Ontario colleges call for union to cancel strike vote
Published Friday, August 24, 2012 7:23AM EDT
TORONTO - Ontario's 24 colleges are warning that the Ontario Public Service Employees Union could trigger a strike by 10,000 college faculty as early as next month.
The colleges say a strike could start as early as Sept. 15 if the union goes ahead with its Sept. 10 strike vote and a majority of faculty vote in favour of giving the union a strike mandate.
The colleges say a strike would disrupt the start of the school year for hundreds of thousands of students across the province.
Colleges' spokeswoman Sonia Del Missier says OPSEU won't accept a two-year wage freeze that preserves maximum salaries and asks for no concessions.
The collective agreement with the union expires at the end of this month and the union has said it hoped the strike vote would prompt the colleges to "start negotiating more seriously."
Discussions also include issues such as academic freedom, the treatment of partial-load faculty, increased workload from online courses and other staffing requirements.
"Faculty have to consider carefully the impact if they vote to strike," Del Missier said.
"A strike mandate will give the union the ability to trigger a province-wide strike with just five days' notice."
OPSEU president Smokey Thomas says the union isn't surprised, noting the colleges could lock out staff as early as Sept. 15.
"The Colleges have ignored faculty demands, asked for major concessions, and demanded a wage freeze," Thomas said.
"Their delays and refusal to budge on key issues have demonstrated ill-will from the start of negotiations."