Colleges teachers across the province will be voting Tuesday and depending on the results college students might have even longer to wait before they can go back to school.
If teachers vote in favour of accepting the latest offer from the College Employer Council, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union will have no choice but to end the strike, which began on Oct. 16.
The vote comes after a final offer from the CEC was rejected by the OPSEU, an agreement the CEC says met all the requirements of the union’s original offer. The CEC then asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board to intervene and bring the decision to a vote among individual union members.
Some highlights of the council's recent offer include enhanced full-time employment opportunities and better job security for partial load faculty, increased pay for full-time staff, academic freedom guarantees, faster compliance with Bill 148 (the Ontario government’s pending equal pay legislation) and an agreement by the provincial government to establish a joint task force to address serious issues of concern between the parties.
The OPSEU is asking college faculty to decline the council’s offer.
In Niagara, more than 10,000 Niagara College students are in their fifth week of missed classes.
Niagara College President Dan Patterson said in a letter, which can be found at niagaracollege.ca/strikeinfo, that “at this point, Niagara College is making adjustments to the fall semester. Classes will be extended until December 22 and students should be available to return to classes on January 2. Additional adjustments to the schedule may be necessary depending on the duration of the strike, and final details will be posted once it has been resolved.”
With regards to the class extensions disrupting student plans, the letter said “we understand that there are elements of semester completion plans that may cause inconvenience for students – whether it’s travel or other arrangements that may be impacted. With more than 10,000 students across 130 programs, this is a very complex issue. We are working on solutions that are consistent and fair, and will share them with you once this strike is resolved.”
The voting process starts Tuesday (Nov. 14) at 9 a.m. and runs until Thursday.