College students prep for strike

Students, faculty urge ‘no’ vote to strike


With next week’s strike vote deadline approaching for Ontario college faculty, hundreds of thousands of the province’s college students prepare for what could be an unwelcome extended holiday.

Full-time professors, counselors and librarians, roughly 9,000, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, will vote Jan. 13 on giving their bargaining team a strike mandate if a deal cannot be reached.

The results of a strike for 500,000 college students (350,000 full time students and 150,000 part time students) would mean canceled classes, and could mean the extension of classes into summer, or a canceled term if the strike continues well into the four-month semester.

As most students pack their bags to go back to class next week, many are left holding their breath, while some plan demonstrations of their own.

Graeme McNaughton is the creator of the Facebook group ‘Ontario College Students Against A Strike,’ which has over 18,000 members. The petition linked to the group has been signed by more than 3,000 students.

McNaughton started an event called the ‘All-Ontario Student Walkout‘ set for Jan. 12, the day before the strike vote, and student groups have begun to sign-up to participate.

The last major academic strike happened at York University in Toronto where the union for the school’s contract faculty, teaching, graduate and research assistants participated in a 12-week standoff, affecting 50,000 students.

Metro Ottawa spoke to a professor at Algonquin College, one of 24 colleges involved in the collective bargaining, about the possibility of a college-wide strike.

“It doesn’t mean there will be a strike, but it does mean that one is possible,” Rod Bain told Metro. “Unfortunately, it is something that we pretty much need to do in order to move management toward a settlement.”

In a document on why professors should vote ‘yes’ to a strike mandate next Wednesday, the OPSEU said in 15 rounds of bargaining since 1972, there have been 12 strike votes but only three strikes — in 1984, 1989 and 2006.

In 2006 the strike fell just a month before the end of the second term and lasted 21 days, leaving those slated to graduate or to start jobs or work placements scrambling to catch up.

The OPSEU said that in the past when faculty have given the union a strike mandate and subsequently gone on strike, results of bargaining were “significant.”

They also said in another note that students benefit from the union’s conditions, which have included “changing learning environment of students, as well as looking for ways to deal with the increasing number of students attending college.”

Bain told Metro, this time around, professors are asking for a 20 per cent increase in paid time to prepare for classes or to meet with students outside of class time.

CSA postcardHowever, not all college faculty are on board for a strike. A website authored by William Tenant, a business professor at St. Lawrence College, has cropped up, dedicated to encouraging faculty to vote ‘no’ to a strike mandate next Wednesday.

The College Student Alliance, which represents over 70 per cent of Ontario college students wrote an open letter entitled ‘College students are NOT bargaining chips.’ In it CSA president Justin Fox said: “Students are concerned with the fact that, yet again, there is a threat of a province-wide faculty strike looming over their education.”

– photo by Gamma-Ray Productions


College students prep for strike

  1. 12 strike cotes?

    Shouldn’t that be strike votes?

  2. It has been corrected. Thanks.

  3. here we go again. a recession is going on but these ignorant unions keep going on strike. i’m trying to find work and these idiots are being selfish. fire the greedbags and hire someone who needs a job. you’re suppose to go on strike when times are decent, not when times are tough. these morons are useless, selfish, greedy and pathetic.

  4. I totally agree with Ron. Their are probably more qualified individuals who need jobs. Hopefully this strike last no more than the week after school starts.

  5. Tentured professors make in the neighborhood of $103,000 per year, with full benefits, vacation and extensive prep time…in a time when most students can hardly afford to attend college how can professors ask for another 20% in paid prep time! THis means while any one professor is prepping another will have to be in class…more overhead for colleges…more expenses for the students…I say ENOUGH ALREADY! A nuclear power operator in hydro doesn’t have a base salary that high and look what they have to do!

  6. If the colleges go on strike, there will be little chance of the union reaching a settlement before the semester is a complete washout. Even a 2 week strike would leave alot of students scrambling to catch up. I highly doubt that it would only last a week or two however, as alot of teachers strikes last up to a month or more. I personally will be dropping out if the teachers at fleming go on strike, Im not wasting a semesters tuition to sit out of classes when I could be out working.

  7. I work at a College in a support staff role and the majority of these Profs are of the opinion that we all owe them something. There benefits and pay are second to none and how you can teach 12 hours a week and call that full-time is beyond me. Many qualified people in Ontario would kill for these jobs and these ignorant profs want more.
    Fire them all, this province needs a hiring spree.

  8. As a student at Sheridan college i am not happy that this could happpen. I was told that if the strike happened to catch up later they are going to take away our “break” week which is hardly a break. I spend my entire break week in the library doing asssignments. I agree get rid of these teachers and hire new ones! More qaulified. Seriously, i had a computer course last semester and the prof couldn’t even figure out how to open Word! How can you teach a class when you can’t even open the program. It just went down hill from there… And then the teacher who miss 4 classes! Which is alot when its only a 4 months semester, and he sent his wife into teach one time.. Really im paying 5 000 dollars a year to have terrible teachers teach me nothing and have to do it all on my own. And now they are going to go on strike!!!!

  9. I am at Algonquin College and I find the teaching to be of poor quality as well as the attitude of many of the staff. I wouldn’t advise anyone to enroll in nursing at Algonquin poor facilities(library is crowded with few books) and staff.

  10. Has anyone noticed that the economy is poor, many skilled, certified workers are out of work. If the colleges vote for a strike, the governement will not be quick to intervene, the workforce is already saturated. So PROFS, get ready for a long drawn out affair. I hop this was resolved before the final date to withdraw from a program is past. Either way, parents and students will be out the money invested in residence, food plans and tuition if this is not resolved. I think withdrawing and re-registrating if a strike is averted might be an option. I will make my decision Friday Jan 15th, the last day to withdraw from a program.

  11. @Anonymous,

    Which “factual” errors are you referring to? Thanks.

  12. I think they should fire the nursing staff at Algonquin College. Many teaching staff have been out of the hospital for 20 plus years and are teaching. Many have bad attitudes and are providing courses that are not relevant. Hire new staff more attentive to the students and who have recent hospital experience.

  13. I live in a western province where there is essentially a technical institute and two universities. We have had three strikes at the technical institute in the past twenty years. Each one had a profound effect on the students. Yes, they were treated like pawns in a one-upmanship game with the provincial government. In each strike, the union had attempted to reach an agreement – once for two full years. Contrary to Ontario,the starting salary for a full-time instructor is about $46,000 and the top end after 15 years and at least 6 years of post-secondary education (Master’s Degree) is just under $80,000) Our professional development fund is $300.00 per year – try to stay current in any field with PD like that. The Ontario government, like this province, is trying to limit its educational liability costs by underfunding advanced education – the comments from the students are testament that it is underfunded. I agree a 20% increase does seem excessive, but there is more to a contract than salaries. Just to note that after the last strike which left 10’s of thousands of students gasping to catch up, the faculty agreed to a 3% increase just to end the strike and assist the students they knew were suffering – students suffering, not at the faculty’s hands but the provincial money pundits. I hope that Ontario can settle before this strike, even though it will have no influence on colleges and universities outside its borders. Every trade and professional owes their increased salaries to the people teaching them in post-secondary. Without them, we would all be serfs or slaves.

  14. Well this is fantastic. I cannot speak to the pay structure of the Profs at my school, but I could venture a guess that they’re not being paid peanuts.

    If the strike goes on for too long, I’ll very probably end up retracting my enrollment, getting my money back, and advancing some plans of mine that are scheduled for the end of the semester.

    I was in the 2006 strike, and I know how crappy that made my final semester. I don’t really feel like going through that again. If this isn’t resolved soon, I have a strong feeling that schools all over are going to lose some of their enrollment numbers.

  15. i am in last semster in centennial college.i am going to university this fall and in summer i have to do a bridge course for prepartion to university..if this semster is cancelled i am loosing my 1 complete year.what ia all this gong on?…first ttc strike…then garbage worker strike…then driving instructors strike..these unions are full of lazy ppl who don’t want to do thier job properly….these ppl must be replaced by qualified and hard working immigrants

  16. When does a strike become so onerous that it cannot be allowed to take place?

    We’re talking about 500,000 students having their lives put on hold, and the possibility of them losing ground with their education. By comparison, York U., the subject of a protracted strike not long ago, has 1/10th the number of students.

    The question raised in my mind is: How can the education of 500,000 of our young people not be seen as an essential service?

    My vote is to take away the strike option, and move this to binding arbitration!

  17. I agree strikes are not pleasant. I am completing a part-time degree at George Brown.

    I wanted to point out that unions are the reason why we have safety standards and decent pay in the workplace. If it were up to the employer, we (employee) would still have nothing. I do not agree with firing them when they are doing some legal. If colleges just hired anyone to teach, what quality of education would we get?

    Both sides need to realize that their decisions impact many futures. They need to get back to the table and be done with it.

  18. @VJ Allen – I doubt if the instructors in question would object to your vote at all, at least not those with a sense of the operating environment. The “problem” with binding arbitration is not that it’s unfair to the workers. In fact, it tends to be quite the opposite. If we’ve made a public policy decision that someone’s job is so important that they aren’t allowed the ordinary rights accorded to other workers then that implies a need to compensate them accordingly. And no one can really afford to expose what many college instructors are getting paid to that sort of reasoning. I’d stake quite a lot on the certainty that it would result in much hirer wages and benefits.

  19. I am a student in the Veterinary Technician program at Seneca College. Contrary to what the other students seem to be saying, I love my program, and the teachers and professors we have are absolutely fantastic! They know what they are talking about and strive to help us as students in any way possible.

    That being said, they are not being shy in terms of talking to the students about the details of the strike. True, the media always likes to focus on the money aspect of any strike, I would like to point out that that is NOT the main reason for this strike. After negotiations an agreement was reached in terms of money increases. What the teachers are fighting against is their Academic Freedom and Standardized Testing! The government wants every single course across the province to be taught in exactly the same way, a cookie cutter approach, with a multiple choice test to go along with it. That will be where all of our marks will come from. This will take away the professors creativity and individuality and in essence everything that makes your classes interesting and unique.

    As a student from one of the most difficult college programs available, any help that is given by the teachers in terms of testing and content is greatly appreciated. With this new approach that is trying to be put into place, many students will suffer. I am a paying student as well so I full well understand the deterimental effects of a strike.

    I agree with a strike. This new “plan” is not designed to help the students at all! So instead of bashing all of the teachers who are doing everything in their power to make the students lives easier and provide them with a plan that will further their education, a little support seems in order.

  20. Professors???? how many of them actualy have PHDs? MAybe instructors or something but not Professors… I don’t understand how they can expect us to come to class then go on strike themselves so that while we are labouring over class work and getting to school they go and bail out on us!!! Don’t make us do things if you wont do them yourselves!

  21. As a former college Dean in Ont., I can attest to the fact that there are many dedicated and hard working faculty members, and that they are the glue and guts of what is good about the Ont. college system. Unfortunately, they are in a minority position when it comes to driving OPSEU agenda of take, take and take some more.

    The modern union reality is that it must cater to and protect its lowest common denominator, which is a minority of vocal faculty members who have become deeply and distubingly entrenched in a mentality and culture of entitlement. There are many faculty members who have completely forgotten or have never know what “an honest day’s work” means; what integrity and accountability mean; what true hardship entails. My experience was that the biggest complainers (the “squeaky wheels” who get the most union attention and drive union agenda) are always those faculty members who are simply lazy, greedy and don’t give a damn about students and quality education.

    I had many faculty members who regularly cancelled or cut classes early (in many instances so that they could go to their second job or go on a two week holiday in the middle of the freakin term), and yet who saw themselves as “untouchable” (the exact word used many times by my problem faculty members). They treated students and other “lesser” employees with contempt and rudeness on a regular basis. These “professors” in many cases did not even possess an undergraduate degree. They had 10 to 12 hours of contact (class) time per week, and they “worked” maybe 7 months of the year tops (gone – and nowhere to be seen between mid-April & Sept). These “professors” had been doing their classes for so many years that there was no “prep” time required on their part. They just spewed out the same teacher-centered lecture term after term, year after year – with no effort whatsoever to be inovative, creative and progressive. In fact, the union aggressively dumped all over those faculty members who dared to work even one extra minute that wasn’t precisely calculated on their “SWF” work agreement for the term. OPSEU effectively stiffled any extra effort on the part of the truly dedicated and caring professors – those who just wanted to do the job and loved being a teacher. As for “marking” and “student” time, give me a break! The squeaky wheel complainers routinely used the same multiple choice exams year after year (and went balistic when students somehow got copies of exams and cheated – go figure). They marked these exams using a machine (five minutes of their time – tops!) These were the same faculty members who refused to even post their hours on the doors of their very nice, individual offices, so that students would know when they could make appointments to see them. These were the same faculty members who regularly complained to the union about any direction from the Dean or management that even hinted at a lack of accountability, professionalism, integrity etc on the part of faculty. The standard response was that they were being harassed or “micro-managed.” Yeah, like micro-managing is when a Dean politely asks a faculty member what she did with a piece of expensive photography equipment that she purchased with the collge credit card (knowing that she took it home for months at a time and did not place same on any kind of equipment inventory) This horrifying transgression of union sensibilities resulted in a complaint against the said Dean asking the question – one of many reactions for other similar (not to mention equally polite & legitimate) questions.

    “Bums in seats” is the #1 priority and bottom line of the Ont college system. It is a business plain and simple, and one that is unfortunately (for students) saddled with a faculty union that has firmly established an aggressive and destructive culture of entitlement and fear. There is no question in my mind that OPSEU (and a paralizing fear on the part of spineless College Human Resource Directors to stand up to the union in any meaningful way) will ultimately lead students to choose other post-secondary options. It will simply become too expensive, and especially so if OPSEU is sucessful at forcing unionization on all the part-time faculty teachers – the backbone of any continuing education programs.

    The answer, in my view, is that the silent majority of “good” professors must speak up and be heard. They must attend union meetings and vote! They must have the courage to speak up against the minority of “squeaky wheel” lazy, useless and greedy fellow faculty members who give them all (and the college system as a whole) a truly horrible reputation. But, when was the last time anyone of us in this country actually heard a majority of union members clearly speaking out against their union’s ridiculous demands and comically transparent rhetoric about “quality education” and “work Loads” and “intellectual freedom” etc etc. What a load of crap. The unions want more money and they want to work even less than they do now – period! Everything else is just “spin” and window dressing to help make it easier for the unsuspecting students to drink the green Kool-Aide.

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