Editorial—Evening the Field

Recently you may have heard some stories about what happened with an amber alert in Toronto.  Being from that city herself, Voice writer Brittany Daigle felt she had to write about the response, and we’re presenting it as our feature article this week.

Also, this week, a small theme developed around the idea of people believing that their truth is the real one.  This is dug into most deeply by the Fly on the Wall, but our own Wanda Waterman had a look at it through the lens of the Dunning-Kruger effect.  Taken together, these two articles give us a solid look at why we should always be questioning ourselves, even when, or perhaps especially when, we know we’re right.

Using that as a segue, I wrote a couple weeks ago about an open letter sent to AU faculty and staff regarding the ongoing negotiations between the AU Faculty Association and AU.  I noted that, given what was written about it, it didn’t seem like the wisest move of management to move negotiations along.

However, AU then did something that absolutely moved negotiations along.  They are reported as having dropped all of the contentious language changes they wanted from their proposed agreement.  The AUFA took this as a significant win, and in some ways it is, but I find myself wondering.

Going back to the idea that, at the end of the day, a public union seeking to strike is engaging in a type of public relations war with the management, AU may have just struck a significant blow.  AUFA has taken AU’s walking back of the contentious wording changes as a win on their part, and so is using that to push forward to try to get changes to the contract that are beneficial to the AUFA (as is their mandate, I should note).  However, if AU is firm in not wanting to give any more to the union, they have now dealt themselves a much stronger hand when it comes to presenting their case to the public.  Now, if worst comes to worst, AU can portray itself as the more reasonable, having eliminated all negatives to the union except for the two years of 0% increases, which they can point to Alberta’s fiscal situation mandating.

AUFA meanwhile, in pressing for more beneficial wording in the contracts, can be portrayed as the stubborn ones if this goes as far as a walk-out or other such labour action.  They, of course have already attempted to blunt this by noting that beneficial wording changes have been gained by multiple other public organizations this time around, in exchange for the double-zero increase.

But, from my view, what this has done is put both sides on a much more even playing field should this negotiation be forced to be judged in the court of public opinion (and relevant political pressure).  Then again, I can be quite the cynic when it comes to politics, and public union negotiations are nothing if not political.   Perhaps I’m wrong and this really is the start to both groups coming to a compromise they can agree with and that, more importantly, benefits students.  Until then, enjoy the read!