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Support staff accept 11th hour negotiation offer; strike is off

Diana Forbes | Interrobang | News | September 12th, 2005



A tentative agreement was made between the college support staff and their employers last week, which avoided a potentially disruptive strike at colleges across Ontario during the first week of classes.

On September 1, one week before workers were set to strike, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) struck a three-year agreement on behalf of the 6,500 employees who work in areas like financial aid, security, registration and admissions in colleges throughout Ontario.

“We thought the deal was fair and met their demands,” said Howard Rundle, President of Fanshawe College.

On August 4, Fanshawe College support staff voted an overwhelming 92 per cent in favor to strike if an acceptable contract was not delivered to their bargaining team by the September 7 deadline.

“Our hope is to get management to respect the things we do,” said Jean Fordyce, OPSEU Local 109 President and Fanshawe financial aid employee, prior to the settlement.

If an agreement had not been made by the deadline, students would have faced excessive lines for financial aid, course and program alterations and student ID cards. Computer and network maintenance would have been abandoned and, according to Fordyce, computer labs would have been closed.

In event of a strike, Rundle said the college would have remained open and as many activities as possible would have ran. He added that administration would have been redeployed, just like during the last support staff strike in 1979.

The college support staff workers wanted a maximum three-year offer that included a four per cent wage increase and recognition allowance, which were similar requests given to faculty.

The tentative settlement included a three-year agreement, a three per cent staged wage increase, a drug benefits card and recognition allowance of $400 to those who have completed 10 years of service.

According to Fordyce, the package might not be enough to keep her constituents satisfied. She said it needed to be an extraordinary deal to make everyone happy.

“I have some concern because our members wanted to go on strike.”

A ratification vote will be held as soon as possible to solidify the new agreement.
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