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Letter: A strike could have been avoided

'Instead of looking to see who gets more or less, let’s try to ensure that everyone gets enough.'
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GuelphToday received the following letter to the editor from college professor Anna Bortolon regarding the current strike.

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On July 11, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) College Faculty bargaining team asked the Ministry of Labour to appoint a conciliator in the contract negotiations with the College Employer Council. This request was denied. That was three months before a strike was scheduled. A strike could have been averted.

I am a full-time faculty member and I love my job. On a daily basis I interact with individuals working to improve their lives and their family’s lives by participating in higher education. My students succeed in life and in getting good jobs. My students contribute to their communities during their time at school and after graduation. My graduates are economy builders.

Louis C.K. – yes, the comedian, in one of his sitcom episodes, counseled his daughter who complained that her sister had more ice cream in her bowl than she did in hers and that this was not fair. His reply was that the world is not fair, and instead of looking in another person’s bowl to see if they have more, look in another person’s bowl to see if they have enough.

This hit home for me since I often compare what my students receive relative to others in the same college and program. My students do not have a state-of-art facility. They do not have a library or extra lab space to do their homework. They do not have a beautiful gym to work out in. They sit in old hard chairs in old classrooms.

They do not have extra help from tutors or if a counsellor is needed, these students wait…Yet, these students tend to do well. They get excellent grades – usually better than their colleagues at the prestigious campuses. Most attend graduation ceremonies. So, what does a student need to be successful - great facilities or great teachers?  

Most of the teachers at ancillary campuses get paid on a part time basis. That is, they get paid for three hours of teaching but actually work an additional ten hours to prepare for class, mark assignments and work with students. Even if you are making $50 a teaching hour, you get paid $150 for 13 hours of work.

That does not seem fair for someone who usually has a degree or two, designation(s) and years of experience in the work force. Why do they do it? Because they love their students and want to make a contribution to society. I got paid less than this for many years before I was able to secure a full-time position.

Is this fair? No. But life is not fair. However, we can try to make things a little more equitable. Instead of looking to see who gets more or less, let’s try to ensure that everyone gets enough.

This strike is about equity – for students, teachers, counsellors, librarians and professors.

Sincerely,

Anna Bortolon
College Professor

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