Ontario college faculty go on strike

The Canadian Press

TORONTO–Faculty at Ontario’s 24 colleges are walking picket lines today, with the labour dispute affecting more than 500,000 students in the province.
The strike involving more than 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians began late yesterday after the two sides couldn’t resolve their differences by a deadline of 12:01 a.m. today.
Both sides say there currently are no talks scheduled to end the dispute.
The Ontario Public Services Employees Union said it is up to the College Employer Council, which bargains for the colleges, to re-start talks.
The union presented a proposal Saturday night that called for the number of full-time faculty to match the number of faculty members on contract, but the colleges said it would add more than $250 million in costs each year.
OPSEU bargaining team chair JP Hornick said the union remains ready to get back to negotiations.
“If the colleges approach the mediator, or us, and say they’re finally willing to start talking, then we would be at that table in a heartbeat,” she noted.
Don Sinclair, CEO of the College Employer Council, said the colleges have put a four-year-agreement that offers a 7.75 percent pay increase on the table, which it would like faculty to vote on.
“We have an offer that has no takeaways and does ensure a reasonable increase to the faculty and partial load,” he noted.
“So I’m a little bit miffed, for lack of a better word.”
Sinclair said he understands students will be frustrated by the strike but urged them to be patient when crossing the picket lines.
“We will get through this,” he pledged.
“It could be a bit protracted but I understand their concerns.”