By Chantal Sordzi
Curious glances spotted an unusual sight on Monday October 15th, 2018. Mingled voices expressed discontentment vis-à-vis Dawson administrators. "Whose voices?" one may ask. To several students’ surprise, the Dawson Teachers’ Union and other instructors gathered to protest the current working conditions of Dawson Continuing Education teachers. The College seems to have established a particular bureaucratic distinction between Daytime and Continuing Education teachers within the last year. Evening instructors believe they are being treated unfairly. Five key complaints were brought up:
1. The request for a General Assembly for Continuing Education was denied, shutting the door to parley with administrators. 2. Not only do these workers not have salary insurance or the same benefits, but their sick days are now unpaid. 3. The professional seniority system has been amended. Time spent away from work (accidents, illness or injury) is subtracted from the Cont’Ed teachers’ seniority record. In other words, a Daytime teacher and an Evening teacher can start their careers at the same time, but have striking differences in seniority status. 4. Evening instructors cannot exchange work shifts with Daytime colleagues, whether it is for the same course or not. This closes several opportunities for schedule accommodation. 5. Finally, the Cont’Ed workforce believes it is especially being taken for granted due to the flagrant disparity in wages. Merrianne Couture, an English daytime teacher, was “sitting in solidarity with continuing teachers.” According to English teacher Omar Qaqish, “it is very demoralizing for young teachers who come into the profession to have to spend 4, 5 or 6 years of their career with lower pay and limited benefits.” At the end of the day, “night teachers do the same work and they should have the same working conditions.”
Put that bag of chips down and try to picture this for one moment. After years of studying, graduation finally comes around and your career starts off beneath your expectations. Then, when you attempt to address the issues at hand, the General Assembly request is denied and the door is slammed shut in your face. Conflicted, a Mathematics teacher named Mehdi Moodi admitted: “I wish I could be available [for students] outside class hours, but when the administration is paying me so much less, why should I?’’
The peaceful protest ended on an unresolved note, teachers making their way back to their crowded offices while others finished grading the last of their assignments against the College walls.