On Strike and Walking Strong: Nine Days In

Credit: Cathy Bidini

With the strike now in its second week, our faculty’s conviction remains steady and strong. Dogs of the strike have shown their solidarity in force, and faculty have been connecting and hatching plans on the picket lines as they rack up and exceed their 10,000-plus steps a day. We can do this, folks!

We closed out last week with a barn-burner of a rally featuring fighting words from JP Hornick, our chief negotiator. “This round has been about union busting from the colleges’ side from day one,” she said, to which the crowd shouted “Shame!” in response. Since no student enters college expecting precarious work, she said, “What you’re doing now stands up for them tomorrow.” As part of the performance of Mohammed Ali, the socialist hip-hop artist, we acknowledged that the land we picket on is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit. Many students from across Humber programs showed up at the rally to support their faculty, while Humber Theatre Performance students brought a spectacular show in their rendition of “We want, we want, classes!”  Most of all, the rally underscored how crucial this fight is, and that we’re up for it.

Beyond our campuses, pressure is mounting on the College Council to come back to the bargaining table. While the #WePayToLearn petition that demands tuition reimbursements from the colleges for all the days of the strike has now racked up over a hundred thousand signatures, the tide of the media is also with us. The CBC in particular has kept up a steady flow of coverage that highlights the exploitation of sessional faculty and the inequity of the “new norm” of precarious labour in post-secondary education. With coverage like this, our message is getting through and the colleges and the Ontario government can’t help but feel the pressure to do the right thing.

Meanwhile, at a grassroots level, we’re organizing to ensure that conversations on social media are informed and include our perspective. Our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube accounts are all churning out daily content for our members to share. We’ve got a manual and sample content up on our website to help faculty post to their own social accounts, and we’ve set up social media training sessions at Lakeshore campus that faculty can take as part of their strike duty. This fight will be won in the arena of public opinion, so it’s up to all of us to communicate with our networks about why we’re on strike and why this fight matters so much. Reaching the public starts with each of us and our own communities.

In that spirit, here are a few great posts from our faculty this week!