Think of the students
The strike by faculty at Ontario’s colleges, locally St. Lawrence College (SLC), is now in its fifth week.
The only positive action since midnight on Oct. 15 came last week, when administrators forced a vote on their latest offer, a vote the union did not want. Obviously it has little faith in its members rejecting it.
The members have been on the picket line for five weeks although, according to a friend who is very reluctantly walking it, fewer than 10 per cent of the staff here in Cornwall supported it. The union backed by their big-city brethren are the ones forcing the issue, not those here.
The strikers have been without a normal paycheque for over a month. Savings have gone, credit card balances are rising, bills are due and union strike pay doesn’t go far. Getting back to work sounds good.
Accepting the latest monetary increase offer, which is exceedingly close to the union demands, it would still take months, even years, to recoup what has been lost the past over the past five weeks. Contrary to union speak, in this day and age, a long strike seldom benefits the workers.
Hiring all the part-time/contract profs as full-time staff members with the associated extra pay and benefits is just a pipe dream. If you are a part-timer, look at the guy or gal next to you. One of you will not have a job if it is done. Hope it isn’t you.
Financially, it would raise the tuition costs to cover the costs.
The course curricula are fairly the same at every college for a reason. No matter which institution you attend and graduate from, everyone with the same certificate and/or diploma has had the same education and carries the same knowledge.
Plus, for those going on into university courses, they all have the same ability to smoothly make the transition regardless of which college they attended. Allow too much individual messing of the curriculum and things change and it is the students who will pay.
I truly believe SLC staff members care about their students. The union? Not so much as it tends to be self-serving and enjoys throwing its weight around. The ones paying for this strike are your students.
Algonquin College has already announced the loss of the fall reading week and a shortened Christmas break in an attempt to rectify the damage done.
Students will be forced to double up on learning and assignments over the remainder of this semester.
For those working with a secondary school education, most will handle it but be exhausted and drained of enthusiasm come January. For those already struggling with the work load, it might probably be too late and they will abandon their studies either for this semester or forever.
Even if the vote is to return to work, it won’t be until next week. Either way, all present and future students have lost. Fees for everything will rise as the administrations attempt to cover the extra costs involved with appeasing the union.
For those students of independent means or from well-off families, it is no big deal and many actually find it exhilarating to be part of this democratic process (future union leaders maybe?).
For those who have to work or take loans to fund their self-betterment, it would be devastating. Many with good marks who rely on grants and bursaries to reduce their academic fees will be struggling to reach the standards required for them.
Today, tomorrow and Thursday we will find out who really cares for the students. The vast majority of those on the picket lines are not there because they want to be but because they are forced to do so.
The students are counting on you to be examples of professionalism and caring and vote the right way— for them and their future careers.
Striking St. Lawrence College faculty members and representatives from the Cornwall and District Labour Council picket on Second Street outside of MPP Jim McDonell's office on Nov. 3.