College students fear another York - Macleans.ca
 

College students fear another York

Students sound off over threat to school year


 

Fearing a repeat of 2006 when Ontario college faculty went on strike for nearly a month, or, worse, a repeat of the 2008/09 York strike where faculty walked for three months, Ontario college students have started an online petition opposing a work stoppage. The petition so far has nearly 2000 signatures.

Negotiations between college management and the the faculty union broke down earlier this week, and a strike vote is scheduled for January 13th. Some 500,000 students could have their school year interrupted.

Related: Another year, another strike

A Facebook group titled “Ontario College Students Against a Strike” has more than 12,000 members and counting. The group was created by Graeme McNaughton, who was quoted in the Toronto Star today drawing comparisons with the York walkout. “We don’t want a strike to happen. My sister went to York last year and lost out on a summer job because that strike,” he said.

Much of the group’s message board is filled with students concerned over losing their term, not getting their money’s worth in a shortened term, or missing out on summer jobs due to an extended school year. Much of the anger is directed towards the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. One student wrote: “I understand that they feel overworked and underpaid . . . How does ruining all of our semesters going to help that?”

The College Students Alliance is calling on both sides to work to come to an agreement. “Students are concerned with the fact that, yet again, there is a threat of a province-wide faculty strike looming over their education,” says CSA president Justin Fox.  “Students do not want a repeat of the 21 day strike of 2006, which nearly cost many their semester and graduation.”

The CSA also points out that many college students are in government retraining programs, meaning a strike could have far reaching economic consequences during a fragile recovery.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to correct for the number of college students. It was previously stated that there were 200,000 college students in Ontario. The correct number is 500,000  comprising of 350,000 full time students and 150,000 part time students.


 

College students fear another York

  1. Mr Milloy, as the minister in charge of Ontario Colleges and & Universities, has the power and ability to keep the college faculty from going on strike.

    The public is not aware of the only real issue at play here is the IMPOSITION of EMPLOYMENT TERMS AND CONDITIONS.

    The faculty uinion,OPSEU, was quite ready to continue under the 2006 Contract terms, without even considering a strike mandate vote, for the remainder of this school year and would have continued negotiating in good faith for many more months.

    All of this changed when the College Council negotiating team, with the support of the 24 college presidents and Minister Milloy, decided unilaterally to use a newly legislated power to IMPOSE employment terms & conditions that canceled the existing collective agreement (signed in 2006) and placed the union and its teachers in an untenable position. Not only was the right to collective bargaining suspended, so was any chance of faculty grievances being settled, as joint provincial committees have been suspended by management, too.

    If the faculty do not respond with a strike mandate and a strike, as early as Jan 18, all their rights under collective bargaining earned over the last 40 years will be lost forever.

    Mr. Milloy surely knows this to be so and are allowing this “high stakes game” to continue where all stake holder will be heavily penalized in the event of a strike.

    If he doesn’t direct the Council to rescind the imposition of terms immediately and let the faculty continue to work under the 2006 Contract while continuing to negotiate in good faith, the faculty will have no alternative but to strike, and everyone will suffer, the students, the colleges reputations and budgets, as students may be able withdraw and ask for a refund, the presidents’ reputations as the people who are directly advising the Council to impose terms, and Mr.Milloy and the Liberal government, who have quite enough problems on there plate without forcing an unnecessary and damaging faculty strike.

    If terms and conditions can be imposed, certainly they can be rescinded just as easily. Everyone involved should urge Mr Milloy to do so, before the worst happens and a prolonged strike happens (that could easily be as long or longer than the York strike).

    Please check these facts directly with Minister Milloy and see why he feels it so necessary at this critical juncture and in a poor economy to force a province wide college faculty strike when he clearly has the power to do otherwise.