Negotiations between union and colleges continue
Faculty at 24 colleges in Ontario gave their union a mandate to strike on Thursday, with 68 per cent voting to strike, if a deal can’t be reached.
The current contract between faculty and colleges in Ontario expires Sept. 30.
Thursday’s vote gives the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), who is negotiating for faculty, the option to strike after the contract has expired.
JP Hornick, who is the chair of OPSEU’s bargaining team, called the 68 per cent vote a great mandate to “show that the colleges really need to discuss the key issues at the table.”
Hornick said one of the concerns that the union has is that 81 per cent of teaching at Ontario colleges is done by contract faculty.
“It’s not a stable way to run an education system and it’s certainly one of key areas that faculty know affects all of us, full-time or part-time,” Hornick said.
Don Sinclair, chief executive officer of the College Employer’s Council, who represents Ontario colleges in the negotiation said that the college system can’t afford the union’s proposal.
“We’re committed to achieving a negotiated settlement, one that’s fair to our faculty while being responsible to employers we represent and that’s the colleges,” he said. “At the same time we also need practical proposals from the union to be successful. The proposals that are currently on the table aren’t going to get us a settlement.”
The colleges have been in talks with the union since July, and have offered a 7.5 per cent pay hike over four years, as well as changes to drug coverage and parental leave.
The College Employers Council estimates that meeting all of the unions demands would require $400 million per year, which they say would lead to program cuts.
Both Hornick and Sinclair said that when the union and colleges are back at the negotiating table on Sept. 18 they’re committed to making a deal.
“We are negotiating towards a settlement, not a strike,” said Hornick. “What we hope is that this mandate forces management to engage in negotiations with us.”
Last month, college support staff agreed to a 7.75% pay hike over four years.