Ontario’s college faculty could strike Sept. 15

Union refusing to accept two-year wage freeze

Ontario's 24 colleges are warning that the union could trigger a strike of 10,000 college faculty as early as Sept. 15.

"The union won't accept the colleges' offer that is more generous than the deal the government has set out for teachers. We are offering a two-year wage freeze that preserves maximum salaries at $102,186, but we are not asking for any concessions from faculty," said Sonia Del Missier, chair of the colleges' bargaining team and vice-president academic at Cambrian College in Sudbury, Ont.

"We can't pretend that bargaining is progressing. We've been at this since June and we've had a conciliator working with both sides over the last two weeks. Yet, we remain far apart on major issues and the union is driving toward a strike vote on Sept. 10. There is the real prospect of a strike in September," said Del Missier.

The colleges have requested that the conciliator advise the minister of labour that conciliation has not yet resulted in a collective agreement. A strike could start as early as Sept. 15, 2012, if the union goes ahead with its Sept. 10 strike vote and a majority of faculty vote in favour of giving the union a strike mandate.

The colleges have asked the union to cancel its Sept. 10th strike vote, said Del Missier.

“The union has the power to avoid a strike by calling off its strike vote and, instead, work with us to reach a settlement. A strike vote won't make the union's demands more affordable and it won't get the colleges any more money," she said. "Faculty have to consider carefully the impact if they vote to strike. A strike mandate will give the union the ability to trigger a province-wide strike with just five days' notice."

The colleges have tabled an offer that pauses wage increases but does not ask for any concessions from faculty:

Faculty salaries would be frozen for the term of the agreement, from Sept. 1, 2012, to Aug. 31, 2014.

Eligible faculty would still move through the grid and receive compensation increases.

Benefits including sick leave, dental and vacation will remain untouched.

The colleges' offer is more advantageous to college faculty than the terms the government is proposing to legislate for elementary and secondary teachers, according to the colleges. Compensation and benefits terms are more generous and no concessions — on wages, benefits or workload — are being asked of faculty.

Colleges' offer

Government legislation for elementary and secondary teachers

Maximum college faculty salary of $102,186

Maximum teacher salary of $94,682
Toronto Catholic District School Board)

Two-year freeze on wages

Two-year freeze on wages

Continued movement through the grid

Grid movement delayed for several months

No unpaid days off

Three unpaid days off

No change to short-term disability plan at 75%

New short-term disability plan at 66.7% or 90%

No reduction in sick days

Reduction of sick days from 20 to 10 annually

Accumulation of unused sick days permitted

No accumulation of unused sick days from year to year

Pre-1991 faculty continue to accumulate sick days with payout at final salary rate

Sick leave gratuity payout frozen for existing teachers at August 2012 rate - no further accumulations of sick days

The union continues to demand a range of salary, staffing and workload proposals that would increase colleges' costs by close to $200 million over two years, said the colleges, consisting of a $140 million increase in workload and staffing costs and $46 million to fund salary increases of 3.5 per cent over two years plus another 2.7 per cent in grid movements.

"An additional $200 million in costs are completely unaffordable. The provincial government will not fund salary increases and will not support increased costs to service delivery," said Del Missier.

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