Quebec Students on General Strike: Student Unionism in Practice

The Quebec Student General Strike is now in its 13th week as students oppose proposed dramatic increases in tuition. Quebec students have the lowest tuition in Canada and also have the most active and radical student movement. Today the conservative Quebec government just announced that it was closing the colleges and universities on strike until August as negotiations with the students were unsuccessful.

You can follow the demonstrations in Montreal on
CUTV on LiveStream

The twitter tag is #ggi (Grève Générale Illimitée - Unlimited General Strike).
And #manifeencours (manifestation en cours - demonstration in progress)

There are tons of demonstrations. The largest featured over 100,000 people.

The Quebec student movement is very different from that of the rest of Canada and the United States. The biggest difference is that it is more of a Student Union movement based on union principals and mass organization. This differs from the US equivalent the United States Student Association (USSA) which is more of a network of student governments with some activist leanings but not the mass backing of a real student union. The Canadian Federation of Students is somewhere between USSA and the Quebec student movement in terms of where it fits on the "student government to student union" spectrum. Internationally, the student union model is more popular and seen in countries like the UK, Australia, and France (or at least it used to be - I wouldn't be surprised if these countries have experienced a moderating of their student unions up until the last recession).

In the United States, student unionism is probably most supported by the new Students for a Democratic Society (often called "student power"). When I was in United Students Against Sweatshops we passed a pro-student unionism resolution, though never acted on it. Also while I was in the smaller Movement for Democracy and Education -- 180 (MDE-180) we advocated for campus democracy which was essential student unionism. Unfortunately MDE-180 is now dead.

CampusActivism has a collection of resources on Campus Democracy - aka Student Unionism.

Student Power I wrote this 16 page leaflet on student power.
Essay on Student Unions By Charlie Eaton, United Students Against Sweatshops.
Towards Student Unionism
History of Quebec Student Movement in French. 40 pages.
Redefining Campus Power By Andy Burns. Movement for Democracy and Education 180.

Quebec has four organizations that range from a coalition of student governments to a real student union. The most radical/student union is the Association pour une Solidarite Syndicale Etudiante (Association for a Solidarity Student Union) which has formed a coalition to fight the tuition increase.

Wikipedia page on the strike

Perhaps one of the closest examples of student unionism in the United States that I know of is the youtube music video about the strike