Right now, 12,000 college professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians, in 24 Ontario colleges are on strike.  Here is one of many video newsclips covering Day 1 of the strike.   So what can we do to help fight for a better college system 

1: Learn:  The first thing to know is what are the unions asking for.  OPSEU made three critical proposals in the offer: 50:50 ratio in the number of full-time faculty to the number of faculty members on contract; increased job security for part-time faculty, and academic freedom to give faculty a stronger voice in academic decision-making.  Here is tool OPSEU has produced to explain the strike demands to students and the public.  For some more background on this issue, here is a great story published in Rank and File by Chris Grawey.  

The chief negotiator for the college faculties, JP Hornick, said “the council is taking the “Walmart approach” to education, where they address funding shortfalls by lowering standards such as exploiting underpaid contract workers who have no job security beyond one semester.”

Remain informed about the strike by visiting the OPSEU/CAAT website.

2:  Are they broke?:   Despite their claims, Ontario colleges are not facing a current financial crisis.  According to OPSEU “According to the latest report on college finances from the College Financial Information System of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, the colleges had a surplus of $189 million in 2016-17.  That’s a big number that is far larger than the $123 million the Council says it would cost to bring in “equal pay for equal work” for partial-load faculty. This isn’t a blip. Over the past decade the colleges have accumulated a surplus of over $1.2 billion. This is a matter of priorities as much as it is funding.” 

The College Employer Council is paid through dues from the colleges to bargain on the colleges’ behalf.  Here is more about them.  They claim that they are not subject to sunshine list and other provisions which cover crown corporations, which is disputable and disputed.  It is likely that Don Sinclair and his teamtake home a nice hefty paycheck.  Here is a petition asking that the College Employer Council donate their salaries to a student bursary because of their behaviour during negotiations.  

This is a question of fairness and priorities.  To many of employers claim funding shortfalls to get additional money, but it does not go to the right priorties.  Let’s support the faculties which are on the line fighting to get the priorities right!

3) Support:  Send the OPSEU members a letter of support and let them know if they can publish it.