May 29, 2024


The website of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) tells us that “members have a big say in how their union works. You control your own local.”

That would certainly be the case at 24 local colleges, including Conestoga.

It was great to hear on Sept. 19 that students will suffer no more. An agreement between the colleges’ bargaining team and OPSEU had been reached the night before, resulting in the strike by support staff being over.

The strike led to thousands of students having to find alternate ways to complete their schoolwork due to the library being closed at 4 p.m. each day. Temporary parking passes were unavailable and access to the recreation centre was limited. Registering for courses and getting OSAP funds were the definition of madness. And students were late for class the entire first week of school because of being held up by pickets.

Some students did not receive the proper education during this time due to computer problems or the inability to drop or add classes. We feel that we were used as pawns for 19 days. We tolerated delays, lectures and lack of services in our own college.

And now that a tentative agreement has been reaches, OPSEU support staff members can forget this ever happened. They can disregard the inconveniences, frustration and stress caused to students, passing the strike off as something that was within their right.

But what about the rights of students?

Why did 9,500 Conestoga students have to suffer for more than two weeks?

There are alternatives to striking, such as working to rule or continuing negotiations with a mediator.

Or, go on strike and wave your placards, but don’t prevent students from getting to class.

Limiting our education that some of us slaved to pay for has left many students bitter.

Nineteen days of traffic jams and stress can do that.

Now that it’s over it’s time for unions and management to reflect on the way things were handled, and implement new policies and procedures when talks break down. Because no one should be biting the hand that feeds them.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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