Monday, March 20, 2006

KOOKY: Confused...

Okay, so I'm still trying to get my head around this whole "we-must-sign-a-contract-with-the-university-and-with-the-government" deal. Why do we need to do this? I don't get it.

(For those of you who don't know, the BC government is trying to get all unions and associations to sign a five year contract with them. The purpose is two-fold: they want to have labour peace so that all the work that needs to be done for the Olympics can get done in time and 2) they don't want any more labour strife before the next election in 2009. The groups have to have an agreement in place before March 31, and of course, the government is dangling the biggest carrot of all: money. It's pretty big news around these parts.)

The Association is what we are a member of, and they represent our group when we need to negotiate with our employer, UBC. They have been acting on our behalf, trying to get the best deal for us within a certain time frame. We were asked by them what action they should take, and we (the members) voted 70%+ in favour of our Association getting the best deal for us before the March 31 deadline.

Well, the Association did their job and after several rounds with UBC, they got a deal that that they felt was fair and they are recommending that we accept it.

Apparently, it's not good enough for some people. A lot of bitterness and frustration have hit my Inbox. Today and last Friday, I've probably received about 100 emails, complaining that the deal's not good enough, along with some other gripes. (If nothing else, I've been getting an education on how the system works. Why it works this way is still a big mystery.)

This is such a foreign concept to me. In the private sector, if you work hard and perform well, you get rewarded individually. In the public sector, we, as a collective, need to agree on what our benefits and wages are set at. Perhaps because we are public, we need to be accountable to the taxpayer, hence the group representation.

I see all the benefits that we as UBC employees have, and there are people still turning their noses down at it. I didn't have a pension for five years of my adult work life; that's my last two jobs. I now get a pretty kick-ass pension. Also, as a new UBC employee, I get four weeks of vacation my first year. That's unheard of in most companies; you have to work about 10 years to get four weeks in many places.

Salary is a big thing. While all workers do get an increase every year in their salary, the salary grid has not changed over the past three years. With this new deal we will be getting increases with the salary grid. (Does that make sense?)

I certainly see that there is a lot of frustration and bitterness. But we can't strike, we can't do much of anything to defend our rights. Which is why we have a group looking out for us. Seriously, I can go to these people if I truly have grievances against my immediate bosses (my bosses rock by the way, so no problems there). It's nice knowing that there's someone looking out for me. I never got that working in the private sector; it's every dog for himself there.

Perhaps some people have worked in this environment most of their working career, or for a good long time that they tend to lose perspective. The real world doesn't give them a lot of what they already take for granted. I don't know. Everyone has acknowledged that it's not the best proposal for us, but it's the best that they can do within a short time frame. All I know is that my Inbox will be flooded again tomorrow because people don't agree, and I'm left more in the dark.

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