Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day 04 - update 11

WUFA strike: Day 04 - update 11Len Wallace pulled a Bob Dylan and tried to inspire everyone around him with a bit of poetry. [Later he pulls a Woodie Guthrie.]

Len Wallace: An injury to one is an injury to all. Now sometimes in these struggles arises great art, great music and great poetry. On the other hand, there is this. I wrote this yesterday. How many people are on the flying squads? Okay, this is The Ballad of the Flying Squads:

We're members of the flying squads, a valiant band are we
We march around the campus to confound the enemy.

You'd best be ready and beware for we're that band
We'll assault you with a smile and thrust a leaflet in your hand.

Just point us to the battle, we'll be the first in line.
Our muscles taught as hardened steel from raising up our signs.

Our voices hoarse from shouting for a contract that is fair.
We've walked 10,000 weary miles around a 12-foot square.

We shall never cave to taunts and threats in this battle we are winnin',
Nor fear to eat a hot dog and wash down a brew from Tim.

We'll never shirk our duties, we shall picket every day.
With discipline we shall sign in to ensure we get strike pay.

We're the women and the men who teach here every day.
We're here on strike for dignity, for equity, fair pay

So listen up administrators, governors, by God
If they're messing with our union, you're messing with the flying squad.
He continued: This not a game, these people are not naive. We're getting emails of threats and intimidation. The new president acting as good cop, the old president acting as bad cop.

This is an old, old tactic. And don't forget the Board of Governors. The head of the Board of Governors, Dave Cook, not quite the friend of teachers, and his brother the lawyer, for the administration. They know what they're doing, let's do what we're doing. Let's stand together in solidarity. The new president of the uni said the first day of the strike was the worst day in his university career. At $315,000 a year, that comes down to $6,000 paid per week. For an administrator, about $2000 per week, for a sessional, $250 a week. And what is that? That's a shame.

We aren't going to back down to threats or intimidation. We're not going to turn on ourselves. We're going to stand united. Actually, I was given a new slogan. Something from the Cuban Revolution. "The faculty united, shall never be defeated."

Here's a little song, some of you heard it before, written by Woody Guthrie in the 1930s. The chorus goes, "You can't scare me. I'm sticking to the union till the day I die."

Then he sang Union Maid, while playing it on his accordion:
There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come 'round
She always stood her ground.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.

This union maid was wise to the tricks of company spies,
She couldn't be fooled by a company stool, she'd always organize the guys.
She always got her way when she struck for better pay.
She'd show her card to the National Guard
And this is what she'd say


You gals who want to be free, just take a tip from me;
Get you a man who's a union man and join the ladies' auxiliary.
Married life ain't hard when you got a union card,
A union man has a happy life when he's got a union wife.

[I couldn't find the lyrics for the last verse, and I swear, this is the best I could do to decipher what was actually sung. Sorry if it's off - I try my best.]

Oh, ladies if you want to be free, just take a little tip from me;
Just get yourself a union card, organize your liberty.
Ya gotta take a stand, with bolded beers in hand?
Just move your bones like union Jones. Show that union hand.
[There were dozens of cameras floating around capturing the entire event - and so it's with no small help from Eeland111 on Youtube, that we have the following clips of the song's performance: SOCAN, be advised.]

[The rally was then set up for another march around the university's perimetre by Dr. Stephen Pender]

Stephen Pender: I play chess. I cook my dinner. I teach English literature, I'm the research leadership chair, I am the head of the HRG, the Humanities Research Group, I do all these things. But today, I'm a member of my union. And what could I do as a member of my union? What could be better than to join with my brothers and sisters in other unions in a march around campus? This is what we're going to do, and if anyone asks, it wasn't my idea. Behind that sign, which is moving right now, a couple of our members will assemble that sign at the front of this group.

We will then do, as we did on Wednesday, with our members and supporters, we'll move from this space, down Sunset, along University, up Huron Church, along Wyandotte, back here, back to the WUFA Factuly Association for a ... something. Maybe a glass of water, a bad hot dog. Members of these unions are absolutely crucial to our support. Before you leave, we have two things;

One - for anyone who's been here today and who's been here all week - we've arranged drink specials in a local tavern for a strike social tonight. Just tell them you're a member of WUFA, and you all are, today. Dominion House Tavern, 7 p.m., be there or be there.

There is something very cool right here, right now. So don't put your cameras away, you'll want to catch it.


[then the University Players poured out from behind Chrysler Tower in costume - dancing around in a skit.]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Next, The Lance had a chance to interview James Winter, the brain child behind the earlier posted videos, The Mike Gasher Show and No Maquiladora U!.

What were the intentions behind the videos?
Winter: It was just to draw some broader attention to what's happening here both on campus and off campus. Get some of the issues out and do it using humour, and clarity and satire and so forth.

Why'd you choose satire to make your points?
Winter: I think it works very well. People enjoy the humour, and they're willing to sit down and watch the piece, so we thought that might be an effective way. The students were fabulous. All of the animation was done by a graduate student in our program, Danielle Sabelli, she's a genius, as well as an original song was written and performed by another graduate student in our department, Travis Reitsma. All I did really, was to write the script on that animation, and they did everything else.

When did you decide these were something you wanted to do?

Winter: It was really as the strike was beginning to happen. It all took place within about a week. I know nothing about animation really, and people just said to me, 'How in the world did they do that in a single week?' And it's just because they worked so hard, it was something like 65 hours.

Now the other interview, we're recording another interview today. So there'll be more of those up, there will be a series of them.

Who are you interviewing next?
Winter: We're going to stick with Neil Gold for a little bit here, and then we're going to branch out from there and probably go to the president and some of the other characters involved.

It's going to be another interview-style video with Mike?
Mike Gasher, he's a free-lance journalist, does his own show.

How'd you meet Mike Gasher?
Uh, he did an interview with me a little while back. And I thought, here's a guy who asks penetrating questions, so enjoy his show.

What's the feedback been from people?
Oh, I can't believe it. Walking along the streets today, and of course there's a lot of people I don't know, and they say, "Saw your video, loved it." And of course the reaction online which has been fabulous and on Youtube.

- - - - - - - - -
And as promised, the latest installment of the Mike Gasher Show

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