On Campus

Union rejects college's final offer

OPSEU won't bring deal to teachers

The union representing Ontario community college faculty has rejected management’s “final” offer, and refuses to bring it to teachers for a vote.

Ontario’s College Compensation and Appointments Council made the offer to OPSEU on Wednesday after several days of talks. After the union rejected the offer, college management asked OPSEU to bring it back to their 9,000 members for a vote. The council said the offer was better than previous ones because it shortens the contract to three years, instead of four, and offers a slightly higher salary increase.

“We’ve been bargaining for quite some time and we’ve offered everything we can afford and everything we can accept,” said Nancy Hood, vice-chair of the college’s academic bargaining team. “It reflects what we can do in this current environment.”

Hood said the council was still waiting Thursday for an official response from the union, but OPSEU spokesman Greg Hamara said the union will not be putting the offer to its membership for a vote. “Our members in effect rejected the final offer when they authorized the bargaining team to call a strike if we failed to reach an agreement, and that happened on Jan. 13,” Hamara said.

If the college wants the offer put to the teachers, he added, it can present it itself because the only thing the union will consider taking to its members is an agreement recommended by the union. Negotiations are ongoing and neither side has walked away from the table.

In an “Urgent Report” Wednesday night, the council expressed disappointment that the union’s bargaining team had rejected the offer. “We have requested that the union take this final offer of settlement to their membership for a vote,” the report said. “This will allow faculty to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to accept the offer.”

Hood said it wasn’t up to the colleges to present the offer to the teachers, but felt they deserved “the democratic right to choose whether they want the offer or not.”

“It’s the union’s membership and it’s their responsibility to take it to their members,” she said.

About 57 per cent of the teachers who voted earlier this month gave OPSEU a strike mandate to back their demands. A strike would curtail classes for as many as 500,000 students.

The Canadian Press