College faculty reject vote to return

Kristopher Drake
November 17, 2017

Sheridan College students in Mississauga and Brampton will not be going back to class anytime soon after striking faculty rejected the latest offer from college administrators.

"That's an unheard of result, when you see that many people voted", said Lana-Lee Hardacre, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 237 representing 784 Conestoga faculty.

The strike, which involves 12,000 college professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians, began October 15 and has left some 500,000 students out of class.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the government would table back-to-work legislation in Ontario's legislature today, in hope of returning students to class on Monday.

"I am extremely disappointed that the two sides have failed to reach an agreement", she said Tuesday.

But the union says the offer contained "serious concessions" that were not agreed to, which would erode faculty rights and contribute to an unsustainable staffing model.

12 thousand faculty members at 24 community Colleges in Ontario are involved in the dispute.

While students affected by the strike remain in educational limbo until the vote results are announced, some will receive a bit of relief to their wallets.

"(We) would have loved to have welcomed our faculty back (Thursday and Friday) and got them going next week.

"It is unfortunate that council extended our strike and kept students out of class for an extra two weeks by calling for this vote", said Hornick, "But now that it's over, it's time to move on". Fourteen students have joined to launch a class-action lawsuit to get refunds.

The head of the colleges' bargaining team said it will be looking to the provincially appointed mediator for direction now.

"I would say that both parties share the failure, and it is a failure", she said.

"We're exhausted of waiting but they have to get a fair deal".

Faculty were also seeking academic freedom, which one official from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union called the "core - it is the crux - around our issue of quality education".

Law firm Charney Lawyers filed a proposed class action against the 24 colleges Tuesday, saying 14 students have come forward to potentially stand as representative plaintiffs.

Though the student intake has increased from 200 to 600, Foster said the program has the same number of full-time instructors as when she started teaching 27 years ago.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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