Voting begins today for striking Ontario college faculty

Voting begins today for striking Ontario college faculty

Voting begins Tuesday and runs through Thursday for faculty members at Ontario's colleges who must decide whether to accept the latest contract offer or continue a strike that's now into its fifth week.

Some 500,000 college students in Ontario have been out of class since October 16 because of the strike.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents the striking faculty, says the dispute is the longest strike in the colleges' history.

Should faculty reject the offer, Skinkle says she's not sure she could even afford to come back to class - whenever that would be.

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.

Money saved by Ontario's 24 community colleges, including St Clair in Windsor and Chatham, as a result of the current labour strike, which has seen some 12,000 faculty on the picket line, will be put into a special fund.

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Sonia Del Missier, the chair of the colleges' bargaining team, said all major issues in the offer have been agreed on by both sides except for language surrounding academic freedom.

"The union is telling you that this is a different offer than what we worked on with the union - one with concessions, one that will harm faculty".

The Ontario government has ordered the colleges to create a fund to help students who may be experiencing financial hardship because of the strike.

"We're also extending into April", Vaughn said. Key issues are wages and job security for contract faculty, as well as more input in academic decisions.

"We are launching this site in response to the union's continued misrepresentation of the offer being voted on by faculty".

Deb Matthews, Ontario's Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, has committed to personally work with the colleges and their enrolled students to develop what she called the, "parameters of the fund".

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