The voice of members of The Canadian Media Guild, Fredericton.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Meeting with the STUdents' Union Pres.

By Michael Caissie, STU Class of 05

This week I took time off marching on the picket line in Fredericton to meet with the St. Thomas University Students' Union president, Sofia Rodriguez. The meeting was a few days in the making, and during that time Sofia was able to stop by the picket line to talk with some members of the Fredericton unit of the Canadian Media Guild but she still had many questions about what is actually going on.

Sofia is the first of a few association presidents that we would like to meet at STU. The reason we have decided to approach these reps is that CBC Fredericton has a unique relationship with the university. During the school year a number of journalism classes are held in the basement level of the CBC plant which STU has rented. These classes will resume late next week.

In my own personal experience (being a former student of the journalism program at STU) this partnership is invaluable to students and the industry, as new journalists are trained in a newsroom environment and are able to move upstairs to intern and train under the guidance of the CBC workers. In a sense, Guild members working at CBC become teachers to these students,and damn good ones at that.

It is because of our committment to the development of our profession and industry that the unit has decided to allow students and their professor, Daryl Gray (a former CBC employee and therefore no stranger to labour disputes), to cross the picket line for their classes. Students will then be allowed into STU's part of the building to attend their classes and use the STU facilities for their own personal projects.

Students will be asked to recognize the picket line, and acknowledge the workers who are locked-out and fighting for all sorts of reasons. But perhaps they would be most interested to learn that the CMG is also fighting for people who may soon find themselves in my position: a
recent graduate, up to my neck in student loans, and looking for a secure job doing the work that I love before the creditors come calling.

It is a very disheartening position to start life in the 'real world' knowing that I have paid over $40,000 to train myself to work for someone who would seemingly want to exploit my labour when it is convenient for them. And on top of that be able to throw me away like something
dug out from the depths of their ear. (This may sound exaggerated, but note that I said 'seemingly'... I like to think that I have more hope in the CBC than that...)

I believe in public broadcasting and the good that comes from it and there is no other place in the world that I would rather be, whether it is inside working with forty of the most talented people around, or outside standing in the rain, fighting with forty of the most talented people around for what we believe in. It has all been an educational, learning experience for me.

It was with this in mind that I went to Sofia to explain our situation and show how her support for the CMG is indeed support for the students that she represents. She was very receptive to the idea of supporting the local CMG members but stopped short of offering her support to the Guild as a whole until she could research the CBC's side of things and meet with the rest of the students' union executive.

"We are thankful and proud of all of the union workers who recognize the importance of education," said Sofia, but added, "I just don't think that it is my position on students union to go all the way one way or the other without extended debate with the rest of the council."

Sofia told me that she will be discussing the issue with the executive and will be getting back to me in the next few days. I have offered to address the Students' Union at the weekly meeting which is held every Wednesday at 5:30 pm in the Holy Cross conference room. It is an open
meeting so everyone is welcome to come.


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