Bruce-Grey Owen Sound Federal NDP candidate David McLaren (Photo by Kirk Scott)

Grey Bruce Activist Says College Strike About Precarious Work

The former NDP candidate for Grey Bruce Owen Sound says the Ontario community college strike is not about money, it’s about precarious work.

David McLaren says despite rising enrolment, the number of full-time teachers is declining. He says at Georgian College in Owen Sound, full-time profs make up just 10% of the teaching faculty.

McLaren says the remainder are those with contracts for six to 12 hours a week, or part-time instructors who work less than six hours a week.

The contracts only last four months.

“I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be represented by a part-time lawyer, or have my car serviced by a weekend mechanic. If someone knows their stuff well enough to be hired to teach it to our children, then I want them on the job, engaged, and available to my kids full time,” says McLaren.

McLaren says those teachers are only paid for their teaching time, but not for preparation, marking, or mentoring students.

“That’s a lot of work for roughly $35,000 a year, and that’s if you manage to secure contracts for three semesters in a row,” he adds. “No wonder there’s such a high turnover of teachers in community colleges.”

The union wants half of the college faculty to be full-time, but the colleges say they can’t afford it. Mclaren says college presidents, meantime, have been lobbying to increase their own pay by up to 50%.

“Nevertheless, during talks in early November the colleges and the faculty seemed close to an agreement,” says McLaren. “Then, abruptly, the colleges stopped bargaining. They pulled their current concessions off the table and demanded the union accept what was essentially a much earlier proposal – a proposal the union had rejected back in September. The colleges have now asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board to force a vote of union members.”