I pay fees to the University of Manitoba to learn and receive an education. A portion of those fees are redirected to UMSU, to cover the costs of services, events, and representation. Students expect UMSU council to make decisions in their best interest.
So, imagine my dismay when I learned that council voted in favour of supporting UMFA on the issues of salary, childcare, workload protections, and job security (UMSU adopts new motion supporting faculty,” Nov. 11, 2016). On a basic level, I agree that everyone should be paid equitably and have sufficient benefits to guarantee a certain quality of lifestyle. As well, I recognize that UMFA is within their rights to strike and that its members are concerned about the aforementioned issues – rightfully so. I also recognize that contract negotiations are not an easy thing for either side, especially in such a public setting.
However, I take issue when both UMFA and the administration tell students that we are their top priority but have failed to reach an agreement. If students were really the priority, the contract issues would have been worked out in the summer so as not to affect classes. Beyond that, it pisses me off when the group that is supposed to represent me votes in favour of allowing one side to use students as a bargaining chip to expedite the process.
I am not paying to be used. My relationship with the university is an exchange of cash for a service; I pay for an education that I can use one day to build a career of my own. In paying to attend the U of M, I did not consent to be used to influence labour negotiations between two divorcing parents who only want to keep the kids so they get paid child support.
It’s not appropriate for UMSU to involve themselves in a labour dispute between employer and employees by telling one side that the organization supports them over the other. Support who you want on your own time, but dragging 25,676 undergraduate students into labour negotiations is not an appropriate way to represent the student body.