Published on Oct 17, 2017

Pickets up at Georgian College (Barrie Today)

Faculty went on strike at midnight

by: Sue Sgambati

SOURCE: Barrie Today

 

Striking faculty at Georgian College

Striking faculty at Georgian College walk the picket line at the downtown campus on Oct. 16, 2017. Sue Sgambati/BarrieToday

 

Striking faculty at Georgian College picket

Striking faculty at Georgian College picket at the main Barrie campus on Oct. 16, 2017. Sue Sgambati/BarrieToday

 

 Dr. Anita Arvast

Dr. Anita Arvast, Professor of Liberal Arts, is the chief steward of Ontario Public Service Union Local 350. Sue Sgambati/BarrieToday

 

Classes are cancelled at Georgian College and picket lines are up after last ditch talks failed to avert a strike by college faculty.

"We're feeling proud of standing up together for all faculty, contract and full-time alike," said Dr. Anita Arvast, chief steward of Ontario Public Service Union Local 350, as she walked the chilly picket line Monday morning at Goergian's main Barrie campus. 

"We're giving people some information. We're holding them up a little bit while they come in but mostly we're giving them some information about why we're out here and the fact we're out here largely for our precarious workers and that it has nothing to do with our wages."

Barrie Police cautioned motorists that traffic may be delayed or heavy in the areas of Duckworth Street and Georgian Drive due to the strike.

The job action comes after the union tabled what it called a 'final offer' on Saturday to the College Employer Council in a bid to avert a strike before the deadline of 12:01 a.m. Monday.

The offer, on behalf of 12,000 community college professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians at Ontario's 24 community colleges, was rejected by the College Employer Council. 

The strike impacts 500,000 students in the province. 

"We're very disappointed.  We really do strongly believe this is a very unecessary strike. We had a very good offer on the table which is very much in line with the other settlements. At the end of the day, the proposals they put forward add the additional costs to the tune of $250 million annually," said College Employer Council spokesperson Sonia Del Missier.

"Certainly the $250 million is a big gap," she added. "The affordability factor is a huge stumbling block."

At Georgian College, all full-time and part-time classes are cancelled. College buildings will remain open, staff and administrators will be at work, and many non-academic services for students will continue.

During the strike, students are being told they will encounter pickets when coming on campus.

'Please remember, picketing is a legal activity which occurs during a strike. Make your way through the line cautiously. The safety of everyone is the first priority,' the College stated in a release Sunday night. 

'Georgian recognizes the uncertainty of the strike is stressful for students and families. Whatever happens, when the strike ends, Georgian will work with students to complete their program. No Ontario college student has ever lost a year because of a strike.'

The last strike at community colleges was in 2006 and the job action lasted 18 days. 

"We're hoping we're not out that long," said Arvast. "We haven't heard anything about talks.  As far as we're concerned we're a little bit stymied as to why the Colleges have walked away from the table when we're really not that far apart."

"It's a business where it's our job to help students to get jobs that aren't precarious," she added.

The College Employer Council says it is working with the mediator and at a time when he deems it appropriate he will bring the parties back to the bargaining table. 

"I would say to student, very regrettable that we are in this situation. I can appreciate their frustration. But I would strongly recommend that they keep up with their studies so that when classes resume, they will be ready to hit the ground running," said Del Missier.

The following will be closed/cancelled/postponed for the duration of the strike:

- all Georgian full-time and part-time classes; day, evening and weekends

- certain university partner classes

- apprenticeship and Academic and Career Preparation classes

- Ontario Learn courses delivered by Georgian faculty

- certain field and clinical placements

- October convocation ceremonies

- Nov. 4 Open House and the College Information Program recruitment tour

- certain events and meetings as determined by the organizers

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Many other services will be open/in operation during the strike:

- many co-ops/internships

- libraries, math lab, writing centres, other labs where possible

- Office of the Registrar, Financial Aid services, OSAP, Credit Transfer Centre, etc.

- student services

- counselling provided by third-party providers and partners

- contract training provided off-site

- Employment Ontario services

- fitness centres

- many food services

Goergian College has set up a webpage for strike updates for studens GeorgianCollege.ca/facultybargaining.

You can find more about the bargaining positions of the colleges at thecouncil.ca and of the union at opseu.org.

Strike shift schedules:

Barrie main campus has three shifts 7:30 to 11:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m

The downtown Barrie campus has one shift 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Orillia has two shifts 7 a.m to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Midland has one shift 7 am. to 11a.m.

Owen Sound has two shifts 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.