The union, the college, the Premier, and me.

If you know me you know I have an endearing/annoying tendency to talk about whatever is most important to me at any given moment. I like to think of it as open source/collaborative/social networking kinda vibe. I don’t tend to write or blog about the fluff in my life.

Right now, there is no fluff at all, it’s all pretty serious.

At the risk of Doocing myself or angering my union brothers and sisters, I am going to write about the current likelihood of a strike at NSCC, and my views about it.

You know, it has been a real struggle to write anything at all. It is hard not to either sound like a self centred jerk. Or piss people off who you respect and support. Or talk yourself out a job…. And yet, here we are, I am almost for sure going to be on strike Tuesday next week.

I have a picket sign in the back seat of my car, for god sake. A picket sign!

As I tweeted the other day, I am equally frustrated with the union, the NSCC, and the government.

First up, I am not loving my union. The NSTU so far has not been really impressive, focusing on the public sector pattern and the implications for the rest of the public service.

The NSTU has their guns focused firmly on the Province. They are sitting on the same side of the table as the College, looking at government to hand over the money. The NSTU keeps referring to us as “public servants.”

This drives us college instructors crazy. CRAZY.

Now is not the time to dissect the NSTU, their motivations, their actions on our behalf. I voted to strike, for the record. I support the local, though my support is more nuanced than they might like.

Secondly, I am frustrated with the College. We are negotiating with a Board and senior management that either did not plan appropriately, or failed to make the political case for adequate funding to government, all the while planning expansions and launching new projects.

We are college instructors, we work for NSCC. Joan MacArthur-Blair is my boss, not Darrell Dexter.

I have gotten emails from my President telling me they don’t have the money, and the operating budget has already been cut.

What I would like more information on is what concrete austerity measures the college is taking in areas aside from salary. What steps are being taken to cut expenses around travel, around PD, around catering, around managerial compensation?

I know I don’t know and I don’t think other staff know how the cuts in the operating budget are impacting the college and where the college has cut to adjust to the new economic reality.

Right now, the raw numbers show our provincial grant has increased by 10.6% since 2007. Most staff, myself included, do not understand how that money is spent and how it is constrained by program commitments to the province.

I have asked for more information on how the college is adapting and what else is being delayed, downsized or cut entirely, but I have not received anything concrete from college leadership.

It would be nice to know what is really going on, that staff are not the only people and budget line being asked to sacrifice.

Finally, as an unreconstructed supporter of the election of Darrell Dexter’s NDP government, I am pretty frustrated with my friends in government and cabinet.

Mr. Premier, I know you want to break the pattern, and I elected you to do that. We need to balance the budget, and this is more important than a raise for me, or any pet project. We are too far in debt as it is. The future of the province, my children, and my public sector pension depend on you balancing the books.

There is no way the public sector is getting more than 1% in 2010/11 and I applaud you for it.

That being said, Brother Darrell, you know damn well that we are not asking for 2.9% for next year, we are asking it for the current year. You got 2.9% this year, 2009, and so should I.

I accept that our pay year starts in August, yours in January, and I believe the public sector starts in April. So it is a bit of comparing apples and oranges. But, my friend, if you play with the math, we should get 1.9-2.2 percent this year, to be fair, given everyone else already got their raise.

What if you turn the tables on the NSTU? Say this “Folks, I can give you 2.9% in 08, 2% in 09, and 1% in 10.” Make Joan and NSCC pay half of the 1% new offer. Establish the pattern for 2010 today. The NSTU staff won’t want to take this, but the college staff sure as heck will.

My conclusions?

The NSTU will fight for 2.9%, to the death, and then the other unions will claim that the pattern for 2010/11 is 2.9%.

The Province sees this, and will fight to the death to keep us to 1%.

The NSCC senior management will not cut anything to pay for another 1%, and they will blame the province. Meanwhile, we will lose students, credibility, and morale.

The college staff will be on strike a long time, ostensibly for our legitimate need for a comparable raise to everyone else, but really because we are not important like public teachers and health care workers, while labour and government are happy to fight their proxy war through us little guys.

There are no winners here… though clearly, my poor students will be the losers if this drags on more than a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, I really think we will be on strike until the snow falls.

  • Jordan Landry

    Well said my colleague…. well said.

    Thank you!

  • Jordan Landry

    Well said my colleague…. well said.

    Thank you!

  • Thank you for this. Speaking as an NSCC student I have to say that this is the highest quality information I’ve seen regarding this issue to date.

    It’s not heavily censored minimalistic information released by NSCC admin in a failed attempt to appease frustrated students. It’s not poor media coverage that barely touches on the issue.

    Speaking as a fellow blogger I feel it’s important to get opinions like this out there. They’re the only sources of information I see on a daily basis that I actually consider genuine.

    I hope things are resolved, but like you I expect to not be attending classes next week. If that happens, I hope you and your fellow NSTU members are able to get a fair resolution to this issue with a minimal amount of delay and loss of income in the interim.

    Also, would it be OK if I linked to this article in my own blog? Either way, thanks for posting it.

  • Thank you for this. Speaking as an NSCC student I have to say that this is the highest quality information I’ve seen regarding this issue to date.

    It’s not heavily censored minimalistic information released by NSCC admin in a failed attempt to appease frustrated students. It’s not poor media coverage that barely touches on the issue.

    Speaking as a fellow blogger I feel it’s important to get opinions like this out there. They’re the only sources of information I see on a daily basis that I actually consider genuine.

    I hope things are resolved, but like you I expect to not be attending classes next week. If that happens, I hope you and your fellow NSTU members are able to get a fair resolution to this issue with a minimal amount of delay and loss of income in the interim.

    Also, would it be OK if I linked to this article in my own blog? Either way, thanks for posting it.

  • Yes please do share this around Eric. I still hope for a last minute settlement. I think Dexter’s people will hail mary and offer 1.5-2.2% on Monday night at 11pm, and we will at least delay the strike.

  • Yes please do share this around Eric. I still hope for a last minute settlement. I think Dexter’s people will hail mary and offer 1.5-2.2% on Monday night at 11pm, and we will at least delay the strike.

  • If you went, I hope the rally this evening went well. At the very least, I hope it wasn’t overly cold.

  • If you went, I hope the rally this evening went well. At the very least, I hope it wasn’t overly cold.

  • I didn’t go, unfortunately our labour action is happening in the middle of the Halifax Pop Explosion, and I have significant professional commitments there that cannot wait… shows start Tuesday, same day we go on strike. I have told our picket captain I will do double shifts the week after if that is what it comes down to… 🙂

  • I didn’t go, unfortunately our labour action is happening in the middle of the Halifax Pop Explosion, and I have significant professional commitments there that cannot wait… shows start Tuesday, same day we go on strike. I have told our picket captain I will do double shifts the week after if that is what it comes down to… 🙂

  • A

    This should be an Op-Ed in the Herald.

    Just wondering, has the Board / NSCC senior management opened their books to the Union? I’m sure the raise could be found if they were more fiscally responsible in other areas. Has the province’s auditor taken a look at how NSCC spends the money the province gives them?

  • A

    This should be an Op-Ed in the Herald.

    Just wondering, has the Board / NSCC senior management opened their books to the Union? I’m sure the raise could be found if they were more fiscally responsible in other areas. Has the province’s auditor taken a look at how NSCC spends the money the province gives them?

  • Barb MacDonald

    Waye – I want to commend you on verbalizing what everyone is thinking – in a much more eloquent way than I could ever have. This is my first experience with strike action except as a Student at TUNS – our professors went on strike and as a student – it was horrible.
    I don’t want this strike even though I voted yes – I voted for a mandate that the NSTU insisted we needed to make a point. Point has been made and we are still heading for a strike.

    Personally I would be happy with whatever I get at this point – My involvement in a union is involuntary and I am happy to have a job that I love and students that are eager to learn. Our 2 year programs do not allow for any elimination of outcomes – everything we teach is important. I hope it doesn’t last long.

    Lastly I think your question on where the fiscal restraint is occuring within our college is valid – I look around and I don’t see it. I see many areas where it could happen. There was a time when our programs had a yearly budget and we knew what that was so that we could live within it – the past few years – this information has been kept from us and I am not sure why.

    Good luck next week with the Pop Explosion – hopefully it will be settled before we see you on the picket line.

    Barb

  • Barb MacDonald

    Waye – I want to commend you on verbalizing what everyone is thinking – in a much more eloquent way than I could ever have. This is my first experience with strike action except as a Student at TUNS – our professors went on strike and as a student – it was horrible.
    I don’t want this strike even though I voted yes – I voted for a mandate that the NSTU insisted we needed to make a point. Point has been made and we are still heading for a strike.

    Personally I would be happy with whatever I get at this point – My involvement in a union is involuntary and I am happy to have a job that I love and students that are eager to learn. Our 2 year programs do not allow for any elimination of outcomes – everything we teach is important. I hope it doesn’t last long.

    Lastly I think your question on where the fiscal restraint is occuring within our college is valid – I look around and I don’t see it. I see many areas where it could happen. There was a time when our programs had a yearly budget and we knew what that was so that we could live within it – the past few years – this information has been kept from us and I am not sure why.

    Good luck next week with the Pop Explosion – hopefully it will be settled before we see you on the picket line.

    Barb

  • George Sureete

    I applaud and agree with everything you said. You should have been over at the IT Campus and watched how staffing levels have gone up in the last few years. Is it Faculty? Admins? Custodial? No!
    It’s people to help launch Joan’s legacy project, Strengths. Since NSCC started on this how much money do you think has been spent? I guarantee you enough to cover raises. It’s all about her becoming one of Canada’s top 50 CEOS.
    Try finding out how and where NSCC spends its money, you can’t.

  • George Sureete

    I applaud and agree with everything you said. You should have been over at the IT Campus and watched how staffing levels have gone up in the last few years. Is it Faculty? Admins? Custodial? No!
    It’s people to help launch Joan’s legacy project, Strengths. Since NSCC started on this how much money do you think has been spent? I guarantee you enough to cover raises. It’s all about her becoming one of Canada’s top 50 CEOS.
    Try finding out how and where NSCC spends its money, you can’t.

  • Julian Gibbs

    Very well said. I too worked for the College for a brief time and can say nothing but good things about the instructor. I must add my 2 cents however. I have been self employed and now own my own company for many years now and although I earn more because I have more work – my actual rate of pay has stayed the same for 15 years. No pay increase.

    Before going on strike someone at the Union may want to do the math – If you earn $60,000 before taxes then the extra 1% you may be lucky to get – over say a 4 year contract – would be $2400 (BEFORE TAX). That’s less than 2 weeks pay. Go on strike for a month – and it will be at least a month – and you have lost twice the gain.

    Just sayin’

  • Julian Gibbs

    Very well said. I too worked for the College for a brief time and can say nothing but good things about the instructor. I must add my 2 cents however. I have been self employed and now own my own company for many years now and although I earn more because I have more work – my actual rate of pay has stayed the same for 15 years. No pay increase.

    Before going on strike someone at the Union may want to do the math – If you earn $60,000 before taxes then the extra 1% you may be lucky to get – over say a 4 year contract – would be $2400 (BEFORE TAX). That’s less than 2 weeks pay. Go on strike for a month – and it will be at least a month – and you have lost twice the gain.

    Just sayin’

  • Lana McGlinchey

    As an NSCC student, I want to thank you for the more concrete information offered in this post.

  • Lana McGlinchey

    As an NSCC student, I want to thank you for the more concrete information offered in this post.

  • @Julian Gibbs

    The impression I’ve gotten from faculty throughout this ordeal is that it’s not actually about the money, it’s about the fact that they perceive themselves as in the process of receiving the short end of the stick. It’s about principle.

    Anyway, my heart goes out to the 10% who voted no for a strike, and the portion of the 90% who voted yes because they felt pressured to.

    All in all… I don’t see anyone actually “winning” this dispute. It’s unfortunate.

  • @Julian Gibbs

    The impression I’ve gotten from faculty throughout this ordeal is that it’s not actually about the money, it’s about the fact that they perceive themselves as in the process of receiving the short end of the stick. It’s about principle.

    Anyway, my heart goes out to the 10% who voted no for a strike, and the portion of the 90% who voted yes because they felt pressured to.

    All in all… I don’t see anyone actually “winning” this dispute. It’s unfortunate.

  • Well put Waye!

  • Well put Waye!

  • Rob Kennedy

    Thanks for the clarifying some of the issues at stake here Wayne. Unfortunately I came across your blog a bit late in this labour dispute however, it is nice to see that there are voices of reason trying to cut through all the BS from the college, provincial government and union reps.
    Regards

  • Rob Kennedy

    Thanks for the clarifying some of the issues at stake here Wayne. Unfortunately I came across your blog a bit late in this labour dispute however, it is nice to see that there are voices of reason trying to cut through all the BS from the college, provincial government and union reps.
    Regards

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