The Students Association, the owner and publisher of the college’s community newspaper, has instructed the Algonquin Times to stop publishing in the event of a strike by college faculty.
The order came on Thursday in the form of an email written by Jack Doyle, general manager of the SA. It included the shut down of both the print edition and algonquintimes.com.
The SA did not request that journalism students stop their work, so Times staff will continue to provide updates through official Twitter and Facebook accounts. An alternate website, algonquintimeless.wordpress.com, has been set up to provide up-to-the-minute coverage.
Doyle’s letter broke precedence as the Times has in the past operated during strikes. It published normally during the last strike in 2006, both online and in print.
Although the SA is the publisher of the Times, it generally does not interfere with the operation of the newspaper.
Doyle declined to meet with Times staff to discuss the issue. A subsequent meeting on Friday between staff and Victoria Ventura, SA president, did not change the situation.
“The Algonquin Times is a learning enterprise that involves faculty supervision,” Doyle wrote in a follow-up email to the Times. “Every function within Algonquin College that involves full-time faculty will cease. It is a matter of respect for faculty and the collective bargaining process and the Algonquin Times is no exception.”
Although the Times is faculty-supervised, its editors are generally empowered to operate autonomously without teacher oversight.
“Let’s hope that a strike never happens,” Doyle wrote in his email. “If it does, then the SA must meet its duties as a responsible and respectful citizen of Algonquin College.”
A strike seemed likely as of Friday, said Don Sinclair, the CEO of the College Employer Council, which represents colleges.
“We’re here… I’d say the ball is in their (the union’s) court,” he said.
The chasm between the two sides was very wide and a last-minute deal seemed improbable, Sinclair said.
JP Hornick, chair of the union bargaining team, sounded more optimistic when she said “there’s always a chance,” of a solution.
Hornick and her team tabled their final offer on Saturday night, which the Council had not responded to as of 10 a.m. Sunday.