After weeks of talks, it appears the Ontario college strike is a reality.
According to the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), the strike will begin on Monday morning (Oct. 16) as the faculty offer has been rejected,
This means that more than 12,000 Ontario public college faculty will be on the picket line after talks between the OPSEU and the College Employer Council failed to produce a tentative collective agreement.
The faculty represented by the OPSEU have been in talks to strike if their contracts aren’t amended to include benefits such as higher wages and staffing changes.
“On October 14, we presented Council with a streamlined offer that represented what faculty consider to be the bare minimum we need to ensure quality education for students and treat contract faculty fairly,” said JP Hornick, chair of the union bargaining team. “We carefully crafted a proposal that responded to Council’s concerns about costs in a fair and reasonable way.
“Unfortunately, Council refused to agree on even the no-cost items, such as longer contracts for contract faculty and academic freedom,” she said. “This leaves us with no choice but to withdraw our services until such time as our employer is ready to negotiate seriously.”
Hornick said Council is committed to what he called a “Walmart model of education” based on reducing the role of full-time faculty and “exploiting underpaid contract workers who have no job security beyond one semester.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas called the current impasse “regrettable” but said college faculty have the full backing of the union’s 130,000 members and their $72 million strike fund.
“Our union has a track record of getting deals done without work stoppages,” he said. “Unfortunately, that has not happened in this case. Nonetheless, I encourage the colleges to get back to the table so we can wrap this up swiftly, for the good of students and faculty alike.”
OPSEU represents professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians working at 24 public colleges across Ontario.