Dear Members

It has been another eventful week, hasn’t it?

AASUA in the News

On Thursday, I and other AASUA representatives were honoured to be included in the rally organized by the Students' Union. In this rally, the students called on our provincial government to get out of the way of students’ education, to refrain from further unnecessary and ill-considered cuts. I spoke to both CBC and CTV about the effect these cuts have already had on staff and students at our university, as well as the spectre of the government’s secret mandate and how it may be hampering our ability to reach a deal in bargaining. You can read the CBC article here. The CTV article, including a video report, is here.

Bargaining Update

At Mount Royal, the mediated deal has been ratified by members (read the news report here).  This is an encouraging example of a publicly-funded university employer bargaining with true willingness to reach a fair deal, and without being prevented from that by overreach from the provincial government. Our bargaining team had its first mediation session on Friday (February 18), and a second session is scheduled for this coming Friday (February 25). If our employer follows the example set at Mount Royal, we and our students may be able to emerge from Reading Week free from this burden of uncertainty. The alternative is to follow the example of the Lethbridge employer, which continues to block progress in bargaining and to alienate students and academics alike.

I can’t yet say that the road is clear ahead. Unfortunately, students are caught in the middle of this situation. I know that some in administration have warned members away from having conversations with their students about the situation in bargaining, on the grounds that instructor/student and supervisor/student power dynamics can make these conversations tricky. Remember that the power dynamic between administration and students is no less acute, yet they have not avoided such communication. Unlike them, I trust the judgement of the academics at this institution. I know that you care for the students you interact with, and will approach any such discussion with respect and dignity. If you would like suggestions about how to approach this conversation, please see the resources that we have posted on our website ("How to talk to students about a strike" here).

New Resources for Students

Last week, the employer posted an FAQ for students on its website. To ensure students have access to information coming from both parties engaged in bargaining, the AASUA has released the above-linked information for students ("How to talk to students about a strike" here). In addition, the AASUA has updated and expanded our FAQ for graduate-student workers ("FAQ's for Graduate-Student Workers" here). We would like to encourage members who supervise graduate-student workers to familiarize themselves with this FAQ, so that they can best support their graduate students. We will continue to update these resources as the situation evolves.

I wish you all a good reading week, and hope to have good news to share with you by next week!

Tim Mills

AASUA President