Tuesday, 24 July 2007

University of Saskatchewan attempting to kill Labour Studies Program

For over 2o years the University of Saskatchewan College of Commerce has offered a certificate program entitled the U of S Labour Studies Program.

The program was as a result of an agreement between the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and the University of Saskatchewan. The agreement was conceived and the program put in place by past presidents Nadine Hunt (SFL) and Dr. Leo Kristjanson (U of S). It has over 20 years of success, and has graduated hundreds of Saskatchewan citizens who make a valuable contribution to labour relations, workers rights, and society in this province.

It was an example of co-operation and genuine partnership between the People's University (U of S) and the Saskatchewan Labour Movement (SFL). The program recognized that workers and their organizations play an important role in, and are integral to, a properly functioning democracy. It recognized that a significant power imbalance exists between workers and employers and that there is a need for workers to be able to study at the university level in a safe environment - without fear of being blackballed by employers and managements.

Over the past couple of years, there has been a concerted campaign by anti-union forces at the U of S to destroy and eliminate the U of S Labour Studies Program. This has been orchestrated under the false argument that a class or program dedicated to the needs of trade union members is discriminatory and has no place in a publicly funded institution.

But the true reason that the anti-union forces have been working so hard to kill the U of S Labour Studies Program was revealed in on July 24, 2007 when the University announced that they would be changing the name of the U of S College of Commerce to The N. Murray Edwards School of Business.

You can hardly have a Trade Union Labour Studies Program attached to corporate dominated School of Business. It's rather ironic that the U of S has no problem with a whole Faculty dedicated to the needs of the business elite in a publicly funded institution - but they go to such great effort to kill a program that graduates 15 - 20 students every couple of years out of 15,000 to 20,000 or more.

The plan to destroy the U of S Labour Studies Program has been on the drawing board for a long time. The actions are vindictive, ideologically driven and an illustration of the corporatization of post-secondary education.

Check out this fancy announcement: New Name - New Cards. It's not the University of Saskatchewan anymore - it's The N. Murray Edwards School of Business. No room for Trade Union Labour Studies there.


John Murney said...

Larry, this news is deeply disturbing. As someone who is trying to specialize in Labour Economics, I'm not happy the U of S wants to ditch the Labour Studies certificate program.

Larry Hubich said...

John, it is deeply disturbing. I have been working over the past couple of years to save this program and preserve its founding principles - while at the same time modernizing it.

I even went so far as to bring in the head of the Harvard Law School Trade Union Program, Dr. Elaine Bernard. Elaine attended the SFL Convention in late October of 2005 as a keynote - speaking about the value and legitimacy of a university-based labour studies program dedicated to the education of union members.

I must admit, the arrogance and condescension displayed by those at the U of S determined to kill the program is beyond my capacity to accurately and articulately describe.

Anonymous said...

It would be a very sad day if the powerfull business lobby in Saskatchewan is able to pull this off!

I would argue that having a labour studies program - especially in the face of a large business school - is an absolute necessity given the terrible imbalance that would be created in it's absence.

If the university is interested in the development of human capital in their students, then they are ethically bound to continue to offer labour studies as discipline in of itself.

Brian B. McArthur
Special Assistant to the National President
UFCW Canada

Joe Kuchta said...

According to a July 25, 2007, Globe and Mail article “The name change is partly in recognition of Mr. Edwards’'s recent decision to donate $11-million to the school, a follow-up to several other smaller donations he has made in recent years.”

N. Murray Edwards a Member, Entrepreneurs’ Circle of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

Edwards is also Vice-Chair of the Canada West Foundation and a board of director at the C.D. Howe Institute.

As far as I know all three organizations support the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) and the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA).

Edwards participated in the secretive 2006 North American Forum that took place from September 12 to 14 at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, Canada. It was hosted by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives with help from the Canada West Foundation.


Joe Kuchta
Saskatoon, SK

Anonymous said...

Larry I am appaled with what is happening to such a valuable program. We here in Southern Ontario have a similar program with McMaster University. I see that we will have to remain vigilant to keep it in this global right wing cess pool of business business business. I hope that this situation can be reversed for you.

Arnie De Vaan
CAW 707

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hubich, your poorly contrived allegation that the U of S discontinuation of the Labour Studies program is directly connected to the recent philanthropic donation from Mr. Edwards, in my opinion, clearly reveals the tiny fishbowl that Larry Hubich lives in - that being that you have no perspective other than his own.

Mr Edwards recent donation to the U of S is an individual donation, not a corporate one, and all you have to do is look to the south to calm your fears.... The University of Regina is still vibrant and healthy, 2 years after the Kenneth Levine College of Business opened at that university, following a multi-million dollar donation from Mr. Levine, a U of R alumnus. This highly-focused and dedicated business college has become another gem within the U of R insitution. I myself am considering enrollment - and I'm 42 years old, mid-career, and I would not have had an executive MBA opportunity otherwise. I would have had to go out-of-province, and that would be then impossible to balance both career and family here.

Mr. Hubich, I not only question your perspective, but now I actually question your leadership capacity after reading your theory and seeing such a narrow-minded perspective and fear-mongering.

Individual multi-million dollar donations to universities from successful past students reveals a passion and commitment, and should be celebrated as a testament to the institution we call education, but yet you see a darkness in this??? Frankly, I expect much, much more from a SFL president.

Try not to lose sleep over this, Mr. Hubich, because the sky is not falling.

Anonymous said...

Larry Hubich I am sorry but John Gormley is Right. Try not to lose sleep over this, Mr. Hubich, because the sky is not falling.

Anonymous said...

Dear SFL and President Larry Hubich,

As a U of S Alumnus I found it most disconcerting to hear about the move to eliminate the U of S Labour Studies program.

To me it is a backing off an essential principle of being a public university and serving those interests who since its inception have paid for a public university. All the big "philanthropic" donations do not make up for the millions upon millions spent on the university by the workers, farmers and other non corporate producers of wealth in Saskatchewan.

The U of S talks about itself being a peoples university, and wanting to reach out beyond the walls of the university . The Labour Studies program has been exemplary in reaching out to, and involving citizens who do not normally have access to the resources and knowledge of a university.

Thank you for speaking out on this critical issue.


Don Kossick
U of S Alumnus, Regina Campus.