St. Lawrence College students can relax - they will be going back to class this fall on time.
Faculty at colleges across the province have tentatively green-lighted a new deal with education facilties in Ontario.
College professors had been slated to hold a strike vote Sept. 10. Now that date will be used to allow faculty to vote on the new deal.
Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) leadership are already touting the new agreement as a step towards labour peace.
“College faculty have put students first,” said OPSEU president Warren Thomas. “OPSEU stands with college students across the province. We pledge to continue to ensure that the quality education Ontario’s students deserve is protected.”
Pending ratification of the offer, OPSEU members will have accepted two years of wage freezes in a bold move to improve job security for partial-load faculty and have a contract in place before the start of the school year. Faculty members include counsellors, instructors, professors and librarians.
“We have reached a reasonable agreement, and have done what it takes to make sure that our students’ school year will start on time and without the threat of a lock-out or an imposition of terms,” said bargaining team co-chair Ted Montgomery.
The college faculty accepted the offer after the Colleges Employer Council agreed to remove all of their proposals and concessions from the table.
A key turning point in negotiations was the removal of a management proposal to create a new job classification of “facilitator” which could have created increased reliance on temporary staff and a diminished presence of full-time instructors in the classroom.
“We worked hard to ensure management removed the idea of 'facilitators' from the contract language entirely,” said Montgomery. “This new job function would have become a wedge issue that undermined the quality of education in the college system for many years to come.”
In addition, partial-load faculty have some job security. As well, partial-load teachers who have been employed previously by a college will get first priority in hiring if their courses are re-offered. The new contract also clarifies that academic co-ordinators must not engage in supervision of their colleagues.
The college faculty members insisted throughout negotiations that salary was not the key issue.