Firstly, the party went very well.
In the CD player: Help some charity album that some relative bought for me. Haven’t listened to it in ages, thought I’d give it a go. It’s various artists (all English I believe).
I was at the union meeting last night. I was so angry at the end that I probably spent a total of two hours ranting to four different people about it on the phone. I don’t really talk on the phone.
To begin the meeting, I was annoyed that our local had spent only 11 hours in conciliation. However, I was satisfied with their explanation. I do not support the initial bargaining position of the union, however, they made serious concessions in conciliation – some of which certain members of the bargaining committee seemed to be upset about…always a good sign when you offend the extremists. They seemed to be approaching a position I could actually support. They claim the University offered lockers for undergrad TAs in return of their concessions. So, whether you agree with the union’s position or not, after 11 hours that’s a slap in the face. I can understand why they would be mad. Yet they were actually fairly calm for the first part.
As the explanations continued and as the floor openned up for questions, things went downhill…fast. The bargaining head, a man who is a lifelong union guy (not a TA), started to call people “Brother.” They went on and on about how they’re democratically consulting us while claiming the University makes a decision and forces everyone to accept it. Well, my local does that to. They just don’t admit to it. This guy continues to claim that the Liberal government is “not my government.” Not only is this shooting himself in the foot, but if he can reject the reasonably democratic process that he has tacitly consented to at the provincial level, then surely I can reject the somewhat democratic process that I have tacitly consented to within the union when I accepted my job offer from the University. Anytime someone makes a comment that is inquiring into the bargaining team’s practices, and this is interpreted as a criticisms, three to four people rush to respond, and do respond, in turn. That is to say, they gang up. Their explanations and defenses are full of offhand remarks about conditions being better at other universities and for other unions at this university. They disguise everything they say with rhetoric, like they abandoned the wage parity issue (something I think is silly to ask for anyway) but claimed to us that they had merely modified…essentially modifying = abandoning in their vocabulary. Never are the any facts. Why? Apparently that would jeopardize the negotiation process. Sounds like “national security” issues transposed to the sublocal level. It’s in the interest of your union, and therefore you for us to keep secrets from you (and make false claims…and lie). There were a number of other things that made my level of annoyance / anger rise, rise rise. One after another it gets hard to calm yourself down – especially with nobody else you know at the meeting to whisper to and have them whisper reasonable things back.
By the way, I wish I brought my digital recorder (and I will for the next meeting) so I could accurately reproduce everything that happened.
It got worse with CUPE National rep – I don’t remember her name…alas I did not have a pen. She was somewhat like a cheerleader. (Not my word…thanks Dom…but very appropriate anyway.) She was talking about strike aversion (“you have to prepare for a strike to prevent a strike”) but she was so gungho about it that it was a total turnoff. She was all smiles. I know why she has the job that she has. She probably motivates people. She certainly seemed to motivate some of the people there (and theses are intelligent people…they have BAs and MAs, what the fuck is wrong with us? Crowd behaviour is interesting…). She kept getting people to put their hands up in support of “solidarity.” It was ridiculous. I may not have realistic explanations but I want my union to be solemn when they tell us about the near inevitability of a strike, I don’t want to feel like I’m at a pep rally. She was just bizarre. She also talked about extremely insignificant media coverage (K-Lite FM…).
The crowning achievement of the evening came when somebody much braver than I asked a question about scabs. Phillipa, our president, said there were grave consequences but did not elaborate, aside from saying the union can’t sue you. The mood of the room was such that the guy who asked the question then said “I’m not planning on crossing, I SWEAR TO GOD.” I’m serious, he was so intimidated he virtually yelled the last bit. Now I have no intentions, at this point, of scabbing, but I respect other people’s decisions. The CUPE National rep then said something to the effect of “They [scabs] will be tried. I will put them on trial.” Pardon my outrage but,
OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don’t know about what country these union assholes are living in, but I live in a country that has Human fucking Rights. I should have said something. And one of the reasons I’m mad is that I didn’t say anything. I just walked out. That’s all I could do. I should have stood up and said, “That is a threat and it should not be tolerated. If any of you care about having the freedom to make up your own minds about this strike, you should leave right now” or something like that, hopefully more eloquent. But I didn’t say anything. I just left. I was sooooooooooo angry. I still am, to some degree. I know unions threaten people in movies but seriously…And now I think, what if the issue were more serious? I would probably do the same thing. I have confirmed my own cowardice. This is startling and scary since I knew, intellectually, that I would probably not stand up to this kind of intimidation, but now I know emotionally. It’s humbling, to say the least.
As for these trials, I’ve talked to a few people (and I will talk to a labour studies prof tonight) about any possible consequences and there seems to be none. That is to say, if they can have trials, they would be show trials. They would be for the sole purpose of humiliating a member, and that would be if the member could somehow be convinced to show up. Despicable. I should have walked up to her and spit in her face.
By the way, the reason why I get really annoyed by self-righteous people probably has something to do with how self-righteous I can get sometimes. We don’t like to see our faults reflected in others.