Strike mandate vote underway for Ontario colleges

Ontario Public Services Employees Union members are set to vote on a workplace strike from Dec. 9 through to Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. For the second time in four years, the 24 public colleges in Ontario will vote on a strike mandate—the conciliation phase of bargaining—after months of deliberation between OPSEU and the College […]
Photo: Gabrielle Nadeau
Algonquin Colleges Union Office located at C215b.

Ontario Public Services Employees Union members are set to vote on a workplace strike from Dec. 9 through to Dec. 11 at 3 p.m.

For the second time in four years, the 24 public colleges in Ontario will vote on a strike mandate—the conciliation phase of bargaining—after months of deliberation between OPSEU and the College Employer Council.

“After more than five months at the virtual bargaining table, the parties, unfortunately, remain at an impasse,” said Graham Lloyd, CEO of CEC.

The negotiation aims to challenge issues addressing equity, diversity, & inclusion, and to address Indigenization, Decolonization, and Truth and Reconciliation, in-school counsellors, academic freedom where a college can’t sell or re-use faculty-produced course materials without permission and more.

“We are after concrete work improvements now, with low to no costs to the employer,” said Judy Puritt, professor and coordinator of English in the School of Business. “Better conditions for non-full-time faculty, reasonable workloads for coordinators, no job losses due to contracting out, mechanisms to build in better detailing of workload.”

The Canadian Federation of Students made a public statement supporting the college faculty, stating they will continue to support the OPSEU as they remain uncompromising on the values of fairness for faculty and high quality of education for all.

“OPSEU’s submission includes many fair and reasonable proposals regarding workload, equity, and intellectual property,” according to the Canadian Federation of Students public statement.

A strike could impact students’ winter semester with Dec.16 being the possible commencement day.

“Today’s vote is important to students as much as to faculty,” said Tracy Henderson, CAAT-A Divisional Executive and nursing studies instructor at Algonquin College.

Members of the CEC aim to continue providing stability for students, employees and the greater college community by concluding a collective agreement, Lloyd says.

“We all want what is best for students and no one wants students and employees to be negatively impacted,” he said.

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