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August 31, 2006

On Strike for Labor Day? (Part 2)

I showed up at negotiations at 8:30am for a team session, and the negotiations themselves started at 10. We've been at it ten hours now - all in a basement with a small window and a 15 minute walk to enjoy a beautiful day.  (Yes. lunch and dinner were carry out, as too many meals have been). For all the time, there's been much sound and fury signifying nothing. As I write this, the contract expires in a little over fours hours and we need to decide whether to strike or extend the contract for 24 hours or a few days.

We're pretty deadlocked, and with so many issues to resolve this late in the game, it's amazing that we've spent so many hours discussing articles that are trivial to only semi-important. Negotiating a contract seems at the moment akin to making sausage and law in having an unpalatable process behind something important.

 leave our health care alone

Unlike yesterday, today has been less boring. We've been busy strategizing about how to put different proposals into packages and endlessly revisiting language in certain marginal paragraphs through trading proposals. My colleague described feeling like a yo-yo in feeling close to having an agreement that evaporates, then another round that seems to bring us closer...but not really (ad infinitum).

At the time I'm writing this (8:50pm), it's looking very much like a strike. I need to post this later for obvious strategic reasons and will be making additional notes as the evening transpires. But right now is down time. They have a nuber of proposals we've sent over and we're awaiting a response. Having our proposals accepted doesn't resolve major issues; we've said we'd extend the contract (delay the strike) 24 hours a few days if we see significant movement on some of the lesser propsals out there. So, we're involved in a proces akin to making sausage but that has an element of brinksmanship or chicken.

picketing before strike 

9:45 bunch of paper comes back made to look like something, but it's really a wasteful reiteration of previous positions. There was some very, very minor changes. But we've been having a debate about a new committee and they objected to a line we added about how the committee had to set up a process to receive concerns from the university and produce an annual report describing the issues they've considered and ideas they proposed.  (I don't have the exact language, but the italicized language is very close.)

So, we made a fairly quick and easy decision to go on strike. A vigil/rally had been scheduled for 10:30 (in time for the evening news), and the picketers were already geared up to start at midnight. (Remember delivers tend to be unionized and will not cross a strike line.) After the rally, the picketers dispursed and I started to make my way home.

 on strike signs

Start: Aug 31, 8:30am

Finish: Sept 1, 1:10am

(Start Sept 1, 8am) 

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