Fightback continues to support the York University strike. Despite facing a political ban which represses our democratic rights, we continue to support the strike and work towards its victory. We were allowed to attend the picket line as individuals, which we did this past Monday and Friday.

This is in keeping with the direction we have received from the union. CUPE 3903 Chairperson Devin Lefebvre, in an email to us explained that “this motion does not prevent individuals, especially those who are also members of CUPE 3903, from attending our picket lines and union spaces.”

(you can find details on the CUPE 3903 resolution, correspondence and improper process here:

Undergraduates and workers who support Fightback attended the picket lines as individuals in line with the direction we received from the union leadership. This political ban has obviously harmed our solidarity activity, as we can no longer create Facebook events, organize solidarity contingents or mobilize broader groups of students to the picket lines. Nor can we bring Fightback banners, produce placards, or distribute newspapers, leaflets and pamphlets.

Nonetheless, we have still done our best. This didn’t stop the CUPE 3903 Strike Committee from telling us today (April 20th) that we were kicked off all the picket lines, and that we were to be kicked out for the entire strike. It should be made clear that we did not bring any banners, placards, nor did we sell Fightback magazines, distribute leaflets or any other Fightback material.

The weather on Monday was terrible, and there was very low attendance at the picket lines. Picketers were very happy that individual members of Fightback attended the lines. We were even asked to help get a picket line started at Founders Road, as it was down for lack of numbers. Most union members knew very little about the political ban that was passed three weeks ago. Many expressed their opposition to the ban, and many others asked for more information as they had been given very little.

Today, April 20th, about 10 supporters of Fightback went to the lines. We went to the main gate picket lines where we were very well-received. As we left the line, the strikers  expressed their thanks for us attending. Subsequently, we went to a second picket line, where we were again very well-received.

Many strikers explained how there had been very little student solidarity recently, and had been wondering where we had been. They were also concerned about the low attendance at the picket lines.

We explained that student solidarity activities had been severely harmed by the political ban placed on us. Again, most workers had very little details about why we were banned, or even the nature of the ban. A significant number of picketers did not even know about the ban.

One campus worker who is also a supporter of Fightback had brought a clipboard with a petition that called for the lifting of the ban on Fightback. This petition was launched by a rank-and-file CUPE 3903 member who is also a member of Fightback. This was very well-received by many workers, who signed onto it. Others were hesitant because they did not have enough details, and said that they intended to read our published statements on the matter. 

It should also be underlined that the strikers did not raise a problem with us being there. The clear majority did not express support for a political ban and were happy that we were there this week. Indeed on our picket visit on Monday, not even a single picketer expressed support for the political ban. Many expressed their opposition to the ban, signed the petition, and even more were hesitant and uncertain about the ban.

However, the picket captain at this second line expressed that there was discomfort due to our presence. While being clear that she was not asking us to leave, she did contact the strike committee. Shortly after, three members of the Strike Committee drove over to the lines.

These three members said very different things to us. The complaint raised was apparently that we made people uncomfortable. When we asked about it, it was expressed that we were “disrespectful”.

We explained that we support the strike, and were willing to ensure respectfulness and discuss this matter with the individuals that supported Fightback who were on the line. The Strike Committee representatives then told us that our willingness to discuss this matter with these individuals was “proof” that we had come “as an organization”. Another issue that was raised was that a couple of individuals had personal political buttons on their clothing. Yet another was that there were discussions on the picket lines where issues related to Fightback were coming up.

The main problem that was raised was that we had a petition. To be clear, this petition launched by a rank-and-file CUPE 3903 member is a very simple petition. It has one line, which says, “Be it resolved that the political ban placed on Fightback as an organization be lifted”.

One thing that was noticeable was that the strike committee members were telling us very different things. One representative said that the issue was the apparent discomfort of picketers and disrespectful behaviour. Another strike committee representative said that we were welcome, but we had to put away the petition. When we offered to give direction to those students who had come to give solidarity, based on their feedback about “respectfulness”, they responded by saying that wasn’t the problem. We offered to put away the single clipboard with the petition. Again the line changed, and that wasn’t sufficient.

One strike committee representative said that we should leave this particular picket line.. Another said that we should simply leave all the picket lines for today. Another said that we should be banned for the whole strike. The conclusion of this discussion was that even though we had come as individuals, the union leadership would not be allowing this and would enforce a complete ban.

These strike committee representatives were simply inventing policy as they went along. Despite us abiding by the political ban (which is undemocratic and harmful to the strike) and having no Fightback material – these sectarians could still not accept us coming as individuals.

Apparently we are accused and deemed guilty without concrete allegations, we are condemned with no proper process, and now we are denied any appeal or even the right to discuss our case. This is a witch-hunt and represents complete political censorship by the CUPE 3903 leadership.

It is also clear that the concern of the union leadership is that the rank-and-file will know what actually occurred. Most do not have details. Many did not even know a political ban had been instituted. Many signed our petition, and many more wanted to read our statements and investigate the matter. Indeed, when we were kicked off the line, one TA ran after us as we walked away so she could sign the petition. She had previously been hesitant to sign, but then saw the concrete implications of the political ban.

The union leadership and those on the strike committee are prepared to damage the strike, simply because they have a political differences with Fightback. Despite being banned as a group, we have tried to come and show genuine support at the picket lines as individuals.

The majority of the strikers that we spoke to welcomed our support. Any worker knows how difficult and important it is to have a strong presence on the picket line. The leadership of CUPE 3903 is afraid that the rank-and-file will know the facts, and is now trying to shield their members from knowing what happened.

These disgraceful actions are occurring at a time when the picket lines need support. Picketers openly want students and other campus workers to support the strike. This is at a time when the university management is actively trying to drive a wedge between undergraduates and the picketers and is playing a game of divide and conquer.

Lift the political ban on Fightback!

Don’t turn away student and campus workers who want to support the strike!

No to sectarian witch-hunts and Stalinist censorship in the labour and student movement!