Part-time faculty could unionize, depending on results of October vote
Not all students have been affected by the faculty strike, now in its third week.
Several colleges in Ontario, including George Brown, are still running continuing education classes, and the union representing striking faculty is “not happy about it,” according to JP Hornick, chair of the bargaining team representing college faculty.
“I think they should have shut down all courses, especially as continuing education now contains more credit-based courses than it used to,” she said.
There are 162 full-time courses that have equivalents offered in George Brown’s continuing education program, according to the program’s website. A report from the college from September 2016 said that there are 66,410 registrants in continuing education as well as 360 part-time employees.
Leslie Quinlan, George Brown’s vice-president, human resources and organizational development, said that 90 per cent of the students taking continuing education courses are not in full-time programs. She added that running the courses means that the non-unionized teachers in continuing education can still get paid.
“If they’re not working, they’re not getting paid by the college,” Quinlan said. “They’re also not getting paid by the union, which is not the case for people in the bargaining unit.”
Of the 24 Ontario colleges where faculty are striking, around half are running continuing education courses of some kind during the strike.
The Ontario Public Employee Union, which represents the striking college faculty, is also working to unionize part-time college faculty. A vote on whether or not part-time faculty would join the union was held on days at each college between Oct. 2 and 13.
The results are yet to be counted, but 50 per cent plus one ‘yes’ votes are required in order for faculty who work less than six hours a week, or more than 12 hours per week on short-term contracts to join OPSEU.
For Hornick, improving the conditions of part-time faculty is connected to the ongoing faculty strike.
“We hope to bring them into the union and we hope that the fight that we’re making here helps them to set a bar that’s higher around their own working conditions,” she said.
Over 12,000 college faculty have been on strike since Oct. 16.
The union’s last offer included stipulations that there be a 50-50 ratio of full-time to part-time faculty, better job security for partial load faculty and academic freedom for faculty.
The College Employer Council’s last offer included a 7.75 per cent raise over four years, new salary caps for faculty, as well as what it called “improved conversion of contract faculty to full-time positions.”
The last strike by college faculty in Ontario was in 2006 and lasted for 20 days.
With files from Lidianny Botto and Megan Kinch