(WINDSOR, ON) – Ontario’s Labour Relations Board has confirmed a vote date has been set for striking Community College staff, including those at St Clair College. A vote on the latest offer from the College Employment Council will be held on November 14 through November 16. It will be conducted by electronic ballot to ensure that the maximum number of faculty can exercise their right to vote.
With the strike now in its fourth week, government negotiators are calling on the members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union to return to work.
“We are still over a week away from the vote results being known and we again request that the strike be suspended for the sake of 500,000 students,” said Sonia Del Missier, the lead government negotiator. “The suspension will allow faculty and students to return to class and not lose another week of classes.”
Del Missier said that, despite the government being ready to negotiate, bargaining should not be relied upon to resolve the strike.
“Our students can’t wait,” she said. “The faculty vote is another path to end the strike if bargaining is not successful.”
OPSEU is having no part of calling off the strike. In fact, it claims the latest offer is regressive.
JP Hornick, chair of the faculty bargaining team for OPSEU, said the offer has, “serious concessions.”
From her side of the table she claims the vote call is, “… nothing short of outrageous that the colleges have refused to continue bargaining and have instead called for a vote on their final offer.”
Hornick believes the most recent negotiations have pushed both sides, “further apart,” and the offer is much worse for faculty and students than what the colleges had already agreed to verbally over the course of the negotiations.
“It significantly undermines the provisions we were able to negotiate to protect against the abuse of contract faculty,” she said. Hornick senses the vote on the final offer will fail saying the, “… final offer cannot form the basis for a negotiated settlement. All they have done is hardened the resolve of faculty on picket lines across this province and made us more determined than ever to get a collective agreement that addresses our proposals about education quality and fairness for faculty.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas wants the colleges to, “… negotiate, not dictate,” at the bargaining table.
“We want the students, back in class as soon as possible, but dragging out the strike by calling a vote that will not likely be completed until late next week, at the earliest, is not the way to do that,” he said. Thomas says the CEC walking away from bargaining is, “… just a big power play by Council.”
A stumbling block, Thomas says, is the Colleges wanting to control the education process.
“They refuse to give up any control at all, and they refuse to share the power to make decisions on academic matters with the people who know most about it – faculty.”