The votes are in and the initial results look cautiously promising for the more than 200,000 college students provincewide.
College faculty across Ontario gathered today to vote on whether or not to accept the colleges’ final offer, and with a majority of academic staff votes in favour of accepting, it appears as though a strike has been averted.
Initial reports show that 51.25 per cent of academic staff cast their ballots supporting the Jan. 27 deal despite the union recommendations not to, while the remaining 48.75 per cent rejected the offer. However, this does not include ballots cast by faculty voting through mail-in ballots.
Although the line is thinly drawn, if the preliminary results hold there will be no strike and the colleges and OPSEU will have a full collective agreement for the 9,000 faculty members that will remain in effect until it expires on Aug. 31, 2012.
The College Compensation and Appointments Council website states that all terms and conditions of the collective agreement will be put into place, including individual and union grievance rights and joint provincial committees. The new agreement will replace the terms and conditions that were introduced last November.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union had advised its members to vote against the offer in the belief that offers would resume and result in better terms for college faculty. However, the College Compensation and Appointments Council was clear in statements it made on its website that they were not prepared to change their offer.
The new contract will give college instructors a pay raise of 5.75 per cent over a span of three years, but does not include the workload restrictions and collective decision-making faculty members had hoped to gain.
Students province wide are now breathing a sigh of relief, expressing their cheer through Twitter and Facebook posts in light of the good news. Some remain hesitant to get their hopes up too high, however, in the event that the situation changes when the official statements from the Ontario Labour Relations Board are released.