Yesterday’s strike vote sent a clear message to the College Employer Council that they need to address faculty issues.
Across the province, 68 per cent of college faculty who cast ballots voted to entrust their bargaining team with the power to call a strike if necessary.
Going on strike is not the desired outcome, of course. Faculty would rather be working with our students as professors, counsellors, and librarians, than walking a picket line. But Council has not been willing to even discuss concerns around quality and fairness.
Our colleges are at a critical juncture. We are increasingly working with universities and delivering degree-level education, yet the voice of faculty in academic decisions is ignored. The employer has refused to engage with our sensible solutions – collegial governance through the creation of an academic Senate, and true academic freedom for faculty so that our expertise is not only recognized, but integrated into our work promoting student success.
Right now, 81 per cent of the teaching in our colleges is done by exploited, underpaid contract faculty. Contract faculty have to reapply for their jobs every four months, and are paid a fraction of the rate for full-time faculty, yet the colleges refuse to care about the security of thousands of contract faculty – and the stability hundreds of thousands of college students need.
As the exploitation of contract faculty continues, full-time permanent positions are not being filled. It’s no wonder that the percentage of contract faculty is rising dramatically: the percentage of full-time permanent positions is dropping.
In a news release Thursday, the colleges characterized our bargaining proposals as an intolerable financial hardship. “The strike vote outcome does not give the colleges any more money,” said Council bargaining team chair Sonia Del Missier.
This is true: strike votes are not fundraising drives for employers. They are meant to create an incentive for employers to bargain. Faculty believe our strike vote will do just that.
However, legislating “equal pay for equal work,” as the government’s Bill 148 will do, does come with a cost. According to the colleges, partial load faculty are currently being underpaid to the tune of $123 million a year. And even cutting presidents’ high salaries in half won’t raise that kind of money.
In the 1980s, with the passing of the Pay Equity Act, government realized that new legal obligations demanded new funding. We are in the same situation now. Equal pay for equal work in the colleges calls for new funding. It can’t come out of faculty. It can’t come out of students. It must come from government.
On Wednesday, September 20, college faculty will be at Queen’s Park to talk to MPPs about this very topic. You can help put this issue on the government’s agenda right now.
All you have to do is “click to call”
The college faculty website at www.collegefaculty.org has a new feature that allows you to go online, type in your postal code, and instantly be connected to your own MPP. Today, and next week, your OPSEU bargaining team is asking all faculty to call their MPP and pass on a few key messages to support next week’s face-to-face lobby.
Not sure what to say? It’s no problem. The website has talking points that explain, in simple terms, some of what this round of bargaining is about – and why MPPs need to take an interest.
Here’s all you have to do: Go to www.collegefaculty.org. Click on “Take Action,” then click on “Click to call your MPP.” The talking points will appear, your phone will be connected, and you’ll be talking to your MPP’s office.
We are now at the point where public attention is turning towards our bargaining. Making sure our MPPs know exactly what the issues are will be a crucial part of making this round a success.
Chair, college faculty bargaining team