September 22, 2020

BY STEPHANIE LEFEBVRE

It’s been a week since college professors cast their ballots in favour of a new two-year contract hammered out by their bargaining team and the College Employer Council. The terms, which included a wage freeze for two years, may not be fair to everyone, but they are in keeping with this tough economic climate.

According to the OPSEU bargaining team, the terms outlined in the memorandum settlement were essentially the same as the ones placed on the table in February 2010. So why the threat of a strike?

It seems that every couple of years, teachers are regaled by their union as to what improvements are needed to the contract, including pay increases, job security and intellectual property rights. To show they are serious, a strike is threatened. This time around, however, the two sides reached an agreement without a strike vote being held.

That has to do with the Ontario Liberals introducing Bill 115, more commonly known as the Putting Students First Act, to prevent high school and elementary school teachers from striking and receiving raises. The bargaining team suspected that college teachers would be next in line.

Of course, students are glad that the professors voted to accept the proposed contract. We all saw the disruption caused last year when the support staff went on strike.

However, maybe we worried for nothing. About a month ago the teachers’ union said there would be no disruptions. They said they would stay in the classroom while they continued their fight. High school teachers also said they would still teach while talks continued.

Premier Dalton McGuinty wanted to ensure that happened. In a CBC interview on Aug. 27, he said, “This is a lot bigger than any one byelection. It affects two million students and 125,000 teachers.”

A strike would have cost students extra money and forced them to cram a semester’s worth of information into their heads in a shorter period of time.

This time around, OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas decided to take a stand with students, instead of against them. Faculty followed suit, voting 89 per cent in favour of a new contract. Thankfully, we shouldn’t see a strike threat for at least another two years.

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