Cornwall Ontario – It’s “hump day” on the picket line for faculty at SLC (St. Lawrence College) Cornwall, where members of Local 417 OPSEU (Ontario Public Service Employees Union), are on day 3 of strike action.
Local 417 represents the librarians, counsellors and faculty at all three campuses of St. Lawrence College (Brockville, Kingston and Cornwall).
All classes at SLC (except for Distance and Continuing Education) are now cancelled but the college remains open with some services and facilities still available to students – who are encouraged to continue study and group work.
The strike officially started at 12:01a.m Monday following the rejection of final proposals to the “Employer” (The College Employer Council), by the “Union” (the College Academic Staff), represented by OPSEU.
While it’s no surprise that college administrators might reject demands for better salary and benefits – since neither the Government nor the economic climate in Ontario encourage improved funding – that doesn’t seem to be the obstacle.
Instead, it appears that while the “Union” has made some modest monetary demands, it is otherwise prepared to renew the current agreement with only a narrow range of modifications… the sticking points appear to be non-cost items:
– a 50:50 ratio of full-time to contract faculty, which currently sits at over 70% contract faculty;
– increased job security for partial-load faculty, who currently work on one‑semester contracts; and
– academic freedom to give faculty a stronger voice in academic decision‑making.
This all has the curious look of progressive academia seeking fairness, dignity, and professional autonomy, versus a divisive and politicized institution losing touch with its reason for being.