To many observers we are living in unsettled and scary times. The presidential victory of Donald Trump, coming after a forty-year onslaught of Neo-liberalism, does not bode well for the future. Is this the beginning of a period of outright Fascism? The question is difficult to answer, but we need to keep it front and centre if we are to resist.
This column has, in the past, tried to concentrate on one aspect of that political trajectory: the Neo-Liberal onslaught on our university system. But the problem is, of course, not limited to universities, nor to the United States. The fascistic attack on our way of life will be piecemeal, but relentless, and in myriad, sometimes, almost obscure ways. Historically, fascism’s immediate aim has always been to neuter the free press, so as to shunt valid criticisms and information from public view.
Just this case in point is covered by Robert Reich in a recent piece published in Nation of Change. In it he squarely addresses some of the tactics that are already being marshalled to muzzle the press, namely that of limiting press access to the White House.
Read full article here.
As you are likely aware, UMFA members are voting today on a tentative agreement which, if ratified, will end the strike. Classes taught by UMFA members would resume tomorrow (Tuesday, November 22nd).
In light of this development, the University has published a revised schedule for UMFA taught classes and exams in the remainder of the Fall 2016 term and for ALL classes and exams in the Winter 2017 term. This schedule will have the Winter term commencing on January 19th.
This new schedule will pose a number of challenges and concerns for our CUPE 3909 members. These include, but are not limited to, issues of pay, extra duties and time worked and conflicting schedules for individual members. We have scheduled a meeting with the University at the earliest possible date to address and try to resolve any problems that we can foresee. We have heard from many of you already, but if you believe you have an issue that is unique or specific to your area, please contact us as soon as possible.
We will keep you informed of our progress.
The University Senate recently approved changes the Academic Schedule and emailed those changes to all employees of the University. Under some scenarios, the University has indicated that they intend to modify dates in the Winter 2017 term.
Members of CUPE 3909 who have already accepted appointments in Winter 2017 have valid contracts with the University for that term. CUPE 3909 expects the University to fully honour those contracts, including the dates. The University is required to negotiate any changes to the Winter 2017 Academic Schedule for members of CUPE 3909 with the Union Local. We have already advised the University of our position on this matter.
The Executive of CUPE 3909 will deal with this matter further when a potential strike end date has been determined. We will keep you informed.
Read CUPE Manitoba President, Kelly Moist’s Statement issued today.
We all support UMFA and none of us want to cross the picket line; what UMFA is fighting for affects all of us, including students. CUPE 3909 members who are employed by the University as Sessional Instructors, Librarians, Counsellors, Music Teachers and Grader/Markers, Teaching Assistants, Lab Demonstrators, Seminar Leaders, and Tutors, are legally obligated to cross the picket lines to report to work. Students, however, have the right to choose not to cross the picket line to attend classes and they will be protected. The University acknowledges this protection in the Strike Information – FAQ for Students on the UM website. It reads as follows:
Can I choose not to cross the picket line?
Yes. However, students who choose not to cross the picket line are still responsible for materials covered in any class or lab that is included on the class list. Students must advise their instructors in advance of class if they choose not to cross the picket line. In such circumstances, instructors will make reasonable alternate arrangements with respect to any missed material, assignments or tests.
UMFA is asking students not to cross their picket lines. Please read the University’s Question & Answer to your students and make sure they are aware of their rights. Please encourage them to show their support for striking UMFA members.
Remember to show your support as you enter campus. Stop and talk to UMFA members and join them on the picket lines before or after your scheduled hours. We’ll have CUPE 3909 pickets available for our members at each of the entrances – or download a poster.
The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) representing full time faculty, will be on strike and setting up pickets around the University effective 7:00 AM tomorrow (Tuesday, November 1st).
Our email/post of 29 October 2016 outlined your responsibilities as Unionized workers with valid Collective Agreements with the University of Manitoba.
CUPE 3909 fully supports the UMFA strike and their members’ right to bargain a fair contract. We suggest that our members show their support for the UMFA strike by doing the following outside of their scheduled working hours:
Express your support for striking UMFA members at the picket lines. They know that CUPE 3909 members are legally obligated to cross picket lines and report to work. They will appreciate it if you stop and talk to them and show solidarity as you go to work.
Join UMFA workers and walk with them on the picket lines. Your presence will be a public show of support and will be a big morale booster.
CUPE 3909 Instructors who have students who have declared that they will not cross picket lines for political reasons or principles can call 204 250 8697 for information and advice on how to handle this situation.
Should you encounter any problems or have any questions or concerns during this period please contact Karen Naylor at 204 250 8697, CUPE 3909 VP2 (handling Unit 1 and Unit 2 strike related questions).
In Solidarity, CUPE 3909 Executive Board
TO: All members of CUPE 3909 Unit 1 Grader Markers, Teaching Assistants, Lab Demonstrators, Seminar Leaders, Tutors, and Lecturer Instructors Unit 2 Sessional Instructors, Librarians, Hourly Music Teachers, and Counsellors
The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) representing full time faculty may be setting up pickets around the University effective 7:00 AM Tuesday, November 1st if they have not reached a collective agreement with the University by then.
For all CUPE 3909 members, please be aware of the following:
1. CUPE 3909 Unit 1 and Unit 2 have valid collective agreements in full force and effect at this time. Therefore by law, all members are required to cross UMFA picket lines and report to work. Failure to do so will be considered a violation of the employment contract and will have consequences.
2. CUPE 3909 members who wish to show support for UMFA on the picket line should restrict this activity to their own time.
CUPE 3909 supports UMFA members’ right to bargain a fair contract and asks that CUPE 3909 members also show solidarity when possible. Should you encounter any problems or have any questions or concerns during this period, please feel free to contact Karen Naylor at 204 250 8697, CUPE 3909 VP handling Unit 1 and Unit 2.
In Solidarity, CUPE 3909 Executive Board
As you are already aware, there is a very strong possibility that the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) could be on strike at the University of Manitoba in the next few weeks. The Faculty Union has been bargaining with the University since last spring and the parties have been unable to reach an agreement. UMFA has taken a strike vote and received a strong mandate from their membership to strike.
Join us at the information picket
On Friday, October 21 at 12:00, UMFA members and supporters will be holding an information picket in front of the Administration Building (Fort Garry Campus). The CUPE 3909 Executive will be there and we are extending the invitation to all of our members so that the information picket can have the strongest possible impact.
Where does a potential UMFA strike and picket line leave CUPE 3909 members?
First of all, it should be made clear that as a Union, we support UMFA in their struggle to obtain a fair collective agreement for their members.
What does this mean in a practical sense?
The CUPE 3909 Executive will meet with UMFA to find out what they would like us to do to assist them and to demonstrate our support. We will also convene a meeting with the other campus Unions (AESES, UNIFOR, CUPE 1482) in an effort to have a collective response to the strike. We will keep the membership informed of the outcome of these meetings.
What does this mean for you as a member who may be facing a picket line?
CUPE 3909 hopes to demonstrate our support for the strike in the strongest manner possible. We are hoping that our discussions with UMFA and the other Unions produce some effective strategies.
However, we would be remiss in our responsibilities as your Executive if we did not properly inform you of the legal restrictions which we may face. While the Labour Law in Manitoba does protect an employee who refuses to take on extra work that would normally be done by striking employees, it does not provide the same protection to employees who refuse to cross a picket line. This means that we could be deemed to be in violation of our employment contract if we fail to go to work and do our jobs. This is a problem.
We are looking into alternatives and solutions to this problem and will keep you updated on the situation. We will provide you with leadership and advice on a timely basis.
In the meantime, contact us with any questions or concerns and see you at the information picket!
Below are some links that you may find of interest.