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Strike begins for Ontario Tech University faculty

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

DURHAM: Ontario Tech University’s faculty members have hit the picket line.

The UOIT Faculty Association started strike action, on Thursday, February 10th, at 11 a.m., after further negotiations with the University didn’t lead to a deal.

“The University held firm on their ‘final offer,’ [which] was rejected by 80% when brought to a vote of our members, except for four minor edits. The University refused to engage with any of the UOITFA’s asks or priorities, even though we were willing to work on proposals together,” a UOITFA statement, posted to Twitter, read. “Unfortunately, even though our members have made it clear issues of unsustainable workload must be addressed, the University held firm to their position, there is no need to address workload concerns and there are no issues to fix in the Collective Agreement. The UOITFA is extremely disappointed we were unable to reach a deal and we did everything in our power to reach [an] agreement.”

However, in a post on their website, Ontario Tech University put the blame for the impasse on the faculty association.

“The Ontario Tech bargaining team invited the Faculty Association (FA) to resume negotiations this evening, and bargained until just before midnight. We believe significant progress was made toward a negotiated settlement. We are uncertain as to why the FA opted to adjourn the meeting and why a tentative deal couldn’t have been finalized tonight. The University has remained at the table throughout negotiations, and we will continue to bargain with the FA whenever they make themselves available,” the February 10th bargaining update post stated. But, in a Tweet, the faculty association stressed this simply was not true.

“To be clear: UOITFA did not leave the table until the university made it apparent a deal would not be reached last night,” the post read. On Tuesday, February 8th, the Faculty Association put out a press release regarding the strike deadline.

“While the UOITFA is disappointed bargaining has reached this point, we are committed to remaining at the table and reaching a fair deal [which] addresses the issues put forward by our members. We hope Ontario Tech is willing to make the same commitment and work with us to avoid a strike,” the press release stated at the time. “UOITFA members have made it clear, through their rejection of the University’s offer, faculty at Ontario Tech cannot accept a deal [which] weakens our ability to carry out the University’s educational and research mandates.

Issues of unsustainable workload and a lack of teaching and research supports are long-standing and must be addressed, to improve student learning conditions at the University. These unresolved issues negatively affect faculty working conditions and student learning conditions.

We need the University to work with us, to negotiate a fair Collective Agreement [which] prioritizes high-quality education at Ontario Tech.”

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