Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Striking Ontario college faculty rejects latest offer, strike will continue

College students seeking strike damages Results of college faculty strike vote expected
Andrew Cummings | 17 November, 2017, 01:24

Glenn Vollebregt, president of St. Lawrence College, said Thursday morning that faculty with the Ontario Public Service Employer's Union (OPSEU) officially voted against to the College Employer Council's (CEC) offer of settlement.

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

"We are looking at all of our options, but I am hopeful that an agreement to return students to class immediately can be reached by the parties".

Talks between the colleges and the union broke down on November 4 prompting a request for the final offer vote. "It was full of concessions and failed to address our concerns around fairness for faculty or education quality", said JP Hornick, chair of the faculty bargaining team for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

From the front lines of a weeks-long strike typified by uncertainty, there was a rare moment of clarity Tuesday, more than four weeks after faculty walked off the job.

Last week, the Ontario Colleges announced plans to create a fund to help students experiencing financial difficulty stemming from the strike, but there is no information about applications or how to qualify.

I am not the most knowledgeable student when it comes to strikes. "Bargaining will continue", Webb said.

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She said if students are pushed back into the classroom they may suffer burn-out and won't get the education they paid for. "I'm available to my students all the time", she said, adding it's often harder for her part-time colleagues to put in face-time with students.

"It doesn't matter how students feel, or how we have been impacted, that's deeply how it feels from this side of the table", she said.

Madder said he can hear the clock ticking to save the semester as the labour dispute extends towards the end of the fifth week.

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

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.

Some students in Ontario have raised the possibility of a class action lawsuit against the Colleges, wanting at least a partial refund of tuition, while others have mused about quitting college, feeling their semester and school year is lost.

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