Faculty strike: What you need to know

Mar 17, 2022 | Campus News, Headlines, News

Faculty at all 24 public colleges in Ontario are poised to go on strike at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, bringing to a halt classes for some 300,000 students.

Here’s what you need to know.

What does it mean?

A strike means that all full-time courses at all of Ontario’s public colleges, including Humber, will come to a halt until the strike ends.

Faculty say a strike is their most extreme, last-ditch option during the bargaining process.

What is OPSEU?

Ontario Public Service Employees Union, CAAT-A being the specific division of OPSEU that represents professors, counsellors and librarians.

What is the CEC?

The College Employer Council, which represents the college presidents in negotiations with faculty.

What are they negotiating?

On one side is college faculty, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union’s CAAT-A faculty wing.

On the other side is the College Employer Council, which represents the presidents of all 24 Ontario public colleges.

Both sides are bargaining over a new collective agreement, the document that essentially governs the working relationship between full-time faculty and management.

What are the issues?

Here are the notable improvements faculty are looking to make:

– An increase in paid evaluation time per student from five minutes to 6.5 minutes per week.

– More preparation time for online learning.

– Mandatory consent before the college sells or resumes faculty course materials.

– Hiring more counsellors amid a student mental health crisis.

– Hiring more full-time academic librarians, in particular to support degree programs.

The CEC claim many of the faculty demands are unreasonable.

What are last-minute talks?

OPSEU and the CEC are engaged in eleventh-hour negotiations Thursday in an attempt to avoid the midnight strike deadline Friday. Results of the talks could be public at any point.

What is a collective agreement?

This is the legal contract between a union and an employer, which defines the rate of pay, hours of work, benefits and other elements and conditions of employment. OPSEU regularly updates its collective agreement with the colleges.


A timeline of the college faculty bargaining process since it got underway last summer.

June 10, 2021: OPSEU announces effort to secure a new collective agreement.

July 7-8, 2021: OPSEU, CEC exchange initial proposals.

August 2021: OPSEU, CEC continue bargaining.

Sept. 23, 2021: OPSEU proposes formal mediation, CEC rejects it.

Sept. 24-27, 2021: CEC reverses course and accepts mediation. It also schedules a faculty town hall for Sept. 27. Both sides meet with a mediator. The media blackout begins.

Sept. 30, 2021: The 2017 collective agreement expires as the media blackout continues amid ongoing negotiations.

Oct. 28, 2021: Media blackout is lifted to reveal that mediation has been terminated and both parties failed to reach an agreement. A report by the mediator blasts the union.

Nov. 1, 2021: OPSEU and the CEC agree to meet before escalating to potentially disruptive statuses.

Nov. 2, 2021: The CEC files for conciliation and releases an unfair labour issues complaint against the faculty union.

Nov. 8, 2021: OPSEU and the CEC return to the bargaining table under a new media blackout.

Nov. 12, 2021: OPSEU proposes settlement offer that would end bargaining process.

Nov. 18, 2021: The media blackout ends as CEC formally rejects the OPSEU offer and requests a “no-board” report.

Dec. 11, 2021: OPSEU members vote 59 per cent in favour of a strike mandate; this is lower than in 2017.

Dec. 13, 2021: The CEC imposes “terms and conditions,” meaning it replaced the collective agreement with a stand-in contract which largely looks the same.

Dec. 18, 2021: As the fall semester ends, OPSEU starts “work-to-rule” labour action. This means they follow their job contracts (separate than the collective agreement) to the letter.

Jan. 3, 2022: OPSEU enters into Phase 2 of work-to-rule.

Feb. 18, 2022: 62 per cent of OPSEU votes to reject CSA’s final offer.

March 2, 2022: OPSEU enters into Phase 3 of work-to-rule.

March 14, 2022: OPSEU says it will strike on Friday if CEC refuses a form of binding arbitration.

March 17, 2022: OPSEU and the CEC agree to meet for eleventh-hour talks ahead of the midnight strike deadline.

March 18, 2022: OPSEU will go on strike at 12:01 a.m. if an agreement with the CEC isn’t reached.