On Campus

Update: college strike averted . . . maybe

Faculty vote 51.25% in favour of the colleges' final offer.

College faculty at Ontario’s 24 community colleges have voted narrowly to accept management’s final offer, with 51.25 per cent casting a ballot in favour of the deal. However, the results could change after the Ontario Labour Relations Board conducts an official count, including mail-in ballots.

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Rachel Donovan, chair of the college’s bargaining team, says the colleges are happy with the results, but nerves remain high due to the narrow margin of the vote. “We’re really pleased that so many faculty saw this offer as fair and reasonable, and one that they could accept,” she said. “Obviously we hope that the official results will be available soon.”

Ted Montgomery, chair of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union bargaining team, says the result is disappointing. “First of all we’re disappointed because it wasn’t a clear rejection vote, and it wasn’t a clear vote either way,” he said. “I think its just about the worst possible result.”

In a January vote, only 57 per cent of faculty voted to give OPSEU a strike mandate.

When asked if management would be willing to make any concessions if a recount shows that faculty actually rejected the offer, Donovan reiterated the college’s position that the proposal was a final one. “Well our position is that that was our final [offer] and we have given everything we have given . . . so it will be up to the union.”

Although Montgomery says he doesn’t “necessarily” think the recount will change the results, but if the vote does swing the other way, he indicated the colleges would have to move closer to OPSEU’s position. “If this offer is rejected, they’re going to have a hard time saying its they’re final offer,” he said.

According to Montgomery, there was only a difference of 200 votes, with at  least 300 ballots still to be counted.

The college’s brought the offer directly to faculty after the OPSEU bargaining team rejected the deal. The union had issued a strike deadline of Feb 17. For now both sides are awaiting official counts from the labour board.  As many as 500,000 students would affected by a strike.

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