Well, it seems as though we've missed being out on strike by the skin of our teeth - 51% in favour of accepting the contract on offer. There's so much going on here that it is hard to describe it all. At one point the union had a vote in favour of a strike and at that point, I didn't want to go out. Then when I really understood the detrimental affects that this contract will have on the full time work force in the system where I work, I changed my mind... I'm in a union with teaching faculty and counsellors, and at my particular college, we are at 50% full-time workers and 50% part-time workers - it is only going to get worse over the next 3 years under this new contract. What we've done by signing this contract is give our management the ability to "ask" some people to take on bigger classes & extra work. If (read "when") they do, the workload formula will be adjusted and they'll make slightly more money - not a lot IMHO. And what will also happen, is that the college can then lay people off, because if some do more, then we can do with fewer employees.
I'm angry at myself for not figuring all of this out sooner and I'm angry at my union for not better communicating the problems with this contract. We've gone out on strike more than once to get and then protect the standard workload formula that helps cap class sizes and give instructors and the college a formula with which to figure out compensation for time spent. Now we've just given it all up. We have part timers in our union, it is believed that they turned the tide against a strike, naively believing that they need to keep working and doing a good job so that someday they can become full-time. Not gonna happen and it is a shame they couldn't see that. And I can't help but wonder about those close to retirement - did they vote to accept - they've had their ride on the gravy train and they'll retire to fully indexed pensions, who cares about anyone else?
We are very well paid for what we do and we have great benefits, it would have been well worth accepting a 3 or 4 year wage freeze (yes freeze) in order to protect the Standard Workload Formula. We've gotten greedy, only paying attention to raises and this is the consequence. There was a time when being a government employee meant accepting a lower wage, relatively speaking, because benefits and job security were so good, and because we are civil servants, tax payers pay our salaries. I don't know of another sector of librarians in my province, hell, in my country that has the salary range that I do in my system. So many people are unemployeed, under-employeed, what makes us think we're so special?? It ain't all about money.