News Local

Strike looming at Algonquin Pembroke Campus

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Algonquin College's Waterfront Campus in Pembroke, Ont.

Algonquin College's Waterfront Campus in Pembroke, Ont.

 

Students at Algonquin College's Pembroke Waterfront Campus will know by Monday if their academic year will be interrupted by a province-wide faculty strike.

The union representing 12,000 full and part-time staff at 24 colleges across Ontario has set a strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. Monday, less than two months into the fall semester. In setting the strike deadline on Tuesday, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) stated the key issues include improving quality education and giving faculty and students more of a voice in academic decisions.

“Our union team has been clear about its goals since bargaining began in early July,” J.P. Hornick, chairman of the OPSEU negotiating team said in a statement. “We have put forward concrete proposals to improve education quality by including the voices of faculty and students in academic decisions; we have made the case for strengthening the complement of full-time faculty; and we have called on the colleges to read the signals from Queen’s Park and start treating contract faculty fairly.”

The strike couldn't come at a worse time for the college which is marking its 50th anniversary this year. The Waterfront Campus currently has an enrolment of more than 1,030 full-time students - the first time Pembroke's enrolment has exceeded 1,000.

If there is a work stoppage, classes for full-time day courses will be cancelled. However, the college’s Ottawa, Perth and Pembroke campuses will remain open, and computer labs, study spaces and meetings rooms will be available. With exceptions, courses offered through the Centre for Continuing and Online Learning will continue. All Students’ Association facilities, such as The Landing in Pembroke, and Communities office will remain open. All association events will run as planned.

In a letter to students, Algonquin president Cheryl Jensen said that while it is still possible that a strike will be avoided, the college wants to prepare for all scenarios.

“Please continue with your studies so that you can hit the ground running when classes resume,” stated Jensen. “I am confident in the resilience of our learners and employees as we face this disruption to our academic year together.”

Clinical placements involving faculty, unsupervised field trips and unsupervised labs that carry health and safety risks will also be cancelled in the event of a strike.

SChase@postmedia.com