Out of all the media reports that have been floating around about the OPSEU strike with Ontario community colleges, I found it clear in an interview this afternoon that ‘people’ and their integrity are what’s a stake in this strike, according to Frank Turco, president of OPSEU Local 613.
“It has never been about money,” he stated. “It will take a long time for us to recoup what we have lost financially.”
The key to it is that the strike has been about the students, as well as faculty’s integrity and “the eroding middle class.”
“We have had many students come to us over the years that have struggled to find full-time work,” he said.
“We would like the students to understand how much we care for them and miss them. It is important to us to take a stand,” he said, later adding that “we love them.”
“At this stage we still hurt for our students. We hope we can repair some of the damage that the students must feel,” he continued.
The local union turnout for the ‘no’ vote was 92.64 per cent with an 88.08 per cent rejection of the bargaining deal.
A couple of the key concessions that the colleges were trying to force on the faculty were:
- entering language into the agreement that would allow for unlimited overtime, and
- eliminate the ability of the union to file grievances.
“The offer undermined the key things we were looking for,” Turco said. “It was not good for the students at all and not where we wanted to be.”
He said that if council cared about the students they would have made an offer on September 16. “There has been a waste of time by council.”
Turco added that “we appreciate the stress the students are under,” and “we are ready to negotiate now! This is very important for our students and our future.”