Don't cross the picket line, teachers' union tells U of M education students

The Manitoba Teachers' Society is advising education students at the University of Manitoba not to attend classes or upcoming practicums while the faculty association strike is underway.
University of Manitoba faculty went on the picket line at 7 a.m. Tuesday. (Bert Savard/CBC)

The Manitoba Teachers' Society is advising education students at the University of Manitoba not to attend classes or upcoming practicums during the faculty strike.

"Don't cross the picket line as this is a legal strike," a notice posted to the teachers' union website says. "The expectation is that new deadlines, due dates and extensions will be part of the post-strike clean-up and restart of your program." 

More than 1,200 faculty members at the university's Fort Garry and Bannatyne campuses went on strike at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, impacting 30,000 students. University of Manitoba Faculty Association president Mark Hudson said that until a new deal is reached, pickets will go up every weekday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Students should not act in a manner that may undermine the  UMFA  strike- Manitoba Teachers' Society

Practicums for student teachers are set to begin Nov. 7 and the teachers' union is advising students that attendance is "strictly voluntary" if the strike continues.

"It is the society's position that without appropriate supervision by faculty advisors, teacher candidates are not functioning as student teachers and therefore cannot perform the usual roles of teacher candidates," the notice reads. "Students should not act in a manner that may undermine the UMFA strike committee protocols and advice."

More than three dozen courses in the education department are continuing during the strike, the University of Manitoba website says.

It's not clear whether any education faculty members crossed the picket line, but classes taught by non-bargaining members are continuing as usual.

Hudson said UMFA has not been in contact with the teachers' union since the strike but is appreciative of the message and support.

"We're also asking students not to cross the picket line," Hudson said. "That's a constitutionally protected right. The university has an obligation to accommodate students who choose not to cross the picket line."

While students are permitted not to cross the picket line, students are "still responsible for materials covered in any class or lab" that is currently in session, the university's website states. Students are also asked to notify instructors in advance of not crossing the picket line.

Talks between university administration and faculty continued on Wednesday with the help of a conciliator. The parties will be back at the table Thursday morning.