Toronto – The union for striking Ontario college faculty is calling on its members to reject the colleges’ latest “take it or leave it” offer.
“Yesterday, after the College Employer Council pulled the plug on negotiations and called for a vote on their latest offer, the faculty bargaining team put forward a new proposal aimed at settling the strike immediately,” said JP Hornick, chair of the faculty bargaining team for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. “This morning, I am sorry to say, Council rejected that proposal outright.
“This is a terrible move, and a terrible mistake,” she said. “It guarantees that the strike will continue, and it virtually guarantees that hundreds of thousands of college students will lose their semester.”
Hornick said that, “Realistically, it will be the end of week five before the vote results are even known,” given that the final-offer vote must be supervised by the Ontario Labour Relations Board at all 24 public colleges across Ontario.
“Students can thank their college presidents for putting them in this position,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. “As the parent of two sons who’ve been through college, I have to say I can’t remember a time when the colleges showed such blatant disregard for the well-being of their students.
“Our bargaining team has been willing to compromise to break this logjam and get students back in class,” he said. “It’s a shame the presidents refuse to do the same.”
A major sticking point in the talks from the beginning has been the colleges’ refusal to entertain new contract language around academic freedom to give faculty greater say in how courses are delivered and evaluated.
“I guess the question for students is, who do you want making decisions about your education?” Thomas said. “Is it the faculty who know you and know the subjects they’re teaching, or is it college administrators who only want to cut money from the classroom to pay for their stratospheric salaries?”
For more information: JP Hornick, 416-806-9526; Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Mona Chevalier, OPSEU college faculty bargaining team (French only)