Striking college workers rally at Sudbury MPP's office
Some 700 professors in northeastern Ontario have been on strike since Oct. 16
Striking college workers in Sudbury left the picket lines on Thursday and marched down to rally in front of MPP Glenn Thibeault's office.
Nina Naumenko, president of Local OPSEU 655 for faculty at Cambrian College, says it's to raise awareness of the current labour dispute, now on its 25th day.
"We have a forced offer from the college employers council," she said.
"Negotiations kind of went south on Monday and they've got an offer they want us to vote on and we feel there's still room for negotiations and we want to bring that message to the public and to Glenn Thibeault's office."
Naumenko says union members want Thibeault to bring up the issue at Queen's Park.
College faculty have been on strike since Oct. 16. Primary points of contention include the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty, as well as faculty input on course content.
The two sides resumed negotiations last week, but those talks broke down on Monday, prompting the College Employers Council to ask the Ontario Labour Relations Board to step in.
The board has scheduled a vote on the colleges' final offer between Nov. 14 and Nov. 16.
"This is 1950s style bargaining," Naumenko said. "It's not bargaining. It was never really true bargaining from the start. The forced offer is offensive on so many levels."
Support from the community
Stephanie Peloso, an instructor at Cambrian College, says workers weren't expecting to be on the picket lines this long.
"We're still out here and we will stay out here," she said.
"The support from the community has been amazing. We've had great support from our students bringing coffee and donuts to the line."
She says staff want both sides to get back to the table to negotiate a fair deal.
"I think the message is really out there that what we are fighting for is really about equality," she said.
"It's about fairness for all of our precarious workers."
With files from Wendy Bird