Fac­ulty re­jects of­fer

Strike dead­line set for Mon­day at Geor­gian after union turns down con­tract of­fer

The Barrie Examiner - - NEWS - BOB BRUTON

Geor­gian Col­lege classes could be quiet in Bar­rie on Mon­day after the school’s fac­ulty union re­jected the lat­est of­fer for a new con­tract.

On Tues­day evening, the On­tario Public Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees Union (OPSEU) is­sued a strike dead­line of 12:01 a.m., next Mon­day.

The Col­lege Em­ployer Coun­cil, bar­gain­ing agent for 24 On­tario col­leges ne­go­ti­at­ing col­lec­tive agree­ments with union­ized staff, said its last con­tract of­fer is fi­nal.

Don Sin­clair, coun­cil CEO, said Wed­nes­day there were no talks sched­uled be­fore mid­night Sun­day.

“Not sched­uled. We’re here. We haven’t walked away from the ta­ble. We’re here,” he said. “The like­li­hood of a work stop­page, at this present time, looks fairly likely.”

Kevin MacKay, a mem­ber of OPSEU’s provin­cial bar­gain­ing team, also said the door re­mains open.

“We have flat-out said we’re will­ing to meet and want­ing to meet. We haven’t yet heard any­thing def­i­nite from the other side,” he said Wed­nes­day. “But I think the pos­si­bil­ity of fu­ture bar­gain­ing is there. That’s def­i­nitely what we want to have hap­pen.”

The col­lec­tive agree­ment for col­lege fac­ulty ex­pired Sept. 30, 2017. Union mem­bers in­clude full-time per­ma­nent and par­tial-load con­tract fac­ulty who teach seven to 12 hours a week.

A strike would af­fect tens of thou­sands of stu­dents at On­tario’s public col­leges. Geor­gian Col­lege has 11,000 full-time do­mes­tic stu­dents and 1,500 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents at seven On­tario cam­puses – in­clud­ing Bar­rie, Oril­lia and Colling­wood.

OPSEU has said key con­tract is­sues in­clude giv­ing fac­ulty and stu­dents more voice in aca­demic de­ci­sions and what the union calls the ‘on­go­ing ex­ploita­tion of con­tract fac­ulty’.

The pos­si­bil­ity of a strike has es­ca­lated dur­ing the last few days.

Col­lege fac­ulty re­turned to the bar­gain­ing ta­ble Tues­day morn­ing, OPSEU said, ready to ne­go­ti­ate.

But the Col­lege Em­ployer Coun­cil tabled an of­fer that did not ad­dress any of fac­ulty’s key de­mands, said OPSEU – so the of­fer could not be rec­om­mended to the union’s mem­bers.

OPSEU said the coun­cil has walked away from the ta­ble, claim­ing its of­fer is the fi­nal one.

The coun­cil said OPSEU re­jected the col­leges’ fi­nal of­fer of settlement and has in­stead given no­tice that a strike will be­gin Oct. 16.

The coun­cil also said the col­leges’ fi­nal of­fer is com­pa­ra­ble to, or bet­ter than, of­fers ac­cepted re­cently by other public-sec­tor em­ploy­ees, such as teach­ers, public ser­vants and col­lege sup­port staff.

The of­fer in­cludes a 7.75% salary in­crease dur­ing the next four years, a new full-time fac­ulty max­i­mum salary of $115,378, im­proved con­ver­sion of con­tract fac­ulty to full-time po­si­tions, more fac­ulty au­ton­omy con­cern­ing per­sonal work­load and en­hanced ben­e­fits.

Sin­clair con­firmed Wed­nes­day that this is the fi­nal of­fer.

“We’re $400 mil­lion apart (an­nu­ally). They (OPSEU) haven’t moved since Sept. 27,” he said, not­ing the of­fer made is fair.

But MacKay, a so­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Mo­hawk Col­lege in Hamil­ton, said that num­ber is dated, from when OPSEU wanted a 70/30% split in full­time/part-time fac­ulty. The union is now ask­ing for a 50/50% split.

He did ac­knowl­edge that the Fair Work­places, Bet­ter Jobs Act of 2017 (Bill 148) and hir­ing more full­time fac­ulty will cost the col­leges money.

But some of OPSEU’s big­gest de­mands, such as aca­demic free­dom for fac­ulty, cost noth­ing, MacKay said. Nor does job se­cu­rity for con­tract fac­ulty.

MARK WANZEL/PHOTO

Geor­gian classes could be quiet in Bar­rie next week after the col­lege’s fac­ulty union re­jected the lat­est of­fer for a new con­tract.

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