Published on Nov 09, 2017

College presidents must move off destructive path: OPSEU’s Thomas

TORONTO – The 24 college presidents who are prolonging a strike by 12,000 faculty must “move off the destructive path they are on” and start caring about the well-being of students and the faculty who teach them, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) says.

“Any fair-minded person watching the faculty strike right now can see who’s being reasonable and who’s not,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas said.

“College faculty are fighting for job security and equal pay for contract faculty, and fighting for full-time jobs. College presidents want to expand the pool of precarious workers and dodge their equal-pay obligations.

“College faculty believe faculty and students should be included in decisions about the way programs and courses are delivered; college presidents want dictatorial control so they can cut money from the classroom and line their own pockets with double-digit salary increases.

“The faculty even-handed approach makes work less precarious and education better; the presidents’ scorched-earth approach will destroy morale for years to come. Both faculty and students will pay the price.”

Thomas said college presidents, represented by the College Employer Council, have pursued a cheap labour strategy for decades.

“In this day and age, precarious work cannot be part of anybody’s business model,” Thomas said. “But what we’ve seen in the colleges is an increasing reliance on contract faculty and stiff resistance by the colleges to allowing contract faculty to have a voice through unionization.

“Over the last 10 years, the colleges have spent millions of public dollars on anti-union lawyers to frustrate union drives and keep contract faculty down,” he said. “The message of Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, is that that kind of dinosaur thinking is no longer part of the mainstream in Ontario.

“College presidents should get back to the bargaining table and settle this strike now before they do any more damage to a college system that students and our economy depend on.”

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For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931