Ontario colleges ask province to force striking faculty to vote on latest offer
Ontario’s colleges have asked the province’s labour relations board to force striking faculty members to vote on its latest contract offer.
Colleges have asked the union to suspend the strike while the vote is organized, a process which will take between five and 10 days, the College Employer Council (CEC) said in a press release. This would bring faculty and students back to classrooms, while also making it possible to hold the vote at college campuses.
But the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) rejected the council’s request to suspend the strike, CEC CEO Don Sinclair told 980 CFPL on Monday afternoon.
WATCH: Students anxious as college strike continues
These developments come after the OPSEU, which represents over 12,000 professors, instructors and staff, rejected the CEC’s latest offer.
The CEC said its latest offer promised a 7.75 per cent salary increase over four years, a higher maximum salary of $115,378 for full-time faculty, more full-time employment opportunities for contract faculty, guarantees of academic freedom and quicker compliance with the province’s new minimum wage laws.
“OPSEU has stonewalled the bargaining process and refused to accept an offer that addresses their priorities,” said Sonia Del Missier, head of the colleges’ bargaining team, in a press release. “An employer vote is never a preferred path, because a settlement should be reached at the bargaining table. But we have exhausted all efforts at the bargaining table and now our faculty will decide.”
WATCH: Ontario college bargaining team frustrated they don’t have a deal
OPSEU Local 110 president Darryl Bedford told 980 CFPL that the union is encouraging its members to vote ‘no’ to the the latest offer.
“We had been warning our members that the employer could bring a forced offer vote,” Bedford said. “We would’ve thought that if they were going to do this they would’ve done it much sooner. Instead, this seems to be the employer testing our members and trying to cause as much harm as possible.”
After three weeks away from the table, negotiations had resumed last week at the urging of Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews, who asked both sides to get a deal done. But talks broke down on Monday.
Several colleges, including George Brown, Fanshawe and Niagara, have announced that they will extend the fall semester to Dec. 22.
Over half a million students have been affected by the strike, which is now in its fourth week.
— With files from the Canadian Press
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