At the request of the College Employer Council, the Ontario Labour Relations Board has ordered that striking faculty members from the province's 24 colleges vote on the council's latest offer starting today at 9 a.m. and ending Thursday at 10 a.m.
In a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne and other members of the Ontario legislature, the Sheridan Student Union (SSU), which represents students at campuses in Brampton and Mississauga, expressed "deep disappointment and frustration" at the state of negotiations between the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union, which represents the 12,000 striking college workers, and the College Employer Council (CEC) that has stretched almost four week.
Although largely supportive of the move on the part of the government, Warren Smokey Thomas, the head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union which represents the faculty, opined the, "government's plan to treat students fairly should be matched by moves by the colleges to treat faculty fairly".
If accepted, however, students could be back in school as early as November 21.
"It's a huge kind of item that could possibly end the strike", he said.
Eduard Deych, an global student from Ukraine says his parents work overtime back home so he can afford the education in Canada, adding strain on the entire family.
Centennial College student Lovey Reid told CP24 last week that the strike has been "very stressful" for students.
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"For the students to finish their academic semesters on time, or as close to on time as we can get, it's those weeks that have to be compromised", he said.
Meanwhile, Huckla pointed out that other workers have been impacted financially, too. "We don't know when we'll go back at all, and it's really hard". "We are not going to pay for anything until we're back in class. This event is aimed at delivering the message that politics should not stand in the way of our future".
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.
"We are launching this site in response to the union's continued misrepresentation of the offer being voted on by faculty".
But the union said the offer contains "serious concessions" that were not agreed to, and which would erode faculty rights and contribute to an unsustainable staffing model.
"This is an issue for Toronto to sort out", said Fairley, who also declined to comment on how much the college is saving in not paying faculty salaries. "All I can say is this isn't true".
OPSEU members are set to vote over the next three days on the final offer put forward by the Colleges before talks stalled last week.