Fearing a repeat of 2006 when Ontario college faculty went on strike for nearly a month, or, worse, a repeat of the 2008/09 York strike where faculty walked for three months, Ontario college students have started an online petition opposing a work stoppage. The petition so far has nearly 2000 signatures.
Negotiations between college management and the the faculty union broke down earlier this week, and a strike vote is scheduled for January 13th. Some 500,000 students could have their school year interrupted.
Related: Another year, another strike
A Facebook group titled “Ontario College Students Against a Strike” has more than 12,000 members and counting. The group was created by Graeme McNaughton, who was quoted in the Toronto Star today drawing comparisons with the York walkout. “We don’t want a strike to happen. My sister went to York last year and lost out on a summer job because that strike,” he said.
Much of the group’s message board is filled with students concerned over losing their term, not getting their money’s worth in a shortened term, or missing out on summer jobs due to an extended school year. Much of the anger is directed towards the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. One student wrote: “I understand that they feel overworked and underpaid . . . How does ruining all of our semesters going to help that?”
The College Students Alliance is calling on both sides to work to come to an agreement. “Students are concerned with the fact that, yet again, there is a threat of a province-wide faculty strike looming over their education,” says CSA president Justin Fox. “Students do not want a repeat of the 21 day strike of 2006, which nearly cost many their semester and graduation.”
The CSA also points out that many college students are in government retraining programs, meaning a strike could have far reaching economic consequences during a fragile recovery.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated to correct for the number of college students. It was previously stated that there were 200,000 college students in Ontario. The correct number is 500,000 comprising of 350,000 full time students and 150,000 part time students.