Colleges reveal offer to union on new website ahead of OLRB vote

The College Employer Council has published a new website, collegevote.ca, outlining the offer the Council has made to members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union ahead of a two-day electronic vote.

12,000 college faculty members across Ontario have been on the picket lines since October 16.

The vote was organized, at the request of the Council, by the Ontario Labour Relations Board after talks between the two sides broke down last week. The two sides were reportedly close to a deal last Monday, but neither side could come to an agreement over the issue of academic freedom.

According to the Council, OPSEU’s proposed position “is not possible in the Ontario College system.” The Council says the union’s demands would “give individual faculty members exclusive control over academic decision making.” The Council says college programs are required to meet certain standards, something they fear a teacher could refuse to do if they had exclusive control.

The union, however, argues management already has exclusive control of academic decision-making. In a letter to members, dated November 8, the college faculty bargaining team says “[s]ome faculty do get to make some of these decisions, but it is important to remember this is always at the whim of management. Faculty’s professional opinion on academic matters – and grades – can be overridden at any time and for any reason by a supervisor.”

In a letter dated November 13, the union is once again urging members to reject the college’s offer, arguing it is “filled with concessions that will gut our system for years to come.”

The Council says a vote of “yes” to their offer would mean students would likely be back in the classroom by November 21, and teachers would begin to be paid starting November 17, with an increased salary. A vote of “no” will extend the strike.

Algonquin College announced on Friday the fall term would be extended until December 22 and will start again on January 2. La Cité Collegiale said its fall term would extend into January.

The change.org petition demanding students be refunded for every day the strike has gone on has reached over 130,000 signatures.