Reflections on the three-day strike

Don’t cross picket lines.

February started off strong at Concordia with the three-day strike from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2. In total, over 10,000 students were on strike—a dramatic increase from the 6,000 I’d initially reported, as many departments voted at the last minute to strike. 

For those who participated in picketing efforts, the university was a whirlwind of activity. Though many classes were canceled in solidarity with the strike, others insisted on ‘business as usual’. To enforce the strike, student volunteers stationed outside classes to create blockades and discuss with students and professors who attempted to cross the lines. In these interactions, many questions arose. 

Why don’t you picket outside Legault’s house? This sentiment was expressed by those who questioned the efficacy of  striking within the university. While it is true that Concordia is not to blame for the tuition hikes, many have expressed the desire for the administration to fight harder. This sentiment is exacerbated by Concordia’s recent announcement of a bursary program for out-of-province students based on academic achievement, which provides a mere Band-Aid solution (and is based on an unfair meritocracy).  

In addition to putting pressure on the administration, the strike sought to increase visibility for the movement against tuition hikes and to gather momentum toward the threat of a general unlimited strike. A larger-scale strike would apply great economic pressure on the Quebec government and hopefully force the students’ demands to be heard. 

For the strikes to be fully effective, however, wide-spread involvement and solidarity is essential. This was sometimes an issue, as certain professors encouraged students to cross picket lines or attend class online. To cross a picket line disregards the democratic decision of the student body to go on strike. We should all be united for the common cause of advocating for accessible education—students and faculty alike. 

Though obstacles were encountered, I would argue the strike was widely successful. Classes were disrupted, meaningful discussions took place, and many more people are now aware of the strikes and what they represent. The dedication of student volunteers was commendable, and it was especially inspiring to see those who were not even striking show solidarity. Many faculty members expressed their support, and MFA students were particularly kind. (Shout-out to the snack station that was set up in the MFA gallery for picketers at the VA building.) 

The 7th floor of Hall Building and the EV Junction, which served as dispatch stations for picketers, created a lively atmosphere in the university and provided a chance to meet people and recuperate. Various workshops including a film screening and zine-making took place, giving students a chance to redirect their energy and make connections. 

The feeling of success that has followed the strike is heartening, but also serves as a reminder that there is still work to be done. Stay updated on future actions such as general assemblies and ongoing mobilization efforts. It’s important to get as many students as engaged as possible to reach our goal. The fight for accessible education is for everyone—as such, we need everyone’s help. 

News Photo Essay

Picketers lead ‘shame convoy’ with Legault mannequin

Photos from Thursday: ‘Shame Convoy’

Photos from Wednesday: Classroom picketing



What you need to know about the upcoming strike, and why you should join.

Tuition hikes? Student strikes. From Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, close to 6000 Concordia students across various departments will be on strike to fight against the looming tuition hikes. This is a major step in the mobilization efforts against austerity measures that threaten the future of our education. But first of all, what exactly will the strike look like and why is it important? 

For three days, classes of participating departments will be either cancelled (with the cooperation of faculty) or picketed. This means that student volunteers will be physically blocking classrooms and preventing business-as-usual. Certain departments have already decided to join the strike—including geography, urban planning, and community and public affairs—while many more have called General Assemblies to hold a deciding vote. 

Last week, the faculty of fine arts voted, nearly unanimously, to strike—an incredible victory, as this adds over 3000 students to the effort and signifies the only faculty-wide participation. 

Students may be concerned that strikes will negatively impact their studies. It’s helpful to know that student unions are protected in the same way as workers’ unions, so you cannot be penalized for missing classes due to a strike. 

Though striking may feel personally disruptive, the goal is to disrupt the system, which is essential to create real change. As stated on the strike information webpage of the Concordia Student Union, “Student strikes represent a withholding of academic labour and a disruption to the university and the economy at large.” 

Quebec has a long history of striking, which has proven the impressive results of such methods. The most striking example (pun intended) is the Maple Spring of 2012, the longest student strikes in Quebec’s history. Over 300,000 students mobilized against a planned 75 per cent increase in tuition rates, and the tuition increase was ultimately overturned. 

Twelve years later, the current efforts have drawn heavy inspiration from the past. There is a palpable sense of excitement brewing, echoed by the awareness of history being made once again. “This is potentially the biggest mobilization at Concordia since the 2012 strikes,” said Adam Semergian, a student in Concordia’s school of community and public affairs. Semergian is part of a dedicated group of individuals in the mobilization effort and the push for free tuition. For many, this is the ultimate goal—generating momentum toward a future with free education for all.  

These issues impact all students, regardless of whether your own tuition will be immediately affected. In light of this fact, I encourage everyone to get involved in whatever way you can. If your department is on strike, come help picket—fine arts students can sign up through the link in the Instagram bio of @fasalovesyou. If your department isn’t on strike, but you would like to promote a strike mandate, try contacting—you can also reach out to them for more information regarding meetings and mobilization efforts. 

When unjust measures threaten students, it’s easy to feel powerless. But don’t forget—students are some of the fiercest organizers out there, and we have proven again and again the power we hold. 

So what are you waiting for? Strike! 


Concordia student associations move to strike against tuition increases

Mobilization against tuition hikes continues with multiple student groups moving to strike on Nov. 30. 

The Geography Undergraduate Student Society (GUSS) moved in unanimous support to block access to classrooms in accordance with a “hard picket” on Friday, Nov. 30 against the tuition hikes for out-of-province and international students.

Another student protest is set to happen on the corner of De Maisonneuve and McKay at 12 p.m. on Nov. 30. The movement is currently supported by the CSU, ASFA and the McGill student associations.

The tuition hikes will raise tuition for out-of-province students from around $9,000 to $17,000. For international students, the government will charge universities $20,000 per international student outside of France and Belgium. Concordia has now started a page for FAQs and the implications of the tuition changes

In a general meeting open to all members of the geography undergraduate program on Nov. 17, GUSS moved to block the entrances of geography classes on Nov. 30 as an action of hard picketing. They will be accompanied by a number of other student associations including the Fine Arts Student Association (FASA), the Urban Planning Association (UPA) and the School of Community and Public Affairs Student Association (SCPSA) among other MAs in defiance against tuition hikes. 

“I found a program here that I really like, and I’ve found a community and a city I really like,” said Max Neumann, a student on the GUSS mobilization committee.

Neumann is from British Columbia and was looking to pursue a masters degree in Quebec, but will not be able to because of the tuition increases. She said that Concordia’s opportunities for geography students are unique to the university and that many students will be pushed into programs in Ontario because of the tuition hikes.

Some students have expressed concern with what they will potentially lose out on by not attending the classes that they paid to attend, but GUSS is lobbying to make sure that the effects of the hike on the students will not be detrimental. 

Jackson Esworthy, a GUSS executive, said that a lot of the faculty informally supports student action against tuition hikes since this will affect the faculty and Concordia will see cutbacks in funding. They have not seen information from Concordia on which will be the most impacted programs nor any specific reports per program. 

Students have a long history of successful student strikes in the province of Quebec. Esworhty added that GUSS was one of the first student associations in the province to lead the strike against the increased tuition. “That [strike] started at Concordia on the MA level,” Esworthy said about the 2012 “Red Squares” strike against the increase of tuition. 

In 2012, students across Quebec mobilized against tuition increases posed by Jean Charest’s Liberal Party at the time to increase tuition by $325 every year from 2012 to 2017. Thousands of students across Quebec took to the streets to participate in the longest general unlimited strike in Canadian history. 

As for the current tuition increases, weekly meetings are held with Concordia’s student groups as well as groups from other universities across Montreal including McGill and UQAM to maintain a front of solidarity and to work together to hold student strikes.

UQAM’s ASFA equivalent, Association Facultaire Étudiante des Sciences Humaines de l’UQAM (AFESH), told The Concordian that they “offer solidarity to student associations of English universities,” but offered no comment about whether they were participating in the strikes on Nov. 30.

The strikes on Nov. 30 will not be the last. The ASFA is moving to host a three-day strike from Wednesday, Jan. 31 to Friday, Feb. 2. 


Strike in motion: Concordia students share their thoughts

Students share their opinions on the strike for a reading week in the fall semester

As of Oct. 2, 13 member associations (MAs) within the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) have passed a mandate to strike from Oct. 3 – 7 for a fall reading week. The growing awareness of the reading week strike has spread across Concordia, resulting in some students having strong thoughts on the subject.

The Concordian interviewed students across both Sir George Williams and Loyola campuses to get their opinions regarding the upcoming reading week strike: 

Concordia students Amélie (left) and Lennie (right) at the Loyola campus. KAITLYNN RODNEY/ The Concordian

Amélie (left) and Lennie (right) 

“I think it should happen because we have one in the winter, and other schools have them, so I think it only makes sense to have the whole week off to catch up on studies and have time for midterms,” said Lennie.

“I think it is a good idea because it’s important to have time to catch up on school, but it’s important to have time for other stuff than school like leisure, family or anything else in your life. I feel like when you’re in school you have less time for that,” said Amélie.

Concordia students Luca Quol (left) and Sofia Pofizkus (right) at the Loyola campus. KAITLYNN RODNEY/ The Concordian

Luca Quol (left) and Sofia Pofizkus (right)

“I honestly just learned about it yesterday. I am in support of it. I think it’s kind of ridiculous that we don’t have a reading week, it seems like every other university in Canada does,” said Quele.

“I think it’s a good idea, honestly, since everyone else has one. We also need a break in the fall, not just the winter,” said Pofizkus.

Portrait of Concordia student Emma Megelas at the Loyola campus. KAITLYNN RODNEY/ The Concordian

Emma Megelas

“I think that it’s beneficial for students to do the strike and the reading week. Not only will it give us more time to study and be prepared, it will help to spread out our schedule so that you’re not crammed with other exams you have to do. You also won’t feel so stressed with work or getting a good grade, so you can be feeling a lot more confident with what you got,” said Megelas.

Concordia students Luca Safar (right) and Exael Cormarie (left) at the Loyola campus. KAITLYNN RODNEY/ The Concordian

Luca Safar (right) and Exael Cormarie (left)

“I think it’s fair enough, you know what I mean? Reading weeks are important and they said that they would give one,” said Safar.

“I think it’s interesting and motivating to see everybody wanting to do this. I am an international student, so I don’t really know what a reading week is, but I do like the idea of having extra time to relax. We don’t seem to have that many breaks already throughout the term,” Exael said.

Portrait of Concordia student Mohammad Abdullah at Sir George Williams Campus. ANTONY FALCONE/ The Concordian

Mohammad Abdullah

“No, I am not against it. I wasn’t sure about the reading week strike but now that I heard about it,  I’m sure that students should get the time to participate. They can get their homework done. It’s good to have a strike. I’ll probably catch up with my homework, my labs, assignments, and get ready for midterms,” Abdullah said.

Concordia students Francisco Ceballos (left) and Cesar Delossantos (right) at Sir George Williams Campus. ANTONY FALCONE/ The Concordian

Francisco Ceballos (left) and Cesar Delossantos (right)

“I think it should happen because other schools have a reading week in the fall term. I’m gonna need to study and catch up on my other classes,” said Delossantos, a civil engineering student.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity for students so they can catch up. Some students might have fallen behind on classes so it also gives them the opportunity to catch up. It has also been really crazy since we’ve been back in school. It’ll be great for everyone to relax, not stress out and settle down a little bit to use that time to catch up with notes and things like that,” said Ceballos, who is currently pursuing a degree in civil engineering.


Broken Promises, Closed Community Organizations

Quebec community organizations have gone on strike across the province this past week as a result of intense pressures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers say they lack the funding needed to deal with the massive growth in the need for their services to house, feed, and provide care for vulnerable populations.

Video Editor Anthony-James Armstrong spoke with community sector workers at a massive demonstration near downtown Montreal on Tuesday, Feb. 22.


PHOTOS: Community organizations strike amidst pandemic pressures

Coalition des Tables régionales d’organismes communautaires (CTROC) kicked off their mobilization week with a massive protest in the Berri-UQAM area on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

The CTROC is a coalition of Quebec’s community organizations primarily supporting the area’s health and wellness needs. According to the organizers, the need for their services by vulnerable people has increased greatly since the pandemic began, whereas their resources remained the same.

Accompanying the mounting pressures of the pandemic, many feel a lack of moral and financial support from the provincial government. Workers in these community organizations have struggled to adapt on their own without clear guidelines to follow. According to those who attended, some 2500 protesters filled the streets, and the strike will continue for at least the next week with demonstrations taking place across the province.

Photo Story by Catherine Reynolds


I’m a journalist and an activist. Deal with it

In September, the Global Climate Strike took the world by storm with approximately 7.6 million people marching for climate action.

According to its organizers, this was the biggest climate mobilization in history. People sent a clear message to their governments: they expect climate action, and they expect it now. With approximately 500,000 people striking in Montreal, this was the largest strike in the city’s history, said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.

I was part of the march both as a journalist and an engaged citizen. I wonder if my objectivity could be discredited, since I personally share values with some climate activists and align myself with certain environmental movements.

Many journalists think it’s important to keep a distance from groups and movements, at the risk of losing credibility and thus the trust of readers. I’m aware that I have my own perspectives that impact the filter through which I view and describe events; and inevitably shades the, so to say, “truth.” However, I truly believe that being aware of these biases can only encourage me to be more objective and motivated to deliver the “truth.”

Objectivity is thought of as an absolute – journalists are either 100 per cent objective, or not at all. But in fact, journalists, like other human beings, are all subjective. They too, have their own interests, values, opinions and ideologies. I believe that, consciously or not, these values shape who they are, what they think and how they act as citizens as well as journalists. My personal interests are based on environmental and social issues and I believe in climate change and the need to act now. The planet is the number one subject I want to report on and I believe my interests and experiences in this field can add value to my journalism.

There is also this fantasy that journalists are independent and serve only the public. In theory, journalism is meant to deliver the truth and help the readers make their own opinion about the world, beyond the influence of any source of power, such as the government or private companies. I believe that in reality, even the most conscientious and cautious journalist can be influenced either by powerful sources or by various situations. For example, influences may come from the political views of the news organization the journalist works for.

Moreover, in my opinion, there are always two – if not more – sides to a story. The concept of “balance” can give you the impression that both sides should always be covered equally. But should they really? Journalists can sometimes give equal voice to people of unequal knowledge. For example, when covering stories linked to the constant debate on the existence of a climate urgency, journalists tend to grant equal importance to both scientists and global warming sceptics. Fearful of being seen as biased or discriminating certain opinions, they sometimes don’t help but confuse and mislead the public opinion.

Also, depending on deliberate choices concerning the materials used to depict an event or news, such as the composition of the pictures taken during a protest or the words used to describe the event, journalists can convey different sides of a story. They may do it unconsciously as they are sometimes just following news conventions, like publishing a picture showing the one violent demonstrator in a peaceful protest. It makes a more compelling photo than showing peaceful marchers, but I don’t think this depicts the actual event as it happened. I believe it is part of the journalists’ job to break barriers between people of different opinions and not only share what people do, but why they do it.

As part of my studies as well as my personal interests, I decided to join an environmental movement last July, to better understand activism and its link to journalism. Born in France, known for its revolutionary people, I had never joined any protest or any march before and had always thought protesters were very different from me. But the more I started attending protests, the more I realized how alike we were. This made me realize that there is a very powerful stereotype among the public opinion concerning activism. More and more, I could see that activism was often portrayed as violent, and activists as harmful troublemakers.

On the other hand, when I went to protests myself, I could see how peaceful they actually were and how cautious they had to be to fight against this misinterpretation commonly held in the public opinion that they’re the ones messing with the system. I believe journalists matter in this, since they have a certain influence on the public opinion.

Journalists decide what is news. Journalists are the ones to attach relative importance to news events. Readers interpret those events through the language that journalists choose to constitute their coverage. 

It’s obviously very difficult to leave my personal interests out of my work life, and I think that it’s a journalist’s responsibility to have integrity in their work. There will always be an inherent link between the authenticity of my work and my values, and it would be hypocritical to hide it. I strongly believe that if I acknowledge my personal interests, am conscious that I may have biased first reactions but am willing to try my best to deliver factual reports, I should not be considered any differently than other reporters, and I believe my knowledge of the ecological crisis can make me even better equipped to talk about such issues.


Photo by Britanny Clarke


Let’s talk about the environment

Why the upcoming protest about climate change is needed

On Friday, March 15, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., many Concordia students will participate in a walkout to protest inaction from authority figures on the issue of climate change. The strike will be in solidarity with international climate strikes and walkouts in other institutions in Montreal, such as McGill and UdeM. Later in the day, protesters will join a Montreal-wide march to stand up for climate action.

Now, although I do not condone skipping class, I would like to stress the importance of the call to action this protest aims for: to raise awareness on the current environmental crisis we find ourselves in and to act now for a more sustainable future for our planet. To get a little scientific, the Keeling curve (which many aren’t aware of) is a graph of the accumulation of measurements of the concentration of CO2 emissions taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii from 1958 to today. The sense of urgency to take action stems from the Keeling curve, as it has been increasing—this year it has reached its highest level of CO2 concentration measured ever!

As a Master’s student in environmental assessment, in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, I’ve learnt about the environmental science behind these issues firsthand and the detailed extent of how humans impact the planet. Just last week, our class visited the Anthropocene exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada. Witnessing attendees appreciate the beauty in photos of environmental destruction as art was terrifying, to say the least. However, it did bring about an opportunity for the public to learn about the effects we’ve imposed on our environment, similarly to what the walkout aims to do.

March 15 is an important date since many schools will be on strike that day to follow the European demonstration movement initiated by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish political activist working to fight against climate change and global warming. It is crucial to acknowledge that this walkout is a response to a global issue. It is also important to emphasize the international scale of this crisis, as seen by the lone protest of Thunberg. Her actions have led to a powerful global movement of school climate strikes, spreading to countries in the UK, Australia, Belgium, Germany, the United States, Japan and dozens more, demanding politicians act on behalf of the planet, according to The Guardian.

At the UN Climate Change COP24 in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018, Thunberg announced, “[World leaders today] only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess even when the only sensible thing to do is to pull the emergency brake.” Following this urgency for action against today’s environmental issues, Concordia’s Department of Geography, Planning and Environment has begun a number of projects in support of raising awareness and promoting ways to reduce our environmental impact.

Some of these projects include Concordia’s Climate Clock, which shows how current greenhouse gas emissions affect our planet’s trajectory to reach two degrees. Another project is Climate Bytes, which aims to translate complicated studies on climate change into “digestible byte-sized pieces of information” for the public to more easily understand the science behind these issues. Another is the newly formed Climate Emergency Committee, which allows students within the department and professors in the field to come together and discuss the issues and ways to move forward in addressing these problems.

To learn more about these issues, I invite you all to attend the upcoming Sustainability in the City and Beyond conference from March 19 to 21 at the Loyola Jesuit Hall and Conference Centre. Here, the Climate Emergency Committee will be speaking more about their work.

Remember, the need for action is urgent, and the time to become aware of environmental issues and how to help is now!

Graphic by Ana Bilokin


Editorial: Remember, unpaid is unfair

Picture this: you’re scrolling down Indeed, aimlessly searching for a job that fits your criteria—or more accurately, a job where you meet the criteria. Your eyes land on something that almost sounds too good to be true.

Eagerly, you click on the posting and, with hope, cross your fingers. You’re gleeful as you read the responsibilities and requirements—they’re all things you can actually do. Suddenly, you read the last line of the post: “This is an unpaid internship, but we reward our interns with exposure and experience!” As if exposure and experience can put food on the table, pay the rent, or a massive amount of bills.

On Jan. 16, the Journalism Student Association (JSA) voted in favour of going on a week-long strike against unpaid internships. Some of the goals of this protest, outlined by the JSA, are to pressure the Quebec government to include interns in its Labour Code, and to send a message to Concordia that they are opposed to mandatory, unpaid internships, specifically, the journalism course JOUR 450.

Of course, striking and protesting against unpaid internships isn’t a radical idea. In November 2018, more than 50,000 Quebec students went on strike against unpaid internships, according to CBC News. The protest highlighted how Quebec’s labour laws don’t protect student interns, who are often exploited and left without remuneration. Those of us who are familiar with unpaid internships are well aware of the many downsides that come with embarking on one. But it seems that there are a lot of students out there who don’t really know about unpaid internships—or more importantly, why they suck.

When news broke of the JSA voting in favour of the strike, many anonymous students took to the Spotted: Concordia Facebook page to vent about how much they disagree with the strike. Specifically, one post mentioned that the university can’t do much about journalism students’ unpaid internships, and that they don’t decide if unpaid internships exist or not. Well, we hate to break it to you, anonymous Spotter, but Concordia actually does have a say in unpaid internships. In the journalism department, students can’t get paid if they’re earning credit for their internship (see JOUR 450 above). This university policy is a hassle to deal with, and leaves students feeling trapped between two daunting choices: exert all of your energy and produce the best work possible without pay, or choose an unrelated job that pays but forever be left behind in the competitive race to the top.

We also need to stress that unpaid internships in general affect a lot of different people, in a lot of different ways. In fields like mechanical and industrial engineering, internships are paid—but 79.3 per cent of students in that field at Concordia are men, according to a poster published by the CSU about unpaid internships across various departments. The same can be said about finance, where 70.12 per cent of students are men, yet that field holds paid internship opportunities. Meanwhile, fields like art education, where 90.0 per cent of students are women, and applied human sciences, where 78.29 per cent of students are women, offer mostly unpaid internships. And it’s noteworthy to remember that women that work full-time still earn 74.2 cents for every dollar earned by a man, according to Maclean’s.

Unpaid internships also affect those who are already struggling financially. People with physical and mental disabilities are twice as likely to live below the poverty line in Canada, and nearly 15 per cent of people with disabilities live in poverty, according to the non-profit organization Canada Without Poverty. One in five racialized families live in poverty in Canada, whereas one in 20 non-racialized families live in poverty. According to the same source, racialized women earn 32 per cent less at work.

These same people, representing these facts and figures, are trying their best as students at Concordia. Not only are they studying hard, they’re also trying to find an opportunity outside of their schooling that lets them add something to their resume. At the same time, they’re juggling numerous responsibilities; some might have children, others might need to pay rent. The last thing they need is an unpaid internship. So, to all of you anonymous Spotted users: try to ditch the misplaced anger, and instead, read up about unpaid internships. Oh, and maybe invest in some sympathy—it seems like you can afford it.

Graphic by @spooky_soda


Philosophy students strike against austerity

Concerns over education quality to lead to one-day boycott

The Students of Philosophy Association (SoPhiA) will go on strike Oct. 31 to protest imposed budget cuts and austerity measures put in place this year by the provincial Liberal government.

The one-day protest is in response to the effects of the $15.7 million that will be cut from Concordia University as part of the $172-million cut across Quebec in higher education.

SoPhiA, the undergraduate philosophy organization in ASFA, voted on Oct. 24 to participate in the one-day strike alongside other students across the province at the “Austerity: A Horror Story” protest taking place on Halloween.

As per the motion that passed, SoPhiA is requesting all philosophy classes on Oct. 31 be cancelled and resumed regularly after the day of the austerity protest. It was also resolved that “in voting in favour of the one-day strike, Philosophy Students support the Manifestation Contre l’Austerité, organized by the association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ),” read the motion.

A press release from the association stated that “As a result of these cuts, Concordia University will suffer 180 faculty and staff position losses; including custodial, health services and sustainability positions.”

In reality, the 180 positions expected to be cut through the Voluntary Departure Program will not affect any faculty positions at Concordia and is aimed at administrative titles.

The student organization went on to express concern that T.A. positions in the philosophy department are in danger, and that “As a result of these cuts to our curriculum, evaluation methods and overall quality of education will suffer enormously.”

SoPhiA VP Academic Katie Nelson and VP Internal Michael Giesbrecht stated their concern for budget cuts in their department, saying: “a trend has been obvious over the past few years, especially in terms of seminars and special topics.”

On the subject of new austerity cuts, Nelson and Giesbrecht fear that the philosophy department will face further, major cuts to their budget.

These claims have not been confirmed with the philosophy department.The university could not be reached for comment before the time of publication. However, Concordia’s President Alan Shepard told the Concordian Oct. 10 that the university was doing everything possible to avoid cutting into the academic side of university operations.

“We’re doing our best to protect the academic mission, so the courses for students [and] services,” he said. “It’s not realistic to say, ‘Oh it won’t have any impact,’ because you can’t take four per cent out of the operating budget away and have no impact.”

While the student strike will only last a day SoPhiA executives felt as though taking part is important for both their members and Quebec’s greater student population.

“A one-day strike is not only right for philosophy students, it’s the right move for all students,” they said.

The Concordia contingent of the “Austerity: a Horror Story” protest leaves from the Hall Building at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 31.


A majority vote for strike

CUPFA  members met at a special general assembly on Sunday. Photo by Madelayne Hajek

The Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association voted 95 per cent in favour of an unlimited strike mandate should collective bargaining negotiations fail.

CUPFA held a special general assembly Sunday to discuss options to pressure the administration at Concordia to forego amendments to the collective agreement.

The most recent contract expired Aug. 31 and part-time faculty members are not content with the proposal offered by the university.

“I’m urging all members to stand with the union behind the strike mandate,” said Robert Campbell, a part-time professor in accounting at the John Molson School of Business. “When I saw what they were offering us, I said ‘I can’t believe this’ and it’s just unacceptable.”

In March, the association requested that Concordia issue a protocol in order to agree on how to proceed and sign a new collective agreement. Following nine separate meetings between administration and CUPFA, a protocol was signed on July 8.

Negotiations were supposed to continue in August, however, Concordia decided to restructure the terms of the current collective agreement much to the dismay of CUPFA. The restructuring was unanimously rejected but the university is still pushing forward with the plan.

“What they want is to rewrite every article in our collective agreement,” said Patrice Blais, vice president of the collective agreement and grievance. “They want to continue to fix things that aren’t broken.”

Concordia’s deal proposed to isolate and de-link salary rates from other post-secondary institutions like Université de Montréal and Université du Québec à Montréal which means their salaries would not change despite what is happening at sister universities. Furthermore, the university wants to impose restrictions on retirement and leaves, as well as having control over the hiring process of applicants vying for a part-time position, benefits and course evaluations. The university also wants to restructure seniority standing with a point system that would see current senior positions devalued.

One of the concerns emphasized by CUPFA was the volume of grievances filed by professors during the last collective agreement. The negotiating team argued that the massive increase in grievances is due to Concordia not respecting aspects of the agreement since 2009.

According to David Douglas, chair of communications, 21 grievances were filed this year so far and he expects as many as 30 complaints to be submitted by the end of 2012.

Douglas believes the time to pressure the university’s collective bargaining committee is now. CUPFA is not willing to head to the bargaining table for an extended period as they did for their last contract. It took seven years, from 2002 to 2009, for two parties to reach a settlement and sign a contract.

“Our experience has been one of delay with the university. Last time around we were very polite, they asked can we put you off for a period of time and we said yes,” Douglas told The Concordian. “We don’t have faith in the approach that the university is taking.”

If the university and the union are unable to achieve a negotiation in the near future, CUPFA’s mandate to strike has the potential to paralyze Concordia with over 800 part-time professors teaching at Concordia now. For the time being, however, the impending strike remains a pressure tactic only.

“What we are focusing on is to keep negotiating. CUPFA has every right to take a strike mandate if they want and this does not mean they are on strike,” said university spokesperson Chris Mota. “We want to keep working towards a contract that can be done sooner rather than later and continue to negotiate.”

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