Neither side budging as strike/lockout looms
Neither side is giving ground as the Oct. 15 strike/lockout deadline approaches for Ontario’s colleges, including Georgian in Barrie.
“We’re prepared to go, on strike,” said Anita Arvast, chief steward of Ontario Public Service Union Local 350. “It looks more than likely that we will be going on strike.”
The collective agreement for college faculty expired Sept. 30, 2017.
Arvast, a liberal arts professor at Georgian, says the sticking point is the number of full-time, and the number of contract, faculty at Ontario colleges.
She says Georgian has more than 70% contract faculty. Arvast said the Local 350 bargaining team has proposed a gradual increase to 50% full-time and 50% contract faculty.
“We believe they (the colleges) could rejig some of what they’re spending their money on,” she said. “When you’re paying that much more for administration than you’re paying for faculty, then that’s a cause for concern.”
From 2007/08 to 2016/17, Arvast pointed out the increases systemwide at Ontario colleges.
The number of full-time students has increased by 20.3%, fulltime faculty by 12.1%, contract faculty by 36.2% and administrators by 56.1%, she said.
The College Employer Council, which bargains for the colleges, could not be reached for comment Thursday by the Examiner.
But its website says the colleges had offered a four-year extension to the existing contract that increased salaries by 7.5%, a new maximum of $115,094, a signing bonus, benefit enhancements, and no concessions.
The union rejected the colleges’ offer to extend the contract that had been on the table for eight weeks, and refused to allow faculty to vote on the offer, the council said.
A conciliator set Oct. 15 as the time a legal strike or lockout can begin involving unionized faculty at all 24 Ontario public colleges.
The date was issued after faculty represented by OPSEU requested a ‘no-board’ report.
Under the rules set out in the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act, the union is required to give five days’ notice prior to going on strike, and the College Employer Council must give five days’ notice of a lockout.
This means an actual strike or lockout deadline could come after Oct. 15.