The increasingly bitter Ontario College strike is entering its fifth week with no end in sight.
About 12,000 college faculty members have been off the job since October 15 after contract talks broke off between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents striking staff, and the College Employer Council, which represents Ontario's 24 colleges.
The dispute has left about half-a-million students out of class for a month.
OPSEU President Warren "Smokey" Thomas says since the province is trying to treat students fairly, the colleges should make more of an effort to treat faculty fairly. In Sudbury, the strike has affected more than 5,000 students at College Boreal and Cambrian College.
Thomas went on to say, "It's important to remember that the fund the minister has announced is being paid for by faculty, not by the colleges".
"The thing is, they're looking for answers and there's just so much uncertainty about the strike, and whether or not they will strike a deal", he said.
Talks between the College Employer Council and the union broke down last week, with the council asking the Ontario Labour Relations Board to schedule a vote on its offer. My concern is to get the students back to class.
"I will work with students and colleges starting immediately to develop the parameters of the fund", says Matthews.
"Nothing has been removed, nothing has been added that will negatively impact faculty - these are positive gains", she said.
The union has urged its members not to vote in favour of the proposal, arguing that the offer contains problematic language around academic freedom and full-time staffing.
According to the colleges, the offer includes a 7.75 per cent salary increase over a four-year period and improved benefits, such as extended pregnancy and parental leave.
"The union recently confirmed to faculty that major issues in bargaining had been resolved", wrote Jim Madder, in an open letter to faculty on Monday.