Union representing faculty rejects final offer, Ontario colleges say
Updated Oct. 10 at 8:51 p.m. and Oct. 11 at 12:33 p.m.
The union representing full-time and partial-load faculty at Ontario’s 24 public colleges has filed notice to strike on Monday, Oct. 16 at 12:01 a.m.
According to JP Hornick, chair of the union bargaining team, the strike date was set following an offer by the team representing the colleges that was worse than previous offers.
“There were improvements on minor issues including wages and benefits, but those aren’t the key issues for us,” she said. “They have absolutely zero movement on the things that were no cost items.”
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which is representing college faculty, is asking for more job security for partial-load teachers and a role in academic governance at the colleges.
A release from the College Employers Council said that OPSEU rejected the colleges’ final offer, which included a wage increase of 7.75 per cent over four years and a new maximum faculty wage of $115,378.
“Our final offer of settlement was a good one,” said Sonia Del Missier, chair of the colleges’ bargaining team. “It addressed a number of the issues that we heard both monetarily as well as some of the other items.”
Del Missier added that OPSEU should allow its faculty members to vote on the colleges’ offer.
Under the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act the College Employers Council can request once in each round of bargaining for a vote to be held by faculty on its offer last received by OPSEU. The vote would be done by secret ballot and conducted under the supervision of the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
“If this is the best offer that they are going to make to faculty then they should take it directly to faculty for a vote,” said Hornick.
Hornick added that the bargaining team couldn’t recommend the colleges’ offer to its members because “there’s too much in it that would actually undermine the security of our system.”
While the colleges can force faculty to vote on their offer, Del Missier said that it was more appropriate for OPSEU to volunteer to have their members vote.
Del Missier said that while a strike now looks “very likely,” the colleges have contingency plans in place and will work to minimize impacts on students.
“If the union were to come with practical proposals, we’re certainly always open to discuss proposals that are practical,” she said.
The last strike by college faculty in 2006 shut down classes and lasted for three weeks.
According to the George Brown College website, all classes would be cancelled for the duration of a strike, except for continuing education classes in the evening and on weekends.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the College Employers Council can ask the Ministry of Labour can send their offer directly to college faculty to vote on under the Labour Relations Act. The Council can ask members to vote on their latest offer through the Ontario Labour Relations Board and under the Colleges Collective Bargainning Act.