On day four of the Ontario college union strike, picketing is strong at campuses across the province.
At York University, a rally was held in support of Seneca faculty on the picket line.
— Murray Cooke (@MurrayCooke10) October 19, 2017
Students and professors alike were on the scene waving local 3903 CUPE flags, with many hoping there would be a return to the bargaining table as soon as possible.
The some 500,000 students cast out of their schools on Monday due to the Ontario Public Services Employees Union have found their voice on social media.
The last strike by OPSEU was in 2006, a time when Facebook and Twitter had just burst on to the Internet and hashtags were a foreign language. Fast-forward 11 years and even movements are sparked through a social media post.
Likely the most prominent hashtag, “#WePayToLearn”, found its fame through a Change.org petition created by two Humber students the Post reported on when the strike first started.
Launched on Oct 11, it has since gathered over 87,000 signatures in support of sides returning to the bargaining table and requesting a tuition refund for days missed.
“I think it’s had at least some impact on the conversation,” said Amir Allana, who started the digital petition with fellow Humber paramedic student Greg Kung.
“That’s been our goal all along, is to bring a student voice to the table and to really highlight what the strike means for so many students.”
UPSEU Local 110, representing 800 Fanshawe faculty members, officially endorsed the petition as it picked up speed.
If all signatories are students, nearly a fifth of all college students in the province have signed it.
However, online petitions can not be officially presented in the provincial province at Queen’s Park, where legislators have held off on forcing a conclusion to the strike.
In regards to the unique situation of Guelph-Humber, the faculty union representing university staff told a Post journalist on Tuesday that GH students would likely not receive a refund on time missed.
University professors at GH continue to be paid full salary under the U of Guelph, but do not teach classes.
The administration encourages students to continue their studies as usual, which teachers allowed to communicate with students via email, update Courselink and hold office hours.
Darryl Bedford, an OPSEU bargaining team member from Fanshawe, told IF Press that the union is no closer to the bargaining table.
Mr Bedford hopes that the student movement will translate to tangible change.
More details to follow. Files from IF Press for Darryl Bedford. Image 1 of picket line from Murray Cooke on Twitter.