The Chronicle of Higher Education: The Biggest Student Uprising You’ve Never Heard Of
April 23, 2012, 5:32 am
By Marc Bousquet
250,000 students pack the streets in largest demo in Quebec history
A guest post by Lilian Radovac. (BTW, SoCal readers may want to know that Marc is speaking at UC-Irvine a 4 p.m. 4/23 on New Media/New Protests.)
On an unseasonably warm day in late March, aquarter of a million postsecondary students and their supporters gathered in the streets of Montreal to protest against the Liberal government’s plan to raise tuition fees by 75% over five years. As the crowd marched in seemingly endless waves from Place du Canada, dotted with the carrés rouges, or red squares, that have become the symbol of the Quebec student movement, it was plainly obvious that this demonstration was the largest in Quebec’s, and perhaps Canadian, history.
The March 22nd Manifestation nationale was not the culmination but the midpoint of a 10-week-long student uprising that has seen, at its height, over 300,000 college and university students join an unlimited and superbly coordinated general strike. As of today, almost 180,000 students remain on picket lines in departments and faculties that have been shuttered since February, not only in university-dense Montreal but also insmaller communities throughout Quebec.
Aerial news footage of the March 22nd Manifestation nationale
Post-secondary Support of Teachers / BCTF Petition
We want to forward this petition to the Ministry at the 500+ mark today or tomorrow morning. Please circulate and let’s boost this to 500+! We are currently at 399 signatures…
Over a three day stretch, secondary students organized, marched, walked, spoke, and shouted out against oppressive labour legislation in British Columbia and for their teachers and the BCTF. It’s rare that secondary students get opportunities to unify as a political force at the provincial level, but now in this labour dispute the students are making a difference. On Friday, 2 March, thousands of students walked out of their classes and schools and rallied across the province. In Vancouver, the students descended en masse for a rally at the gallery.
On Tuesday, 6 March, at the BC Fed and BCTF rally hundreds of the youth marched with the unions down Government Street and to the steps of the BC Legislature. For the crowd of 6,000, two young women, Hannah Case and Erin Galbraith, spoke a lotta truth to a power undermining their teachers’ rights. In Vancouver, on 7 March for the rally at the gallery, secondary students Navi Rai and Melissa Wong stood together on the steps and voiced their support for the teachers’ rights and their right to a fair government. Both were active in organizing Friday’s walkout. And raising the roof of nature, Chandler McCorkingdale rapped. Sorry, BC Liberals, the students and the public are standing with the teachers.
Now, where in the world are the missing BC post-secondary students, especially the Education majors? Especially now? I know that some are organizing online. And I know that the Canadian Federation of Students BC is 100% behind the BCTF and the teachers. But across three rallies not a single post-secondary student signed onto the speaker’s lists. Not a single one spoke while thousands of the secondary students have shown their strength as a political force. Perhaps UBC’s Teacher Education Officer John Yamamoto’s interview with the CBC’s Morning Edition on 7 March is telling. Yamamoto advised that the Education students should, nay must, remain neutral. Some advice for the teacher candidates– one gets the sense that he thinks he is advising 700 administration candidates! Where are the post-secondary students and will the CFS BC organize the group to be heard or present?
Posted in BC Education, Disputes, Free speech, K-12 issues, Protests, Strikes & Labor, Student Movement, Students, Unions
Tagged K-12 issues, Strikes & Labor Disputes, Students
For two solid days in dozens of cities and towns across British Columbia, tens of thousands of students, parents, faculty members, peer unions, and the BC Federation of Labour turned out in support of the BCTF and teachers. For the rally in Victoria yesterday, the President of the Canadian Federation of teachers flew across the country to be there, as did peer teaching union presidents and representatives from as far as Nova Scotia. This is bigger than the BCTF BC Fed President Jim Sinclair announced over the last two days. For the BC Fed and everyone showing their solidarity, this is about standing up for the province, for what is right and just, for rights, for workers, for people young and old struggling from day to day as citizens. This is about democratic rule and the BCTF and BC Fed are in this for the long haul. BCTF President Susan Lambert rallied today in Vancouver, promising the BC Liberals’ as they move on oppressive, debilitating legislation, that this governing party’s chance of re-election is that of a “proverbial snowflake, hellbound!”
BCTF President Lambert Speaks out at Vancouver Rally
That’s powerful and resonates with the vast system of public support that is turning out for the rallies across the province. To try and govern workers– to try and suppress a labour movement that is ascendent and increasingly unified– with this might of legislation, Bill 22, is foolish. The opposition party, the NDP in BC, is doing all it can to undermine and debate this anti-democratic legislation that is Bill 22. Adrian Dix, Leader of the NDP, guaranteed the labour movement yesterday in Victoria that his party was not resting and would do everything in its power to give teachers the fair right to bargain– a right that every public or private sector union or professional association deserves.
Posted in BC Education, K-12 issues, Protests, Strikes & Labor, Students, Teachers, Unions
Tagged Budgets & Funding, Government, K-12 issues, Legal issues, Strikes, Strikes & Labor Disputes, Working conditions
BC Legislature Bill 22, undermining teachers’ / BCTF rights to fair bargaining and job action. BOO !
(1) An employee, the BCTF or an officer of the BCTF or of a local of the BCTF or a representative of the BCTF or of a local of the BCTF, who contravenes section 3 (1) (b), (c) or (e), as the case may be, commits an offence and is liable to the following:
(a) in the case of an employee, a fine amount of not more than $475 for each day on which the offence occurs;
(b) in the case of the BCTF, a fine amount of not less than $1.3 million for each day on which the offence occurs;
(c) in the case of an officer of the BCTF or of a local of the BCTF or a representative of the BCTF or of a local of the BCTF, a fine amount of not less than $2 500 for each day on which the offence occurs.
Once again on the leading edge of the labour movement, BC teachers are on strike across 60 school districts within the province. In a show of solidarity, community and labour advocates have vowed to support the teachers and the BCTF throughout the job action. On day 1, teachers and supporters showed up in force at 7:00 to create an informational line, keep signs up, and talk to those who dropped by or others workers continuing their work in the schools. The 7:00-10:0o shifts in Vancouver were met with inclement conditions– horizontal rain and howling wind. The weather spirits smiled on later shifts and heartfelt, with the public on their side, the teachers could smile for a few moments as well.
BC Teachers at U Hill Secondary
Within labour, an informational line is not a picket line per se. Labour disruption proves to be an effective strategy and in this case the teachers are taking advantage of an opportunity to show their strength, generate public support, and strike before the BC Legislature passes the ominous anti-union Bill 22. The BC Federation of Labour is rallying support and uniting the movement tomorrow (6 March) in Victoria.
It takes a ton of courage for a student to walk out of school and today these young citizens demonstrated en masse across the province. Every teacher should stand proud as their students stand side by side with one voice. Every parent of these kids should feel the payoff. And the students themselves have to know they make the difference for all of us. This is education (see slide show below).
At the Vancouver Art Gallery, at least 1,500 students convened around 2:00 and stood, spoke, and shouted in solidarity with teachers and the BCTF. Students at Eric Hamber Secondary seem to have been the first group, exiting the school around 11:00 this morning. Despite the typically uncooperative weather (5C and rainy), the students were still protesting through the late afternoon.
It has been quite some time since BC saw a student movement but what struck me most was how many showed up and how well organized the demonstration was. These kids know their politics and how to win hearts. Signs everywhere with the critique of the BC government’s decision-making loud and clear, a young woman kicked things off: “BC” she shouted and 1,500 hollered back “students”… “BC” she shouted and 1,500 screamed “teachers.” That’s a solid show of force.
As post-secondary students in BC deal with compounding challenges that seem relentless, let’s hope the high school students spark this from grass roots to an all out BC student movement. Quebec post-secondary students are putting everything on the line right now. Time to take inspiration from the younger crowd to stand up and be heard BC post-secondary students!
BC Students Walk Out March 2012 Slide Show (photos by S. Petrina)
Post-secondary Support of Teachers / BCTF Petition.
Faculty members, librarians, administrators, students, and staff in post-secondary institutions across British Columbia in support of teachers and the BCTF. All bargaining units deserve a fair process of reaching a collective agreement.
This is for post-secondary to demonstrate support and appeal to the BC Premier and Minister of Education. From ICES.
With overwhelming support, BC Teachers approved a motion to strike. The vote was cast “to resist the unjust actions of the provincial government in yet again moving to impose a contract on the province’s 41,000 public school teachers. A total of 27,946 teachers voted yes in a province-wide vote conducted February 28 and 29, 2012. In all, 32,209 teachers cast ballots, of whom 87% voted yes.” See the BCTF for updates.
The full scale strike, limited to 3 days by the BC Labour Review Board, begins on Monday morning (6 March). On 27 January, BC teachers wore black (see BCTF Teacher p. 18), to mark the 10th anniversary of Bills 27 and 28, which stripped their collective agreements of class size, composition, and specialist service-levels language. Bill 22 is now threatening to undermine the teachers’ bargaining rights even more.
Labour advocates see this courageous escalation of job action as a spark for solidarity for coalescing the BC labour movement. At the University of British Columbia, CUPE and FAUBC contracts are in bargaining and at least two bargaining units, CUPE 116 and CUPE 2278, are looking at job action scenarios. Many BCTF members teach at the University and the BCTF strike may once again force the Faculty of Education to play its hand, as was the case for the 2005 BC teachers strike as university professors turned out in support and documented the 2005 strike. Look for leadership here from UBC’s Institute for Critical Education Studies.