By: Maryam Mirza
After an ongoing negotiation of nearly three months, on Sept. 10, Algonquin staff voted to ratify the collective agreement for the next two years.
Eighty per cent of votes across all three Algonquin College campuses were in favour.
As part of the new settlement, members’ wages have been frozen for the next two years, except for eligible faculty who will be allowed to move through the salary grid. The agreement included language to improve job security for partial-load (no more or less than 7 to 11 hours per week) faculty members, earning them the right to be part of the bargaining agreement. Co-ordinators also have more clarification on their responsibilities by not having to supervise their colleagues.
Even though the majority of votes were in favour, only 20 per cent of eligible faculty actually voted. Before the union ratification vote was held, students and faculty were preparing themselves for the chances of a strike or lock-out which could have interfered with the new school year.
“I am thrilled that the College Employer Council and OPSEU have reached an agreement, and that the agreement was ratified by an overwhelming majority of college faculty across the province,” said Algonquin President. “I look forward to an excellent school year for Algonquin College students.”
“I think faculty members are more relieved that there is no strike,” said Wilson, OPSEU 415 union vice-president.
Fellow faculty members were in support of the idea of a settlement but there are doubts whether they were happy with the idea of a wage-freeze that will carry on until 2014.
“Our team felt that under the current economic climate, this agreement was the best we could do. So the Sept. 10 date was kept, and instead of it being the strike vote, it became the union ratification vote,” added Wilson.
This is only the second time in the history of negotiations between the college and union that they have reached a tentative agreement before the previous agreement expires.