I object to Ted Sprague’s characterization of my role in a SSMU debate last November in opposition to a motion supporting AGSEM’s recent unionization drive to include course lecturers. According to Sprague, I “philosophized that better working conditions would result in lower productivity on the part of teachers, since the whip of low wages would be removed.”
This is not the case. At the debate, I merely “philosophized” that increased unionization at McGill was not in the interest of McGill students, because it would mean greater job security for underperforming lecturers who would be protected from dismissal by a strengthened union, higher tuition fees to pay for any higher wages for course lecturers, and grad students as a result of union action, and yes, that greater job security means there is less of an incentive for employees to perform.
I am sure AGSEM has perfectly legitimate complaints, but as an Arts Councillor elected by my fellow undergraduates, my role at SSMU is to represent their interests, not the interests of a union, and certainly not the ideological interests of Sprague, and several of my co-councillors on SSMU who overlooked students’ interests in favour of ideological sensibilities.
Students want more TA accountability, stable tuition, and confidence that their teachers and lecturers will not go on strike, as they did for months at York University in 2008. Increased unionization undermines all of these, and if Sprague would be kind enough to open an economics textbook, instead of ranting about the evils of capitalism and democracy, he would surely come to the same conclusion.
U3 History and Political Science (Joint Honours)
Arts Councillor to SSMU
Letter received January 11