Editorial – It’s Striking!

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. If you waited until after the weekend to read this week’s Voice, I hope it went well for you. I’ll likely be sending a fruit bouquet one again. After all, who doesn’t like a nice selection of ripe fruit, with some of them dipped in chocolate? It’s an easy gift, and, just as important, I know it’s something she doesn’t already have, because she ate the one I sent the year previous.

It sounds kind of lame, but you’d have to know my mother. Both of my folks, actually. They were the kind of people who, if they needed something, they’d go and get it, and if they didn’t need it or it wasn’t useful, they generally didn’t want it. I should probably go visit her as well, as she only lives a few blocks away from me, but that comes with its own set of complications. Suffice it to say that, while I’m grateful to my mother, to both my parents, for what they did for me while I was growing up, Mother’s Day isn’t my favorite time of year.

Beyond Mother’s Day, however, you may be wondering about the recent news that the AU Faculty Association voted 87% in favor of creating an immediate strike fund of $200,000 and increasing their union dues by 0.2% to go exclusively to the strike fund. Does this mean that they’re planning to strike in the next collective bargaining round, and students should be worried? Personally, I don’t think so. This is a response to a change in the Post-Secondary Learning Act that will allow Post-Secondary Faculty unions the right to strike, rather than simply having arbitration mandated. The union never had to worry about striking before, so they had no funds put away for it. When the legislation changed, the union realized it couldn’t very well back up a threat of a strike if it meant that none of the union workers would be able to survive without working for any length of time. So this action strikes me as something they’re doing just to put themselves in a reasonable bargaining position. It doesn’t mean they want to strike, but it does tell the negotiators that it is a possibility and should be considered as such while they’re negotiating.

As it is, however, the AUFA is still in a poor position when it comes to bargaining in this fashion. Even if the faculty strikes, the majority of our courses are taught by tutors, who come under a different union, so wouldn’t necessarily strike along with them. And that’s assuming that you’re one of the students who actively uses their tutor in the first place. (If you’re not, you really should consider becoming one. Yes, I did most of my courses without much contact with the tutors, but that was my own loss. The few I did contact almost always impressed me with how much they knew and were willing to speak about the subject material.) This means that even if the Faculty were to strike, it wouldn’t necessarily halt, or even significantly slow down the university from the view of the average student.

In the meantime, be sure to check out both our Feature Article for Mother’s Day, as well as an article about that most spring time of occupations?gardening. It could even save you a few bucks. And don’t forget our interviews, humour, and insights. Enjoy the read!

P.S. If you didn’t already know, The Voice Magazine has a Facebook page and a twitter feed if You’re into that kind of thing!