Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Teaching Math for Carpentry

I've been a bit pre-occupied these days with things that have diverted my attention from physics. If you're interested you can read about them on my other blogsite. As you can see, I'm in a bit of a fight with the University of Winnipeg. The funny thing is, it's not the first time I've tangled with the higher education system. About six years ago I got a job as an instructor in Carpentry Math for the Manitoba Apprenticeship Program. I ended up spending a pretty interesting year in the northern mining town of Thompson, Manitoba. I have to admit that the job did not go smoothly, and they ended up not inviting me back for a second year. I didn't think that was quite fair of them, and I gave them a bit of a hard time. I think maybe I ought to tell you that story, and now is as good a time as any.

I think I did a pretty good job of fighting my dismissal, but as a probationary employee you have very few rights. That's one big difference with my present fight, where I was expelled from a professional program into which I had been admitted. Unlike a probationary employee, they can't just kick you out of school for no reason. But on the job, if they don't like you, they don't need much reason to let you go. It's especially problematic to fight back if your a member of a union, because you essentially abandon your legal rights to take independent action against your employer when you "join". (As if you had a choice.)

I grieved my dismissal and took it as far as it could, but in the end I couldn't beat the system. But I learned a few good lessons about how to fight for your rights, and I've put a few of them into practise in my present conflict. The University is used to pushing people around, but they're usually dealing with people a lot younger and less experienced than me. Oh, and did I mention...I have nothing to lose? So it should be an interesting fight.

Anyhow, although I lost my last fight, I got in a few good licks along the way. And about a year after I left, I wrote a pretty long letter which I sent to my former colleagues, to tell them my side of the story. I think I'm going to post that letter right here, in installments, starting tomorrow. So stay tuned...

No comments: