Lawrence College affected by strike

Jon Howard
October 17, 2017

Just a little over a month into their semester more than 10,000 Niagara College students are getting an unexpected break from their studies as their professor's picket at the school's two Niagara campuses.

Management's offer of a 7.75 per cent wage increase over four years was in line with deals accepted within the last few years by others in Ontario's public sector, including college support staff, said Tibbits.

The Canadian Press Faculty at 24 Ontario colleges have gone on strike, a move that will affect more than 500,000 students.

"Six years ago we did have a form of collegial governance, we had an academic council", said Patterson. That offer had three proposals to improve education quality for students and treat faculty fairly: a 50:50 ratio of full-time to contract faculty, which now sits at over 70% contract faculty; increased job security for partial-load faculty, who now work on one-semester contracts; and academic freedom to give faculty a stronger voice in academic decision-making.

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.

Classes were obviously canceled, but there is some breathing room for negotiations with reading week to start next week.

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In 50 years the college has never dropped a student due to labour action, said Tibbits. But the Student Union of Confederation College is encouraging students to continue to use the campus and make the best out of a bad situation.

"Unfortunately, Council refused to agree on even the no-cost items, such as longer contracts for contract faculty and academic freedom", said JP Hornick, chair of OPSEU's bargaining team.

"Here at Canadore we've got about 3,000 students now they are without class and across the province about five hundred thousand", said Patterson.

"It is about affordability, but it is also about flexibility", he said, adding, "colleges really staff their programs according to need". "I have a summer job lined up, so I'm anxious I will not be able to go to that".

The union noted that it has a $72 million strike fund.

The bulk of Confederation's 150 affected faculty members are based at the Thunder Bay campus; there are a handful located in the college's regional campuses, and a rotating picket line is planned for those locations, Ward said.

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