The Ontario college semester is no longer under threat after official results confirm that faculty have accepted management’s final offer. The Ontario Labour Relations Board announced Wednesday that just over 51 per cent of faculty voted Feb 10 to accept the proposal from the College Compensation and Appointments Board. The deal will serve as the collective agreement for the next three years.
Negotiations initially broke down in November and tensions remained high as nearly 500,000 students were left uncertain if they would be able to complete the winter semester. The drama culminated after faculty voted to give the union bargaining team a strike mandate on Jan 13. In late January, management produced its final offer which was rejected by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, who declined to bring the offer to members for a vote.
OPSEU then imposed a strike deadline, arguing that it would encourage the college’s to make further concessions. The colleges answered by bringing their final offer directly to faculty themselves, under the auspices of the Labour B0ard. Due to the narrow margin of the vote, and a disproportionate number of yet to be counted mail-in ballots, there was some uncertainty as to whether faculty had actually accepted the offer. Those uncertainties have now been laid to rest.
Rachel Donovan, chair of the college’s bargaining team expressed relief at the official results, “We will now have a collective agreement in place and we have avoided a strike. This result is good news for our students, our faculty and our communities.”
OPSEU, however, does not have a rosy view of the results and says it is “fear” of a strike, instilled by management, that led faculty to vote in favour of the offer. “We did not want a labour disruption, and had a plan to avoid one, but the employer took the stance with our members that it was either accept the offer or be forced out on strike,” said Ted Montgomery, chair of the union bargaining team.