Just read the Daily Gleaner editorial of Nov. 25 called “A call for cool heads.” Apologies to non-subscribers (and a pledge! To never implement a paywall on ANY blogs, past, present, or future). Whoever wrote it seems strangely removed from the realities of unionized labour relations: here we are on the eve of a strike vote yet we are being advised to “choose [our] negotiators wisely.” Well for AUNBT’s part I am confident we did. More than a year ago. I am not mentioning this merely to quibble, but to illustrate a general lack of understanding, in the N.B. commercial media, of the purpose and value of unions, or even how they work. How else to explain the alarming language sprinkled throughout the editorial: “nervous”, “outrage”‘ “threat”, “anxious”, “lost”, “hotbed”, “animosity”, “hot tempers”, “inflexible mindsets”, “hammering”, “complications”, and “damaged.” I mean, the piece opens with “One headline has struck fear into the hearts of thousands of students and many others in this city: ‘UNB profs to consider strike.'”
What would they say if the Martians invaded?
Don’t know about you, dear reader, but my blood pressure spiked just reading it.
Never mind the negotiating table, let’s have cooler heads around editorial tables. Let’s all sit back with a cold compress and look at the facts. No Canadian student has ever lost a term because of a faculty strike or lockout. (With student strikes, your mileage may vary). Twelve of the last thirteen strike votes at Ontario post-secondary institutions preceded a settlement before strike or lockout action was taken. Those are good odds. Strikes and lockouts in the academic sector do not tend to last as long as they can in many other sectors. I don’t want to minimize the potential inconvenience, but let’s keep the apocalyptic language at a minimum. The world would not end. Every university in N.B. except UNB has had a strike or lockout, and they all weathered the storm. UNB would too. In fact it would probably come out better than ever, as the character of the university itself is what is at issue. Many of us think that is worth a risk.