How Students Can Help

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What Conestoga Students can do:

Students can write a letter to President John Tibbets (Jtibbits@conestogac.on.ca) using the following template: https://www.collegefaculty.org/write-your-college-president/

 

This is a strong message to send to the CEC and President Tibbets! Faculty support students whole-heartedly.  Now, the CEC needs to support all full-time professors, counsellors, librarians and partial load instructors so we have the necessary time, tools and resources to help students achieve their goals. 

What you can do to help:

- send emails to the college president

- send emails to your MP

- visit a picket line and walk with teachers

- make signs

- drive by a picket line and honk to show your support

- start your own picket lines or other interventions

- get involved on social media 

- MAKE NOISE!

We will be holding picket shifts as follows starting on Monday in the event of a strike:

  • Doon Campus 7 am to 11 am

  • Doon Campus 10 am to 2 pm

  • Doon Campus 1 pm to 5 pm

  • Brantford Campus 10 am to 2 pm

  • Guelph Campus 10 am to 2 pm

  • Stratford Campus 10 am to 2 pm

  • Waterloo Campus 10 am to 2 pm

 

A letter from your Faculty:

Dear Students,

As you may know, professors, librarians, and counsellors at Ontario’s 24 public colleges have been negotiating a new collective agreement with the Colleges since last July.  Although the two sides are at the table this week, the faculty union has set a strike deadline for Friday, March 17.

 

The faculty union has done this because negotiations have not gone well, and the two sides have been at impasse since approximately November.  The 16,000 faculty members have twice rejected management’s offer, but management refuses to change its offer, saying they will not negotiate faculty’s proposals.

 

Normally, salaries are a major issue in a round of bargaining, but that’s not the case this time – The Ontario government’s Bill 124 has limited salary increases to 1% by law, and both the faculty union and the college management have come to an agreement about salaries in this round of bargaining.

 

Instead, the dispute centres on issues like faculty work being outsourced to private colleges for profit; the amount of time that faculty are attributed to prepare online classes or to grade students’ essays and projects; the use or sale of faculty teaching materials without their consent; and the way that Counsellors are able to do the work of helping students.

 

Another major issue concerns the treatment of the thousands of professors who spend years on 14-week “Partial-Load” contracts, with little job security and no pay or benefits between semesters.

 

Faculty understand that this is a tough time – even a scary time – for many of you, and that the last thing you want to experience is classes getting cancelled because you’re caught in the middle of somebody else’s fight. We honestly did everything that we could to prevent that from happening – we started bargaining last July, and we also spent three months in “work to rule”, where we tried to put pressure on management without cancelling classes.

 

We’re doing one more thing to try to resolve negotiations without a strike: We’ve offered since November to have a neutral third-party arbitrator resolve all of the areas where both sides disagree, and decide what the next Collective Agreement should look like. That kind of arbitration often happens following a strike, and faculty are offering to skip straight to arbitration to end our dispute, without a strike. The College management refuses.

 

So now faculty will be going on strike unless management agrees to negotiate our issues or refer unresolved issues to interest arbitration. The current deadline for striking is Friday, but we hope that the 500,000 students in Ontario Colleges can persuade the 24 College Presidents to come to an agreement with faculty.  Faculty’s working conditions are your learning conditions, but even if you might not care what our next Collective Agreement looks like, you probably would like to avoid a strike.  We encourage you to reach out to President at jtibbits@conestogac.on.ca or by clicking https://www.collegefaculty.org/write-your-college-president/ , and ask for the College Presidents to either negotiate a deal that both sides can live with, or let an interest arbitrator make decisions where the two sides can’t agree.

 

We hope that students and parents will be able to accomplish what 16,000 faculty couldn’t do: Convince the College Presidents to resolve negotiations without a faculty strike.

- College Faculty

Understanding What a Strike Means for Students:

The following message to students has been adapted by Local 237 for Conestoga Students

Hello Everyone,

 

Yesterday (March 14), the CAAT-A Faculty (with OPSEU support) announced a deadline of Friday, March 18th for a strike.  See a media news release with the announcement: https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/strike-looms-for-24-ontario-colleges-after-union-delivers-ultimatum-1.5818842.

 

What does this mean?

This means that if the College Employer Council (CEC) does not return to the bargaining table OR agree to binding arbitration, all full-time professors, counsellors, librarians and partial load instructors employed by Ontario’s public colleges will begin a strike on Friday, March 18th.  All programs, classes and placements will stop. 

 

Why would the CAAT-A call a strike?

The CAAT-A union has been in a strike position since December 2021. The Bargaining Team and all members have been advocating for and working using a “Work to Rule approach” to prevent a full picket line strike.  These efforts have been hard but effective!

 

Up until now, the CEC refuses to acknowledge that our demands matter and acknowledge that our students' semester matters.

Unfortunately, with the risk of a “full lockout” increasing daily, the CAAT-A union must act and declare a strike to protect our members and students. 

 

Lock-Out Note: The CEC would be able to lock out all faculty, instructors, counsellors, and librarians so that employees go without wages for an extended period.  With the provincial government elections upcoming, a lockout may not be able to be resolved quickly because the government may not be in session to intervene.

 

The objective of the strike deadline is to encourage the CEC to come back to the table before Friday, March 18th to prevent a strike. If this does not occur, a strike will commence on Friday, March 18th.

 

A strike is scary!

We all are scared and anxious about the possible strike.  We are worried for our students, our co-workers, and our programs.  We do not want our wages impacted. Many of us do not enjoy picketing.  Our demands, however, are not unreasonable and reflect the MANY changes to education that we have experienced and persevered through these last few years.

 

Why is the strike important?

A strike sends the message to the CEC that we stand together in solidarity about a vision for a better college system in the future.  It shows we are serious about our demands for continuous improvements for high-quality education and workplaces.  We are not asking for wage increases.  We are asking for the necessary tools to perform our jobs effectively (reasonable workloads) to better support our students (increased time for marking).  We ask for strengthened Intellectual Property rights to encourage creativity and innovation in a respectful way.  We seek Indigeneity with a commitment to change (we are all responsible for reconciliation).  We fight for permanency for contract faculty to increase job security and program quality.  These are just a few of the changes we want to see in the college system going forward!

 

What happens to the Winter 2022 semester?

This question is a hard one to answer.  It will be up to the CEC and President John Tibbets.  It will depend upon the length of the strike and if the CEC lobbies the government to force a “return to work for the union” like they did in 2017.  Regardless, the CEC would be forced back to the table for binding arbitration.