Voting begins today for striking Ontario college faculty

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Voting begins today for striking Ontario college faculty

The increasingly bitter Ontario College strike is entering its fifth week with no end in sight.

In a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne and other members of the Ontario legislature, the Sheridan Student Union (SSU), which represents students at campuses in Brampton and Mississauga, expressed "deep disappointment and frustration" at the state of negotiations between the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union, which represents the 12,000 striking college workers, and the College Employer Council (CEC) that has stretched almost four week.

The union said the offer allows colleges to expand contract faculty without restriction, while avoiding paying equal pay for equal work, decreases full-time jobs, and does nothing to recognize the need for academic freedom for teachers. Voting remains open until 10 a.m. Thursday.

Speaking to CP24 on Tuesday morning, RM Kennedy, the chair of OPSEU's college division, said the council has been "completely unwilling" to address the core issues.

"We're nervous, we're very stressed out, we have some anxiety", she said.

It's been an emotional time for a lot of people, MacKenzie said.

The council representing the province's 24 colleges said acceptance of the latest contract offer would mean students could be back in the classroom as early as next Tuesday.

According to the colleges, the offer includes a 7.75 per cent salary increase over a four-year period and improved benefits, such as extended pregnancy and parental leave.

"We shouldn't have had to have this vote at all right now".

While Huckla and students from across the province are hoping the votes this week will end the strike, he said they remain concerned about salvaging the remnants of the semester.

Kennedy called for more intervention on the part of the government.

"My and my peers' concern has always been with the students", Kennedy said. "I'm only going to see my parents and my family for a couple of days".

We'll keep you posted as more details emerge. The musical theatre program costs about $370 per week, she said, and she has now lost five weeks of class.

Kennedy said the semester can still be salvaged. "It's going to be a real scramble to piece it together from this point on". "They have to start talking to us about the issues that really matter".

"We're not prepared to accept the return to work conditions either."

The colleges, who are forcing this vote to be supervised by the Ontario Labour Relations Board, said this offer came out of the latest round of negotiations on November 6. The link has also been shared on college social media platforms.

"We advise students to refrain from booking travel during this period until we know more", the school advised.

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