Striking Ontario college teachers begin voting on contract offer today

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About 12,000 college faculty members have been off the job since October 15 after contract talks broke off between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents striking staff, and the College Employer Council, which represents Ontario's 24 colleges.

However, that is contingent on a faculty vote this week on the College Employer Council's final offer. We will Vote NO because it will make the colleges stronger, better for students, and better for the next generation.

The colleges have said the latest offer includes a 7.75 per cent raise over four years, improved benefits, and measures to address concerns regarding part-time faculty.

Ontario's colleges launched a website on Monday, ahead of the vote that would allow striking faculty members to see what the offer entails.

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Sonia Del Missier, the chair of the colleges' bargaining team, said all major issues in the offer have been agreed on by both sides except for language surrounding academic freedom.

Students affected by the Ontario college strike plan to stage a rally this week to urge an end to the labour dispute.

"The union is telling you that this is a different offer than what we worked on with the union - one with concessions, one that will harm faculty".

"The thing is, they're looking for answers and there's just so much uncertainty about the strike, and whether or not they will strike a deal", he said.

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Del Messier, meanwhile, said the offer "enshrines academic freedom", which she called the only key issue still outstanding.

The faculty vote is scheduled to begin Tuesday and end Thursday.

"I'm not going to pre-empt a vote that needs to take into account the position of all of the members", Premier Kathleen Wynne said last week. Many students are finding it hard to cope with the financial and mental stress caused by the strike.

From his perspective, he noted that if, "the minister can tell the colleges how to spend the money they've saved, she can tell them how to bargain fairly as well".

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