An Information Rally held Thursday at the OPSEU offices on Great Northern Road drew a large crowd of supporters who want to get back to class and end a strike at Sault College and other colleges in the Province.
The strike of college faculty , now in its third week, has many students worrying about their education Leeanne Murray, Chief Steward of OPSEU 613 and a professor at Sault College tells SaultOnline.com that she hopeful that talks will continue and resolve the work stoppage. “Our bargaining team locally is more than willing to bargain and stay at the table”
There are several outstanding issues according to Murray and contract workers are among the most important problems says the union.
“we standing up and with all faculty across the province around the over-use of contract faculty and we’re seeing an erosion of full-time work ” Murray said as she was preparing to talk to the crowd. “We’re starting to see how it impacts our students , we don’t think it’s okay that they only get 15 weeks of work and are paid less money. It certainly compromises, we believe,the students ability to access.” Murray says contract faculty members often do not have offices or phones.
The mediator in the talks has called the parties back together to meet today for the first time since the strike by 12,000 faculty began October 16.
“This strike has highlighted the problems that come when an employer uses precarious work as a tool to cut costs,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. “When faculty aren’t treated fairly, education suffers, and OPSEU members have stayed strong on the picket lines because they want colleges that are better for faculty and students alike.”
“The suggestion that hiring part-time and partial load faculty is detrimental to offering a quality education is simply false. Our students greatly benefit from these experienced faculty members many of whom are industry experts bringing a wealth of expertise, hands-on knowledge and industry-specific perspectives to the classroom.” Sault College said in a release Wednesday.
Sault College’s full-time faculty complement has remained relatively stable for the last 15 years despite program closures or changes. As an alternative to layoffs conscientious decisions were made to redeploy staff and keep people employed even in the face of financial challenges, the release stated.
The Union responded with, “A constant revolving door of instructors who develop relationships with students only to have them severed; who develop course materials only to never use them again; who need to be trained and mentored only to be replaced; who have no job security beyond four months (one term) and so are constantly on edge and searching for the next contract. As a result, the quality of instruction suffers and the quality of student education suffers.”
USW members along with students took part in the rally Thursday.