Update – Why your NO vote is so important.

OPSEU Local 415

OPSEU Local 415 is the democratically-run body that represents Algonquin College full-time and partial-load faculty (professors and instructors), cousellors, and librarians.

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Why your NO vote is so important.

Very soon the strike will be over. It will end in one of three ways.

1.       The parties will return to the table and negotiate a deal that faculty will vote on.

2.       The government will step in and dictate an arbitration of all outstanding issues.

3.       The current employer offer will be accepted.

The first would be the best outcome. The last would be the worst. But whatever way the strike is resolved, the government has made clear it will step in so that the semester is not lost.

The government has already shown a willingness to step in by involving itself as a key partner in the resolution of the very difficult and contentious issue of a staffing ratio – currently about 70% non-full-time faculty. Even by management’s own admission at least half of the teaching is being delivered by these short-term contract workers.

For an agreed settlement to be reached, the current management offer must be rejected.

The strike has forced the employer to address the union issues after four months of stonewalling and refusal to even discuss. It would be nonsensical to vote for this bad offer when a better resolution is just around the corner. This is the time to press on vigorously, not to capitulate.

Remember too, the make-up work that management will assign will not be paid for if faculty accept this offer. A month’s pay will be lost but the month’s work will be re-assigned without compensation. Following the 1989 strike, the arbitrator awarded all full-time faculty a $1000 payment in anticipation of the colleges reassigning the lost workload. However, using the same 2006 language proposed now by the employer, only a tiny percentage of faculty received any compensation at all.

There is one major issue outstanding. In whose hands will the authority and responsibility to deliver your curriculum fall, yours or college management’s? Post-secondary education and training historically and nearly universally gives the teachers, the experts in their fields, that authority and responsibility – “academic freedom.” The exception? Ontario’s colleges. The employer has costed this faculty demand at “no cost.” But in the face of decades of pressure from faculty to recognize the institutional and individual value of this basic academic freedom, management clings tenaciously to their position.

Make no mistake. This is a watershed moment in the history of Ontario’s colleges.  It is more than a contract negotiation. This is about social policy. Your strike has been and must continue to be a strike to fundamentally alter the nature of the colleges, to bring them within the sphere of fully legitimate post-secondary institutions. Or you can accept the old industrial, top-down model the employer’s offer of settlement represents.  This is the moment.  You must decide. You’re close to winning a giant step forward. The next step – VOTE NO. 

In Solidarity,

The Bargaining Team

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