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Canadore profs could strike in just over two weeks

' They think everybody walking around the college is making a huge amount of money'
Canadore College in North Bay

Canadore College professors, along with unionized faculty from all 24 community colleges in Ontario could be on strike as of Sunday, Oct. 15.

A conciliator issued the date after the faculty's union OPSEU requested a “no-board” report last week.

The report is issued if the process of conciliation fails. Filing the report triggers a 17 working day cooling off period before a strike or lockout.

Both union and employer must give five days notice before taking action.

John Patterson is President, Local 657 at Canadore.

He tells BayToday that the issues locally are similar to those provincially.

"Equal pay for equal work, looking at precarious work and the elimination of full time positions," he said. "North Bay has lost a lot of jobs over the years at the college. We lost 60 faculty jobs in the last six years and seen quite an increase in the number of part-time, contract faculty and people teaching online. We've seen a big rise in the number of administrators, so we've seen this shift at Canadore.

"It means we've got a lot more people who are working four months at a time with very low wages. It's obviously a lot harder for them to purchase homes and cars, eat at restaurants and things that drive our local economy."

There is also a moratorium of the union grieving full-time job loss. The college is supposed to give preference to full-time employment, but for the past three years the union couldn't grieve when management refused to do so. Patterson says the college wants to extend that for another four years.

"This is why we've seen such a decrease over the past three years in full-time faculty."

See: Canadore confident in negotiations despite strike mandate

There are presently 108 full-time faculty members employed at the college but Patterson estimates there are another hundred or so that are only getting part-time work as the college tries to eliminate full-time employees.

Patterson says he's trying to be optimistic about negotiations but people are concerned about going on strike.

"Nobody wants to be on strike, they're concerned about the students and their own financial circumstances...that's only natural."

The college is offering 1.875 per cent per year over a four-year contract. The union has asked for 2.25 per cent a year over three years.

One of the things that irks Patterson is the college's focus on the top salary of $115,000 per year.

"I really would like people to understand that not that many people are on the top step. There are 17 steps in that pay grid so somebody coming out of teacher's college are starting at $61,000 a year and it takes them 17 years to get to the top of the pay grid. People don't understand that. They think everybody walking around the college is making a huge amount of money. The contract people are lucky to make $30,000 per year. That's the reality."

 OPSEU represents more than 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians in the province’s college system.