An update on the Ontario Colleges strike from OPSEU 560 President, Jonathan Singer

| 30/10/2017

Dear Seneca students and supporters,

In light of President David Agnew’s email to students last week, I wanted to take a moment to reach out.

As we enter the third week of the college faculty strike, let me start by saying how deeply I regret that we are currently on strike.  Strikes are always incredibly frustrating — both for students who are going without classes and for faculty who are going without classroom time and without pay.

There’s one simple reason why faculty are on strike right now: Ontario’s College Employer Council has refused for months to negotiate the issues that 12,000 college faculty across the province voted on as our highest priorities, namely:

  • Equal pay and fair treatment for the more than 70% of college faculty who are on short-term contracts, have no job security, and who are not given enough time to prepare classes.
  • Contract language that ensures that faculty can make decisions about what students learn and how they are evaluated.  Right now, the faculty that you came to Seneca to study with have no authority over these things.
  • A process to reduce the percentage of faculty who are on short-term contracts from more than 70% down to 50%, to ensure that more faculty can be available for students outside of class, rather than needing to run off to second jobs.

I invite you to read what students at different GTA colleges wrote about these issues in the Toronto Star.

Because the Employer Council refused to discuss these issues at the bargaining table, they left faculty with literally no other option than a strike in order to get these priorities addressed.  Given that fact, the fastest way for the strike to end is for the Employer’s bargaining team to begin seriously bargaining the issues that faculty have identified..

I noticed that President Agnew’s letter didn’t include any suggestions for what you can do to help to end the strike.  I’d like to correct that omission:

  • You can help to end the strike by calling your MPP to demand that the Ontario government force the Employer’s bargaining team back to the negotiating table.
  • You can send a letter of support. It will be sent to 24 Ontario college Presidents, Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Deputy Premier Deb Matthews.
  • You can also call the College Employer Council at (647) 258-7700.  Please ask them why they refuse to return to bargaining, because so far your faculty haven’t yet been able to get an answer to that question.
  • Finally, thousands of students across Ontario have written to demand tuition refunds for missed classes. You can sign the petition here. I want to thank so many of you for giving us your support, or for wanting to know more about faculty issues.  Your learning conditions are our working conditions.  For that reason, I invite you to join us at any picket line—I hope that a show of students and faculty supporting each other will compel the Employer to resume bargaining, so that we can be back together in the classroom soon.

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Jonathan Singer
President, OPSEU Local 560
Representing full-time and partial-load faculty at Seneca College

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Category: On The Line, OPSEU560, Strike

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