What does collective struggle look like for community organizations?

Last week, one of our staff members attended a full day conversation between community groups about the possibility of a community sector strike, demonstration, and other activities that would ramp up the demand of the FRACA- as part of the Engagez Vous Pour le Communautaire campaign-  for increased funding and support for the essential work of nonprofit organizations in Québec.

Applying the concept of a strike to an entire sector– and one that is largely non-unionized–  produces many different kinds of challenges, a number of which were discussed over the course of the day. One of the most pressing questions was whether employees would participate in demonstrations and other activities with our without pay. At the end of the day, this is a decision to be made by the Board of Directors of each organization. Other conversations revolved around whether any of the services provided by community groups would count as emergency services, which would affect the response the government would be required to provide in the case of a service shut-down.

Although questions about the viability of a strike were expected, some other important and interesting questions were raised about the use of a demonstration as the first tactic the #EngagezVous campaign had planned. One of the organizations (Ex Aequo) who had the most successful mobilizations- collecting 1,000 signatures for the petition – pointed out that a majority of their members, who lived with various kinds of mobility restrictions, couldn’t attend or participate in the demonstration. Sharp in other people’s mind was the memory of the last #EngagezVous demonstration, which occurred in -25 degree weather in a snowstorm.

The day has left a number of lingering questions for us. How can we design a form of collective struggle for the community sector, that would be effective in getting the funding so many of us sorely need, be open and inclusive, and not harm the communities we are serving in the process?

Do you have any thoughts or ideas? We would love to hear them!