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Liberals pass back-to-work legislation to end college strike

UPDATE NOV 19: College students are expected to be back in class Tuesday after the provincial government passed back-to-work legislation Sunday, to end the five-week strike by the Ontario college faculty.

Loyalist College faculty are returning to the school Monday to use the day for meetings and preparation for the return of students Tuesday.

All Ontario’s colleges are extending the fall semester into January. Fall classes run through Dec. 22 and resume Tuesday, Jan. 2 up to Jan. 19. The winter semester is to begin Jan. 29 and end April 27. A study week Mary 12-16 is yet to be confirmed.

Decisions on a fund to address student financial hardship due to the strike are made on a province-wide basis. Details are not yet known.

Liberals will continue attempts to pass back-to-work legislation to end college strike

UPDATE NOV 16: The NDP blocked the attempt to table the bill after the normally scheduled time period for introducing legislation Thursday evening.

The Liberals will ask the speaker to reconvene the legislature Friday – when it normally does not sit. If the bill is blocked again, the Liberals have stated they intend to sit through the weekend.

UPDATE NOV. 16 : The Ontario government has tabled back-to-work legislation ending the college strike – possibly putting students back to school as early as Monday.

All outstanding issued will be referred to binding mediation/arbitration.

Ontario’s colleges and striking faculty returned to the bargaining table Thursday following an overwhelming (86 per cent) vote by faculty to reject a contract offer and continue their nearly five-week strike – the longest in the colleges’ history.

Some 12,000 faculty have been off the job since Oct. 15, leaving 500,000 out of classes. The province has ordered the colleges to create a fun using savings from the strike to help students with financial hardship because of the labour dispute. Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews said Ontario’s 24 colleges have save about $5 million.

Colleges call for vote on offer after talks stall

NOV 7 – Ontario’s colleges have called for 12,000 striking faculty to vote on its final offer following a failed return to the bargaining table last week.

That vote, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), could take five to 10 days to organize, adding to the three weeks that students and faculty have not been working at more than 100 campuses across the province – including Loyalist College, in Belleville.

JP Bornkck, chair of the faculty bargaining team for OPSEU says a better plan is for the colleges to bargain a settlement the team can recommend, and “We can have faculty back in the classrooms tomorrow and hold the ratification vote after.”

Ann Marie Vaughan, Loyalist’s President and CEO, stated in a letter to “The Loyalist Community” that the colleges have addressed the fundamental issues as identified by OPSEU.

“As OPSEU did not accept the offer, Ontario colleges announced (Monday) that they have asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board to schedule a vote on the colleges’ offer. The Labour Board will determine the vote date. It is expected that the vote will take between five and ten days to organize. As such, the colleges have requested that the strike be suspended. This will allow faculty and students to return to class, while the vote is being organized. Suspending the strike will also allow voting at college campus locations so that the largest number of faculty are able to exercise their right to vote.”

Hornick said the only issue in dispute now is a no-cost item about faculty making decisions about what’s best in their classrooms.

“Council, however, has insisted on keeping serious concessions in to undermine the progress that had been made at the table,” she said. “The parties had worked on a plan with the provincial government to create a joint task force that would move higher-cost items, such as precarious work, staffing, and governance issues, into an arena where those items would be directly funded by government and addressed in that way.”

Vaughan stated calling an employer vote is not the desired position, “but it is the only position colleges believe that they have since reaching a negotiated settlement is unlikely.”

“Negotiation is the only way to go at this juncture,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “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. “The strike has gone on long enough, and we don’t need employer-caused delays making it go even longer.”

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    What seems to have been ignored in this issue is the length of time teachers have been without a contract -over a year. Someone on the College Employers side is not doing their job. Also, 70% of college teachers cannot get a full time job – they are limited to 4 month teaching periods, then out the door until they can come back later for another 4 month job. This set-up of a constant rotating staff is not educationally sound, nor does it provide any sense of security for the employees. Ontario can do a lot better than this to educate our young people. This is why most students support their teachers in this strike.

    During this strike the employees have lost their salary, while college admin continue to get paid – many making more than $300,000 a year! Perhaps if the college admin lost their salary during a strike too , I bet they wouldn’t last very long. Like I said – someone on the Admin side has dropped the ball – many times!

    OPSEU has petitioned the government and colleges to divide the money they have saved from unpaid salaries to the students – in order to help those students get through the year. To date both government and all of the colleges have refused this idea. It sure tells you who cares and who doesn’t – and it ain’t the government nor college administrators. A pox upon them both!

    It will be interesting to see how our provincial government plans to solve this problem – and now ask why wasn’t this situation solved before a strike?

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