Friday, January 9, 2009

Student paper laments student support of union

Some students have vocally supported ATU 279's fight against the City, but not all students agree. In this week's edition of the Fulcrum, a student newspaper at the University of Ottawa, the editorial board voiced its displeasure with that school's student union.
With its decision to support striking OC Transpo workers, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) has seemingly abandoned its mandate to represent students’ needs and protect their rights. The SFUO’s support of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 (ATU) on the premise that unions should stand together is absolutely indefensible, given that the transit strike—which has been on since Dec. 10—has affected thousands of students, cutting off their primary method of transportation to campus and around the city.
As far as Public Transit in Ottawa knows, the SFUO has taken no official stance on the strike, though it has certainly, in an informal fashion, supported the union.

In a news story published in the same issue, Haldenby appeared to support the union and then backtrack towards the end of the quotation:
“Ultimately, we want to see an agreement [between both sides]. However, we are a union and we do support the transit union,” he said. “We see the way that the City of Ottawa has treated us and it wouldn’t be highly unlikely that this is the same type of manner that they’re treating the ATU members, so ultimately, we want to see an agreement come out of it, but we want to make sure that it’s the right thing for everyone involved.”
Meanwhile, the Fulcrum's editorial draws a parallel with the SFUO's fight for a universal bus pass:
...the SFUO’s support for OC Transpo drivers is little more than a retaliatory attack against the City of Ottawa’s defeat of the U-Pass proposal. Haldenby’s statement that “we see the way that the City of Ottawa has treated us, and it wouldn’t be highly unlikely that this is the same manner that they’re treating the ATU” is more reminiscent of a targeted response to a personal slight than a facts-based assessment of the situation.
Full disclosure: Both primary contributors to this blog serve on the Fulcrum's board of directors, although neither has direct or indirect input into the editorial content of the publication.


Anonymous said...

What a shame!

Anonymous said...

Also see the related blog: blog from 17th December about SFUO's "Grinch" postcards. That campaign took O'Brien to task, but left the union alone.

Anonymous said...

I want my money back, SFUO.

And I want you out.

Anonymous said...

Student union != labour union.

The SFUO is there to represent the interests of students. If they fail to do so, they are not doing their jobs. The interests of the students, in this case, are fighting against the strike, not taking a side in it.

I was a U of O student during the last OCT strike.

Well, at least this isn't THE most boneheaded student union move in Ottawa this school year. The Carleton Shinerama Scandal saw to that. And the Carleton Student Union should be thanking its lucky stars that the ATU and the transit strike are now the target of public anger and attention, otherwise the city might still be buzzing about that.

Anonymous said...

Shinerama was a scandal, no question.

HOWEVER, it the CSU didn't actively promote an agenda/impasse that directly jeopardized its membership's welfare in the way the SFUO seems all too willing to.

Anonymous said...

At a time when many people would do almost anything for a job, I find it deplorable that the drivers want more. I would give my right arm to have their job. I am sure that if a job ad were palced in all the major papers in Canada to replace these striking workers, their seat would be filled within weeks. If I were the guy in charge, I would end the strike in one day. "report for work tomorrow, or you're fired" I would guess 40% would return. The other 60% can get a bus driver job somewhere else and earn $10.00 per hour with NO benifits.