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College faculty union approves strike mandate

The bargaining team for faculty at Ontario’s 24 public colleges has received a strike mandate from its members, setting the table for collective bargaining that is scheduled to resume this week.

Sixty-eight per cent of college faculty represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) voted in favour of the strike mandate earlier this month.

The collective agreement for 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians expires this Saturday (Sept. 30). No strike or lockout deadline has been set.

In a media statement, OPSEU officials stated key issues in the negotiations include the role of faculty in academic decision-making and ‘fair treatment’ for contract faculty members.

“Eighty-one per cent of college teaching is done by contract faculty, all of whom have no job security and are paid significantly less than the negotiated rates for full-time permanent faculty. With the introduction of Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, “equal pay for equal work” has become a top issue not only for college faculty, but for college administration as well,” the media release states.

OPSEU bargaining team chair JP Hornick says college management has “ignored” 16 proposals college faculty have debated and voted on to “improve the quality and fairness of the college system in Ontario.”

“Hopefully this strike vote will be the incentive the colleges need to start negotiating for real,” Hornick says.

Durham College has more than 11,000 students that would be affected by a potential strike.

OPSEU Local 354, the union representing librarians, counsellors and faculty at Durham College consists of approximately 470 members.