If students decide to walk out of classes at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario to protest the potential of an Ontario College strike to be determined tomorrow, there may be little potential at all.
However, on January 13, the Ontario Public Employees Union (OPSEU) will be in position to strike if negotiations between OPSEU and the Ontario colleges do not take place. If this happens, both sides will not have come to a solution kicking students out of the classroom and throwing off their academic year.
Though the last college strike four years ago only lasted for three weeks, we all saw what happened with York University last year and I, along with many others, do not want to be sitting at home for months on end waiting for the union and the colleges to make a decision.
It is 96 per cent sure that the colleges will strike. I am going to be completely blunt and say, that's pretty shitty.
I am a University of Guelph-Humber student who will also be screwed over if this strike decides to happen because my school uses both the campus and staff of Humber College, as well as those from Guelph.
I didn't pay thousands of dollars for this to happen.
"We are the forgotten third party: the students. We number in the hundreds of thousands, and we cannot lose our year," reads the final line of the description of the Facebook group against the strike called Ontario College Students Against A Strike created by Graeme McNaughton.
Staff at all twenty-four colleges in Ontario could cause major havoc for college AND university students if they decide to strike, but wages are obviously more important than thousands of students in debt and working three jobs in the summer just to attend school.
Here is an article by Jenny Yuen, a Toronto Sun reporter, explaining the latest on the issue:
College faculty to hold strike vote
Last Updated: 8th January 2010, 12:33pm
Ontario college students are facing a February without instructors.
The Ontario Public Service Employees' Union – which represents roughly 7,000 full-time and 3,000 part-time faculty – is set to hold a strike vote Wednesday, which could mean staff at all 24 Ontario colleges could walk off the job by early February.
"The union says they're doing this to improve quality down the road, but that's very hard to hear for students who are in colleges now," said Tyler Charlebois, advocacy director of College Student Alliance. "They're going into debt and to hear you have to suffer for someone down the road. That's a hard pill for many students to swallow."
It would be the second college strike in four years. The last strike in March 2006 lasted three weeks.
The key bargaining issues are workload and how academic decisions are made, said union spokesman Ted Montgomery.
"It's about having the teachers determine how they teach, which is taken for granted everywhere else," he said. "We wouldn't want to see students lose their year. We would expect something to happen to prevent that. But at the same time it's not just about today's students."
If a strike vote passes, the union would be in a legal strike position Jan. 18.
Colleges Ontario spokesman Sally Ritchie said the union demands are too costly.
"We don't see the need for a strike," Ritchie said. "We're providing faculty with an 8% increase over four years, which moves the maximum salary to $104,000 and we're not increasing workload."
Montgomery contends wages are not an issue, although the union is not pleased with the employers implementing a 1.75% increase for two years and then 2% for the following two. It says it's not streamlined with inflation and a 2.5% increase over three years makes more sense.