by Barry Weisleder
After 86 per cent of 12,000 Ontario community college teachers rejected Management’s last offer in a forced vote, the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne broke their strike with a law pushed through the Ontario Legislature on Sunday, November 19. Conservative MPPs welcomed it. Only the labour-based New Democratic Party opposed the strike-breaking law.
Sadly, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, Smokey Thomas, expressed relief that the strike was ended. He actually told the media that if he was in Wynne’s position, he’d have done the same thing.
No section of the labour bureaucracy urged defiance of the blatant assault on the principle of free collective bargaining and the right to strike. There may be an OPSEU-initiated court challenge, but that will take years for a decision to be issued on the constitutionality of the law.
No union leaders called for mass job action to demand that the colleges’ Management be forced, by an act of the Legislature, or otherwise, to accept the teachers’ requests for more full-time jobs (right now, 70 per cent of all the teaching positions are part-time), and for ‘academic freedom’ to properly teach and grade their students.
The issues in dispute, that fomented months of negotiations and sparked a five-week strike, now go to arbitration. Meanwhile, students and teachers will have to shoulder an intense work load as the school year is extended by about four weeks.
Photo Credits: Adrian Wyld, The Canadian Press