College faculty bargaining: Questions and Answers for students

Updated October 2nd, 2017

Over 12,000 college faculty at all 24 public colleges in Ontario are negotiating a new collective agreement. The following Q&A answers commonly asked questions about the bargaining process – and what’s happening now.

1. Are faculty going on strike?

Faculty are in the bargaining process with the College Employer Council. Our goal is a fair settlement that improves the quality of education for our students. The conciliator in the contract negotiations has confirmed October 15 at 12:01 a.m. as the time a legal strike or lockout could begin at all 24 public colleges in the province. A strike is only an option if management continues to refuse to discuss faculty concerns.

2. What do faculty want?

Faculty have tabled proposals to improve education quality for students and make work fairer for faculty, including contract faculty. We are calling for:

More full-time faculty to teach students.

This is the only way to ensure that students have access to professors inside and outside of class, that students have consistent professors who can act as job references, and that there is stability in our programs to better deliver learning to students. In the last decade, the number of students has gone up much faster than the number of full-time faculty.

Greater faculty and student input into academic decision-making.

We are calling for the creation of an “academic senate” that includes both student and faculty representatives.  This would give faculty and students a defined role in making decisions around the education colleges deliver.

Enough counsellors for students

and an end to outsourcing of mental health services so that colleges can adequately meet the mental health needs of students.

Job security and better working conditions for contract faculty.

Currently, contract faculty need to reapply to teach every semester. They never know for sure if they will even have a job next semester.

“Equal pay for equal work” for contract faculty. 

Contract faculty are not paid to prepare courses, correct assignments, or offer out-of-class support to students. Most of them have to work several part-time jobs to make ends meet. We want to ensure that contract faculty are fairly paid for the work they do.

3. What happens to my studies if there is a strike?

In the event of a strike, the college will develop a plan for students to complete their studies.  In the colleges’ 50-year history, there have only been three strikes by faculty. Each lasted four weeks or less, and no students lost their academic year. Specific questions about the colleges’ plans should be directed to college administration.

4. Why did faculty vote for a strike?

Faculty did not vote for a strike; they voted to give their bargaining team a mandate to call a strike if necessary. No faculty member wants to strike. We would rather be in the classroom or working with students as counsellors and librarians, doing what we do best. A strike vote is a tool that is used in bargaining to let the employer know that we are serious about issues that need to be addressed. For example:

  • Faculty academic freedom and academic senates will improve the quality and status of college certificates, diplomas and degrees, giving students more options for future study in Canada and abroad. Senates will also include students in academic decision-making.
  • The exploitation of contract faculty is hurting the quality of college education. The faculty bargaining team is proposing a reasonable ratio of full-time to non-full-time faculty within the system.
  • Non-full-time faculty are skilled and committed, but their working conditions make it hard for them to do everything they would like for students:

o   They don’t receive time for out-of-class student meetings.

o   They don’t receive time for faculty meetings.

o   They don’t receive enough time for student feedback on assignments.

o   They are not given enough time to prepare their courses.

o   They don’t know if they will have a job from semester to semester.

o   They are often given courses at the last second, leaving no time to prepare.

o   They have no job security, and can’t speak up to defend the quality of their courses for fear of losing their jobs.

5. Is it true that faculty are seeking a major pay increase?

No. This round of bargaining is not focused on bargaining a general wage increase – on this issue the employer and the union are not far apart. It is about improving the quality of the student experience and increasing fairness for faculty, including contract faculty.

6. Where can students get more information on faculty proposals?

To learn more, please visit collegefaculty.org/resources.

7. What can students do to support faculty?

Please visit our web site and sign our education quality petition at http://www.collegefaculty.org/petition. Then, contact your MPP through the “click to call” feature on our website at http://www.collegefaculty.org/call_mpp.

Publication Date: 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 2:15pm