Accueil » 28-2 ( 1973) » Le syndicalisme des professeurs d’université – Quelques réflexions

Le syndicalisme des professeurs d’université – Quelques réflexions

Joseph H. Chung


Dans un premier temps, cet article se penche sur le mouvement syndicaliste et para-syndicaliste des professeurs d'université tant au Canada qu'aux États-Unis. Dans une seconde étape, l'auteur considère les raisons de leur syndicalisation, ses implications et son avenir.


Unionism and University Professors

The labor union movement is a recent phenomenon on Canadian University campuses. For the time being, the full fledge certified labor union with a collective agreement is confined to the constituencies of the newly created Université du Quebec. These unions account for about 12 per cent of the total number of university professors in Québec. However, the trend towards certified unions may be intensified in the future. In fact, professors at Université de Montréal and Université de Sherbrooke have already applied for certification.

Several factors are responsible for the labor movement of university professors. The rapid expansion of public and para-public sectors including the sector of higher education, the loss of financial autonomy of universities, the passive attitude of university management towards increasing interventions of the government, the more radical social outlook of young faculty members and of course the worsening economic position relative to other occupational groups have all been the contributing factors.

However, the outright unionization of faculty members is not equally well accepted by all. On the contrary, strong resistence is observed in some quarters. The main reason seems to be the fear of being subject to rigid rules of conduct which may be imposed upon by the collective agreement, fear of violence which may be provoked by strikes, the alleged incompatibility of professionalism with the spirit of the collective agreement, fear of being manipulated by a small group of radical leaders and, perhaps, the outright conservatism. At any rate, it is not altogether certain that the certified labor union is the preferred form of labor organization on the university campus.

However, the traditional form of voluntary faculty association does not seem appropriate in the present context, for somehow professors should find a way to discuss, if not negotiate, with the ultimate provider, the government. One of the possible ways of creating such a mechanism is to regroup local organizations within a provincial or a national organization not only because of the economies of scale it creates in the area of technical services but also for the needed internal cohesion and the coordination of efforts which may be better ensured through a central organization.

The central organization may be one of the traditional organizations such as the CNTU, the Q.F.L. or the C.E.Q. In fact, the latter organization has already launched a campain of recruting university faculty members. However, for the time being, the possibility of professors' affiliation to these organizations appears limited partly because of ideological reasons. The alternative is to strengthen the « Federation des Associations des professeurs d'Université du Québec » (FAPUQ) which already regroup about 70 per cent of the total number of faculty members in Quebec.

To conclude, the traditional form of faculty association is no longer efficient, because of external pressure, structural changes within the education system, the loss of autonomy by universities and the passive attitude of university management towards increasing interventions of government in higher education. The new form of faculty organization should be flexible enough to accommodate various heterogeneous groups within the university and at the same time strong enough to face up to government. The real challenge lies in finding the most suitable form of organization which is not necessarily that of certified labor union.