Thursday, September 25, 2008

i won't cross the picket line anymore

the strike is now three weeks old. maybe it’s time to take sides. crossing the line is taking a side. i've heard from both sides, and i'm with the students on this. i will no longer cross that line.

yeah, we got word that 'the union' agreed to let us cross and yeah, many of us have. a few of us have even mentioned the strike on air, and some have covered it in depth. but don't you feel a bit creepy crossing that line? i sure did. i realize the importance of alternative media, especially with elections approaching and a corporate media that won’t even mention the name ‘denise savoie.’ but i don’t consider what i’m doing an essential service - i consider it rather hypocritical in light of what’s going on outside the building.

i mean, there they are, students and former students and managers, parents and grandparents some, on strike because the student union can't decide how to live up to their own philosophy of fairness and equity.

it's not that i'm not a big fan of the steelworkers' union. many years ago, when i was fired because i refused to put toothpicks in sandwiches or napkins under plates (i still don't see the point of destroying forests for such purposes), i tried to file a grievance and the union wouldn't back me up. i wondered why i'd paid all those union dues when they wouldn't even talk to me about how the uvss has a written policy of environmental sustainability and yet here we were sticking tiny bits of ancient forest into pieces of bread and is that really reason to let me go. i got a photo and story from the martlet, but i got nothing from the union.

i'm not refusing to cross the line to show solidarity with the union, i'm refusing to cross the line to show solidarity with the people who work in the building. some of the same people i worked with almost a decade ago are still working there today. and i'm on their team. the toothpick incident is far behind us. (in retrospect it was a blessing - it was time for me to move on. i'd graduated, i only had a few weeks of eligible employment left anyways, i was clinging to the last remnant of a wonderful life of academia and, at that time, a very fair wage in a very friendly working environment.) i was proud to be part of the sub team - we were serving good, healthy food, we weren't using too many disposable products, our managers brad and phil were responsive to requests to find organic and local food, fair trade coffee, vegan friendly items.

the sub has been through a few good scandals over recent years. remember the guy who ran off with a bunch of money? the bartender who was ripping off felicitas? well the people working in the sub agreed not to take raises these past few years so that the uvss could get the resulting debts paid off. the debts are paid, and now the students want their share of the bargain.

there's good management within the student union building. up until the strike, i could still go to the international grille and buy harbans' wonderful dahl for the same price of $4.95 that i paid when i was a student eight years ago - and that was when rents were available at $325 a month and tuition was about 100% lower than it is now. somehow brad and crew have kept food prices low, and now they're unable to find and keep decent staff because there are other food service jobs on campus that pay two bucks an hour more.

suck it up, elected student representatives, and let's move into the 21st century here. raise the freakin' food prices, raise the price of beer. i'll gladly pay a dollar more for harbans' dahl if it means my brothers and sisters can earn a living wage.

and i won't set foot in the building until they do.

what's the point in blabbing about changing the world unless you're willing to take it on the chin and support those around you who are representative of the sort of corporate hype and control we all rail so loudly against?

for audio click here