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Prof crusades against strike

Says strikes are “disruptive to our students”


 

With a strike vote just a week away, divisions among college faculty are beginning to surface. William Tenant, a business professor at St. Lawrence College, is calling on his colleagues to vote against a work stoppage.

Negotiations between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, and the colleges broke down last month, after initially breaking down in November. If faculty vote to strike on Jan 13, the earliest they could walk is Jan 18. The OPSEU represents 9,000 faculty at 24 colleges. A strike would leave the semester in limbo for 500, 000 students.

Responding via email, Tennant says he is urging college professors to vote no because strikes are “disruptive to our students” which is “our reason for being.”

He points to what he says is the failure of previous strikes in 1984, 1989 and 2006. At his website, stopthestrike.net, Tennant summarizes each work stoppage as following a similar trajectory:

College teachers gave weak support to the negotiating team for a strike; Management didn’t budge; Teachers went on strike; Management didn’t budge; Provincial Government passed legislation ordering teachers back to work followed by Binding Arbitration.

There has been little discussion between the union and the colleges since December. Today, the OPSEU released a number of documents outlining why faculty should vote to strike.

Near the top of the union’s concerns is that the colleges in November unilaterally imposed terms and conditions of employment, a power granted by the province in 2008. The union says that under the terms imposed by the colleges, workloads will increase, and that in three years, “College faculty salaries will fall below high school teacher levels.”

According to OPSEU, previous strikes were successful at ensuring workload limits, and, as such were ultimately beneficial to students. One union document says, “Faculty’s working conditions are students’ learning conditions.”

Tennant says that unlike in 2006 when faculty were on strike for three weeks, this year it could last for much longer, suggesting that the province might be reluctant to legislate faculty back to work. “The Ontario Government is $25 billion in deficit. A number of colleges are in deficit. A strike would help their finances.”

In his campaign to stop his colleagues from giving the union a mandate to strike, Tennant still has a long way to go. So far only between 20 and 30 college professors have given him explicit support.

Related: Another year, another strike

College students fear another York


 

Prof crusades against strike

  1. As someone who was a college student through the last college strike, and with friends facing this one, I applaud Mr. Tenant! Thank you, sir!

  2. I hope they know this will be a long strike.

  3. I don’t think that they realize how mug stress and pressure try end up putting on students when they go on strike. I am currently in college doing a post-grad program, and a strike right mow will seriously hurt my program since we only have 4 months left to go and an intrmship yo do, which really will push that all back.

    I wish that in order to get the point across they didn’t need to punish the students who are already paying a lot of money to get an education.

  4. On April 01, the College Compensation and Appointments Council (“The Council”), which bargains on behalf of Ontario’s 24 colleges, legally ceases to exist and is replaced by a new group, the “College Employer Council,” which will be made up of Ontario College presidents.

    In essence, the current bargaining team for The Council has no vested interest in the outcome of negotiations and will not be held accountable for any of its actions. Why should any members of The Council’s bargaining team care about students, the state of post-secondary education in Ontario, or completing a contract negotiation when they will disappear forever in just 2.5 months?

    College presidents need to step up to the plate right now, get rid of this lame-duck “Council” entity a bit sooner than scheduled, and start representing themselves, their students and their faculty in negotiations.

  5. “In his campaign to stop his colleagues from giving the union a mandate to strike, Tennant still has a long way to go. So far only between 20 and 30 college professors have given him explicit support.”

    Nice job there, Mr. Tennant. Now all you have to do is get 8,970 more profs to agree with you.

    I have to wonder what kind of person would campaign against a strike and yet be completely clueless as to the issues. I almost feel sorry for the students who have learned under him.

  6. Good work, Bill Tennant – finally, some common sense. For the sake of the students, let’s find a solution short of a strike.

  7. Has anyone thought that maybe the students will stand up if their year is destroyed.
    I know that if I was a York University Student I would be taking someone to court.
    Maybe faculty and the bargaining unit would get the lead out if they thought they could all be sued by the 100 000 plus Ontario College Students for not only tuition but for living expenses to get them through till the next academic year.
    Students have all paid for their educations and struggle to get by on limited part time employment.
    If the school year is cancelled I am asking for $25000 to get me through till next year when people feel like doing their work.

  8. I am a college faculty member, and I do not want a strike.

    I have spent the last five years developing and then running a new academic program that is desperately needed by the province to offset predicted labour shortages.

    A strike now could kill this program.

    I am urging both sides to use their heads, stop acting like children, and negotiate a deal NOW. The futures of many are counting on it!

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