Strike vote set for Thursday for Ontario college staff

By cceolin

Teachers and other faculty at Ontario’s 24 colleges are expected to cast a ‘yes’ ballot in a strike vote, Thursday.

Around 12,000 college professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians are being asked to vote in favour of a strike mandate, as their union gears up for negotiations to resume on September 18th.

But a strong strike vote doesn’t mean they’ll hit the picket lines. J.P. Hornick chair’s OPSEU’s bargaining team, and says, rather, it would give the union leverage when they return to the table next week.

“This is just one tool in our toolbox,” says Hornick. “Basically a strong strike vote sends a message to the management that faculty stand behind what they’ve asked us to table, and that they want them to engage in actual negotiations.”

The key issues at play are giving faculty more control over what happens in the classroom, and the reliance on part-time and contract instructors — who Hornick says currently make up 81 per cent of the teaching staff.

She says when the union and college management last spoke in August, the one thing they could agree on is that there are two visions for the college system. However, strong strike votes typically encourage employers to bargain, and that’s what they’re trying to do.

“It is about making sure that we’re back at the table on the 18th with a clear message to the colleges that this is about engaging in collegial discussions towards the future of the system,” says Hornick. “This isn’t about one wins and one loses, but about having talks.”

The results of the vote will be known late Thursday night.

The current contract for faculty expires at the end of the month.

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