I did what I would describe as a little “light picketing” today; walked around for about two hours with a sign, up and down Washtenaw between the McKenney Union and the corner of Oakwood and Washtenaw, where you’d turn in to go to the library. This picture isn’t from that; actually, it’s from this article in the student newspaper, The Eastern Echo. And once again, it needs to be clear that are not “poised” to strike; we’re ON strike.
Anyway, there was a pretty good vibe out on the picket line today, actually. Folks willing to show up for a picket on a Saturday morning on Labor Day weekend before classes begin are obviously supporters of the union and, I think, supporters of EMU, too. So what was cool was there was this simultaneous feeling of supporting the strike, obviously, but also welcoming the incoming students and their families to town.
I talked with/listened in on a conversation with one parent who said he was a teacher and a former president of his local teacher’s union. They went on strike many years ago, and it was quite a surprise to the administration of the school district. They were out for a week, it was hard and painful and all of that, but they ultimately got what they wanted.
So far, sounds like the “happy ending” we’re looking for here, right? Well, then this parent went on to say that after this strike happened, which was years ago, the teacher’s union and the administration recognized that no one wins from a strike and they have figured out a process of negotiating contracts that was reasonable for both sides and so we wouldn’t have to go on strike.
And I guess that’s the issue here: why is it, after 30 some-odd years, we’ve been unable to do that here at EMU? One of the guys I was talking to on the picket line today has been here since the union came to pass, and as he said, it’s been the same damn thing every contract. That’s just kind of stupid, if you ask me.
But on the other hand, this is the situation we’ve got to deal with, so I guess you press on. I am officially scheduled to picket tomorrow from 10 am to noon, which ought to be a good time because that will be right when a lot of student orientation sessions are going on. Negotiations don’t resume until Sunday night; given that those negotiations are taking place in the student union at the same time as a big “welcome to EMU” student event, I think that’d probably be a really good time for another faculty rally.