me to drive his 22-wheel Peterbilt truck told me once that one of the most difficult manoeuvres you can do is with a short dump-truck trailer attached. I’ve never done it, but I know how it happens in theory. One time, with the dump truck lifted fully, He turned the trailer wheels a particular way and flipped the whole truck over on its side. It took them two days to clear it away.

Gee, I’d sure hate to do that while practicing for my trucker’s license out on Sentinel Road. I only have the A-Z learner’s permit, and I’m sure they wouldn’t look kindly on such an error.

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Date: Thu, 01 May 1997 20:24:00
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Re: May 1st

Frank (Fogel), a few flowers got to Horatio; a sprig had fallen on the ground and I picked it up while walking the Sentinel line before going to the meeting at Union Headquarters. When I saw Horatio there, I gave him the little flowers. They were such a lovely gesture, and I’d love to know where anyone found mimosa in the dead of winter.
p.s. Don’t anyone who walked the lines today in the cold dare to write to tell me it’s not the dead of winter!

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We planned for Senate in great detail, using all of the expertise of all of us. We ended the prolonged meetings of Senate by passing a motion urging both parties to negotiate in the coming weekend, and making no effort to establish rules for the summer session.

As always, we continued to use YUFA-L to discuss issues relevant to the strike as well as issues related to our own development as professors and as strikers.


Date: Thu, 01 May 1997 22:25:53
To: Bernard Hainesworth
cc: Herb Morgan, Palmer Reinhold
Subject: Senate and Executive: Report

It is my reading that Senate will start with a brief summary from the Chair of the end of the last meeting, and that we will then move to a discussion of the main motion. My remembrance of the last events of Wednesday: Percy Hicks “called the question” from the floor, almost simultaneously as I was moving to defer, but I had been recognized by the Chair to speak and Hicks had not. My motion was ruled out of order by the Chair. I challenged the Chair. We were defeated in this 68-58. Then I just started stalling, asking about Bourinot, abstentions, whatever I could think of, and we ran the clock out. The Chair declared the meeting adjourned.

The important point to remember is something Griffin taught me when I was Chair of Senate. Only the Chair can “Call the Question.” A member of Senate cannot just rise and call out as Percy Hicks did. A member can rise when recognized and move that the question be called. At that point the Chair must ask for a seconder and just as with any motion, the opinion of the body of Senate must be taken with a vote on whether or not to call the question. Such a vote was never called for and never taken. It was agreed at Senate Executive today that no such vote was called for or taken.

If the Wednesday meeting was adjourned, the motion has to be put forward again with opportunity for debate and amendment. If Senate in any way, however, were able to start with the vote on the main motion, we need someone to move immediately to the microphone and move to adjourn, or refer, whichever we decide to do. Take note of the way I hogged the microphone near the end. Whoever is moving this must be there in time. Just stand by the microphone. It’s the only way to do it.

There was a fascinating discussion at Senate Executive of the fact that everyone wants the summer session to go forward. Of course we all do, it’s just that YUFA members have this funny concern about the “labour dispute.” Gaston Follet, bless him, pointed out that we had the chance to do that yesterday, but that most of those on Senate Executive voted no to the amendment that would have made it possible.

Betty Boone made a pitiful little plea that maybe we could have a motion that said that we all thought summer school was important. Regina Loeb made a convoluted effort to try to separate “summer session” from “summer courses.”

A student senator tried to get Senate Executive to make the vote secret so that people would not have to be “intimidated” by an open vote; Marcia Peale insisted that this would not do, and Griffin Conrad explained that it was not the way Senate worked, that, just like the House of Commons, our votes are open, and must be.

It also was determined finally that the new Senate Guidelines would indeed not hold for summer. I kept hearing Duncan Finch saying that all of the section on protection of students during a strike would no longer hold. I argued, aghast for the sake of students currently enrolling, and for our enrollments, and I was assured to the point of idiocy by Betty Boone and others that I had totally misheard. I admitted my incompetence, apologized profusely. Dudley then went right on to say that yes, indeed, he did mean that that section would not hold for students who registered, knowing that there was a strike going on. They were s-o-l. They knew what they were getting into, and strike policy rules would no longer hold. A student observer said that he felt students should be responsible for their own learning and therefore he agreed.

Dorothy Gordon argued for the case of grad students who need to teach but whose thesis supervisors may be out on the lines; I argued for the student who may in good faith enrol hoping they will be able to handle crossing the picket lines and find out they can’t handle it. In the end, Senate Executive agreed to consider new guidelines for the summer courses if they go forward with a strike still on.

A word of caution: a number of Senate Executive members spoke openly with phrases such as, “The most important thing tomorrow is to put in place something that lets the summer session go forward.” That’s a direct quote from Percy Hicks. Tim Mercer muttered quietly, I heard him sitting next to him, but I doubt anyone else did, “No, no, we have to discuss it,” but he would not say it aloud, and no one else said it aloud. What was said over and over aloud was that we must be sure that we have a motion that will enable summer school to go forward. Mercer, remember, voted no on the amendment. This committee is not on our side.

My personal feeling is to go with the motion from the contract faculty union. I think it has integrity and believability in the light of the new information that the two sides will be meeting on Saturday. I do, however, read carefully the angst over exactly what to do if we fail; I don’t know. See you tomorrow.

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Date: Thu, 01 May 1997 23:10:52
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Sharing Rooms

When YUFA wins a fair settlement of this strike, all students will profit from it, future as well as current. In gratitude, they can offer to take all us poor retirees into their homes to care for and feed us, as they suggested on Wednesday that we might do for them.
(also going to be poor in my old age, but at the rate I’m running these days may not live long enough to worry about it)

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Date: Fri, 02 May 1997 17:22:22
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Re: What Happened at Senate (05/02) Re: Gus Barlow, it is my personal belief that he did not want YUFA to alone share the credit for passing what has to be seen as an incredibly strong move in support for the negotiations this weekend. Those of us who were there, and every person we speak and write to, know that we won this day, hands down. I remain wary and cautious of anything further until we see a settlement.

My personal thanks to every single one of us who made this day as grand as it was.

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Date: Fri, 02 May 1997 19:33:43
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Metaphysical Scabs? For many of us, Nina, the distinction between marching on the picket lines and scabbing will never be metaphysical. ***************************************

Date: Sat, 03 May 1997 12:13:32
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Why a Sabbatical? You present a superb argument for the entire original concept of the sabbatical. I work with a number of business colleagues who pride themselves on never having taken one. They clearly are so indispensable to the university that they cannot go away even for a moment. So they stay, and stay, and stay, and they stay the same, year after year.

When I took my first sabbatical, it overran my personal budget by thousands of dollars, but my entire change of direction in my research and my teaching, and my new personal satisfaction with my job, my career, and my family life stemmed essentially from that year in Nova Scotia. I agree; why should someone who never takes the risk to go and get better educated get paid double for it? When I returned from sabbatical, I said many times, and remember that I had been Chair of Senate just before I left, that the greatest lesson I learned on sabbatical was that I went away for an entire year, and, know what? York University actually continued to function without me; this lesson alone is worth the cost of a sabbatical.

I say this as someone who even now is bleating, “I can’t afford another sabbatical.” I always looked upon the sabbatical as a privilege, a glorious if expensive break from the usual routine. But you’ve convinced me that I have a moral obligation to my growth as a professor to take my sabbatical. And anyway, after living on strike pay for seven weeks, I’ve learned a lot about how to cut down expenses.

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Date: Sat, 03 May 1997 13:25:12
To: Darcy Pomerleau
Subject: Important People

Important people have taken time to write to you because you too are an important person. You are the emotional heart of this strike. You represent the passion of this strike and the free speech that has blossomed on YUFA-L. You are a role model to many of us who have faltered along the way and not known where to go or where to stand, and you have shown us the way. That is why we take the time to write to you. Also because we love you.

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We came to a point on YUFA-L where we had so many messages each day that we encouraged each other to write a short summary of what we were about to say, to get our message over to those who perhaps did not wish to read our entire rate.


Date: Sat, 03 May 1997 14:03:50
To: Kyd Carter
Subject: Metaphysical Scabs?

Dearest Kyd, I could not find a mafia hit-man whom I could afford on strike pay (not even a lower-paid mafia hit-woman) so I finally wrote Nina myself with a copy to the listserv. I reprint it below for you.

Your humble, insubordinate, undisciplined, hotheaded, but devoted striker.

E-Mail to Nina Kidder:

Date: Sat, 03 May 1997 13:21:52
To: Nina Kidder
cc: YUFA-L
Subject: Re: Metaphysical Scabs?

Nina,

I did not agree with your original statement about the distinction between scabs and picketing union supporters being “metaphysical,” and I do not agree with your attempt to now explain what you said. I tried at first to answer only with a short message. Obviously, however, from your reply to Lloyd Campbell and me, I did not make my point clear enough.

For those who want the shorter version, here it is: Picketing striking workers are not marching as “the party of virtue.” We are using 150% of our energy and talent to create a strong strike action which will help to force a fair settlement. We do not claim to be entitled to back pay “because our scab colleagues are not doing any more work than we are doing.” We claim to be entitled to back pay because when this strike is settled, our scabbing colleagues will win the same benefits for which we have fought so hard and given up so much.

The longer version follows: One of the reasons I like e-mail is that it is easy to send the person to whom you are writing, the very words they wrote. I was not originally going to take on your whole argument, since it seemed not a profitable use of my limited time. But given how draining I am finding your e-mails, and given how drained I am by your continued insistence on the picket lines that we could even possibly consider going back to work and postponing the strike, maybe it is worth my while to take up some specific points in your argument:

You wrote that many picketing faculty have continued to do more or less everything they did before the strike with the exception of holding classes and collecting their salary, and that the difference between them and those who are not striking is “metaphysical.”

If faculty are working for the university, they are strike-breaking. Even if they walk the picket lines, if they go home afterwards and do university work, they are strike-breaking. You say that “most of us are doing some of this.” There are many of us who are not, Nina. We are honouring the strike in its full meaning: a legal withdrawal of services. You say that the more talented and energetic are doing it all. Some of the more “talented and energetic” are putting 150% effort into making the strike effective so that we can get a fair settlement and get back to work. Every single bit of work that we do for the university weakens the union’s bargaining position.

I go into the office once a week to water my plants. That’s it. The care of living things is a condoned activity in the CAUT Strike Manual, but if I thought for one minute that this was university work, I would allow my 15-year-old schfflera plant to wither and die. I go in just before or just after my picket shift, and I go in wearing my full picket regalia. I chat with any staff I see, telling them about how the strike is going, painting a portrait of our strength on the lines, telling them that we realize things are difficult for them. But one day when I was doing this, a secretary interrupted to ask me if I could figure out the writing on an envelope. For even this simple a request, I put up both hands in front of me, stepped back two feet, and declared, “I’m sorry, that’s university work, and I am on strike and cannot do university work.” I did not say this as a joke, nor was it taken as one.

Next, in your defense, you wrote that those of us on the picket lines can claim to be of the “Party of Virtue.” This is not about who is more virtuous. I’m fifty years old and have lived a full and rich life. I know where virtue stands and where I have it and where I don’t. This strike is not about virtue. It is a strike, a legal withdrawal of services in the absence of a contract with the intention of forcing the employer to bargain fairly.

You have written a number of times on YUFA-L things which you later try to “explain more carefully.” You say you were only arguing about our entitlement to back pay. Then, Nina, say it. Say, “We on the picket lines are entitled to back pay.” But don’t try to explain that we deserve pay because we’re doing almost as much or as little as our non-striking colleagues.

This leads me to my third point. Your statement that non-striking faculty are doing as little university work as we strikers are, harms not only the union’s cause, it also perpetuates an abominable stereotype of the university professor with which we are all familiar.

The scabs who are crossing the lines to work, ARE working. And their work is prolonging the strike that keeps us out on the picket lines. A worker who crosses a picket line to do the work of the organization against which a union is striking is called “scab labour.” My father explained it very simply to me when I was young. When I once asked what a scab was, Stephen Ripley said, “It is the lowest form of life on earth.”

To suggest that these scabs are only metaphysically different from those of us who fully support this strike is to me offensive in the extreme. For many of us, Nina, the distinction between marching on the picket lines and scabbing will never be metaphysical.

If this is not what you meant to say, for god’s sake, Nina, the next time, say it right.

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Date: Sat, 03 May 1997 16:12:34
To: Katherine Cisneros
Subject: I Know Your Work

I loved your comment, Katherine, that one day you hoped to hear someone say, “Yes, I know your work,” and they’d be referring to something other than your e-mails. I wrote Darcy at 1:30 when we got home last night and told that he’s now got (at least) two ardent admirers and that we will be coming one day to take him dancing.

I was so pleased to meet you last night. I have to tell you, too, that later, Bert, my husband came by and told me about this incredibly sexy woman he had seen and he wondered if I knew who she was, and when he described her, I recognized you; he was most taken with you.

Looking forward to dancing again.

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Date: Sat, 03 May 1997 18:37:03
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Re: Not That I Don’t Love Picketing

As Yogi Berra put it, “it ain’t over till it’s over.” Typically, you don’t quit the picket lines until you have ratification, no matter how good the feelings on both sides that you’re gonna settle. I am hoping I don’t get a lot of notes that we are not a typical union. Otherwise, I shall have to continue to wear my worker’s yellow hard hat until we do realize this.

Affectionately, and loving picketing so much I can’t imagine what my life will be like without it when I finally get to go back and on days like today, Saturday in the chilly rain, just aching to be out walking the lines instead of sequestered here in the bland warmth and security of my home. TIC (tongue in cheek, in case you hadn’t guessed).

p.s.: Did you get to the party at the Steelworkers Union Hall? Did you see the mimosas on every table? I thought of you and your lovely flower imagery during this whole time. I still hold my virtual red carnation close to my heart.

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Date: Sat, 03 May 1997 20:49:14 To: (An Unknown Student)
Subject: The York Strike You ask why I don’t leave a university that is not deserving of me as “an individual with integrity” as you see me from my writing in the Bulletin. I would no more leave my university at this crucial time than I would leave my union. York, on strike, is at its best in all the 17 years I have been here. I would be a fool to leave it now. This is the point of union solidarity; we do not want to just walk away. One can always walk away. The union gives us the strength to stay and make the university better.
Thank you for your kind words.

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Date: Sat, 03 May 1997 21:41:07
To: Kyd Carter
Subject: Re: Hotheaded Writers

Glad you like this hot-head’s writing! Desolate not to have got to stay long enough for a dance with the handsome Strike Organizer. Handsome beloved husband was anxious to get us home to beloved twelve-year-old son this year for the first time staying alone without a sitter.

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Date: Sun, 04 May 1997 08:48:41 To: Geoff Myers
cc: Nina Kidder Subject: Re: Metaphysical Distinctions (fwd) Geoff is right. Nina, I don’t question your loyalty, just your use of language sometimes. We are all doing the best we can.
Geoff, thank you for writing to us.


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Date: Sun, 04 May 1997 09:03:39 To: Gaston Follet Subject: You Should See This Gaston, I was writing Geoff McConnelley; he had sent me a copy of what he wrote you. I wrote him this and I need you to see it:
“Thank you too for writing Gaston Follet. He is the real hero of Senate Executive. I have deliberately and strategically kept low there this past week and Dierdre Clay was out of the country, which has left him as the only voice, although I did vote with him. I think the world of him and admire his courage tremendously. Few people get to see it as he is on Senate Executive but not in Senate.”

With deep appreciation.

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Date: Sun, 04 May 1997 09:16:20
To: YUFA-L
Subject: No Claim to Virtue

Richard, I claim no “virtue,” only my own history. I wrote Nina privately this morning and will say it here too: I do not question her loyalty; we walk the lines together. I just had some real trouble with her language, which was slowly grinding down what little strength I have left. Perhaps just as you have some trouble with my language here, I have had trouble with hers.

I refer us all to your immediately last posting. We’re all bone weary; stressed to the limits. It’s good to disagree and to air it, but in doing that, there will be times when we blow; that is healthy too. As long as we can come back and still talk.

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Date: Sun, 04 May 1997 09:23:49
To: YUFA-L Subject: Re: An Orphan Scab
Nobody has fought harder for everyone’s right to speak. In Darcy’s note to Nina, I think he is expressing the same thing I was. I wrote Nina privately and publicly this morning to say that I do not question her loyalty, but I do ask her to be careful with statements such as that those walking the picket lines are only metaphysically different from those who are scabbing. It will never be just a metaphysical difference.

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We waited for news of a settlement. Anxiety ran rampant. I would like to be able to explain the reference to smoking our fingernails but I do not have the original posting. As with many things on YUFA-L during the strike, it took on a life of its own. It referred to our incredibly anxious wait for an end to what was far too lengthy a strike.


Date: Sun, 04 May 1997 09:51:44
To: Katherine Cisneros
Subject: Re: I Am a War/My Voice is a Weapon

Someone threw your work in my face this morning. I had quoted my father on the scab being the lowest form of life on earth, and a colleague said I should refer to your writing on pyramids. I had indeed already read it and really liked it. There are wonderful examples of women who have set up businesses as “webs” rather than pyramids. But I guess I still tend to think in pyramid terms. Probably a by-product of being 17 years a business professor.

Looking forward to the poem,
What are you, trilingual?!

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Date: Sun, 04 May 1997 13:28:56
To: YUFA-L Subject: Philosophy of Botany I realize you guys may be joking to some extent, but you might be interested to know that one of the most successful new courses we have in the Marketing Area is Pablo Ortega’s Philosophy course, called Philosophical and Ethical Issues in the Mass Media. Pablo (degree in Philosophy) taught it originally in Philosophy, but has in the last years in consultation with me (degree in marketing) changed it to combine approaches from both disciplines. One day soon we envision team teaching it, but for now I come in and do several guest lectures. Last year, an award-winning paper came out of that class, written by two students, one in Philosophy and one in Business. So, maybe a course on the philosophy of Botany is not entirely out of order. And, I once was a botany major!

And now I must be off; I promised the family an afternoon without e-mail. Fortunately, they had to go out briefly for something, so I’m sneaking in briefly.

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Date: Sun, 04 May 1997 13:36:33
To: YUFA-L Subject: Fingernails

Does anyone know if this fingernail stuff is for real? I can’t afford cannabis and I don’t do cigarettes because of the dangers of nicotine, but maybe if I could smoke fingernail clippings I could get high enough to stop thinking about all this stuff, at least for one little bitty tiny short Sunday afternoon.

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Date: Sun, 04 May 1997 13:49:21
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Re: On Duplicity

Let’s all be careful. We have a possible settlement in the works, but we also are still on strike. Let’s not angelize; let’s not argue over who is more virtuous; let’s not second guess what a postponement of a strike means. Let us get together out on the lines tomorrow in as great strength as we can muster and show the administration, as we showed them on Wednesday and again on Friday, that YUFA is a union on strike and that we mean business.

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Date: Sun, 4 May 1997 16:15:06
To: Darcy Pomerleau
Subject: Rutter Slime

Rutter continues to send me smarmy suggestive messages even though I now know he is a scab crossing his own picket lines. I will not even dignify him with a response. How does one do that, Darcy? How does one be President of one’s trade union one year and then serve on the employer’s bargaining team the next? (Randy Yalow). How does one serve as President of one’s trade union one year and then cross one’s own picket lines the next? (Rutter). Can you help me understand the kind of lack of basic integrity that would lead one to do such things?

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Date: Sun, 04 May 1997 18:05:38
To: Mallory Hallstrom
Subject: Re: Exaggerations

You ask how I define a scab; I quote Webster’s New 20th Century Dictionary:

SCAB: “In the labour movement, a) a worker who refuses to join a union, or who works for less pay or under different conditions than those accepted by the union; b) a worker who refuses to strike, or who takes the place of a striking worker.”

Is this “pointlessly inflammatory rhetoric”? No. It is a simple dictionary definition. I also hold strongly to my position re: my cultural heritage. I am the daughter of an American labour union organizer, and this is the language on which I was raised. That Webster upholds me I offer as further reason.

If you want rhetoric re: scabs, try this from Jack London, American writer in the early 1900’s, quoted in _The Steward Handbook_:

“After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad and the vampire, he had some awful stuff left with which he made a scab. A scab is a two legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water-logged brain, and a backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles... No man has the right to scab as long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with.”

Now that’s inflammatory rhetoric! I still look forward to meeting you.

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Date: Sun, 04 May 1997 19:04:57
To: Marcel Granville
Subject: Re: an Orphan Scab Up with this we must not only put, we must encourage it. Those of us who have shut up for 15 years or more, and buried ourselves in our teaching and our research, afraid to say a word for fear of offending, are finally finding our voices again. We need to talk. People have said vicious, nasty things to me, privately and publicly: what have I usually responded? I have said, good to hear from you; better to hear than not to hear anything. Let’s meet and talk when this is all over. This is what a university is about: we are talking to each other. Even Mallory and I have agreed to talk at some future time. We have to talk. The alternative is the silent university that too many of us tolerated for the last many years.
Thank you for writing.

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Date: Sun, 04 May 1997 20:28:30 To: Darcy Pomerleau
Subject: Hurt

a ce moment, je
sorry, my good friend, i haven’t got the energy for French; at this moment, i just hurt. i hurt so badly i could cry. i am so tired of fighting. i know it’s necessary, but i’m so tired of it. i’m tired not really so much of fighting, i’m tired of having to fight and be nice at the same time.

i hurt, my friend. i hurt with the barbs tossed on this damned e-mail; I hurt with the venom spewed at people i love; i hurt with being told that i cannot be angry at someone like nina kidder; and i hurt with my own stupid upbringing which said that indeed i must make up and smile and be nice so that she does not think i meant her any harm; i hurt with the stupidity of the question of whether a university faculty can truly talk. i spent 17 goddam years at this university essentially silent.

now that i have found my voice, i am tired of being told once again by supposedly well-meaning people that we must be nice so that nobody feels hurt. well, goddam it, i feel hurt. where does that fit into their goddam equation?

i’ve only cried one time since this whole thing started, and your young son witnessed that day. I fear tonight may be the second.

i am going to bed and i am taking your wonderful warm words of a short while ago with me, and i am not taking anything else from this stupid listserv anywhere near my pillow.

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Date: Mon, 05 May 1997 08:34:23
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Re: The Puzzlement of the Observer

Bravo, Jeanne. Well said. One of the things I first came to love about feminist research methodology was this wonderful insistence that there is no such thing as unbiased research, not even in the physical sciences, the so-called “hard sciences” because of the implication that physics, chemistry, biology were immutable and fixed, not dependent on human observation. But even there we find bias. My husband works in electronics. His colleague Tom comes to the house to work with him on a piece of equipment. The two men stand before an oscilloscope reading wave shapes. Their interpretation will differ slightly, not a lot, but slightly, because Bert is 6 foot 1 and Tom is 5 foot 7.

Our understanding is indeed distorted when we adopt a detached observer status, and even more distorted if we pretend that we can be detached observers.

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Date: Mon, 05 May 1997 08:46:08
To: Katherine Cisneros
Subject: Fairy Tales

One of the beautiful things about the new arrangements is that, while we used to have knights coming to fight dragons to defend princesses, now we can count on princesses coming to our rescue as well.

Your response to Hallstrom and your defense of my stance was the first thing I encountered on the YUFA-L today. My deepest thanks. I also loved the poem, and was pleased to see that you had posted it as well.

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Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 08:03:05
To: Kyd Carter
cc: Herb Morgan
Subject: Senate

My take on the Senate Executive meeting today was that almost to a person, we all want to postpone any decision by Senate on a summer session until Friday to give more time for negotiations.

We need every YUFA Senator out tomorrow to vote for postponement of this meeting until Friday. It must be a short, immediate, simple movement to postpone or adjourn until... See you tomorrow at 8:30 at Strike Headquarters.

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Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 11:34:37
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Music on the Lines It was a dark and stormy late afternoon on Sentinel Road yesterday, but Julia Cohen and Nina Kidder brought out the sunshine by leading us in singing an incredible repertoire of old union and protest songs. Few of us know as many of the lyrics as these two. Winnie Christopher and Simone Godel were joining in good voice.

Does anyone have songbooks or sheet music with the words to any of these songs? Hoping we won’t need it much longer this time, but it would make a nice addition to the growing proposed “Strike Manual” out of York.

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Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 11:54:52
To: Perry Godfrey
Subject: Re: The Future of YUFA on the Web

A lovely letter, Perry. Thank you for writing it. I too feel that I have learned more about more colleagues on YUFA-L than I have in 17 years at York. Even when I have been roasted, even when I have slipped up and written too harshly, no matter what, it is good to hear the voices of those I work with.

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Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 20:53:22
To: Peg McCord
Subject: Re: Parking at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Thanks, Peg. I told Nat Sullivan today that I was not surprised at getting my Senate package so quickly, given what I know of the efficiency of the staff at the Secretariat. He asked for permission to quote me; in case it doesn’t get out to all of you, here you have it from me.
(remembering well when my life as Chair of Senate depended on the efficiency of the Staff at the Secretariat)

***************************************

Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 21:06:52
To: YUFA-L Subject: Re: The Party of Duplicity Eliot Gilling, please don’t ask any of us, to shut up. We are all in this together. Not any one of us, ever, should be asked to shut up.

***************************************

Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 21:22:53
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Re: Public Apology

Derek: Louise Ripley has already written to Nina to tell her that she does not question her loyalty, only objects to her language. I wrote this both privately, with copy to friend Geoff Myers, and publicly on YUFA-L.

If you’re looking for a down-on-my-knees-please-sir-I-am-so-terribly-sorry apology, well, folks, I haven’t done that since the days of Maurice Williams. On Christmas Day of 1996, I turned 50 years of age, and I don’t do those kinds of apologies anymore. Read my original message folks; read my statement on YUFA-L. Do not expect any more than this from the daughter of Stephen Ripley, American Labour Union Organizer.
(brought up in the best tradition of Southern apologies)

***************************************

Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 21:27:36
To: Perry Godfrey
Subject: Re: Let Them Wait

Many thanks, Perry. Indeed, I do intend to let them wait till the cows come home before they will see a public apology from me.

***************************************

Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 22:04:58
To: Aaron Moritz
Subject: Re: Public Apology

Thanks for the humour Aaron; coming from one who has felt the full impact of my southern apology when I saw fit to put it on, I appreciate this message. I’m gathering that the reason the date on his request for my apology was 7 November 2000 has something to do with the fact that, as I recently discovered, we can (even accidentally) set the time on our own computers; so yes, it does appear that I didn’t apologize to his satisfaction if he’s still asking three years from now.

What you all have to remember is that, while all of York has its political battles, we at Atkinson (where both Nina and I work) have such a long history of vicious attacks, followed by camaraderie, that I am not worried about it. Nina and I walk together on the lines. We will talk again too.

***************************************

Date: Tue, 06 May 1997 23:40:59
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Re: Back Pay /Union Rig

heck, at this point, i'm almost willing to settle for my dry cleaning bills! lr tic(tongue in cheek)
don't berate; it's late; I'm joking!

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Date: Wed, 07 May 1997 17:12:48
To: Burl Winslow
Subject: Clearing the Air Burl, I’ve thought about my first reply and I didn’t want to seem unwilling to talk. I took a risk in telling my story, but I told it in the spirit of helping others gain the knowledge that so few of us had when we started. For women particularly, we just aren’t taught to negotiate for decent salaries.

I taught for York part time (remember my statement in Senate that in my department, contractual faculty work is usually only part-time; it is also a “professional” department, which meant that part-time faculty were not in the contract faculty union, and one summer, from the job that I counted on for a full-time income, I earned the grand total of $77 per month as a marker because a full-time faculty member decided to bring in a friend who took the teaching job I usually had). In applying for my job as a full-time position, I was told, “Go get job offers,” so I went out and got them. It was not a fake offer, nor was I faking my interest; had York not been able to offer me a full-time job, I might have had to take it.

I spent 17 years at this university in a department which essentially silenced me. We must be able to talk, even if sometimes it is difficult. We have to be able to speak. I say this as someone who has, in the last three Senate meetings, managed to be effective partly because someone told me I had screwed it up and said Fix It.

***************************************

Date: Wed, 07 May 1997 19:38:24
To: Nicole Jeffreys
Subject: Meeting You

Private E-Mail: though you know that I do not believe such a thing exists on e-mail
Nicole, I was so very pleased to meet you, and to put a face, a lovely face as I saw it in the Montecasino Hotel, to the wonderful writings that I read over your name.
A fan

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Date: Wed, 07 May 1997 20:16:52
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Re: Back Alley Note 12 (I think)

This time my friend, I have to tell you, you have outdone yourself. You have managed with yet another of your Back Alley Notes, single-handedly, all by yourself, nobody else could, to make me laugh, me, sitting here smoking my very fingernails even as they remain still on the ends of my fingertips, sitting here waiting for word of the settlement, laughing so hard I could cry. Thanks, Corbett, and Ivan Driscoll, and other nefarious writers of the Back Alley Notes.

***************************************

We were by now seriously anxious, waiting for news of a settlement. It was Eugene Myers who was the first to ask, “Is anyone out there also tense?”


Date: Wed 07 May 1997 20:17:59
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Re: Tension

TENSE? WHAT THE HECK DO YOU MEAN TENSE? AM I TENSE? NO, I’M NOT TENSE. NOT IN THE LEAST. NO, NOT ONE LOUSY LITTLE BIT TENSE. HOW COULD YOU EVEN SUGGEST THAT I’M TENSE, MUCH LESS ASK ME IF I’M TENSE? TENSE? TENSE?

Oh, Eugene, I, like the rest of us, am simply sitting here shredding my fingernails. Even food and drink does not help. You said it best: we have nothing to say but are so tense all we can do is repeatedly check for new messages.

***************************************

Date: Wed, 07 May 1997 21:30:22
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Re: Anxieties

Why on earth would you, Herb, need a copy of Bourinot’s _Rules of Order_? You appear by now to have it totally internalized! You done good today. We all appreciated your carefully put comments at the end, especially coming as they did right on the heels of Madame Boone’s pathetic comments.

Personal thanks too, I’ve got so many new heroes now and you’re right near the top of the list.

***************************************

Date: Wed, 07 May 1997 22:00:01
To: Katherine Cisneros
Subject: Re: Tension

Dear Katherine, I adored your suggestion that we all go meet somewhere in a donut shop, or (best) a hotel lobby! Will you ever look at a hotel lobby again in the same way? Never have I spent so much time in a sleazy hotel with so little fun.

I am terrified to turn off my machine or go away, fearing the news of a settlement will come and I’ll miss it. Yet I am bone weary. If we were all together somewhere, we could take turns dozing on a hotel lounge sofa knowing someone would rouse us when the news came.
Gnawingly

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Date: Wed, 07 May 1997 23:13:55
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Re: Musical Interlude

That’s me who was asking about union songs. Thanks for writing. I’ll just put this message into my now incredibly clean, tidy, and organized e-mail files.......hmmmmm, maybe next I’ll strip, wash and wax the kitchen floor.......waiting, waiting, waiting......

> “It’s 11:00....Do you know where your negotiators are?”

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Date: Wed, 07 May 1997 23:21:17
To: YUFA-L
Subject: Re: YUFA-Listers

I took a half hour off and came back to find the lovely note from the partner of one of us. I am glad you have enjoyed our postings, and thank you for your good wishes. Our families and loved ones are the true unsung heroes of this strike. They have dried our tears and our skins on rainy days, driven miles to bring us warm clothing when the weather changed during our picket duty, pried us off the computer for brief Sunday afternoon breaks, understood when we nervously picked at proffered dinners and bolted back to the e-mail; adjusted as we set schedules which disrupted their lives, listened as we told the escapades of our fabulous brave and daring encounters on the lines for the seventeenth time, screened telephone calls for us, understood when our attentions wandered, taken over a myriad of duties for us, and most of all, continued to love us while we put our energies into this strike.

I am having a little trouble finishing this; tears are blocking my vision. I look forward to meeting you.

***************************************

Date: Wed, 07 May 1997 23:29:07
To: YUFA-L
Subject: The Party of Laughter

Preston Gallagher, you’re wonderful! When my department was writing up its list of faculty for the Calendar years ago, it was noted that many of us held many different titles, and we sorted out what exactly we wanted to be called. I said that if I got to choose, then I wanted to be Associate Professor of Champagne and Hilarity. I never got it into the Calendar, but I was reminded of it tonight with your message and I am going to reclaim that title. Indeed, no party of virtue or duplicity, but tonight, the Party of Laughter, and the creative expression of a new-found solidarity.

Thanks for your eloquence, always. And thanks to Eugene Myers for starting us all off with his simple question: is anyone else out there feeling tense?

***************************************

On Wed, 07 May 23:55:32
To: Joyce Kenneth
Subject: YUFA-L

Joyce, I do not believe I can remember a time when I waited as I am waiting tonight. Maybe Christmas when I was three, but I’m not sure even then. I am achingly tired, but terrified that the moment I turn off my machine, news will come. I’m also terrified we’ll hit the infamous 50 message limit and not get it when it does come.

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Thu, 08 May 08 1997 00:14:34
To: Katherine Cisneros
Subject: Re: Tension

Hi Katherine, the “50” I referred to is the limit of 50 e-mails that have blocked YUFA-L in the past.

I’m literally shaking; I can hardly write. I assume it’s the adrenaline pumping through the veins. Another piece of bad planning: we don’t have a medical school from which to pilfer uppers and downers. Time to smoke more fingernails! You predicted that, you remember? That it would get out into the myths. But the pajama party is a definite inclusion for the New Strike Manual Out of York, for which I have volunteered my services. Maybe it’s not too late to get together. Where do you live? In a pond, I presume.

I figured out one of the reasons I love you all from Pond so much. I am a frog person. If I’m going to tell you the truth, I AM a frog. I have hundreds and hundreds of them all over my house, and I wear one on my non-wedding band ring finger. A lifelong love.

I'm out in Scarborough, just south of the 401 Highway. There are some hotel lobbies nearby….
Next time? Like...tomorrow night?! How long can I stand this?

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What Did We Learn in Week Seven? (Many Varied Roles)

1. There are new and shifting roles for both women and men within a union.
2. Our jobs do not define who we are.
3. Keep picket lines full and armed with tools such as the picket signs, even into the last days of a strike.
4. Use whatever techniques you have learned in your past to help the union cause.
5. Perhaps the hardest work of all of a strike is waiting in the hours before a settlement.

 

 

 


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