In 2017, the Ontario college strike, which affected more than 500,000 students, lasted five weeks before back-to-work legislation
Sault College and other public colleges across the province could face a second faculty strike in five years if the union and management fail to agree on a new contract.
Negotiations between the CAAT-A team of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the College Employers Council (CEC) reached an impasse last Thursday after more than five months of unsuccessful meetings. The current contract expired on September 30.
About 4,500 Sault College students would be affected if a strike were called.
CEC represents Ontario’s 24 public colleges at the bargaining table, while OPSEU represents full-time and partial-load faculty, librarians and counselors at these colleges.
Last week OPSEU made its final offer and the CEC ended negotiations and requested a non-advice report. In a press release, OPSEU said the bargaining team was forced to call for a strike vote.
“The faculty team proposed that the two teams enter into voluntary binding arbitration to resolve the outstanding issues, rather than degenerating into a work disruption – but the CEC declined this offer,” OPSEU said in a recent press release.
“As a direct result of CEC’s refusal to compromise on outstanding faculty demands for improving the workload of full-time and contract teachers, e-learning and protection of use course material from the faculty, or to agree to refer the outstanding issues to an independent arbitrator, the faculty has no choice but to file a strike vote request with the Ministry of Labor ”, Faculty bargaining team chairman JP Hornick said in the statement.
“As a direct result of CEC’s refusal to compromise on outstanding faculty demands for improving the workload of full-time and contract teachers, e-learning and protection of use course material from the faculty, or agree to refer the outstanding issues to an independent arbitrator, the professors have no choice but to file a strike vote request with the Ministry of Labor ”, declared Hornick.
In its own statement, the CEC says it has tabled four separate offers since February, but discussions have stalled and the OPSEU team has upheld demands that the CEC deems unreasonable.
“We therefore asked the conciliator to publish a report without advice. The CAAT-A team is clearly no longer interested in negotiating. We believe we have no choice but to move the process forward. Said Dr. Laurie Rancourt, Chair of the CEC Leadership Bargaining Team. “Colleges do not want students and employees to be negatively impacted due to the reluctance of the CAAT-A team to bargain in good faith and work towards a collective agreement.
In a statement, OPSEU President Warren Thomas said he was disappointed with Thursday’s turn of events, especially after both sides signaled a deal was reached, following a recent power outage. electricity in the media.
“After many years and many rounds of negotiations, we have now developed a mature negotiating relationship,” said Thomas. “That’s why it’s so disheartening that this is where the parties ended up. But I remain convinced that it is still possible to reach an agreement.
If a strike did occur, it would be the second strike to affect Ontario college students in the past five years.
In 2017, the Ontario college strike, which affected more than 500,000 students, lasted five weeks before the provincial government passed back-to-work legislation.
– with files from Daniel Caudle.