Striking college faculty across Ontario set to vote on final contract offer
Half a million students at public colleges across the provinces will be watching closely as faculty members begin voting Tuesday on what’s been called the final contract offer in the labour dispute between college workers and their employer.
The vote was scheduled after talks between OPSEU, the union representing striking faculty, and the College Employer Council broke down early last week.
Faculty have been instructed by union president Smokey Thomas to reject the offer, as he urged the two sides to get back to the bargaining table.
The offer is said to enhance full-time opportunities while improving job security for contract faculty, but the union says there’s an unresolved issue involving academic freedom.
However, if the majority of 12,000 union members vote to accept the deal, Hamilton’s Mohawk College says it will extend December classes into the first two weeks of January.
“Classes will be scheduled the week of December 18th – 22nd and the first two weeks of January,” says Vice-President of Academics Paul Armstrong in a statement on the college’s website.
The statement goes on to say, “Between Saturday, December 23rd and Monday, January 1st, our college will be closed and no classes will be held and no assignments will be due.
Once the strike is over, faculty will develop semester completion plans for each of your courses.”
Armstrong also says the college will work directly with students who are starting their co-op work terms in January and will be communicating directly with students and their employers.
As for refunds, the college says it will take direction from the province once the strike is over.
Colleges have been stressing that no student has ever lost a semester as the result of a faculty strike.
The strike is now into its fifth week, impacting 500,000 full- and part-time students.
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