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OPSEU/SEFPO disappointed that college management won’t come back to the bargaining table

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Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO is disappointed that the College Employer Council (CEC) is imposing employment conditions on college faculty following a strike vote this weekend.

The CEC has signalled it intends to impose a series of conditions effective Monday and the faculty bargaining team has given five days’ notice that members can begin working to rule, effective December 18.

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says it’s unfortunate that the situation has reached this point.

“We can still reach a settlement at the bargaining table,” said Thomas. “Bypassing negotiations and creating hard feelings will not help students and will sour the labour climate at the colleges – everyone loses.”

Faculty members voted 59 per cent in favour of a strike to back their contract demands, which centre around workload, job security and equity issues.

JP Hornick, the chair of the college faculty bargaining committee, says the CEC’s approach is heavy handed, unnecessary and is a huge mistake.

“Unfortunately, the CEC has rejected faculty’s offer to extend the existing Collective Agreement until at least January 3 and have opted to impose terms and conditions,” said Hornick. “To be clear, the CEC has chosen their own form of labour disruption over further negotiations or voluntary binding interest arbitration, which are both still on the table from faculty. What’s worse is that the College Presidents are silent on this move. Either continued negotiations or interest arbitration would ensure stability for students and faculty while allowing both sides’ proposals to be considered by an arbitrator.”

Hornick also noted that the terms the CEC and the colleges are imposing are not final and can be changed in the coming weeks and months if they choose to.

Some 15,000 college faculty have been without a contract since September 30. Talks with the College Employer Council (CEC), which represents Ontario college employers, began in July.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; JP Hornick, 416-806-9526; OPSEUCommunications@opseu.org