More than 330 staff at St. Clair College in Windsor and Chatham are walking the picket line.

They are among the more than 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians who walked off the job Monday after OPSEU and the College Employer Council failed to reach agreement on a new contract.

Over 500,000 students at 24 colleges are affected by the strike, including more than 10,000 at St. Clair College.

The school campus remains open, but there are no classes.

Arshbreet Kaur is an international student from India. She hopes the strike can be resolved soon.

“I hope we get back soon so we can catch up” says Kaur. Today I am upset because my labs are getting missed.”

Striking workers stopped vehicles briefly before allowing them to cross the picket line.

"There was really nothing left that we could put forward, nothing more coming from the employer," Nicole Zwiers, a member of the union bargaining team.

The faculty regrets the effect on students, but many understand the issues at play, said Zwiers.

OPSEU Local 138 President Bernie Nawrocki says they are fighting for academic freedom and better staffing ratios.

“Right now it’s 70 per cent part time and 30 per cent full time, we would like see that be 50-50” says Nawrocki.

The College Employer Council, which bargains for the colleges, called the strike completely unnecessary.

The union's demands would have added more than $250 million in annual costs, the council said.

Don Sinclair, the head of the Council, feels the two sides are too far apart.

“We have an offer on the table for four years at 7.75 per cent” says Sinclair. “We believe the union should let the faculty vote on it. They have rejected that.”

But the union says this strike isn't about money. OPSEU says it is about the quality of education.

The union presented a proposal Saturday night that called for the number of full time faculty to match the number of faculty members on contract.

It also called for improvements in job security and for faculty to have a stronger voice in academic decision making.

Students are being urged to treat the days ahead as a chance to review course material and work on long-term projects.

There is no indication how long this strike will last or when talks might resume. But those on the picket lines say they'll be out here as long as it takes.

In the meantime, Transit Windsor buses that stop at the Windsor campus of St. Clair College are all being detoured due to the strike. The buses that are affected are the Dominion 5, Dougall 6,  south Windsor 7 and the LaSalle 25.