Verification of mail-in ballots has confirmed that faculty at Ontario's 24 community colleges have narrowly accepted the employer’s contract offer. As a result, the offer from the Colleges becomes the new collective agreement for the next three years.
Ted Montgomery, chair of the OPSEU bargaining team for the faculty, says fear was the big motivator for the marginal acceptance of the Colleges’ offer.
“We did not want a labour disruption, and had a plan to avoid one, but the employer took the stance with our members that it was either accept the offer or be forced out on strike,” Montgomery said. “This vote is not an endorsement of the imposed terms and conditions or the employer’s last offer. Fear of a strike, according to most reports, was a key factor.”
Montgomery is disappointed that the key recommendations of the Workload Task Force will not be addressed. “Issues around workload, among others, will only become more contentious as problems worsen.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the entire voting process was mishandled by the Colleges right from the beginning.
“There was no advance poll, causing the high number of mail-in ballots,” Thomas said. “Many voted after already knowing the original results, and some members never received ballots at all. This is in addition to the employer’s tactic of hiring nearly 800 partial-load faculty after the January strike vote. We have filed formal complaints.”
Montgomery says that the unresolved issues will remain a priority for faculty. “Our task now is to work to resolve the problems in the system that the Colleges failed to address this time.”