OPSEU Members Preparing For Possible College Strike

Preparations are underway with a strike or lockout looming at Ontario's 24 colleges including St.Clair College in Windsor.

Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 138 President, Bernie Nawrocki says they're arranging the strike trailer, picket signs and other items that have to be ready.

The local represents 330 professors, librarians and counsellors at St.Clair.

"This is not where the membership expected to be," says Nawrocki. "We're quite frustrated as we would have hoped management would have sincerely bargained with us, but they obviously have their agenda where they want to take us, and we have our direction we want to go. So it is frustrating."

Nawrocki says the members don't have an issue with how St. Clair College is run. "At the local level we have a great relationship with management but at the provincial level there obviously is some friction.  One of the bigger things our members are concerned about is the ratio of part-time to full-time members. The colleges have been hiring more and more part-timers, and less full-timers, and that's problematic."

OPSEU announced the strike action after it rejected the colleges' final offer of settlement, which included a 7.5% wage increase over four years. Nawrocki says that won't cut it. "I don't think wages is the biggest issue, but money's always an issue with everybody.  We are looking to be placed in the appropriate position that would be in comparison to comparator groups --- the highest paid high school teachers and the lowest paid university professors. 7.5% would not put us in that position."

A strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. October 16th was set after the College Employer Council walked away from the bargaining table.

It's been more than a decade since college professors went on strike in March 2006.