It is uncertain whether there will be classes at any of Ontario’s 24 colleges next week as negotiations between Ontario’s College Employer Council and the college faculty union broke down Wednesday.
A statement released by the Council said OPSEU rejected the Council’s final offer. The union set a strike deadline for 12:01 a.m. Monday.
The council tabled an offer that includes a 7.75 per cent pay boost over four years, improved some benefits, and improved provisions to convert of contractual employees to full-time positions.
JP Hornick, chair of the union’s bargaining team, said the final offer still wasn’t a fair deal.
“They proposed a temporary full-time position with no job securities, so these are folks that would be doing full-time work but could be released on two weeks’ notice,” she said.
Hornick said the Council still hasn’t made concessions to key demands the union is seeking.
“Right now, we have a strike deadline looming and an employer who refuses to engage in bargaining,” she said.
Robert Bolf, the president of the Humber Faculty Union, said some of the most important demands were about academic freedom and intellectual property rights.
“At Humber, we’ve had associate deans and deans tell faculty, you’re not going to use a textbook in this course anymore,” Bolf said.
Faculty could object to changes that were made, but that the final decision lay with the administration.
Bolf said faculty also thought it was important that they owned the course materials they created.
“Professors should own the product of their work, which happens in universities and in other provinces,” he said.
Hornick said if the Council came back to the bargaining table, the union would be willing to talk.
“If they are willing to engage in conversation, to address these key issues, then we will be here right up until the strike deadline, working to get that settlement,” Hornick said.
An update on Humber College’s website said the college would make sure students had the chance to “complete their learning goals.”
Omar Mir, a first-year Design Foundations student, said he was still concerned a strike would disrupt the academic calendar.
“We are approaching mid-term week, so I don’t know how that’s going to affect us,” Mir said.
Mir said while he attended college in the past, he’d never encountered a strike. He said as a part-time student, he was worried missed classes would lead to an increased workload when classes resumed.
“I’ve got a really busy schedule, so catching up on work is not something that I’d like to be doing,” he said.
Mir said the idea of extending classes later in the year was also unappealing. He said he looked forward to summers off.
“You finish the school year, and it’s like Christmas time. You use that time to recuperate and relax, socialize, get a life again,” he said.