Striking Ontario college teachers begin voting on contract offer today

Striking Ontario college teachers begin voting on contract offer today

Striking Ontario college teachers begin voting on contract offer today

Last week, talks between the College Employer Council, which represents the province's 24 colleges, and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents faculty, broke down.

While faculty members picket at the Loyalist College entrance on Wallbridge-Loyalist Road in Belleville, the college's student government has been organizing daily get-togethers as a way to boost student morale. "And I'm telling you, if the strike doesn't end this week, the semester is under threat - serious threat".

Voting begins Tuesday and runs through Thursday for faculty members at Ontario's colleges who must decide whether to accept the latest contract offer or continue a strike that's now into its fifth week. The council launched a new website - www.collegevote.ca - and posted an audio webcast on Monday in which it discussed the contents of the offer.

Highlights include a 7.75 per cent salary hike over four years to a maximum of $115,378, improved benefits, improvements for contract teachers, and support for a "government-led task force on the future of Ontario colleges, including staffing models and precarious work".

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Sonia Del Missier, the chair of the colleges' bargaining team, said all major issues in the offer have been agreed on by both sides except for language surrounding academic freedom.

Among them are concessions around the process for hiring full-time faculty, provisions that would allow faculty to exceed overtime limits and make it harder to take professional development days, MacKay said.

"We're a body of 1,000 students", Eckenswiler says.

"This money is not actually my money", he said. Key issues are wages and job security for contract faculty, as well as more input in academic decisions.

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From his perspective, he noted that if, "the minister can tell the colleges how to spend the money they've saved, she can tell them how to bargain fairly as well".

Because of this strike, Mohawk students will only have one week of Christmas holidays.

"... They [students] are anxious about how to pay for unexpected costs like additional rent or canceling long-standing travel plans to be home with family", said Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, in a statement.

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