March work stoppage
for Ontario colleges?
Ontario’s community colleges could be embroiled in a
work stoppage as early as Mar. 3 due to labour unrest.
The faculty at all 24 of the province’s community colleges
negotiate through the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union
Local 110, and chief steward of faculty Gary Fordyce said there
is still much to negotiate.
“There’s a number of issues on the table,” he
said. “Workload is one of our top priorities, and issues
around staffing and the use of non full-time staff.”
Fordyce explained that since 1996, the number of full-time
faculty positions in the province has decreased by 23 per cent,
while the number of students has climbed by 46 per cent.
At Fanshawe College Tuesday night, 70 per cent of faculty
came out to vote on a strike mandate, with 72 per cent voting
in favour of setting a strike date for Mar. 3.
Bargaining has been going on, Fanshawe President Howard Rundell
confirmed, but the two sides are not making much progress.
“Unfortunately, I’m not very optimistic. The two
sides are much farther apart than [Tuesday’s] London
Free Press suggests,” he said, explaining the difference
in faculty salary demands was significant.
Rundell reported the Association of Colleges of Applied Arts
and Technology of Ontario, the council of administrators that
work with college presidents, had proposed a two-year deal
increase of 3 per cent each September, and 0.5 per cent each
Fordyce said this was insufficient. “The average settlement
between the high school boards is 3.85 to 3.9 per cent, and
university is the same. We would have to at least get the average
to even remain where we are,” he said, noting getting
less would allow the colleges to fall further behind the average.
Fordyce also drew attention to the union’s proposal,
which seeks the same 3 per cent increase each September, but
seeks 1.5 per cent in each April under the agreement, a “back-end
loaded” agreement he said would reduce the cost for the
“The only way we could add more [to salaries] is if
we believed the government would provide more funding,” Rundell
Fordyce also accused the administrators of using teachers
as pawns in lobbying the government for more funds. “It’s
not like the college hasn’t recognized these problems,” he
added, citing an ACAATO document which identified the staffing
issues the union is concerned with.
“Why wasn’t this taken care of in August?” Fordyce
asked, which is when the old contract expired.
In the most recent newsletter to Fanshawe students, Rundell
called the salary demands unrealistic.
“Nothing could be more ridiculous,” Rundell said. “How
can one think that paying more money to teachers is going to
cause government to want to give more colleges more than that.
“It would never be teachers who would be pawns in strikes,
it would be students — it’s them who have their
year and their lives disrupted,” he said.