Champlain College Lennoxville staff strike for improved public services

Champlain College Lennoxville staff strike for improved public services
Emma Dufresne-Martin, daughter of SECCL union VP Geneviève Dufresne-Martin (right), braves the November cold in support of Champlain Lennoxville staff

By William Crooks

Local Journalism Initiative

The staff of Champlain College Lennoxville, a public English-language CEGEP in the Townships, are on strike from Nov. 21 to 23. This action, part of the Common Front, a coalition of Quebec public sector unions, is a response to government proposals deemed insufficient by the staff and aims to advocate for access to quality collegiate education across the region.

Participating are the Champlain College Lennoxville Teaching Union (SECCL), Support Staff Union (SPSCCL), and Professional Staff Union (APCCL). The strike began at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 21, and is being held at Champlain College Lennoxville.

The SECCL represents over 100 teachers and is part of the College Teachers Alliance (ASPPC), which unites 61 teaching staff unions across Quebec. The SPSCCL Represents over 20 employees in various administrative and technical roles. The APCCL is comprised of 13 members, including advisors and social workers, focusing on student welfare.

This strike underscores the staff’s stated commitment to maintaining high standards in collegiate education. The unions, part of a broader alliance representing over 420,000 public sector workers in Quebec, are negotiating with the stated goal of avoiding impoverishment and promoting equitable access to education.

Maxime Chaput Dupuy, APPCL President, explained that they are striking in an effort to improve their working conditions. There has been a large turnover in employees among CEGEPs in Quebec, he continued; Champlain Lennoxville is a “young” group and has been affected just the same. Their major goal is simply to retain professionals at the CEGEP level.

The central question is one of pay – professionals with the same job can make much more money in the private sector. This “pay gap” affects retention, since, with many trades, one can make 15 to 20 per cent more elsewhere.

Inflation has outpaced wage increases, and they have not been able to maintain their purchasing power, he said. The government’s current offer is a 1.5 per cent increase for next year, but the recent inflation rate is 7 per cent. This renders their position “unstable”, and they are insisting on fighting for an offer that “would make up for the losses of the past few years”. Other issues on the table include flexibility of working schedules and “relief” for time worked as representatives of their respective unions.

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