Faculty from 24 public colleges across Ontario officially went on strike Monday morning at 12:01 AM after the latest round of negotiations failed to land a deal between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the College Employer Council. The strike means that about 12,000 college faculty are out of classrooms for an indefinite period of time, affecting 500,000 students.
The OPSEU and CEC have been in back and forth negotiations since July. Back in August, the CEC offered the union a 7.75 percent increase in pay over four years. The union rejected the offer asking for a nine percent raise over three years. OPSEU's final offer focused on "three critical issues." The union wants the number of full-time faculty to be equal to the number of faculty on contract, better job security for part-time faculty and more academic freedom.
No one knows how long the strike could last, but the OPSEU has the backing of 130,000 members and a $72 million strike fund—so it could be a while. The union says they're waiting for the CEC to make the next move.
Because of the nature of collective bargaining (the process can only take place between the employer and employee), student representatives aren't allowed at the table during negotiations. The most student groups like the College Students Association and Canadian Federations of Students can do is "strongly pressure" the two parties to reach a deal sooner than later. So basically, shit all.
This means if you're a college student in Ontario you're kind of screwed at the moment. But don't stress out, VICE has a few solid suggestions on how to stay cool during the strike.
Before anything, have a drink
Your faculty may be on strike, but hopefully your campus pub is still operating during this stressful time. Grab your buddies and grab a drink. Toast to your professors at the picket line. If they join you, get them drunk enough so they start ranting about their doctoral thesis. It's pretty much a free lecture.
Try not to flunk out
A strike isn't a vacation. Despite your professors not being in class you still have to keep up with your course load. This is going to be harder than usual, considering the people meant to teach you aren't there. So try to finally check out those "academic resources" you've heard so much about. Maybe find the smartest kid in your class, get their notes. If you are the smartest kid in class, share your notes in exchange for goods and services (beer).
Use "online resources" to stay on track
I mean, you were probably watching Youtube videos instead of attending lectures anyways. Keep on doing that. With lectures at a halt, the best you can do to keep up is use whatever your professor posted online. Maybe read those textbooks you pay a shit ton of money for. And when in doubt, remember the ancient college professor proverb—"refer to the syllabus."
Get some fucking sleep
Finally, oh my god, sleep in. Like as much as you want. You don't have to go to class so you make your own schedule. Don't get too carried away though, strikes can end at any moment. Ruin your sleeping schedule at your own risk.
Read a book, even one that isn't a textbook
These exist, you can find them in bookstores and libraries.
Get off campus
Check out that pretentious coffee shop with the slam poet crowd you've always made fun of but secretly yearned to be a part of. They snap instead of clapping, how cool.
Start working out, for real
You've been "planning" on hitting the gym for a while now. The athleisure look isn't fooling anyone anymore.
Catch up on Netflix
Check out American Vandal if you're into documentaries and dick graffiti (doesn't matter in what order), or Mindhunter if you're obsessed with serial killers (we all are, don't be ashamed).
Harass your parents for a meal that isn't Kraft dinner. Get them to do your laundry, with the expensive detergent. Ask them for more money since you spent all of yours on "textbooks."
Get a job so you can stop asking you parents for money
At some point you have to start financing your own keggers. It's called growing up.
Speaking of money, make sure your OSAP is in order
Enrollment confirmations, which is where universities confirm you're actually a student so you can get a loan, may be temporarily put on halt because of the strike. The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development says they are "fully prepared for all strike scenarios" and will "adjust deadlines" so you don't miss out on student loans. But you could face delays with getting back refunds for cancelled classes, according to ministry spokesperson Tanya Blazina.
Talk to your student union
This is your best hope at representation, but it's not that great. Your local student union can help organize facilities on campus to help you during the strike, but they can't do much to move along negotiations besides write angry letters and engage in some casual protesting.
Don't be a dick at the picket lines
Remember that no one enjoys doing this. Picketing is a tedious process, you have to hold up a bunch of signs and chant and stuff. Everyone's mad. So just stay chill.
Don't depend on the provincial government
The provincial government pretty much stays out of the whole collective bargaining process. There is something called "back-to-work" legislation, where the government can end strikes, essentially forcing people back to work. The government then puts down a deal that both parties are forced to accept. It's usually a lose-lose situation. The last time the Canadian government pulled one of those was in 1984. But it's a bit of a dick move, so they don't do it too often.
Use all your free time to call up the government and complain
During a strike, the government is the parent that has to give a shit about you. It's, like, their job. So keep democracy alive, call up the provincial government and let them know how angry you are about not being able to go to class, and pretty much not being able to do anything about it.
Run for provincial government so you can change this awful system we have in place
Because of the nature of collective bargaining, students pretty much have no say in what goes on during negotiations. That's pretty wack considering the hefty financial investment at stake. There are residual effects to strikes that can affect a student's entire semester. Lost time means your professors are rushing through material when they get back. You may have to take classes in the summer if the strike lasts long enough, which could mess with those summer jobs you need to actually pay for college. And students don't get to do much about it. Maybe that should change.
Try not to have an existential crisis
With the strike, you actually have enough time to sit down and think about stuff and things and life. Get deep, but like, not too deep.
Drop out of college
Steve Jobs did it.
(Don't do this, you're probably not the next Steve Jobs).
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