Striking faculty from Fanshawe College march down Richmond St., October 26, 2017. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

College Faculty Reject Latest Offer, Strike Continues

The strike at Ontario’s public colleges will continue.

The union representing striking faculty says its members have rejected the latest offer from the College Employers’ Council.

According to the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, 95% of eligible members cast ballots in a vote that saw 86% vote against the offer.

“No one is surprised that college faculty rejected the Council’s forced offer. It was full of concessions and failed to address our concerns around fairness for faculty or education quality,” said JP Hornick, chair of the faculty bargaining team for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). “We stand with hundreds of thousands of college students when we say ‘enough already.’

The two sides returned to the bargaining table on Thursday afternoon after meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“It is unfortunate that [the] council extended our strike, and kept students out of class for an extra two weeks by calling for this vote,” said Hornick, “but now that it’s over, it’s time to move on. With cooperation from [the] council at the bargaining table, I believe we can settle this strike in short order.”

OPSEU President Smokey Thomas congratulated faculty for standing up for a better college system.

“Calling for this vote was a bully move by [the] council,” he said. “Council’s bargaining team should either settle this strike immediately or resign and be replaced by competent negotiators.”

Earlier this week, a Toronto-based law firm launched a class-action lawsuit on behalf of affected students. It alleges colleges have breached their contract with students and demands a tuition refund and reimbursement of living costs incurred during the walkout.

About half a million college students across Ontario have been out of class since October 16.

– With files from Scott Kitching