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College Faculty reach tentative agreement in time for school year

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College Faculty have reached a tentative agreement with the Colleges Employer Council. Pending ratification of the offer, they have accepted two years of zero wage increases in a bold move to improve job security for partial-load faculty and have a contract in place before the start of the school year.

“College Faculty have put students first,” said OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “OPSEU stands with college students across the province. We pledge to continue to ensure that the quality education Ontario’s students deserve is protected.”

“We have reached a reasonable agreement, and have done what it takes to make sure that our students’ school year will start on time and without the threat of a lock-out or an imposition of terms,” said College Faculty bargaining team co-chair, Ted Montgomery.

College Faculty accepted the offer after the employer agreed to remove all of their proposals and concessions from the table. A key turning point in negotiations was the removal of a management proposal to create a new job classification of “Facilitator” which would have lessened the quality of education by opening the door to increased reliance on temporary staff and a diminished presence of full-time instructors in the classroom.

“We worked hard to ensure management removed the idea of “Facilitators” from the contract language entirely,” said Montgomery. “This new job function would have become a wedge issue that undermined the quality of education in the College system for many years to come.”

In addition, the union made two significant achievements. Partial-load faculty have some job security for the first time. This was a top priority for the union. Partial-load teachers who have been employed previously by a College will get first priority in hiring if their courses are re-offered. The new contract also clarifies that academic Coordinators must not engage in supervision of their colleagues.

College Faculty insisted throughout negotiations that salary was not the key issue. They were true to their word when in light of the current fiscal climate and the legislation affecting Ontario high school and elementary teachers, they agreed to zero wage increases.

The ability to progress up the pay grid will help to recuperate losses for newer employees. A move by management to make severe cuts to College Faculty benefits was withdrawn from the table along with other concessions.

“The union has been committed to reaching a fair and timely agreement, and has done what it takes to make sure that happened. Respect for college faculty is the cornerstone of a healthy and vibrant college system,” said Montgomery. “The union campaign said it best – Faculty are the Experts in Student Success.”

Pending ratification, the new College Faculty contract is for two years, from September 1, 2012 to August 31, 2014.

OPSEU represents more than 10,000 faculty members at colleges across Ontario. Faculty members include counsellors, instructors, professors and librarians.

More information:
Ted Montgomery,
College Faculty Bargaining Team Co-chair:
416-578-4255 (c)

Carolyn Gaunt,
College Faculty Bargaining Team Co-chair:
705-929-2756 (c)

Emily Visser,
OPSEU Communications Officer (bilingual):
416-557-7936 (c)