Ontario colleges avoid strike as labor dispute heads to arbitration

Students at Ontario’s 24 public colleges went to school as usual on Friday after the union representing 16,000 teaching staff and the colleges’ board of trustees agreed to take their labor dispute to binding arbitration.

“The parties have reached an agreement to enter binding arbitration and the strike scheduled to begin at 12:01 a.m. on March 18, 2022 is cancelled,” said the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the College Employer Council. (CEC) said in a brief joint statement after 12 p.m. at the bargaining table. “It also ends all work-to-rule activity,” he added.

This decision means that a neutral arbiter will receive the proposals from the union and the employers’ group and will create a compromise that everyone must respect. A strike or lockout would have affected some 250,000 Ontario college students.

The two sides are at odds over workloads, contracting out faculty work and benefits for part-time faculty, according to the union, with professors, instructors, librarians and counselors working without a collective agreement for October. The teachers have been multiplying the actions of zeal since December.

Lawyer William Kaplan has been appointed as arbitrator, CEC chief executive Graham Lloyd said.

“After all that students, faculty and the college community have been through over the past two years, we felt it was essential to put our differences aside and conclude these negotiations without a strike,” Lloyd said.

The dates for the arbitration sessions have not yet been set.

The CEC said earlier in the week that the union’s workload claims did not meet the legal requirements of the compensation legislation.

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