By: Tyson Lautenschlager
With no end in sight, the Ontario-wide college faculty strike has reached week two with students still anxious about what this could mean for their education.
“We’re building core skills in our first year at Humber and paying a lot of money to be here,” Bradley Straite, an Industrial Design student said. “[I’m] basically left to study on my own. … From a student’s perspective, our voice hasn’t been heard as much. For them, I think it’s a challenge they need to fight for and something they deserve.”
The strike, which was officially called by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) last Sunday night, is on day eight, and bargaining team member Shawn Pentecost said there are no scheduled talks between OPSEU and the College Employer Council.
“I’m actually on the bargaining team so I can tell you the last day was Sunday, October 15,” Pentecost said. “There are no scheduled talks. We advised the employer council that we would be ready to return to the table when they were. Our final offer to them was very streamlined. At the time, we tried to engage them in discussion and they just weren’t willing. My understanding is they have stated that they’re not interested in returning to the table yet. We’re out here, we’re strong.”
Throughout the year, Pentecost teaches at Algonquin College. He said other faculty members in his department are mostly contract employees.
“For us, our goal is to continue to remind people of what the real issue is which is around the precarious employment of so many college faculty members,” he said.
“For instance, I’m a professor at the Pembroke campus at Algonquin College. In my own department, we’re at almost 90 per cent precarious employees. The average in the system is about 73 per cent,” Pentecost said. “We’re also trying to encourage people to let their voices be heard. For example, we encourage students to continue to put pressure and put their voices forward.”
While some students are obviously some frustrated with the strike, Pentecost said there has also been a lot of student support, something that has meant a lot to him.
“That’s [student support] probably what’s meant the most, and that’s not to take away from any of the support we’re getting. It’s wonderful, but the reason why we’re out here is for quality of education,” he said. “It is for the students. When the students see that, it’s wonderful.”
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