Striking Ontario college faculty reject offer, bargaining talks resume

Marie Harrington
November 17, 2017

"This is a bad result for the 500,000 students who remain out of class".

Faculty member Kevin Corriveau said he was happy members overwhelmingly voted to reject the latest offer.

From the front lines of a weeks-long strike typified by uncertainty, there was a rare moment of clarity Tuesday, more than four weeks after faculty walked off the job. Individual colleges have already set preemptive plans in place in the event that faculty would vote in favour of the contract offer, which will no longer be valid.

Last week, the College Employer Council asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board to trigger a vote on its final offer with union rank-and-file members, bypassing the Ontario Public Service Employees Union's (OPSEU) bargaining team.

According to a Twitter account for Ontario College Faculty, 86 per cent of faculty voted against the offer.

The union had recommended its members reject the offer.

Some 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians at 24 community colleges have been on strike since October 16.

Fred Gibbons, President of Northern College.

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"No one is fighting for us - that's why we're out on the side of the road in the cold", she said, adding at this point most students are looking for a fresh start.

"The problem is a lot of students lose money because that three-week period they would be working, that's their money to help pay the rent and food and perhaps books and tuition for the second semester", Afonso said.

He said he wouldn't speculate what the Premier will do but he's hopeful pressure will be put on the college council.

"We can't just introduce back-to-work legislation because we want the strike to end", she said. We've also asked students to be prepared to return on January 2, although right now, we're not certain that will be required.

"The college bargaining team will be in touch with the provincially appointed mediator to seek his direction to the parties".

The strike is threatening to go into a sixth week, putting the semester in jeopardy for 14,000 full-time students, plus 32,000 part-timers, on local Conestoga campuses in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Stratford, Guelph, Ingersoll and Stratford.

A proposed class-action lawsuit over the ongoing college strike has been launched on behalf of students affected by the dispute. Students are seeking refunds for lost instruction time, or full refunds for those students who decide not to continue with their program this year.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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