Monday, February 20, 2017
Last updated: 1 year ago

Letter: Why we will cross picket lines

Re: Letter: Why I won’t cross picket lines

Dear Editor,

In response to Maddie Gorman’s letter stating her refusal to cross CUPE 116′s picket lines (“Why I won’t cross picket lines,” Oct. 5), we now offer an alternative explanation of why we will cross them.

Picket lines are an unwelcome consequence of employee-employer disputes that should be limited to the negotiating table. As such, the disputes should not spill over into the public realm because of an active and vocal fraction of union members. Denying services to students, who are not a party in this conflict, does very little to endear their cause to the silent majority on campus who are annoyed and inconvenienced by such disturbances.

Most importantly, UBC students are here for an education. We should not abuse the immense commitments, financial or otherwise, that we, our parents and taxpayers have invested in higher education for the sake of making statements.

We will not be looking out for “alternative entrances” to picketed buildings. We will be crossing the lines, and we encourage fellow students to respect their professors and put the pursuit of knowledge first.

Rafael Fuentes and Jason Salim
Arts 2

  • pw

    I cross picket lines for the same reason I hang up on telemarketers.

    • Guest

      you’re rude and thoughtless?

      • pw

        They’re a nuisance and social constructs of what is and isn’t polite don’t concern me when I have to get to class.

        • S

          …so you’re rude, thoughtless, AND have little disregard for the plight of others.

  • Maskawisewin

    Have you ever worked a real job in your life? You’ve been played like a pawn by UBC to fight the strike for them and you’re playing right into your role beautifully. You are not on the side of workers, you are on the side of corporations and government. It’s naive but what else can you expect from teenagers. I am not one of the striking workers. I am a student just like you– except with a few years working under my belt.

    • guest

      How laughable your statement is. Let me ask you one thing: Have you ever worked a REAL job in your life? If you do, you would have realized how hard it is to earn enough money to pay off your tuition in UBC. And to think of the very fact that you would rather not attend your class which you’ve paid with your hard-earned money is disheartening. Why attend university when learning is not your priority? You are much better off donating your tuition fee to those who couldn’t afford education. It’s indeed funny how you view the world in an exact symmetry, where there’s only two opposite stands available. Given your “few years of working under [your] belt”, I thought you would have matured enough to realized that we students do not want to be on either sides. After all, we do not pay our tuition fee just so we can join/cross the picket line. We pay our tuition fee for knowledge and a promising future,

      • Maskawisewin

        Yeah I’m in my 30′s so I know a bit or two about life. I’ve worked for a national broadcaster for 5 years as a graphics designer. I’ve managed sales teams of up to 18 people. I was a security manager at Thunderbird Arena during the Olympics. I’ve been in 3 unions and in a couple of jobs without unions and let me tell you. When you weigh all the evidence– unions are a GOOD THING kiddo.

        • guest

          Learn to read, Mr. 30s. Have I ever mentioned that unions are not a good thing? You mentioned that ”
          You are not on the side of workers, you are on the side of corporations and government “. I simply point out that students often do not want to be on either sides. Calm yourself. There’s no point in telling us what your working experiences are. I am sure you are an amazing person with impeccable work ethics. But to accuse students of being “naive kiddo” simply because they choose to attend the classes they paid for is pretty ignorant, don’t you think so?

          • Maskawisewin

            It’s ignorant to think that you’re more important than the workers when you’ve been given an exit. You could have emailed your Dean and avoided any conflict. A simple email that would abolish you of any responsibility on the matter should a conflict arise. That email did not have to be in support of striking union workers– it could have been to just avoid a conflict. You certainly don’t claim to not support unions, but you certainly aren’t friendly towards the notion either.

          • anonymous

            Fact is, I WANT to go to my classes. I don’t really care about what’s going on between UBC and CUPE. I’m not saying either is right or wrong. I have NO say in the decision making about the matter at hand. I’m not on either side. By stopping me from going about my daily basis, from stopping me going to my lectures that I’ve paid for with my hard earned money, affecting my education, actually does no good. In fact, it probably makes me feel some very slight hostility towards those on strike.

          • Zoe

            You do have a say. And you’re saying “screw the union, I’m going to class.”

            (Also, your hard-earned money, huh? You realize that your tuition pays maybe 10% of the cost of your education, right?)

            They’re stopping you from going about your “daily basis” [sic] because the services you’re enjoying are being unfairly subsidized by the workers themselves, in the form of 0% wage increases for the past three years. And the workers can’t afford to watch their hard-earned money be gobbled up by inflation and the rising cost of living. So how about thinking about somebody other than yourself?

          • Colleen Garbe

            In our efforts to achieve a Fair Collective Agreement that does not put more than 50% of our membership at risk of being contracted-out and includes inflatin protection, we have been very careful not to affect Students ability to attend thier classes! Many of our members are Students that struggle to afford University all we are asking for is Job Secruity and to be able to keep up with the cost of living! We are not going to apologize for that! Senior Administration at the University recieve good wage increases in good and bad Economic times! Why are they never mentioned when frustation over strikes occur? You know a supported strike is a short strike please respect our needs as we respect the needs of Students…..

        • anon

          Big woop and slow clap.

          • anon

            It’s obviously hard to pick up on tone on the internet, so I’ll just say I was being sarcastic.

  • ES

    While UBC is a place of higher learning, it is also one of the province’s largest employers. When those people are trying to strike a deal that essentially makes up for inflation, think about the fact that while you pay for your education at UBC, they are providing you an additional service by offering food/cleaning the sidewalks/managing the buildings/etc. It’s not like you are directly funding the Starbucks in the SUB with your tuition dollars.

    Also, don’t forget – both TA’s and professors are union members. I’d bet that many of them wouldn’t cross a picket line if they surrounded the Buchanan building.

    • QC

      Make sure you go through the list of services UBC’s charging each student, you would be surprised, very surprised. Besides, are you sure you know what you’re talking about when you said “funding the Starbucks in the SUB with your tuition dollars”. Uh… what?

    • Montrelais

      Professors aren’t in a union, they’re in a professional affiliation. As such, they have an agreement, not a contract. They are also under no directive to honour picket lines. In fact, having reviewed their CBA and their bylaws (however cursory), I can’t find anything addressing picket lines.

      The union environment at UBC is extremely complex. Much of the disagreement is about contract language, and it can be very easy to misunderstand the real issue at hand, or the obligations of other affiliations/unions on campus.

      • MT

        Just to correct this — professors (instructors and lecturers too) ARE in a union called the Faculty Association. They are too without a contract right now. Their contract, like the contracts of CUPE members is called a Collective Agreement…but it’s still a contract.

        Ask anyone in the HR office that deals with Faculty (Faculty Relations) and they will confirm this for you.

  • Jordan

    Going around to a side entrance not being picketed is one thing. Crossing a picket line if all the main entrances are blocked is another. Few people should fault a student just trying to get to the classes in which they have much invested (both time and money). But seeking out a picket line to cross if and when such non-picketed entrances exist is something altogether different.

    One should understand that to deliberately cross a picket line when and if obvious alternatives exist is a gesture meaning “I do not respect this job action.” If you really feel this way – and the authors of this letter seem to – then you have every right to express this. But remember that you’re effectively giving the middle finger to the workers on that picket line. As is your right, of course.

    • Al Bumen

      Why is it that should someone respect the Union’s job action but not respect the University’s right to conduct it’s business. It goes both ways!

      • S

        Because the university, as an institution, is not the side fighting for fair wage increases in one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in.

    • B

      Moot point, we always picket all entrances.

  • scuba steve

    This letter smacks of privilege. It must be nice to have parents who are well off enough to help you pay your way through your education. The rest of us have to work union jobs to pay our way through ours.

    Furthermore, if you have ever enjoyed the privilege of an 8 hour work day, a paid holiday, medical or dental benefits through you or your parents work, or workers injury compensation, you can thank the trade union movement.

    You can cross picket lines all you want, but you’re still a privileged tool if you do.

    • NP

      Then can’t you just work somewhere else instead of the university where their main purpose is providing education to the students instead of granting your every needs? You do realize that if the university do raise your pay, you will still end up paying a higher tuition fee in order to pay for your job along with many others. Where in the world do the university get their money to pay your salary from? The money tree? No, its from the students’ tuition. It’s not that the students do not respect the union, its more like we don’t want your actions to cost our well-being which means if we will cross the picket line so that we won’t miss our lecture then so be it because you should always remember where the money you feed yourself with came from.

      • NP

        And one more if us students want to eat at the SUB and in order to do that we need to cross the picket lines then we should be able to. After all the university is made for the students not for the workers. If you have a problem with students crossing the picket line that you might as well change jobs because to work in the university you should know that it only exists because of the students.

        • Zoe

          “After all the university is made for the students not for the workers.”

          Please, enjoy being a student here without any of them. Be my guest.

        • Guest

          The University of British Columbia only exists because workers were willing to strike to convince the government to allocate resources to build it.

          True story.

      • Seriously?

        You know that tuition has been increasing by 2% every year for a while now, right? And that wages for Union members has not been increasing? And that remuneration for those earning 75k+ on campus has been increasing by just under 3%?

        No lecture halls have been picketed. If you want to channel your concerns about your well-being somewhere productive, you shouldn’t be looking at CUPE 116 members.

        • Richard Engelhardt

          You aren’t suggesting that the government is offloading the cost of education onto students, or that incentives for managers are increasing while incentives for workers are stagnant under net-zero are you?

      • Guest

        Recent history has shown that when TAs lose strikes, tuition goes up. And when tuition goes up while, TA pay goes down. There are positive correlations between tuition hikes and pay hikes for administrators, and tuition hikes and the number of administrators rises. I wouldn’t want to guess which is the independent variable.

        • The Other Guest

          Correlation ≠ causation. Don’t go throwing around random statistics unless you can show everyone where you get your data.

  • FS

    Hey Rafael and Jason, I hope you read this article. Clearly CUPE 116 doesn’t want to inconvenience students. Do you feel silly writing this now?

    It seems ridiculous to me that students are making a huge deal about this job action when they aren’t even being affected. Think about other CUPE workers (i.e. 2950) who are not allowed to cross the picket lines and are actually taking a pay hit because of it.

    • Anonymous

      @df277e112ec5c4ef3a958ca6e3760f95:disqus They just closed the bookstore for all but 2 hours today.. It’s not really a disturbance, is it? I mean, all the bookstore does is

      1) selling books and supplies
      2) holding the Carding Office
      3) issuing U-Passes.

      Think first before you say anything. It seems ridiculous to me that students are not making a big deal about it when you consider its OUR university.

      • Guest

        If you ask me, it’s not that big a deal that the bookstore was closed for most of the day. Most of us have our textbooks, student cards, and uPasses at this point. If this was early September or the end of the month maybe it might be more of an inconvenience.

        Hopefully I can try and explain more of what FS was saying. CUPE 2950 members, like students, have nothing to do with the dispute between 116 and the university. But, unlike you, they don’t have a choice when it comes to crossing picket lines — they’re not allowed to cross them.

        The 2950 members in the picketed buildings include parents of students and recent UBC grads. The admin building that has been targeted for days now includes essential services like payroll. They want to go back to work but are not permitted to, and are getting slightly over half their pay to compensate for it. They pay for mortgages, rent, student loans repayments, tuition, childcare, groceries…all sorts of things. And it’s kind of unfair that some students are crying foul over a closed bookstore when other people are getting hit much harder by this strike.

        Oh, and yes you’d expect that as students this is OUR university, but the truth is that it isn’t, and hasn’t been for a long time. Aside from Student Development and some amazing profs, there are few people out there on campus that actually put us students first. This place is more focused on research than it is on student learning.

  • anon

    The solution to this problem: Fire the CUPE workers and hire students instead.

    • astudent

      Yes, because I’m sure that tons of students are qualified/want to work as plumbers/maintenance/cleaning people.

    • Guest

      Great idea! You’re hired. Which would you rather teach tomorrow? APBI 440 (Plant Genomics) or HEBR 305 (Elementary Hebrew)? Perhaps PHYS 312 (Introduction to Mathematical Physics) or POLI 321 (Chinese Politics and Development) are more your speed?

      No? Well, uh, I guess you could replace the 600V switch that just blew out near Totem Park. Try not to kill yourself.

  • Fred

    I’m crossing the damn picket line so I don’t have to do a job that’s part of CUPE 116.

    • Guest

      That’s a shame, man. We were all so sure that you’d be the one to cure cancer.

  • Guest

    Supply and demand. If you’re not happy with your pay, and can’t get a raise, quit, find something better.

    • Guest

      Supply and demand. If you’re not happy with your workers and aren’t willing to negotiate their terms of employment, fire them all and find someone cheaper.

  • hotsoup

    A little tip for the kids. Unions used to be called “illegal combinations for the raising of wages.” A picket line is nothing more than a military obstruction of a building. It should be dealt with as terrorist activity. The clear goal is to terrorize and intimidate people into supporting the union—remember, back in the day (and even more recently) union members would violently attack “scabs”, slash tires, etc. etc.

    Unions = Gangs. Do you support Gang Warfare in Canada, even if it helps the poor widdle workers?