More than 12000 Ontario college faculty will strike Monday after negotiations fail

More than 12000 Ontario college faculty will strike Monday after negotiations fail

Students say they're caught in the middle and they're the ones with the most to lose. "I'm royally pissed off".

"It's regrettable", said Kevin MacKay, a member of the faculty union's provincial bargaining team.

OPSEU Local 237 workers picket in front of the Guelph campus of Conestoga College on Monday morning.

It says the union's demands would have added more than 250 million dollars in annual costs.

Niagara College has suspended all academic and apprenticeship programs, and Sheridan has cancelled classes.

Campuses in Cornwall, Brockville and Kingston will remain open during the strike and all managers and support staff will be at work.

Ontario Colleges and their academic union have been unable to reach a new contract agreement. Union representatives cited the employers lack of response to issues such as longer contracts for contract faculty and academic freedom as essential for negotiations to resume. "This leaves us with no choice but to withdraw our services until such time as our employer is ready to negotiate seriously".

The exceptions include online continuing education courses and collaborative degree courses taught by McMaster University faculty.

"Mohawk is developing contingency plans so all students will have the opportunity to complete their semester once the strike ends", Jay Robb, spokesperson for Mohawk College, said in a statement.

"The colleges' final offer is responsive to what we have heard at the bargaining table and fair to our faculty", he said. The strike affects 24 publicly funded community colleges in the province of Ontario.

In North Bay, striking faculty are picketing at the main Canadore College campus on College Drive, as well as, the aviation campus and Commerce Court.

The strike only involves full-time and partial-load faculty; part-time and sessional faculty aren't part of the union (they voted this month whether to join OPSEU and form a separate bargaining unit, but the results aren't yet available). Management offered employees a almost eight percent wage increase over four years.

Faculty stopped vehicles coming to the schools for a brief time explaining what they are doing on the picket line today.

Outstanding issues have included job stability for partial-load faculty, who are faculty members that teach between six and 12 hours per week; now, they are subject to single-semester contracts.

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