Labour Relations Board orders college faculty vote next week

The Ontario Labour Relations Board has ordered a college faculty vote, to be held November 14 to 16, the College Employer Council says.

In a statement, the Council says the vote will be conducted by an electronic ballot to “ensure the maximum number of faculty can exercise their right to vote.”

This comes after talks broke down Monday between the colleges and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents the 12,000 faculty who have been on the picket lines since October 16. The colleges had gone to the OLRB, after talks broke down, to ask for a vote on what they called their “final offer.”

The Chair of the Colleges’ bargaining team, Sonia Del Missier, said in a statement Tuesday, “The colleges remain at the table, but we can't just rely on bargaining to resolve the strike – and our students can't wait. The faculty vote is another path to end the strike if bargaining is not successful.”

The Colleges once again called on OPSEU to call off the strike while the OLRB prepares for the vote.

“The suspension will allow faculty and students to return to class and not lose another week of classes," Del Missier said.

A vote of 50 per cent plus one is all that is required to accept the deal and end the strike.

But OPSEU has urged its members to reject the offer.

“After the College Employer Council pulled the plug on negotiations and called for a vote on their latest offer, the faculty bargaining team put forward a new proposal aimed at settling the strike immediately,” JP Hornick, chair of the faculty bargaining team, said in a statement from the union. “I am sorry to say, the Council rejected that proposal outright.”

“Students can thank their college presidents for putting them in this position,” OPSEU President Warren ‘Smokey’ Thomas said.

Thomas said the two sides were very close to a deal before the Council went to the OLRB.

500,000 students across the province – including at Algonquin College and La Cité Collegiale in Ottawa – have been out of class during the strike. Students are concerned they could lose their semester. Over 100,000 people have signed an online petition demanding students be refunded for every day the strike continues.

Algonquin College President Cheryl Jensen said last week the fall term may need to be extended.

With files from The Canadian Press.