Striking Ontario faculty begin contract vote today

Conestoga College students set up their rally at all four corners of the intersection at Homer Watson and Conestoga College Blvd

Conestoga College students set up their rally at all four corners of the intersection at Homer Watson and Conestoga College Blvd

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents the striking faculty, said the dispute was the longest strike in the colleges' history.

"There's no way we agreed to those things", he said. "I don't want to see any students lose their semester".

In a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne and other members of the Ontario legislature, the Sheridan Student Union (SSU), which represents students at campuses in Brampton and Mississauga, expressed "deep disappointment and frustration" at the state of negotiations between the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union, which represents the 12,000 striking college workers, and the College Employer Council (CEC) that has stretched almost four week. "We know that faculty are looking for straightforward information that tells them exactly what is in the offer and what happens if the offer is accepted or if it is rejected".

Huckla is eager to hear the results of the vote.

The province has not said whether back-to-work legislation will be considered if the offer is rejected by faculty.

But getting back to class doesn't necessarily mean getting back on track. "We're on the verge of losing our semester".

Meanwhile, Huckla pointed out that other workers have been impacted financially, too.

"Part of the mandate is if the sides don't agree we are going to pull our second semester tuition", Eckenswiler explains.

According to Wendy Eckenswiler, a first-year student at Georgian College in Owen Sound and organizer of the local rally, students will flood hallways at college campuses across the province at noon on Thursday (Nov. 16). "We are not going to pay for anything until we're back in class". "This is not a protest but a peaceful sit-in and demonstration of the power of the student voice".

Thomas said college presidents, represented by the College Employer Council, have pursued a cheap labour strategy for decades. The Labour Board announced that it's set to hold a faculty vote on the employer offer-a vote the OPSEU isn't on board with. "And from our perspective, it's not an either/or", she said. "All I can say is this isn't true".

The union said the offer allows colleges to expand contract faculty without restriction, while avoiding paying equal pay for equal work, decreases full-time jobs, and does nothing to recognize the need for academic freedom for teachers.

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