More than 12,000 college employees will hit the picket lines on Monday after group representing college management rejected the union’s final offer.
Ontario college faculty members are going on strike Monday after employers rejected the union’s offer. (J.P. MOCZULSKI / THE TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO)
By: BRYANN AGUILAR | Staff Reporter | Sun., Oct. 15, 2017
SOURCE: Toronto Star
Classes have been cancelled for more than 500,000 students after faculty at 24 Ontario colleges went on strike late Sunday night.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents 12,000 college professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians, and the group representing management failed to reach an agreement late Sunday night after the union presented its final offer to the College Employer Council in a bid to avert a strike before the 12:01 a.m. deadline.
“We felt really disappointed. There is no reason that council shouldn’t be working to engage with these discussions with us,” said JP Hornick, the chair of the union bargaining team in a statement.
Hornick said they presented the council with an offer that represented what faculty consider to be the bare minimum they need to ensure quality education for students and treat contract faculty fairly.
OPSEU made three critical proposals in the offer: 50:50 ratio in the number of full-time faculty to the number of faculty members on contract; increased job security for part-time faculty, and academic freedom to give faculty a stronger voice in academic decision-making.
Hornick said the council is taking the “Walmart approach” to education, where they address funding shortfalls by lowering standards such as exploiting underpaid contract workers who have no job security beyond one semester.
“They seem to be driven not by what is best for students but by what is best for them.”
Hornick said they have gotten support from students during the whole bargaining period. The union understands the distress the strike will be causing on students.
“We didn’t want to do it. We feel very forced into this position. We are hoping that the colleges will come to their senses and come back to the table and actually start to work towards a settlement that is better for the students,” said Hornick.
Employer council spokesperson Sonia Del Missier said the strike is completely unnecessary.
She said management was offering terms that were as good or better than recent settlements with teachers, college support staff, hospital professionals, and Ontario public servants.
The College Employer Council had complained last week that union demands for staffing ratios and wage increases would add more than $1 billion in costs over three years.
Students are advised to check their college’s website to find out how they are affected.
George Brown College, Seneca College, Humber College and Centennial College have all announced that all full-time classes will be cancelled until the strike is over.
Academic staff have been without a contract since the end of September.
With files from The Canadian Press