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
Victory to the Strikers!
More than 12,000 community college faculty, members of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, have been making headlines since the start of their province-wide strike October 16.
The union is fighting to improve education quality for students and to stop the shameful trend towards more precarious jobs on campus. An inspiring feature of the strike is the unity of full-time faculty with their part-time teaching co-workers.
OPSEU is calling for:
- More full-time faculty to teach students – In the last decade, the number of students has gone up much faster than the number of full-time faculty.
- Democracy at school. For faculty and student input into academic decision-making – for the creation of an “academic senate” that includes both student and faculty representatives.
- Ensure that there are enough counselors for students – put an end to outsourcing of mental health services so that colleges can adequately meet the mental health needs of students.
- Job security and better working conditions for contract faculty – contract faculty need to reapply to teach every semester, never knowing whether they will have a job next semester.
- “Equal pay for equal work” for contract faculty – Contract faculty are not paid to prepare courses, correct assignments, or offer out-of-class support to students. Most of them have to work several part-time jobs to make ends meet.
Congratulations to the striking college teachers for showing the way forward to the entire workers’ movement. For standing up to management on issues of quality education and student services, good jobs, equity, and against the bosses’ austerity agenda, the teachers deserve full support.
Mass rallies, demonstrations, solidarity picketing and sympathy strikes are the order of the day.
Help to turn the tide against the capitalist state and its servile institutions. Get involved. Make a difference. Build solidarity. Take action. Victory to the Strikers!
(The text above is based on a leaflet Socialist Action has been distributing widely for weeks.)
Photo: THOMAS CAMPEAN / THE CANADIAN PRES