By Joel Arndt
Students have missed 14 days of classes (as of November 2nd) since Ontario College faculty went on strike on October 16th.
Yesterday (November 1st), through a mediator appointed by the province, the College Employers Council (CEC) asked the academic arm of Ontario Public Service Employees Union back to the bargaining table.
Sonia Del Missier, Chair of the Colleges’ Bargaining Team, expressed eagerness to reach a deal.
“This strike has gone on for too long. We need to end the strike and get our students and faculty back in the classroom. We can reach a settlement quickly and have classes start again early next week,” Del Missier said in a statement released on the CEC website.
JP Hornick, chair of the Union bargaining team, says they’re ready to hear what the CEC has to say.
“We are ready, as we have been from the start, to bargain a fair contract that addresses the issues of good jobs and quality education,” she said in a statement posted on the OPSEU website.
In the same statement, OPSEU president, Warren Thomas, talks about the “precarious work” colleges use as a “tool to cut costs.” Since the strike began, many stories have come out about the high personal investment from partial-load teachers. In some cases, being on strike has paid faculty comparably to their teaching salary.
Precarious work was the topic of Thomas’ address to a rally of striking faculty on Thursday. Students and community allies marched with faculty to Queen’s Park in Toronto where several speakers addressed the crowd of supporters.
NDP provincial leader, Andrea Horwath, was one of the speakers at the rally. She placed blame for the prominence of precarious work squarely on Premier Kathleen Wynne’s shoulders.
The NDP firmly believe that Ontario is under-funding its college institutions. NDP MPP Peggy Sattler addressed Ontario parliament on the subject on Wednesday, November 1st.
“It seems clear to everyone but the government that provincial under-funding of the college system is the root cause of this strike. Ontario provides the lowest per-student funding of any province,” says Sattler.
Regardless of why 70% of Ontario’s College professors are temporary employees, with the CEC and OPSEU back at the table, everyone is anxious for a deal to be struck before the students loose their semester and their money.