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In Sault college strike, this professor sides with students

Sault College faculty are fairly compensated and aren't overworked. At least, that's the position being taken today by Jerry Zuchlinski.
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Sault College faculty are fairly compensated and aren't overworked.

At least, that's the position being taken today by Jerry Zuchlinski.

The Sault College natural resources professor joined his colleagues on the picket line today, but he begged to differ on whether the strike at Ontario's 24 community colleges is warranted.

"I don't feel that the faculty concern with being overworked is valid," says Zuchlinski. "I do the same job that they do."

Zuchlinski says faculty were offered a generous deal that would have seen many of them earning as much as $95,000 a year and teaching under 15 hours a week.

"We have all of May and June to do our preparation, plus nine weeks off at the summer and a week off at Christmas," he says. "That's more than fair compensation."

Students are suffering and could be in danger of losing their semester if the strike continues for more than 28 days, Zuchlinski tells SooToday.com.

He also says he's not aware of any faculty plans to compensate for lost class time to students.

Students are also concerned.

"From the signs that I read they say they're trying to give us a better quality of education but it's kind of ironic because we're not in school," says Kim Landry, a student in Sault College's accelerated esthetician program.

"People who are supposed to graduate this year are saying they are worried that they might not graduate," she says. "They are afraid that they will have to come back for another semester and pay for that semester."

Talks with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) broke off last night after union negotiators tried without success to bargain changes to the collective agreement.

An OPSEU news release said the sought-after changes would reverse the decline in education quality by providing for smaller classes and more faculty.

Ontario's 24 community colleges are represented in bargaining by the College Compensation and Appointments Council.

The faculty have been without a contract since Aug. 31, 2005.