UBC TA / CUPE 2278 President Appeals for Solidarity

by Stephen Petrina on April 9, 2012

CUPE 2278 President Geraldina Polanco appealed for solidarity and unity amidst recent ploys by a University of British Columbia faculty member and subsequently the University to splinter the graduate students union’s strike position.  Polanco wrote to members: “Our employer reads our communications to you — for example, they have told us at the bargaining table that they regularly visit our Facebook page and read our newsletters. This makes engaging in transparent discussions with our members regarding bargaining a difficult task for the Union Executive. Our members are sprawled across workspaces on the UBC campus and beyond, which reduces most communication to electronic routes that, by their nature, are accessible to the employer…. we are limited in our ability to communicate information with you via virtual routes because we do not want to facilitate the transfer of information to our employer.”

Responding to attempts to splinter or divide the union, the CUPE 2278 President now has to remind members and supporters: “Going forward with bargaining it is useful to keep in mind that the employer benefits from a non-unified membership. Our mutual trust in each other is paramount, and we hope our minimal communication with you has not been misread. Our lack of formal correspondence is not because we do not seek to be transparent but rather because we are limited in what we can say.”

Last week, FT faculty member Dr. David Klonksy published “Dear CUPE 2278,” a diatribe to undermine confidence in the graduate students’ leadership.  At these times a few anti-union or anti-labour activists are readily played by management.  Good try, bad motive, Dr. Klonksy.  The letter is seriously uninformed in stating that CUPE 2278 “Union leadership has made no effort to reach out to faculty.”  Let’s be clear, CUPE 2278 has reached out– the communication from the union leadership has been outstanding– a model of leadership and transparency. If a strike materializes from the overwhelming support, faculty members will stand on the picket line in support of and sympathy with the students.