Monday commenced day one of striking for members of the Ontario colleges union that represents faculty, librarians, and counselors.
Due to a deadline passing for negotiations between the Ontario Public Services Employees Union and the Ontario Employers Council on Sunday, a strike came into effect Oct. 16.
College staff are paid a stipend from a union pool funded by dues paid over the time of their union membership if they participate in striking, either through picketing or otherwise.
Humber professor Tyler Shipley said picketers were arriving as early at 6:30 a.m. to the picket line set up along Humber College Blvd. with most dispersing around 2:00 p.m.
Shipley, who has no official affiliation to the OPSEU, said that a “strike is something no one ever wants to happen”, saying it is the “most dramatic confrontation” most have had to ever experience in the workplace.
Humber picketers were warmed by the support of many students joining them in the sidewalks.
Shipley said every student he had talked to coming onto campus on Monday turned out to be supportive of the strike, hoping that faculty receive their demands so that the strike would end.
The local OPSEU chapter set up de-facto headquarters for the Humber campus strike in a Mobilease trailer in parking lot five outside the college.
Joanne Settle explained that Humber provided counseling and examination accommodations, among other services, to Guelph-Humber that are no longer available.
On campus, however, the Post found that GH-specific services such as the media cage, printers and computer labs were still available to students.
However, security requested GH students leave the building at 6 p.m. Monday evening.
Humber students started a Change.org petition requesting that colleges reimburse their tuition for every day lost to the strike that has garnered some 53,222 signatures online.
A Facebook group called “Students For Ontario College Faculty” has also gained signatures for their physical petition at several institutions including Fleming and Alqonquin colleges.
Outside of the University of Guelph-Humber, beyond the picket line at Humber Ave., the bus hub was quiet and the sidewalks appeared to be a ghost town.
Inside the school it wasn’t much different.
Besides a few students following what the school said by continuing to work on assignments and study, usually what would be a busy day at GH was otherwise quiet.
GH has requested students gain the most up-to-date information regarding their school on its official updates page.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has demanded more full-time positions to a 50/50 ratio of full time to other types and an increased role of faculty in academic decision-making.
In response, the College Employer Council has offered a 7.75 per cent salary increase and improved process for contract faculty to become full-time.
The Council said meeting the demands of the union would “add more than $250 million” to annual costs alongside the loss of several thousand contract jobs.
JP Hornick, chair of the OPSEU bargaining team, deemed the council’s statement as inaccurate.
“The colleges have had this year alone a $188 million surplus and the college presidents had not eight months ago gone to the government looking for increases of over 20 per cent for themselves,” Hornick said.
The province had dismissed the salary raises for college senior executives in January of this year.
The other major sticking point for the union representing thousands of college staff is the role of faculty and students in making academic decisions.
Hornick explained that the union seeks “a balance between faculty, administrators and students making the academic decisions in the college” with “everyone participating.”
The College Employer Council said OPSEU is seeking academic “control” by each individual staff member.
The council called the strike “unfair to hundreds of thousands of students” in a statement released on Sunday.
Some students have decided to join faculty on the picket line, some in support of their demand for more full-time positions, among other items of contention.
Guelph-Humber still open
Guelph-Humber, as with nearly all campus’s affected by the strike, is still open and some services are still available.
Printing papers, using computer labs and the learning resource space is still available, but the GH Cafe is closed.
Some 12,000 College staff are on strike as of Monday, leaving some 500,000 students without professors.
U of GH is in the exclusively unique position of having both Humber College and University of Guelph professors at its campus.
The GH administration said that because they could not offer all programs in full without Humber staff the university would shut down all classes in the event of a strike.
Late on Sunday, the strike was confirmed as moving ahead.
More details to follow. Image 1 from Cole Burston / Canadian Press. Image 2 from Eli Ridder / Self-publication.