The College Employer Council (CEC) has requested that the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) partake in a vote on Tuesday November 14th to accept or reject the CEC’s latest offer.
Ontario college faculty has been on strike for several weeks. If the union members unanimously vote to accept the CEC’s offer classes would resume this month. However, if the vote is rejected, the strike will go on and the province will have to intervene on the interest of students who are missing out on their education.
The CEC’s latest offer includes wage increases ranging from 1.75-2 per cent from 2017 to the year 2020 as well as a maximum salary of $115,378 in place by October 1, 2020 and a maximum hourly rate for partial-load employees of $154.26 implemented as of October 1, 2020.
The new offer also pledges to place more focus in filling more full-time positions rather than “partial-load teaching positions.”
“The College will give preference to the designation of full-time positions as regular continuing teaching positions rather than sessional teaching positions,” the offer reads in Article 2.
One of the requests by the OPSEU was to ensure job security.
“The contract offer put forward by the College Employer Council on November 6 is a bad one for faculty—and the students we teach. It entrenches inequity and takes us backwards on academic freedom,” stated the OPSEU in a bulletin released on November 10th.
In the same bulletin, the OPSEU bargaining team outlined why they believe their members should vote “No” to accepting the latest offer.
“This offer will decrease the percentage of full-time jobs in the colleges. Faculty are fighting for a 50:50 ratio of permanent to contract staff; the colleges’ offer fails to create a path to permanent jobs for partial-load faculty, and it denies students the better education that comes with a stable workforce,” the statement reads, “By removing the cap on teaching weeks and overtime for full-time faculty, this offer allows the employer to move work from partial-load faculty to full-timers. This will mean fewer teaching hours available for partial-load faculty.”
“We will Vote NO because it will make the colleges stronger, better for students, and better for the next generation. We will vote NO because we love our students, we value education, and we care,” the bulletin concludes.
David Scott from the CEC and JP Hornick from the OPSEU did not respond to The Medium’s request for comment regarding negotiations.
Voting will take place from Tuesday, November 14th at 9 a.m. until Thursday, November 6th at 10 a.m. Voting will be conducted online and through the phone.
Currently, UTM students who are enrolled in joint programs with Sheridan College have also been affected by the strike.
According to the Sheridan website, students will have classes during the winter break to make up for the lost time. It states that the week of November 18-22 will be used for classes, and if the vote is rejected, then the fall semester would continue till January 15th 2018. Sheridan will try to provide travel accommodations to students who have already booked flights for the winter break.
Susan Atkinson, the media representative from Sheridan College, responded to The Medium in an email that their academic team is working closely with UTM “to develop a plan for students in joint programs to successfully complete the academic term.” Students will be getting details about this once the decisions are finalized.
A student petition called #wepaytolearn was started shortly after the strike commenced, demanding that colleges repay students for every day that class is lost. The movement has garnered over 130,000 signatures in an effort to get the CEC and OPSEU to refund lost tuition.
The CEC has not acknowledged the possibility of a refund for students.