Dawson’s local Common Front hold a picket line
by Brian Lapuz
Dawson’s teachers and support staff were picketing yesterday morning from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., in front of the De Maisonneuve entrance of Dawson College, as a part of a local Common Front negotiation pressure tactic.
The Dawson Teacher’s Union (DTU) and Dawson Support Staff Union (DSSU), under the umbrella of Common Front 2010, have been negotiating their collective agreements for a year.
The old contracts, decreed in 2005, expired yesterday and now Quebec’s 475,000 public sector employees are demanding better working conditions and higher wages so they can provide better services.
“We’re trying to get the money that’s owed to us,” said James Richards, a Dawson maintenance person at the picket line. “[Currently] there is nothing on the table and we want our contracts signed.”
Francisco Andrade, first semester Social Science student, observed the picket line and felt that it could have been better organized. He also said that the DTU and DSSU should have gotten the student’s support.
“This is an act against neo-liberalism,” added Andrade. “[But] I’m surprised that they are out here in the cold.”
Yesterday, the Quebec government announced the new budget and stuck to what they initially offered to Common Front. According to DTU president Sylvie Perron, the government’s offer was contemptible.
“It’s not a seven percent raise in salary over five years, but funding equity, salaries, benefits and other resources at the workplace,” Perron said.
Public sector workers are demanding an 11.25 percent salary increase over three years.
Common Front also said that their low wages and poor working conditions are bad for the population in general.
“We are asking for more teaching resources, to alleviate the teacher’s task, so we can give more attention to students,” said Perron. “We want more teachers and less students per classroom; this is our main demand.”
Fourth semester Liberal Arts student Francesca Pecora agreed with this demand.
“Teachers are very important,” said Pecora. “I would be a teacher if the wages were better.”
“We want wages that keep up with inflation,” said Rod Charters, DSSU president. “We have a vacant electricians job, but no one wants to work for the college, because of [the low] wages.”
Jean-Claude Duval, who has been working for the college for 25 years in the audio-visual production department was present yesterday, and said that they want to be heard, but their hopes aren’t very high.
“People work very hard at Dawson, I don’t think we get the recognition we deserve,” Duval said.
“We’re starting off with symbolic actions that won’t disrupt services,” Charters said.
The results of the negotiations are expected today. Since many workers are not expecting to achieve the desired results, Perron said that the Quebec population sh