BY ROBERT TAGLIALEGNE
Ontario's college faculty staged a information picket at Cambrian College Monday to pressure college management into signing a new collective agreement and avert a looming strike.
Faculty believes management is stonewalling negotiations with academic staff, who have been without a contract since Aug. 31, 2005. The picket was held to coincide with a gala dinner attended by Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Chris Bentley, college presidents and politicians.
During the one-hour picket in the late afternoon, about 25 staff handed out pamphlets to attendees at the doors where the gala took place. People entering the dinner politely accepted the pamphlets.
John Closs, representative of the academic staff at Cambrian College and president of Local 655 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), said the picket was ?about the the quality of education? and hopes that a new contract with the province would be forthcoming ?in a timely fashion so that the students would not be affected by a work stoppage.?
If conditions were not met, a strike affecting Cambrian College and others in Ontario could begin on March 7. Faculty recently voted 80.4 percent in favour of a strike. OPSEU represents about 9,000 teachers at the province's 24 colleges.
The union does not plan to hold any further pickets or other pressure tactics in the run-up to the strike deadline, Closs said.