The Canadian Federation of Students stands with college faculty represented by the Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU) as they bargain with Ontario’s College Employer Council (CEC). The two parties have not been able to reach an agreement, and are now in the conciliation phase of bargaining. The CEC has consistently rejected OPSEU’s reasonable and necessary proposals, despite significant revisions. The Federation will continue to support OPSEU as they remain uncompromising on the values of fairness for faculty and high quality of education for all.

OPSEU’s submission includes many fair and reasonable proposals regarding workload, equity, and intellectual property. The proposal suggests that faculty receive additional time for classes with an online component, and that the evaluation time per student be raised from 5 minutes and 24 seconds per week to 7 minutes and 12 seconds per week for a 3 hour course. Additionally, the submission proposes a joint committee on workload issues, with a neutral arbitrator to make binding decisions for disputes. The submission also proposes: language that would prevent members from losing wages or hours to contract workers doing work that would typically fall under the collective agreement; Indigenous-led round tables for Indigenizing and decolonizing college policy; language to protect college faculty intellectual property from use by the administration. The Federation supports these proposals, and agrees that they are necessary for the betterment of the college education system.

The CEC’s response to the OPSEU proposal has been disappointing and unsubstantiated. The CEC claims that OPSEU’s proposals on workload, partial-load faculty, and job classification are unlawful and unreasonable. This is incorrect, as the proposal is well within the bounds of Bill 124, and is similar to existing agreements at institutions across the country. The CEC further suggests that colleges are in too poor a financial state to make staffing or workload accommodations, but this statement neglects the fact that colleges have gained a nearly $1.4 billion surplus since 2018. Administrator’s salaries have also increased, which indicates that where the money goes is simply a matter of priorities. Additionally, in a bid to maintain control over faculty research, the CEC suggests that opportunities for corporate training and partnerships will be reduced if faculty have intellectual property rights over their research and course materials, a statement that neglects the fact that the OPSEU proposal leaves room for negotiation between faculty and administration on this issue. Overall, the CEC proposal is lukewarm in its provisions for equity and fairness, choosing task forces over action and platitudes over promises.

The Federation condemns the CEC for failing to recognize equity and fairness by accepting OPSEU’s reasonable proposal. The Federation rejects the CEC’s tepid response and aversion to real, positive change. The Federation maintains that fair working conditions for college faculty promotes a higher quality of education for post-secondary students, and that all people deserve fair, equitable working conditions.

During this bargaining period OPSEU college faculty are advocating for better quality of education, better policies for equity, and fairness for faculty. The Federation has a long history of supporting workers and their shared interests with students who are fighting for a better post-secondary education system for all.

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the oldest and largest student organization in Ontario, representing over 350,000 college and university students in every region of the province.