Morning shift,ChimneyStack picket Cupe 3903, March 20

5:37 a.m.
The alarm will go off in 4 minutes but I’ve been awake for a while. Get up, feed cats, make coffee – do all the usual morning things. But this morning is not usual. Nothing about being on strike is usual. And last night, York senate voted to resume all classes Monday. That means more trouble for us on the lines. But I’m trying not to dwell on that. I haven’t even had a coffee yet.

6:20 a.m.
Caffeinated and dressed. This is my ninth day – for many, it is their 14th. I missed the first bitterly cold week on the line because I was away. Although it’s warmer, it’s far from balmy. We come home with wind burned faces. I wear the uniform – long underwear, jeans, long sleeved shirt and a black hoodie because it’s the only hoodie I have and usually, it’s pulled up over my head. Sometimes I wear a hat under it. Today a whiff of barrel fire wafts up as I put it on. Barrel fire is a distinct aroma – related to camp fire, but not quite. There is a more chemical scent to it. No one enjoys stinking of barrel fire.

6:35 a.m.
Sheila texts that she’s here. We carpool to york this morning with her dog Gade.

Pit stop at Tim Hortons to use the bathroom and grab coffee.

Nathan on gate duty makes impromptu drums out of an empty barrel. He’s quite good.

Sign in and say hi to fellow picketers. There are a dozen of us so far.

All Set up, barricades in place, safety vests on. We start picketing.

First timbit

Gate keeper calls out “fall back.”We wonder how different departments will respond to the senate vote yesterday. The mood is subdued. Grim. Not even Barry is waving his rainbow canadian flag with much enthusiasm. “Resume.” We are back to walking a circle.

Barrel fire raging courtesy of a journal article used as kindling. I won’t say which article.

Barry got some tunes going on the speaker. Hopefully the mood will lift. Cars backed up on keele but no major incidents yet.

A gaggle of students disgorged from a bus stream past on the sidewalk. Some take information flyers offered by a picketer. Some pretend not to see or hear her. Yesterday, a student skateboarded right through our line. Classy.

Gus from Guy’s Snack Service arrives. Best part of every shift. Wonder what today’s soup is?

Garden vegetable. Also, Mary beat Barry to 10,000 steps this morning. Apparently it’s a daily competition. Usually Barry wins. Just noticed a familiar vehicle drive quickly through. Pretty sure it was the woman who called us terrorists yesterday. Or was that the day before? They blend.

A few of us take a brief snack break around a barrel of firewood – makes a convenient table. Best hot chocolate ever – thanks Gus. I think his secret is cream. Erin read out a supportive letter from Carolyn. Apparently our department is meeting at Ryerson today. Feeling the support of our students and profs makes a huge difference. Thanks Carolyn. Gus backs away to more cheers to feed another line.

Spent too much time trying to figure out how to drop pics into this. Will fix typos and update with pics later today.

Checked in with a few working the gates. They report the usual regular finger flippers but most drivers today are civil. Just watched Sheila’s dog Gade find scent we hid in my bag and on Barry’s car. That was fun.

About an hour to go and strike brain has set in. I just grunted at someone who asked me something. Feet are starting to hurt now – also my old hip stress fracture twinges. Oh well. Walk on.

Sheila and Gade entertain us to with Gade’s super dog routine. Our numbers have swelled steadily. There are about 55 of us now.

Almost ready to hand over to the afternoon shift. The sun is out and it feels a little warmer.

Blondie. Good song. New sign. “Hey york. We don’t bite. Come meet with us.”

Shift change. Later.

Walking the line

    I didn’t think I’d be writing about this. I didn’t know what would rekindle a return to this blog. Finishing my course work last March didn’t do it. Ploughing through 240 books on my comps list over nine months didn’t do it. Writing  my comps exams in November and passing the oral didn’t do it. This did it. These faces. This was taken late last week on the chimneystack picket line. This is Chelsea and Erica. Before last week I would have called them my fellow PhD students in history. Today I call them my fellow Unit 1 members of Cupe 3903. They have been marching the picket line from the start, two weeks ago tomorrow. I’ve only been at it since last Tuesday, when I got back to the country from a six day visit with my parents. Bad timing on my part. This morning we walked the line together again, from 7:30 until 11:30. Most drivers are peaceful, wait for the maximum 2 minutes it takes for us to let them through our picket. Some honk in support. Some wave. Some simply sit quietly with their own thoughts. A few are impatient. Irritated. Some engage with those on car duty – express their frustration. Those on car duty listen and explain and ask for their patience – are infinitely patient themselves. I haven’t volunteered for this job yet. I’m not sure I could do it – especially not after what happened on our line today.

Just before 8 this morning, the man in this car threatend to kill one of our members. A woman. With a gun. We were told he was arrested. Doubtless not for long. Who knows if he was charged. But I suppose that is something. This afternoon, York senate decided that some classes will resume tomorrow – on St. Patrick’s Day.  I fear green beer-fuelled violence and I can’t be the only one. No matter what the issues are, on which side of the argument you stand, no one can want more of what happened on my line today. Apparently, York Univeristy Senate doesn’t feel the same way. Tomorrow morning, we will be back walking the Chimneystack picket line. #cupe3903 #shameonshoukri