The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario stands in solidarity with the 16,000 college professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians bargaining for better working conditions, against precarious work, and increasing privatization, as well as for greater support for both students and workers. Faculty, sessional instructors, and other academic workers are on the front lines of post-secondary education. We affirm that a resolution to the strike could only be reached if the College Employer Council (CEC) negotiates in good faith with the OPSEU workers.
The workers, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), rejected the forced offer from the employer – with 62% voting against the CEC’s inadequate proposal. The Faculty demands that the employer finally put students first and immediately settle this by coming to the bargaining table or agreeing to voluntary binding interest arbitration. The CEC broke off negotiations in November and later forced working conditions on faculty. Since then, the CEC has continuously refused binding arbitration, demonstrating to workers and students that the CEC only has their own interests at heart – not the interests of instructors, professors, counsellors, librarians, and especially not students.
It is no coincidence that there has been an increasing number of faculty strikes and job actions from coast to coast. At colleges and universities, workloads have increased for all academic workers throughout the pandemic with little to no compensation. Professors have had to adapt to quickly changing modes of instruction with little support. Uncertainty during the pandemic has also compounded mental health concerns, and instructors are often the first contact for students in a crisis. Increasing reliance on contract work follows the trend of privatization and cuts to education, and this has meant that contract instructors do not even know if they will be employed at the end of the semester.
Students have shown up in support of their professors and instructors, despite administrations’ best efforts to divide the two groups. Students see the links between the precarious work conditions of their instructors and their own work conditions. Students also recognize that faculties’ working conditions reflect the students’ learning conditions.
The Federation stands with OPSEU and all other striking faculty and workers. The Federation calls on all concerned students, educators and faculty to stand in solidarity with OPSEU and offer support. For a safe and equitable recovery from the pandemic, the pressure and conditions that have obstructed workers and students must be alleviated and remedied. The Federation calls on the CEC to bargain with OPSEU College Faculty in good faith.
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.