Faculty at Ontario’s 24 public colleges have voted in favour of a strike mandate should contract talks fail to yield a new agreement. OPSEU held a strike vote on the 14th of September and 68% of Ontario College teachers and faculty voted yes to strike.
The vote does not necessarily mean there will be a strike, but that if the union and the College Employer Council, which represents management at the schools do not come to an agreement on a new contract, the teachers can strike if they wish.
A strong strike mandate can actually prevent a strike because the other side will realize that we are serious and that we do need to reach a deal – Darryl Bedford(President of OPSEU 110)
The collective agreement for 12,000 professors, instructors, counselors, and librarians expires on September 30, 2017. The two sides have been in negotiations since early July but have failed to make much progress, they return to the table on the 18th of September with the threat of a strike giving OPSEU leverage.
One of the biggest issues with a strike is what happens to the students, both sides say they want the best for the students but in the end, having a strike in the middle of a class term could cause a lot of problems. Darryl Bedford says the union will do whatever it takes to avoid having students miss time, but the students shouldn’t be nervous.
Usually when students think about the professors they have in the classroom, they don’t realize how many of them are very poorly paid, they don’t realize that many of them are moving from job to job cause they have to hold down multiple jobs in order to make a living. – Darryl Bedford
Bedford adds that if a strike does happen, arrangements would most likely be made for students to complete their year, but it all comes down to OPSEU and the College Employer Council finding common ground.