Today more than 12,000 Ontario public college faculty will be on the picket line rather than in their classrooms on Monday morning after talks between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the College Employer Council failed to produce a tentative collective agreement.
On behalf of 350,000 college and university students in the province, we express our desire for a fair and negotiated settlement that can bring an end to the current labour disruption at all Ontario public colleges.
Throughout the province, students and their teachers have been feeling the lasting effects of chronic underfunding from the successive Ontario governments. Large class-sizes, lack of job security for professors and instructors, rising tuition fees and degradation of campus facilities are all the byproducts of decades of funding cuts and fee increases. Yet as much as the province can be blamed for these issues, institutions also share responsibility for ensuring they meet their financial obligations and do right by students, staff, faculty and the broader community.
The current strike by the Ontario public colleges faculty is a result of all these issues compounded by a crisis in collegial governance and the unfortunate financial circumstances the institutions find themselves in. Yet these circumstances should not be a pretext to delay negotiation or immediately rebuff any topics on the table for discussion, leaving faculty on picket lines and students out of class. The college has a responsibility to come together and work through these differences collaboratively with faculty – this is the nature and purpose of collective bargaining.
We urge the colleges to return back to the negotiating table to end this strike in a fair and balanced manner, bringing faculty off the picket lines and bringing student back into class.
We encourage everyone to visit collegefaculty.org and send letters of support to encourage colleges to get back to the table to negotiate.