By Michelle Rowe-Jardine
Striking Ontario college faculty voted a resounding “no” to the College Employer Council’s latest offer that was put to a vote early last week.
Of the 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians across 24 of Ontario’s colleges currently on strike, 86 per cent rejected the offer.
The Council forced a vote for faculty members last week on an offer it had originally presented to the bargaining team representing faculty, which was rejected. This was an offer JP Hornick, head of the faculty bargaining team, said was full of concessions that undermined previous negotiations, including equal pay for equal work.
Faculty from across Ontario gathered outside of the Ontario Labour Relations Board office Thursday morning to await the results of the vote.
Hornick addressed the crowd and said the large voter turnout was a “historic moment,” with 95 per cent of faculty casting their votes.
“I want to thank every single one of you for the work that you did in making this happen,” she said.
Humber College professor Tyler Shipley said he’s relieved but unsurprised by the results.
“This deal was a trick, it was designed to trick people into accepting it. It’s very clear that our members are intelligent, that they could read the fine print and that this was a concessionary offer,” he said.
The colleges went on strike five weeks ago, with some of the top faculty concerns being the rise of precarious working conditions and academic freedom.
Bargaining came to a halt last week when academic freedom was the last item on the table.
Hornick said it would give faculty, who are experienced in their fields, more say into what goes into curriculums.
“It’s honestly… the only thing that makes sense, and it’s a no-cost issue. So for them to be holding out on this last little peg is reprehensible in a system that is trying to grow to meet the modern needs of our students,” Hornick said.
Following the results of the vote, bargaining resumed under a voluntary media blackout.
“I hope they’re going to start bargaining in good faith… this has gone on too long, it was unnecessary, the colleges could have bargained with us fairly from the start. Let’s hope they will at least start bargaining fairly with us now,” Shipley said.