Dozens of OPSEU faculty members staged a rally at the entrance to Peterborough’s Fleming College Sutherland campus Wednesday afternoon, as the union’s contract dispute with the province entered its 10th day.
“We’re already at the bargaining table, it’s the employer that’s not at the bargaining table,” Local 352 president Liz Mathewson said. “We don’t understand why they’re refusing to go back.”
OPSEU is asking for fewer part-time and contract jobs, and equal pay when contract work is required. The union has been on strike since Oct. 15.
Ashburnham Ward Councillor Keith Riel, who also sits on the Peterborough Labour Council, spoke at Wednesday’s rally.
“We’ve got the highest unemployment rate in Ontario, the second highest unemployment rate in Canada,” Riel said, referring to Peterborough job numbers. “We need full-time jobs with pensions and benefits. That’s what these people are out here for.”
Most of Fleming’s main campus was empty Wednesday due to reading week. But some students were at the school trying to catch up on homework.
Adam Morrison said he understood why faculty was striking. He said students tend to do better when they’re dealing with the same teacher. But he said it’s unfortunate that the strike was butting in on his semester at college.
“We’re spending all this money to come here and learn, and now here we are, spending what could be a month, if not more, to not be getting any of that.”
No new talks between OPSEU and the province have been set yet.