Negotiations break down as college strike enters 4th week

COLLEGE STUDENTS RALLY

The College Student Alliance organized a rally at Queen's Park last week to put pressure on the colleges and the faculty union

The team representing colleges in negotiations with striking Ontario faculty says they have reached an impasse in negotiations and plan to take their latest offer directly to faculty members for a vote.

On the same day, JP Hornick, the team chair for the Ontario college faculty bargaining team, said they were interested in what the College Employer Council had to say.

"They walked away with only one item being left on the table, which was a no-cost item and that was academic freedom, which essentially, in simple terms, gives faculty members the academic say over the kind of content they use in the classrooms and the sorts of evaluation tools they use to assess student learning", Ward said. "We have asked the Labour Board to schedule a vote and let our faculty decide", Del Missier said in the release.

This comes after the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which represents over 12,000 professors, instructors and staff, rejected the latest offer tabled by the College Employer Council (CEC). A strike vote by college faculty in September took two weeks to organize and complete.

OPSEU further said that the proposals by the college team would have "devastating negative consequences on the college system for generations to come".

A new offer from management was tabled Monday morning, according to a bulletin from Humber College.

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"That is something no group on strike would ever do, especially on an offer we can't recommend", he said. Council, however, has insisted on keeping serious concessions in to undermine the progress that had been made at the table, she said.

He said the language the colleges were proposing around academic freedom was "extraordinarily weak", but he felt there was room for the sides to come together.

"I think the chances are zero that our members will accept this offer".

The union should suspend the strike and send students back to class while the vote is being organized, said a release from the Council.

"It is obvious now given the number of weeks that we have been out that we are going to have to extend the semester, probably now beyond December and into January". If the strike is suspended, it would allow for the votes to be held on college campuses, where faculty have been picketing since October 16.

It is not clear when students will return to classes.

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