With just weeks left in the winter semester, Concordia’s part-time teachers are going on strike.
Roughly 20 classes will be cancelled starting Monday, March 31, and the number will increase progressively by the week if both sides could not reach an agreement.
“We will be walking out of about a dozen departments . . . we have examined the hours and the days that we will be walking out, the hours and the days . . . will be providing those to the university,” said Maria Peluso of CUPFA (Concordia Union of Part-time Faculty Association).
She assured that walkouts will take place on days with the fewest classes. But Peluso said the union will up the ante should the administration “fail to respond.” More classes will be cancelled week-by-week.
“I think you start off, if possible, with velvet gloves. If that doesn’t work, you put velvet gloves on an iron fist. And if that doesn’t work, you show more of that iron fist. . .but we’re not there yet.”
In the worse case scenario, winter exams will be interrupted if negotiations continue through April.
“We’re not going to be submitting grades, [which] may have an impact on students graduating. We are not going to be [preparing] exams, grading them or anything like that. A strike means we’re not working.”
The announcement was made in front of a roomful of teachers and Montreal media at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
In an email sent to all students, the administration attempted to reassure students that their winter term will not be affected. Students are still expected to attend classes and write take-home exams.
“If the professor does not appear for the course, it is nonetheless the student’s responsibility to turn in any work due for the course to the department office responsible for the course immediately,” reads a statement issued by Concordia University.
The schedule for the walkouts is yet to be released. A last minute negotiation session is scheduled for Thursday.
The Concordia Student Union (CSU), several of Quebec’s teacher’s unions and at least two of Concordia’s student faculty associations have sided with CUPFA’s job action.
Concordia’s 900 part-time faculty members teach 40 per cent of classes at the university. They are asking for wages equal to those of full-time staff at Concordia and their counterparts at other universities. The union has been without a contract since 2002.