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The APTPUO will hold a strike vote for members on Jan. 25. Photo: APTPUO, via Facebook.

APTPUO bargaining, strike vote to be held amidst Ontario tuition cuts

The Association of Part-time Professors of the University of Ottawa (APTPUO) special general meeting on Jan. 25 will see members participate in a strike vote, with cuts to tuition by the Ontario government in the backdrop.  

According to APTPUO communications and administration officer Shawn Philip Hunsdale, the strike vote happens during every round of bargaining with the administration, but this year’s vote is happening earlier than usual.

“We’ve basically come to a point where we’ve had to ask for a conciliator because where we’re at with bargaining proposals is so different,” Hunsdale said of negotiations between the union and the administration.

So what would a strike mandate mean for students in the winter term? Hunsdale said that if the strike vote sees a majority, it would simply be a tool for the APTPUO to negotiate and wouldn’t necessarily indicate a strike is in the near future.

“The goal of a strong strike mandate is to avoid a strike, and there can hopefully be a response from the university that won’t be ‘no’ all the way down,” Hunsdale said.

When asked about the likelihood of a strike this term, Hunsdale answered that it would depend on specifics of the negotiations, but noted the potential impact of the new provincial government.

“The provincial government has changed and with it their legislative agenda, and the spending they foresee for the public and para-public sector—which includes universities,” Hunsdale said.

The negotiations are happening in tandem with the Ontario government’s move to cut tuition by 10 per cent, without providing subsidization to make up for losses incurred by universities.

Kate Fletcher, part-time criminology prof and board member at the APTPUO, told the Fulcrum that the union is “very concerned” with the province’s new legislation and the impact it will have on negotiations.

She said the main points of contention in this round of bargaining are unpaid labour and job security, alongside concerns about the quality of education at the university.

Hunsdale also highlighted that part-time professors take up 2 per cent of the university’s budget, while teaching 50 per cent of the classes offered.

“I think that by demonstrating a strong strike mandate … our hope is that the employer will recognize, I’m not going to get away with denying part-time profs what I would say is their basic right.”

Union members with valid photo identification may vote at the meeting or during the two following business days at the APTPUO office in University Centre room 106. No proxy votes will be allowed.

The meeting is set for Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. in room 4007 of the Faculty of Social Sciences building but is not open to the public. You can follow updates on negotiations via the APTPUO’s Facebook and Twitter pages.