Faculty at Ontario colleges say they are set to hit the picket lines Monday morning over issues with precarious employment and academic policy.
Kevin Mackay, a faculty member at Hamilton's Mohawk College and a member of OPSEU's bargaining team, appeared on southwestern Ontario's Afternoon Drive CBC Radio show to talk about the issues he says are affecting teachers in colleges across the province.
He said faculty members were "poorly paid, overworked, (and had) no job security."
One of the biggest issues, Mackay says, is precarious employment. He says over 70 per cent of professors working in local colleges are not full time faculty.
"They have no job security, they have very low rates of pay, and so we need to see some improvements for those members," he said.
"Having over 70 per cent of professors in the system be precarious workers, it's not sustainable in the long term, and it actually really negatively impacts the student experience."
'It's not something we do lightly, but it is in response to what we perceive as college management refusing to address the issues that we've been raising.' - Kevin Mackay, Mohawk College faculty member
He also said faculty and student participation in how academic decisions are made is another key issue in provincial colleges.
Right now, key academic policies for things like grades and course content can be dictated by managers and people who don't have expertise in the area of instruction, he says.
"It's a regrettable part in the process of negotiation, when basically, we feel the other side has really failed to show up, and actually failed to negotiate," Mackay said. "The ultimate tool that we have is to call a strike, which is something that no faculty member wants to do."
"It's not something we do lightly, but it is in response to what we perceive as college management refusing to address the issues that we've been raising."
Ron McKerlie, president of Mohawk College, said in a statement Tuesday night that the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) that represents the college's teachers had rejected the final offer from the team representing the 24 colleges in Ontario.
McKerlie said that students are encouraged to catch up on work and review difficult material. Peer tutoring and other help centres continue to be available during the strike.
"No student at an Ontario college has ever lost their year due to a strike. Mohawk will make sure that all students get the opportunity to complete their semester," he said.
The fall convocation ceremony scheduled for Oct. 20 has been postponed, but the president said that students graduating this month will still receive their credentials.
Mohawk College says all three of its campuses will remain open during the strike with usual hours of operations, along with labs and Student Services. On-campus jobs are not affected, but the college warns some students may experience a change in scheduling and hours if they are employed by the Mohawk Students' Association.