OPSEU rejects latest College Employer Council offer

Parties in college strike return to bargaining table

Faculty members have been seeking greater fulltime employment, more job security and a stronger say in academic decision making.

"Rather than continue to bargain, the colleges have called a vote that, in itself, could easily keep faculty and students out of their classrooms for another two weeks", said JP Hornick, chair of the faculty bargaining team for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

"OPSEU's insistence on continuing the strike is a awful outcome for students and faculty", said the council's bargaining chair, Sonia Del Missier, in a statement.

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Ward said the offer from CEC only includes a letter of understanding in relation to academic freedom, and she said there have already been several letters of understanding and they can not be grieved. The union had been calling for colleges to employ the same number of full-time instructors as casual or contract faculty - a proposal the council said would add $250 million in costs. "An employer vote is never a preferred path, because a settlement should be reached at the bargaining table". "I agree completely with recent statements by the Premier and by Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews that the solution to this strike is at the bargaining table", he said.

"We felt like we were actually quite close".

He said the language the colleges were proposing around academic freedom was "extraordinarily weak", but he felt there was room for the sides to come together.

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The strike has meant that almost 500,000 college students have been out of the classroom and has triggered concern among students about whether they will be able to complete their semesters. The colleges' offer at that time was accepted by 51 per cent of instructors. The board will determine the vote date.

An online petition has called on students to be refunded for missed class time. Under Ontario labour law, the employer has one chance to force a vote on the rank-and-file membership.

"We made significant moves and addressed all faculty priorities", she said. Sinclair said that would be a matter to be decided once the strike is resolved.

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