Ontario Tech faculty reject contract offer

A potential faculty strike continues to hang over the campus of Ontario Tech University.

Talks resume Tuesday at 9 a.m. after faculty voted 80 per cent to reject the university’s most recent offer over the weekend. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association (UOITFA) decided to bring the contract to its 281 members for a vote although a formal agreement had not been reached.

Kimberly Nugent, UOITFA past-president, said the university has not presented reasonable offers to address issues such as class size, work-life balance, equity and salaries.

“The university’s last offer did nothing to address those concerns,” Nugent said in an interview with the Chronicle.

“Our members, once they saw that final offer, couldn’t believe that we had spent over nine months now at the table only to be presented with that final deal. It really angered them and it didn’t make them feel valued and their trust is quickly being eroded, especially after all the sacrifice over the last two years.”

Although faculty are in a legal strike position, Nugent said the last thing she wants to do is to have a walkout.

“I don’t want it for my students. I don’t want it for my colleagues, the faculty I know feel the same way. But if we do go on strike, ultimately, it’s to really improve that faculty-student experience.”

No strike date has been set by the UOITFA.

“We should know more about a potential deadline in the coming days,” Nugent said. “My hope would be that both bargaining teams would work towards that deadline and come to come together to get a deal.”

The university declined the Chronicle’s request for an interview, referring us to the school website.

According to the site, Ontario Tech, “respects the process by which the majority interests of voting members within the Faculty Association bargaining unit are represented.

“The university was stunned last week with the Faculty Association bargaining team’s decision to suspend negotiations without concluding an agreement, which could be recommended to their membership. The reasons for this decision remain unclear. Instead of continuing negotiations until a tentative settlement was reached that both parties would recommend to their respective principals, the Faculty Association bargaining team took the unusual step of asking its membership to decide whether the university’s last offer was acceptable.”

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