The bargaining teams for college employers and faculty have avoided a faculty strike, agreeing to binding interest arbitration with the faculty strike deadline becoming imminent.
Earlier this week, all signs pointed towards a strike as of 12:01 AM on March 18.
Now however, the two sides have agreed to let an arbitrator settle the differences that have led them to this impasse.
“We are pleased to advise that after 12 hours at the bargaining table, the parties have agreed to unconditional interest arbitration on both parties’ outstanding issues. Hearing dates mutually convenient to the parties will be scheduled soon,” said Dr. Laurie Rancourt, Chair of the Management bargaining team in a statement by the College Employer Council (CEC).
“We remain committed to putting students and their education first.”
The OPSEU bargaining team released the joint statement with the CEC at 11:20 PM, the statement declares that all work-to-rule activities will also end immediately.
The two sides will now be engaging in binding interest arbitration, the resolution which has been pushed for by the faculty bargaining team for months and what ultimately ended the 2017 college strike.
The arbitrator from those negotiations, William Kaplan, will once again oversee the decision on outstanding issues.
OPSEU Local 417 President Grant Currie says the faculty team is prepared for the binding arbitration to take place whenever Mr. Kaplan is ready to hear the issues.
Kaplan said he could not comment on when the arbitration would take place.
St. Lawrence College President and CEO Glenn Vollebregt released a statement saying he is relieved today to see the SLC community able to return to an increased sense of normalcy.
“As I entered our College this morning, it was with more than a little sense of relief, and a large amount of optimism,” said Vollebregt.
“I was happy to see students and employees coming in to continue their work and learning, and I look forward to the continued increase of activity on our campuses in coming days, which we have been planning for, for months. I want to thank the entire SLC community for their patience and resilience working through this important process.”
College staff have been working without a new collective agreement since September, and had been engaged in work-to-rule since January.