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LETTER: College faculty union president wants good-faith bargaining

'We are not asking for any increase in wages. ... Rather, our biggest concern is that we have a workload model which is seriously outdated,' says letter-writer
2020-03-05 Georgian College
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MidlandToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter from Dr. Anita Arvast, Georgian College faculty union president, is in response to a story titled 'Ontario college students fear labour impasse could disrupt school year,' published March 4.

The recent article about work-to-rule, which is happening at all 24 public colleges, deserves a little clarification. 

Faculty, librarians and counsellors have been on work-to-rule since December following the strike vote when we faced forced terms and conditions. In February, we were given a “forced contract offer” rather than the College Employer Council (CEC) returning to the bargaining table or agreeing to arbitration. This “offer” was voted down by 62 per cent of the members (68 per cent at Georgian College). 

We are not asking for any increase in wages. (Like nurses, we are public service workers and faced a one per cent salary freeze with the Ontario Conservative Bill 124 in 2019.) Rather, our biggest concern is that we have a workload model which is seriously outdated. It’s from 1986 (older than most of our students) and a lot has changed in our classrooms since then  factors such as increased class sizes, increased numbers of international students, increased reliance on technologies and online instruction to name a few.

We are also facing the contracting out of the necessary work our counsellors do to support students at many of our colleges. This, as stated in the article, at a time when we are seeing a surge in mental health needs.

About three-quarters of all faculty are part-time “gig” workers who either don’t receive any benefits or don’t have benefits between teaching contracts. Wages certainly do not reflect the levels of education, experience and commitment the bulk of our teachers bring to the system. But wages are not why we are doing work-to-rule.

We are pleased that the student unions have solidly stood behind us in wanting a resolution. They know it is in the interest of all to have faculty given the true time needed to deal with the increased challenges our students face and to ensure they have the quality of education they pay for.

The letter penned by the student unions asks for the CEC to return to bargaining in good faith. We ask for the same.

Dr. Anita Arvast