College faculty set strike deadline

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Toronto – Some 16,000 faculty at Ontario’s 24 public colleges say they will go on strike at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, March 18 if the College Employer Council (CEC) does not agree to voluntary binding interest arbitration.

The faculty bargaining team sent an open letter to college presidents today, calling on them to do what is right to ensure students are protected and their school year is protected.

JP Hornick, chair of the bargaining team, said faculty are desperately trying to avoid a strike but says the CEC is refusing to bargain or be reasonable.

“Our members are fighting for the best education for students,” said Hornick. “We haven’t made any unreasonable demands, and everything we have asked for is easily achievable.”

Faculty, who are represented by OPSEU/SEFPO, rejected a final offer that the CEC tried to ram through last month.

Rather than being on a picket line, faculty have been working to rule since December.

“Faculty have done our best to limit the impact of our strike action on students and to avoid a picket line,” the bargaining team writes in their letter. “Now, however, you have again ramped up your threats against individual faculty and appear to be moving toward a lockout instead of negotiating a deal.”

Binding interest arbitration is frequently used in post-secondary education and other critical services. It involves both parties’ asking a neutral arbitrator to resolve a bargaining dispute as an alternative to a strike or lockout. Both sides provide proposals to the arbitrator, who in effect creates a compromise from the two proposals.

The CEC has a different form of arbitration, where an arbitrator must choose the proposal of just one of the parties.

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says it is still not too late to avoid a strike. “I firmly believe we can reach a deal at the bargaining table,” said Thomas. “I’m convinced a deal is there and that we can avoid a messy strike that is not in anybody’s best interests.”

For more information: JP Hornick, 416-806-9526; OPSEUCommunications@opseu.org