Ontario colleges and professors still far apart as strike enters week 3

The strike by 12,000 Ontario college professors, including 775 in the northeast has entered its third week. And the two sides remain far apart.

500,000 college students, some 12,000 in the northeast, have been out of class for two weeks

Striking professors at 24 colleges across the province, including College Boreal in Sudbury, are entering their third week on the picketline. (Erik White/CBC)

The strike by 12,000 Ontario college professors, including 775 in the northeast has entered its third week.

And the two sides remain far apart.

"It's going to take a complete change in approach by the employer council," says David Fasciano, the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union local for professors at College Boreal.

"I truly don't think they will come to a resolution."

But the College Employer Council tells a different story.

Its chief negotiator, former Cambrian College vice-president Sonia Del Missier, says it's the union that caused this labour disruption and the disruption to the education of 500,000 college students across Ontario, including some 12,000 in the northeast.

"It is unnecessary. We were very clear with the union from the onset. Some of these items that they tabled are not the path to a settlement, they are not practical solutions," says Del Missier.

David Fasciano is the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union local for professors at College Boreal. (Markus Schwabe/CBC )

The two sides do agree that the major issues are the number of part-time professors versus full-time faculty and the role teachers play in shaping academic courses and programs.

The union wants to see more full-timers hired to teach the classes currently handled by part-time and sessional profs.

The colleges have said that plan would cost an additional $250 million a year and has tabled its own offer, which the union doesn't think much of. 

"It would destroy the college system," says Fasciano. "Their 'reasonable offer' is not existent. They've presented three of four different offers and every one was progressively worse instead of actually trying to negotiate and make things better."

The professors union has called on the provincial government to legislate them back to the classroom, but Del Missier says the colleges are hoping to avoid that.

"We believe that bargaining happens at the table between the two parties and we remain committed to achieving a negotiated settlement," she says.

Former Cambrian College vice-president Sonia Del Missier is the lead negotiator for the College Employer Council. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

Del Missier says colleges are working hard right now on contingency plans to ensure that students will able to make up for learning time lost to the strike.

"These contingency plans colleges are making is a perfect example of the issue," Fasciano said while being interviewed on CBC Radio's Morning North with Del Missier.

"Not one faculty member has been consulted on how we can possibly save the year."

"Well it's pretty difficult to consult faculty when they're on strike," Del Missier answered back.

"You knew the strike was coming, you caused it," Fasciano said.

"I beg to differ. The union is the one who went out on the strike. The union is the one who put us in this situation," Del Missier replied.