April 24, 2024

Relief spread across Ontario colleges after a potential strike was called off on March 17.

After struggling for months to reach an agreement, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), representing 16,000 Ontario College Faculty members, and the College Employer Council (CEC) agreed to enter binding interest arbitration.

News that the strike was called off came only an hour before the midnight deadline.

In a joint statement, OPSEU’s college faculty bargaining team and the CEC said, “the parties have reached an agreement to enter binding interest arbitration, and the strike that was scheduled to commence at 12:01 a.m. on March 18, 2022, is called off.”

As a result, all work-to-rule strike activities which began in December will also conclude.

Tweet from @CAATfaculty. Screen capture by Lily Sherry.
Tweet from @CECouncil. Screen capture by Lily Sherry.

The strike would have affected thousands of college students.

“We are pleased to advise that after 12 hours at the bargaining table, the parties have agreed to unconditional interest arbitration on both parties’ outstanding issues. Hearing dates mutually convenient to the parties will be scheduled soon,” Dr. Laurie Rancourt, Chair of the Management bargaining team, said in a March 18 statement.

 “We remain committed to putting students and their education first.”

Binding interest arbitration involves both parties asking a neutral arbitrator to resolve a bargaining dispute as an alternative to a strike or lockout.

Both sides provide proposals to the arbitrator, who creates a compromise from the two proposals, which is different from binding arbitration where the neutral party must choose between the offers.

Negotiations between the two sides resumed March 17 after the faculty bargaining team warned the colleges in an open letter that there would be a strike if the institutions did not agree to binding interest arbitration.

Ontario college faculty have been without a collective agreement since Sept. 30.

All Conestoga College classes and operations will continue as scheduled.

Conestoga College students looking for more information on the CEC and college faculty bargaining can go to https://conestogastudents.com/board-of-directors/cec-and-caat-a-bargaining-2021/

Tweet from @ConestogaC. Screen capture by Lily Sherry.

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