TORONTO – Negotiations resume Nov. 10 between community college faculty and their employer with the union representing educators hoping that a settlement can be reached.
“A settlement is possible, but only if it respects faculty and students,” said Ontario Public Service Employees Union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “But by failing to address issues of academic freedom and quality of education, college administrators are provoking OPSEU into setting a strike vote and strike dates.
OPSEU represents more than 9,000 faculty members at 24 community colleges. A new round of contract talks with the employer – the Colleges Appointments and Compensation Council (“the Council”) – is scheduled for Nov. 10-12.
Following a three-week strike in March, 2006, Arbitrator William Kaplan established an independently-chaired joint workload task force that examined workload, academic freedom and quality of education. A unanimous report from the panel was released in March, 2009.
OPSEU needs to see the task force’s recommendations incorporated into the next collective agreement, including a collegial model of determining student evaluation methods. The Council has refused this demand.
The union also seeks contract language guaranteeing academic freedom as exists in all other public post-secondary institutions in the province.
Although colleges have partnered with universities in Ontario and internationally to share joint academic programs, and have gained the right to grant degrees, the Council refuses to negotiate any academic freedom provisions for its faculty.
“By reneging on the workload task force report and by refusing to bargain good faith improvements to learning conditions in the colleges, the Council is placing college students at risk once again. We find this completely unacceptable,” said Thomas.
OPSEU is looking to match recent wage settlements that other post-secondary educators have been offered and have accepted.