TORONTO - The union representing faculty at Ontario's 24 public colleges says they have voted in favour of a strike mandate should upcoming contract talks fail to result in a new agreement.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union says 68 per cent of its members voted in favour of a strike mandate ahead of collective bargaining scheduled to resume next week.

The current contract agreement for 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians expires on Sept. 30.

No strike or lockout deadline has been set.

Conestoga College was offered a four-year deal at 7.5 per cent plus benefits, but union leaders rejected it. Instead they tabled a salary demand of more than 10 per cent over three years.

OPSEU says key issues in the talks include the role of faculty in academic decision-making and fair treatment for contract faculty.

Union bargaining team chair J.P. Hornick says in a release that the College Employer Council has so far ignored all 16 proposals "to improve the quality and fairness of the college system in Ontario."