A faculty strike at 24 Ontario colleges, including Durham College, has entered its second week.
There have been no negotiations between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the College Employer Council (CEC), since the union decided to strike, on Sunday, Oct. 15th. As of press time, no talks, between the union and the CEC, have been scheduled.
“Unfortunately, there is no bargaining going on, despite [OPSEU] remaining open to negotiate a fair settlement,” Nicole Zwiers, president of OPSEU local 354 told The Standard.
Ms. Zwiers also had a message for students.
“I think the students need to stay strong in this. We need their support to get this resolved,” she said.
Some of the things the union is asking for, in the collective bargaining agreement, include: increased job security; a guarantee that colleges would have a 50-50 split of full time and part time faculty; and academic freedom.
Ms. Zwiers explained that academic freedom includes: faculty determining what textbooks to use; what prerequisites and requisites are appropriate; what evaluations are appropriate and what marks to give students.
Last week, the CEC released a statement calling the strike “completely unnecessary.”
“We should have had a deal based on our final offer. It is comparable to, or better than, recent public‐sector settlements with teachers, college support staff, hospital professionals, and Ontario public servants, most of which were negotiated by OPSEU,” said Sonia Del Missier, CEC bargaining chair, in a press release. “The fastest way to resolve the strike is for the union to accept the colleges’ final offer, or, at the very least, put the colleges’ final offer forward to its members for a vote.”
The CEC’s statement went on to add that OPSEU’s demands would “ultimately add more than $250 million to annual costs, eliminate thousands of contract faculty jobs, and jeopardize the quality of college programs.”