Union Applauds Move to Help College Students

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Some 12,000 Ontario college professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians haven't been at work since October 15.

If the offer is accepted, the College Employer Council says 500,000 students affected by the strike, now in its fifth week, could be back in the classroom as early as next week.

The Labour Board announced that it's set to hold a faculty vote on the employer offer-a vote the OPSEU isn't on board with. We will Vote NO because it will make the colleges stronger, better for students, and better for the next generation. The council launched a new website - www.collegevote.ca - and posted an audio webcast on Monday in which it discussed the contents of the offer.

The offer includes a 7.75 per cent salary increase over four years, improved benefits and several measures to tackle concerns regarding part-time faculty.

However, if rejected, the strike would continue and both sides would return to the bargaining table.

The union has urged its members not to vote in favour of the proposal, arguing that the offer contains problematic language around academic freedom and full-time staffing.

"The thing is, they're looking for answers and there's just so much uncertainty about the strike, and whether or not they will strike a deal", he said.

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"It's not about academic freedom at all, it's actually about all the ways in which you can get in trouble if you say the wrong thing", he said. Key issues are wages and job security for contract faculty, as well as more input in academic decisions.

"Nothing has been removed, nothing has been added that will negatively impact faculty - these are positive gains", she said.

"I'm not going to pre-empt a vote that needs to take into account the position of all of the members", Premier Kathleen Wynne said last week.

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

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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