Education students singled out in U of M strike

Warned against crossing picket line, accepting practicum


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The Manitoba Teachers' Society is telling University of Manitoba education students not to cross picket lines or accept classroom practicums during the faculty strike.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/11/2016 (2165 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society is telling University of Manitoba education students not to cross picket lines or accept classroom practicums during the faculty strike.

The U of M Faculty Association began conciliation talks with the university Wednesday, a day after setting up picket lines outside the Fort Garry and Bannatyne campuses. Conciliation will continue Thursday, with neither side commenting on Wednesday’s talks.

In urging education students not to cross the picket line, the teachers union said it expects “deadlines, due dates and extensions will be ‎part of the post-strike cleanup and restart of your program.”

The union told students not to report to classroom practicums, which are scheduled to begin next week.

“It is the society’s position that without appropriate supervision by faculty advisers, teacher candidates are not functioning as student teachers, and therefore cannot perform the usual roles of teacher candidates,” the union said in a statement. “Students (teacher candidates) who choose to be in schools would be classroom volunteers. Any such volunteerism should be solely at the discretion of the student and they, of course, should not feel compelled to provide such voluntary service.

“Students should not act in a manner that may undermine the UMFA strike committee protocols and advice,” MTS said. “Co-operating teachers and faculty advisers should follow suit. Students may be disrupted and even delayed in their program, but that is unfortunately the practical reality of the outcomes of a labour dispute‎.”

Seven Oaks School Division superintendent Brian O’Leary said teachers who’d been expecting to share a classroom with an education student for six weeks leading into the winter break “are just going to carry on.”

But O’Leary cautioned that while the U of M education students have a second practicum in the winter that could be extended, they will be at a disadvantage compared with job-hunting students from other universities.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS University of Manitoba Faculty Association members and supporters walk the picket line Tuesday morning at the Pembina Highway entrance to the campus.

“It does put teacher candidates at a disadvantage,” he said. “The schools don’t get to know them.”

UMFA president Prof. Mark Hudson said Wednesday he is not aware of any other unions or professional organizations advising students on managing practicums during the strike.

“UMFA members are telling their students the truth: that they don’t have to cross the picket line if they don’t want to. It is a constitutionally protected right,” he said. “UMFA is asking students who support us not to cross, and the university must and will accommodate that choice, even if the course is being offered by non-UMFA members.”

U of M Students Union president Tanjit Nagra said she believes most nursing students are going ahead with their practicums.

“We don’t have a position on that,” Manitoba Nurses Union communications director Wes Payne said, but wouldn’t comment on whether MNU believes a practicum is valid training if the student’s supervising professor is on strike.

UMFA is analyzing the list of classes being held during the strike. Hudson said the overwhelming majority of the continuing classes are taught by sessionals who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

UMFA said it would consider dropping its wage demands in a one-year deal if the university gives significant ground on workload and governance issues, including how tenure and promotions are determined.

At the legislature Wednesday, the Canadian Federation of Students’ annual National Student Day of Action took on added intensity with both the strike and the likelihood that the provincial government will lift the cap that holds tuition increases at the inflation rate.

CFS Manitoba representative Michael Barkman told a rally that Manitoba could soon have “deregulated, unpredictable, massive tuition fee increases” of as much as $2,500 a year.

“Let’s finally have universal education for all in this country,” Barkman said to resounding cheers. 

Hudson told the rally the student/professor relationship is essential, unlike the U of M’s brick-and-mortar priorities.

“We’re there basically fighting for the integrity of the University of Manitoba,” he said.

Manitoba Finance Minister Cameron Friesen again refused to confirm that the government told the U of M specifically to extend the  collective agreement one year with a wage freeze, as the university says it was instructed to do Oct. 6.

He wouldn’t say whether the university is accurately representing the government’s position.

“The instructions we give in government are of a broad mandate,” Friesen said Wednesday. “We will not interfere. We will watch this unfold.”

Both Friesen and Education Minister Ian Wishart refused to say whether they will keep tuition increases capped at inflation, or whether they will maintain the tuition rebate for graduates who stay in Manitoba.

“There’s a lot of fear-mongering taking place out there today,” Friesen said.

Nagra said many students haven’t been on campus since the strike began.

“Normally, our University Centre is packed,” she said. “There’s a lot of confusion in the air.”

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The students gather on the steps of the Manitoba Legislative Building for the annual student day of action.

Updated on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 6:46 PM CDT: edited paragraph at request of writer

Updated on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 6:53 PM CDT: Updates

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