The TA’s at my university are the lowest paid in Canada, living in a city with the second-highest cost of living, and we have been working without contracts for the past two years. The provincial government has imposed cutbacks on higher education, which administration has decided ought to be paid for out of sessional instructors’ salaries.
You may well think that this would provoke outrage from our union–and, indeed, you would be completely right. Our union is pissed-off; however, its membership, for whatever reason, seems to be largely apathetic.
This, at least is what I gathered during our meeting over the lunch hour today. I don’t usually attend such meetings, but this billed itself as being an “emergency.” When I inquired as to what the emergency was, I was told “We’re going to have a strike vote.”
I’ve never been to a strike vote before! And once I had the issues explained to me (especially with regard to the state of our negotiations), I came to the conclusion that a strike was the way to go. And as it happened, I’d never been to a strike vote before! I imagined it as being like that scene in Billy Elliot where the coal miners in some hardscrabble town in Northern England walked off the job. You know: angry union organizers shouting harangues at the audience to fits of thunderous applause and pumping of fists, followed by a montage of labour unrest to the accompaniment of “London Calling” by The Clash.
No such luck.
Only a few dozen members of the union even bothered to come out, and so rather than having a strike vote, I was treated to an hour’s worth of rather milquetoasty debate as to why everyone else was so apathetic.
Anyways, at least it taught me today’s moral lesson:
Life may not be like the movies, but sometimes it really ought to be.