Monday commenced day one of the strike by the union that represents Ontario colleges.
Outside of the University of Guelph-Humber, beyond the picket line at Humber Ave., the bus hub was quiet and the sidewalks appeared to be a ghost town.
The bus hub at the Humber North/Guelph-Humber campus / Eli Ridder
Inside the school, it wasn’t much different.
Besides a few students following what the school said by continuing to work on assignments and study, usually what would be a busy day at GH was otherwise quiet.
GH has requested students gain the most up-to-date information regarding their school on its official updates page.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has demanded more full-time positions to a 50/50 ratio of full time to other types and an increased role of faculty in academic decision-making.
In response, the College Employer Council has offered a 7.75 per cent salary increase and improved process for contract faculty to become full-time.
The Council said meeting the demands of the union would “add more than $250 million” to annual costs alongside the loss of several thousand contract jobs.
JP Hornick, chair of the UPSEU bargaining team, deemed the council’s statement as inaccurate.
“The colleges have had this year alone a $188 million surplus and the college presidents had not eight months ago gone to the government looking for increases of over 20 per cent for themselves,” Hornick said.
The province had dismissed the salary raises for college senior executives in January of this year.
The other major sticking point for the union representing thousands of college staff is the role of faculty and students in making academic decisions.
Hornick explained that the union seeks “a balance between faculty, administrators and students making the academic decisions in the college” with “everyone participating.”
The College Employer Council said UPSEU is seeking academic “control” by each individual staff member.
The council called the strike “unfair to hundreds of thousands of students” in a statement released on Sunday.
Some students have decided to join faculty on the picket line, some in support of faculty demand for more full-time positions.
Guelph-Humber still open
Guelph-Humber, as with nearly all campus’s affected by the strike, is still open and some services are still available.
Printing papers, using computer labs and the learning resource space is still available, but the GH Cafe is closed.
Some 12,000 staff are on strike as of Monday, leaving some 500,000 students without professors.
U of GH is in the exclusively unique position of having both Humber College and University of Guelph professors at its campus.
The GH administration said that because they could not offer all programs in full without Humber staff, the university would shut down all classes in the event of a strike.
Late on Sunday, the strike was confirmed as moving ahead.
More details to follow. Image 1 from Cole Burston / Canadian Press. Image 2 from Eli Ridder / Self-publication.