TORONTO – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is calling on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to disband the College Employer Council, the “private club” that represents 24 public colleges in collective bargaining.
“Today, after college faculty overwhelmingly rejected Council’s latest contract offer, we hoped real negotiations would ensue,” said JP Hornick, chair of the OPSEU college faculty bargaining team. “But in a joint meeting this afternoon with the Premier and Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews, it became clear that, of the three parties in the room, only two were concerned with saving the semester for hundreds of thousands of students.
“One of those parties, the College Employer Council, refused to accept that their approach to bargaining had failed, and refused to do anything to get our students back to class.”
In talks late this afternoon, Hornick said, Council refused to remove the “poison pills” in its offer and made no move toward a settlement – even when faculty offered to send a key item, academic freedom, to arbitration.
Commenting on a government move to introduce back-to-work legislation, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas laid the blame for it at Council’s door.
“When our team made a last-ditch effort to get students back in class on Monday, the colleges dug in even further,” he said. “If there is going to be legislation, it should include measures to disband the College Employer Council altogether.
“Council is a private club that is accountable to no one,” he said. “It is a small group of privileged people that asked for 30 to 40 per cent wage increases this year but are more than happy to make work more and more precarious for the frontline faculty who make education happen.
“Council is a shadowy agency beyond the reach of freedom-of-information and salary disclosure laws, yet it is funded entirely by public dollars and students’ tuition,” he said. “It exists for no other reason but to enrich its directors, and it should be outlawed.”