By Christine Hosler
Loyalist College’s support workers are happy to be off the picket line and back to work after an 18-day strike that started the 2011 school year.
“I’m very happy to be back,” said Cory Mestre, coordinator of fitness facilities & campus recreation.
“I’m happy to be back, I missed the students, I missed my fellow workers and I missed the faculty. It wasn’t pleasant being on the picket line,” said Gail Genereaux, Loyalist’s media resources support technician.
“I feel great about being back to work, it’s something I enjoy doing and it’s part of my life. I missed it!” said Tim Rorabeck, broadcast technologist at Loyalist.
“Coming backs been obviously kind of crazy for us, stuff’s been piled up for two weeks. But it’s exciting to be back,” said Peter Williams, student life officer at Loyalist.
No one would deny the strike was a hassle for staff and students alike, but it wasn’t exactly a picnic for the picketers either.
“Some students were, well I almost got hit by a vehicle on the picket line. Some students wouldn’t stop, they wouldn’t respect the picket line, they would just drive through,” said Genereaux.
Loyalist voted 55 percent in favour of the strike, said Genereaux. Province-wide the number was 77 percent.
“Beyond the stress of being on the strike because I would say with certainty that nobody wanted to be out there. From our college anyway,” said Mestre.
It was an emotionally difficult time for some as well, with staff thinking about what it would be like going back to work.
“It was hard to not be in here, and also hard to think that [students are] coming through and they’re angry now, and we have to go back in and try to establish relationships with them. So it was, it was hard,” said Mestre.
And while the general consensus seems to be the strike was a trying time for everyone, some staff members did their best to stay positive and look on the bright side.
“It was interesting, never been on strike before. One of the gentlemen in the line had it on his bucket list. He’d like to go on strike. It took him about four hours to figure out- I was wrong,” said Rorabeck.
Although some students were rude bordering on reckless crossing the picket lines, they are more than happy to have the support staff back.
“I’ve not received any kind of negative feedback from anybody,” said Mestre. “Everyone’s just happy to have us back. It’s overwhelmingly positive, it really is.”
“The first couple days was awesome, kids are all glad to see us back. And it’s a bunch of old friends too right,” said Williams. “You get students you get to know from years previous and then they’re back and you haven’t seen them in three or four months so it’s nice.”
A tentative agreement was reached September 18, which still needs to be verified. A vote date for the ratification has not been set.