By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Students at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology need not fear they may miss classes ahead of final exams – a faculty strike has been averted.
The university administration and the faculty association announced they had reached a deal on March 17 – just a few short days ahead of the March 21 strike date.
The deal has since been ratified by the university’s board of governors, and was put to a vote by faculty members on Monday and Tuesday. The results of the faculty vote were unavailable prior to press time.
Speaking with The Oshawa Express prior to the tentative deal being announced, Gary Genosko, the president of the faculty association, said the main cause of labour strife was the proposed freezing of wages and benefits by the university over the next three years, as well as wanting to bring the agreement between the two in line with other universities.
“We lag behind in many categories. Far too many categories, in fact. So we want to stand shoulder to shoulder with the other universities in the province,” he said, adding salaries of faculty at UOIT are among the lowest paid in Ontario, coming in at 17th out of 21.
“One of the important things to take away from this is we’re not bargaining only for ourselves – we’re bargaining for the learning conditions of students, so students and faculty are united in emphasizing the significance and centrality of the academic mission,” Genosko said.
“It has systematically underfunded and starved by the administration, especially over the last five years when the bulk of the surpluses the university has been posting since 2011 have been moved into restricted internal accounts and held back, not invested, in the academic mission.”
It is unclear at this point whether the tentative deal between the faculty and the university addresses the concerns Genosko says the association had prior to it being signed.
In an email to The Oshawa Express, Bryan Oliver, a spokesperson for the university, says that all classes and events are proceeding as scheduled at the university while the ratification process continues.
Genosko did not respond to requests for comment about the tentative deal prior to press time.