No negotiations taking place as Ontario college strike begins

Photo by Kit Kolbegger.
Faculty at Humber’s Lakeshore Campus walk the picket line on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. The faculty strike officially started at 12:01 a.m. on Monday. (Photo by Kit Kolbegger.)


By Kit Kolbegger

A strike began at colleges across Ontario on Monday after the College Employer Council and the faculty’s union failed to come to an agreement.

Teachers who would have otherwise been in class picketed at Humber’s Lakeshore and North campuses. 

Pam Johnson, a Theatre Performance instructor at the Lakeshore Campus and a media contact for OPSEU, said the bargaining process had been frustrating so far.

“When you say the word ‘negotiation’ or ‘bargaining’, the image that comes to your mind is that there are at least two people sitting down and discussing the issues,” she said. “That is not happening.”

Pamphlets handed out by instructors outline what they said were key issues in the strike, like academic freedom and intellectual property rights. Johnson said the Council had refused to discuss the issues.

“This is not negotiation, it is not bargaining, it is a stonewall,” she said.


Photo by Kit Kolbegger.
Faculty members hand out pamphlets and hold signs with the union’s demands at Humber’s Lakeshore Campus on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. The College Employer Council said in a press release that colleges needed “consistent delivery” to meet provincial standards, and faculty should not have full control over their courses. (Photo by Kit Kolbegger.)

David Scott, the media contact for the College Employer Council, said that the last offer the Council put forward did cover some of the union’s concerns. He said it explained why the Council was concerned about the academic freedom demands, and it included language around intellectual property rights.

“In terms of intellectual property, we believe that, again, we have addressed that,” he said. “Obviously the union is of the belief that we haven’t.”

Scott said bargaining was being overseen by a provincially-appointed mediator. He said it was up to the mediator when bargaining would resume.

“When he thinks it’s appropriate to come back to the table, he’ll indicate to both of the parties that he thinks it’s appropriate to come back to the table,” he said.

Vanessa Mazarese, a student in the Bachelor of Public Relations program, said she has mostly been following the strike through watching the news. While no work is due during the strike, students will have to hand in assignments when they return. Mazarese said schoolwork was a challenge without instructors.

“We have a lot of stuff to do, and no guidance. We’ve got a lot of assignments coming up that we haven’t gotten information for yet, so we’re trying to figure it out on our own,” she said.

Mazarese said that the strike was especially frustrating as she’s in her final year of study. She said she was concerned about how long the strike could take.

“I just want to be done. I need to get a job,” she said. “I hope it doesn’t go too long, but I just feel like it’s going to.”

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