Student concerns remain, despite possible end to strike

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The faculty will be voting this week on the College Employer Council's latest offer.

Some 12,000 Ontario college professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians haven't been at work since October 15.

Last week, talks between the College Employer Council, which represents the province's 24 colleges, and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents faculty, broke down.

The colleges say this offer gives faculty everything they asked for; more full time positions, increased pay and job security for contract faculty, except academic freedom, which would give teachers more control over what happens in their classrooms.

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Local co-organizer Andrea Pond says, "The ass to class movement is a neutral movement which has reached pretty much every college in Ontario".

College students were already starting to worrying after losing a few weeks of time in the classroom. The council launched a new website - www.collegevote.ca - and posted an audio webcast on Monday in which it discussed the contents of the offer.

However, if rejected, the strike would continue and both sides would return to the bargaining table.

"The union is telling you that this is a different offer than what we worked on with the union - one with concessions, one that will harm faculty".

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The union has said its main point of contention has been the level of input college instructors have into the way courses are taught and evaluated, and MacKay said the colleges' attempt to address the issue is worse than if they had done nothing.

"This money is not actually my money", he said. She says a number of faculty at the Owen Sound campus were also supportive.

The faculty vote is scheduled to begin Tuesday and end Thursday.

While none of this will likely satisfy anxious students, those concerned about the financial impact of the strike might be happy to be reminded that the province is creating something of a "hardship fund" for students adversely affected by the disruption.

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