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On the Line: College Faculty Strike Bulletin #4

On the Line: College Faculty

Your bargaining team is ready to bargain when contract talks resume Thursday.

“College faculty are taking a stand for a better college education system. We are ready, as we have been from the start, to bargain a fair contract that addresses the issues of good jobs and quality education.” JP Hornick, bargaining team chair

We love our students!

Faculty stand up for quality education

With the strike at Ontario’s colleges now in its third week, it’s clear which side is standing up for students.

Faculty are giving up their pay to make the colleges better. College administrators are giving up nothing.

As the strike goes on, the colleges are saving millions by not paying faculty salaries and holding on to students’ tuition fees. College administrators are raking in the dough, enjoying their high salaries (many over $300,000 a year) and the benefits and perks that go with them.

Faculty want to be back in the classroom. But we are waiting – and waiting – for the College Employer Council to come back to the bargaining table with a real desire to negotiate.

Fairness = quality

There’s a direct link between fairness for faculty and the quality of education our students receive.

Right now, Over 70% of faculty are precarious, contract workers. Most of them have no job security beyond 4 months. Here’s how one former faculty member described the connection between fairness and quality:

As a former sessional employee, I was witness to the complex system put in place by the college to prevent qualified instructors and educators from being employed as full time faculty. I wasn't allowed to work a day over 12 months; doing so forces the college to give me a full-time job. So, instead, after 12 months, I'm out and a new instructor is in. After 12 months, they are out, and maybe I can come back, if in the meantime I haven't found another job because the 6 hours a week I am allowed to work in the interim just doesn't cut it.

The result? A constant revolving door of instructors who develop relationships with students only to have them severed; who develop course materials only to never use them again; who need to be trained and mentored only to be replaced; who have no job security beyond four months (one term) and so are constantly on edge and searching for the next contract. As a result, the quality of instruction suffers and the quality of student education suffers.

This is just ONE of the myriad reasons that college academic staff are on strike- I support them wholeheartedly! I loved teaching at the college and had positive relationships with staff and students alike. I hope that this can be resolved so academic staff and faculty can return to doing what they love in an environment that truly supports student learning.

Rally at Queen’s Park! Stand up to the crisis in our colleges

Faculty, students, labour and community allies from across the province are coming to Queen’s Park for a huge rally on Thursday, November 2, from 12 to 1:15 p.m. We are keeping up the pressure and taking the strike to the doors of the Legislature.

Join us as we tell the government it’s time for the College Employer Council to come back to the bargaining table, ready to negotiate a fair contract that puts quality education first.

Speakers will include OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas; JP Hornick, chair of the college faculty bargaining team; Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Ontario NDP; Chris Buckley, President, Ontario Federation of Labour; James Compton, President of the Canadian Association of University Teachers; and James Fauvelle, a student at Centennial College.

Thanks to all of our education sector allies!

Thanks to the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) for their support of college faculty. Their excellent survey on precarious work in the post-secondary education system is available on their website, and college faculty are encouraged to fill it in at www.caut.ca.

A story from a faculty member on the line

From Facebook

I have an amazing group of students in my program. There are 83 of them. I have gotten to know each of them – I know their stories.  These are kind-hearted young adults ready to make a difference in the world. On the first day of class, I ask them why they chose my program. They pretty much all share the same sentiment – to help others. They have the energy and desire to spread positivity. The world desperately needs this, right? I want more than anything to be back in the classroom with these incredible folks. This is unfair on so many levels. I want the students and public to know that faculty at [Confederation College] want to go back to work.  We've walked over 100km. We've missed our first paycheck. We are heading back to the picket line for our 3rd week. I never thought in a million years that I'd ever "picket".  But I care deeply about quality education. My 83 students depend on me. As does my 3 year old and his entire generation – watching us, waiting for their turn to enter the post-secondary world of education.  This matters.

Rallies held across the province as the second week concludes on the picket line

Friday, October 27, was a big day for college faculty rallies! Faculty from Niagara College held a silent picket at the graduation ceremony for close to 1,000 students. Students held a rally to support faculty at La Cité College while the Ottawa District Labour Council also held a solidarity BBQ for them. Faculty held rallies at Mohawk College in Hamilton, at Confederation College in Thunder Bay, and at Lambton College in Durham. Faculty from St. Clair College in Windsor held a huge rally featuring OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and college faculty bargaining team chair JP Hornick.

Deb Matthews is getting lots of visitors

Hundreds of college faculty and allies marched in a long line through downtown London following a high-energy rally in Victoria Park on Friday, October 27. Participants paid a surprise visit to the office of Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education of Skills Development, and delivered a letter to her staff.

Matthews was again the focus of a great early-morning turnout by striking faculty, counsellors and librarians at the flying picket outside a Toronto conference on campus mental health services on October 30. Our message to the minister: “Counsellors count! Mental health needs full-time support. It's time to send the College Employer Council back to the bargaining table!” Thanks to all of the OPSEU activists and our allies who joined the line. Thanks also to UNITE HERE 75 and the unionized staff at the Courtyard Marriott for their solidarity.

Please give Minister Matthews a call. She is at 416-326-1600.

Hearings are under way on Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act

Public hearings are under way at Queen’s Park this week as the government moves forward on Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. The bill, which includes the most sweeping changes to workplace laws in Ontario in a generation, includes a change to the Employment Standards Act that would implement “equal pay for equal work” in all workplaces. With equal pay for equal work enshrined in law, it will soon be illegal to pay part-time, contract, and temp agency workers less per hour than full-time workers doing the same job. This has huge implications for the colleges. The college faculty bargaining team wants equal pay for equal work to take effect immediately with the new collective agreement; as currently written, the College Employer Council’s proposal does not go far enough to ensure contract faculty receive the full benefits of the new law as soon as possible.

Why did the employer send me my Record of Employment (ROE)?

Numerous college faculty have reported that they have recently received their Record of Employment (ROE). This is standard process, and there is no need for concern. Under Employment Insurance rules, employers are required to send employees their ROEs any time there is an “interruption of earnings” of seven calendar days or more. Employees who are on strike do not normally receive EI benefits. However, if you are collecting EI for sick leave, maternity, parental, or adoption leave when the strike starts, those EI payments shoul­­­d continue; you may also be eligible to apply for any of these leaves while on strike – if you have your ROE.