The last thing this university needs is for all of the school’s part-time professors to go on strike. Not only would that put yet another black mark on Concordia’s reputation, but for those who have taken classes here know, it would cripple most programs at the school.
Since the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association voted last Sunday in favour of a strike mandate by 95 per cent, discussions taking place at the negotiating table seem to have heated up substantially.
A collective agreement is something this union is entitled to and the fact that, last time around, it took seven years to negotiate one is not a point of pride for anyone.
There are a lot of part-time professors at this university and if last year’s McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association’s strike is anything to go on, things could get ugly, fast.
There are more than 800 part-time faculty members teaching at Concordia according to CUPFA President Maria Peluso.
We don’t know about the rest of you, but crossing a picket line on the way to class is not the way we like to start the day. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that if CUPFA did decide to strike, Concordia’s other recent mistakes would pale in comparison.
So where do we go from here? Concordia doesn’t have a great record with collective bargaining and now with this majority vote, CUPFA has a powerful bargaining chip.
Currently, the deal that the university is trying to push upon members of CUPFA includes parts about isolating salaries from other universities at Montreal, imposing restrictions on retirement and leaves, and restructuring the seniority system.
We students know that part-time professors already have it pretty rough. When your teacher is holding office hours in a cafe down the street because they don’t have another option, that’s a sign that these people probably deserve more for the work they do.
Part-timers work hard and don’t deserve to be treated like dirt because their contracts leave them vulnerable or exposed. If they feel that the university might not be operating in good faith, then that is a serious concern which they obviously believe is worth striking over.
To the university administration, we say this: swallow your pride and get ready to grin and bear it because we don’t want our professors on the picket line any more than you do. They are reasonable people and if Concordia can offer them a reasonable deal, then this nightmare can be avoided. Faculty members are more important to this university than the administration likes to believe and if CUPFA isn’t happy, you better believe no one will be.