Editorial—Competing Narratives

Some interesting developments on the bargaining process of the AU Faculty Association with AU have happened over the last week.  First, AUFA has declared bargaining to be at an impasse, and has decided to take their proposal directly to the board of the university, something that they are allowed to do only once during the negotiations.  Their contention is that the university is refusing to move on many of the issues that they feel take power away from the faculty and give it instead to the university administration. AUFA has stated that they feel by taking it directly to the Board they allow Board of Governors a chance to walk back from some of these issues without losing face, and, as importantly, ensure that the Board cannot just blame the bargaining team if negotiations do not conclude successfully.

If you want more information on the negotiating process itself, you should head over to AUSU’s Facebook page, where in a recent interview chat with President Fassina and Provost Matthew Prineas, President Fassina outlines how the process works and notes that there are still a number of steps remaining before any disruptions to student learning happens, and that neither party wants things to get that far.

Then on February 7, President Fassina released an open letter or fact letter to the faculty and staff (and apparently the students, but I haven’t seen it myself) outlining their positions on some of the remaining contentious bargaining positions.  AUFA quickly responded noting that the President’s document was missing a number of the more contentious clauses, and suggesting that he had mischaracterized the effects of some of the other changes.

If this is truly the case (and, as I said, I haven’t been able to find this letter, only the response, so can’t verify myself) this doesn’t seem to me like a winning strategy, as this document will be of intense interest to people who literally make their living doing research and applying critical thinking to what they read.  Had it been a letter released to the public at large, it would have made more sense, but to send it to this specific group of people first, giving them time to review it, start asking questions, and formulate responses for if it ever does get released to convince the public seems like a management mis-step to me.  Basically, if what AUFA is saying about the fact sheet is true, the people concerned will find out, and I expect it will only tend to harden positions.  Nobody likes feeling like someone is trying to manipulate them.

Of course, I don’t have the whole picture here.  Neither AUFA nor AU has responded to my questions yet, and in the heat of bargaining, I’m not sure when they will.

In the meantime, however, in this issue of The Voice Magazine we feature Wanda Waterman’s look into the use of “smart drugs” or drugs for ADHD by post-secondary students, and whether it’s really a good way to get a bit of a boost for your exams and studies.  Enjoy the read!

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