(WINDSOR, ON) – Community college faculty and support staff, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, including those at Windsor and Chatham’s St Clair College, have set a strike deadline of 12:01am on October 16. The unionized workers are currently in contract talks with their employer, the College Employer Council.
JP Hornick, chair of the union bargaining team, spoke of current negotiations being frustrating and where CEC, “… once again refused to consider key faculty issues.”
According to Hornick, the College Employer Council has walked away from the table. Because of the departure, he says, the union set the strike deadline to, “… get negotiations moving before it’s too late.”
OPSEU represents over 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians working at 24 public colleges across Ontario. Union members include full-time permanent and partial-load contract faculty who teach seven to 12 hours per week.
“Our union team has been clear about its goals since bargaining began in early July,” Hornick explained. “[We’ve] put forward concrete proposals to improve education quality by including the voices of faculty and students in academic decisions. We have made the case for strengthening the complement of full-time faculty. And, we have called on the colleges to read the signals from Queen’s Park and start treating contract faculty fairly.”
The stumbling block, says Hornick, is the failure or unwillingness of the employer to move, “… forward on the issues faculty care about most, even in the case of no-cost items like academic freedom or longer contracts for contract faculty.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas cautioned the CEC to get back to the table and not wait until the last minute to negotiate.
“Students already have enough to worry about with their courses and exams and tuition fees,” Thomas said. “They don’t need the stress and anxiety of not knowing if they will be in class next week. I encourage the colleges to get down to business now.”
The OPSEU strike fund sits at $72 million.