Ontario College Strike Continues As Faculty Unanimously Votes "No" To Offer

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Being in a college and university-based program has its perks, but when it comes to this strike, we students are definitely getting the short end of the stick. Fourteen students have joined to launch a class-action lawsuit to get refunds.

After over 5 long, bitter weeks of protesting, negotiations and heated debates on both sides, the Ontario college strike, which has become the longest college strike in the province's history, will continue into its sixth week. The strike action, which began on October 15, is now the longest in the history of the province. They added there was a 95 per cent turnout for the vote, and specifically, 10,477 voted against the offer while 1,663 voted in favour.

Nicole Zwiers, president of OPSEU Local 354 which represents faculty at Durham College, says the latest offer "includes a number of concessions" and she is confident union members will vote against it.

Despite the lack of an agreement between the union and the College Employer Council, which represents the institutions, a forced vote was ordered and held from Tuesday through Thursday morning on the colleges' final offer after it appealed to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

The union has pushed members to reject the deal, saying it does not do enough to address the academic freedom and precarious work concerns - the two key issues that sent faculty to the picket line.

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The strike, which involves college professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians, began October 15 and has left some 500,000 students out of class.

"I see a contract that is going backwards, not forward", said Foster, wearing a sandwich board that read 'ask me why I voted no.' "We're not asking for the world, we're asking for fairness". We've also asked students to be prepared to return on January 2, although right now, we're not certain that will be required.

Del Missier said the colleges bargaining team will be in touch with the provincially appointed mediator to seek advice on how to proceed.

"Given the length of the strike, we've advised students that the holiday break will run from the end of the day December 22, 2017 up to and including Wednesday. We need to work out the details together and we will do it quickly", Matthews said in a media statement. Students are seeking refunds for lost instruction time, or full refunds for those students who decide not to continue with their program this year.

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