Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/10/2011 (3622 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
“The only way to win in a dispute with a publicly supported institution is to have public support. This strike by Brandon University’s faculty has no support.”
— Brandon’s Dr. Jay Winburn in a recent letter to the editor
If the sentiments expressed in our signed Letters to the Editor and unsigned Sound Off submissions are any indication, there is little public support for the strike by professors at Brandon University.
In his letter to the editor, Winburn — an orthodontist who admits to being “pro-labour” — notes that while it’s important to both business and labour for working people to earn a living wage in reasonable conditions, “I am still pro-labour, but just as business can make mistakes, so can labour, and this strike is stupid, stupid, stupid!”
The BU Faculty Association strike entered its second week yesterday and both sides weren’t talking. And it depends who you listen to if you believe there will be any more meetings this week.
BUFA president Joe Dolecki said talks broke off late Tuesday afternoon. But late yesterday, a communiqué from BU president Deborah Poff’s office said the conciliator had previous commitments in Winnipeg yesterday and that talks could resume today.
But then BUFA won’t be able to meet again until Monday, Poff said in her statement.
What a mess. Is anyone thinking about the students?
So this shameful debacle — embarrassing for the BU adminstration, the professors, students and the entire community — appears to be heading for the long haul.
It simply has to stop.
And that places the onus squarely on the NDP government.
The province has been very quiet about the strike.
Here’s the only word we received to our inquiries yesterday:
“To update you on the BU Strike,” Jodee Mason, press secretary to cabinet, wrote in an email to a reporter, “we have assigned a conciliator to work with the parties and we are confident they can reach an agreement with this assistance. This will mean students can return to class and the university can get back to normal day-to-day business.”
What feel-good hogwash. Isn’t the Selinger government remotely aware of the slow pace of the talks?
We expect the strike will be brought up in the Manitoba legislature by the Progressive Conservative Opposition, which begins a short fall session today.
We hope that newly elected PC MLA Reg Helwer (Brandon West) and veteran NDP MLA Drew Caldwell (Brandon East) can bury their partisan hatchets and work together to find a way to end this strike.
We expect to hear today exactly what plans Premier Greg Selinger has in mind to end this strike.
We had hoped the labour-friendly NDP would have placed the students’ interests first and attended to this matter immediately after it started.
Brandon University students last experienced a strike in 2008, when unionized staff were off the job for 17 days prior to signing of a three-year collective agreement.
The province was about to step in then — after 17 days of lost classes, we remind you — but the situation was resolved shortly before the NDP was forced to act.
Two strikes in three years at BU is simply unacceptable. And we put the blame for the situation squarely at the feet of the provincial government, which currently has no overarching funding policy for Manitoba universities, a fact that certainly causes unnecessary friction between faculty, students and members of the administration.
The NDP has a history of sitting idly by during strike action, as it did in 2008 when the last strike at BU occurred.
Aside from calling — unsuccessfully — for both sides to go to binding arbitration, the province otherwise remained on the sidelines during that dispute, which at one point looked like it might become the longest labour disruption at a university in provincial history.
But it could have forced binding arbitration in 2008, and it could do so now.
And by now, we mean today.