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Collective Bargaining Questions and Answers

Collective Bargaining Questions and Answers

We the North
We the North
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Imposition of terms and conditions

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Q:  What determines the rules of bargaining?

A: The Colleges Collective Bargaining Act, CCBA (October 8, 2008).

Q:  Do the Colleges have the legal right to impose new terms and conditions of employment?

A: Yes, Section 15 (b) of the CCBA gives them that authority.

Q:  Have the legal requirements set out in Section 15 been met?

A: Yes. In October, the Colleges demanded that the conciliator to file his report.  The report states that the parties have not yet reached an agreement. The Minister received that report, and 16 days have passed since then.  [CCBA Section 21 (1) (a), (b), and (d)]

Q: Do other employers in Ontario have this power to impose terms and conditions?

A: Yes, it exists in the Ontario Labour Relations Act (OLRA) and other bargaining acts.

Q: Why is it not used more often then?

A: The power to unilaterally impose terms and conditions of employment is extremely rarely used. Employers know that it does damage to labour relations and historically has never succeeded in resolving problems.

Q:  Why have the Colleges used the imposition of terms and conditions this time?

A: The revised CCBA provides this new bargaining tool in the College system. The imposition of terms and conditions is an action designed to undermine or break a union more than to resolve a bargaining dispute.

Q: Doesn’t the employer have to declare a lockout before imposing terms and conditions?

A: Under the regular provisions of the OLRA an employer must declare a lockout prior to imposing terms and conditions. That requirement was omitted from the CCBA.  If the Colleges had been required to declare a lockout, it is unlikely that they would have unilaterally imposed terms and conditions.

Q:What about a vote on these terms?

A: The Colleges do have a right to take a vote on their offer. This is a new provision of the CCBA.  The union invited the Colleges to take such a vote. The Colleges refused and instead imposed their terms and conditions with no vote.

Q: Does the Act require a vote on imposed terms and conditions?

A: A vote is not required under the CCBA.  Provided the employer meets the requirements to impose terms and conditions, those terms and conditions can stay in place until the employer changes them.

Q: What has to happen before there is a strike?

A:  Section 17 of the CCBA covers strikes. In addition to the requirements regarding the conciliator, the union must also get a vote in favour of a strike mandate from the membership and give 5 days notice to the Colleges.

Q: Is everyone on strike then if the union calls a strike?

A: The union does not and cannot demand that members perform strike duties. No person shall act as a professional strike breaker. [Section 50 (1)].

Q: If a college votes not to go on strike can they still be on strike?

A: Yes, the vote is a province-wide vote, in keeping with the province-wide contract and legislation.

FAQ: Costings of Union proposals

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Theoretical Costs v Actual Costs

Q: How can the costing figures of the union and the colleges be so far apart?

A: The Colleges have included actual and the maximum possible theoretical costs of union proposals. The union has costed proposals on actual costs only.

Three examples of some soft costs included by the Colleges:

  1. The Colleges advised on July 15th that they were costing Family Day at $3.4 million. The Colleges based their costing on, “not getting any value for the day.”  There are no actual costs.  There is not even a loss of productivity as faculty make up the work.
  2. The union proposed that Colleges make all “reasonable efforts” to have full-time students taught by full-time teachers.  (This reduced a proposal to have 75% of credit courses taught by full-time teachers.) The Colleges replied that they costed this at $317 million because it would “require them to convert every part-time, partial-load, and sessional teacher to full-time.” While it may be theoretically possible to incur such costs, it is equally possible and far more likley to incur no costs.  The union proposal – on the reasonable assumption that excessive costs would be a key consideration in any standard of reasonableness – could be virtually cost-free.  The union later withdrew this proposal completely so it is no longer included in costs. It is a good illustration of the Colleges’ costing principles and model.
  3. When costing workload, the Colleges assume the maximum theoretical impact not the actual impact.  Colleges base their costing assumptions as though every teacher was assigned at maximum.  Actual total workloads average is 41.2 not 44.  No costs are incurred until overtime is reached.  The union"s proposed 20% increase to evaluation has an actual impact of 1.66 workload hours per week. Again, theoretical costs inflate actual costs significantly. 

First year actual costs of the Union salary demands, are as follows:

  • Annual faculty salaries for the college system were $620 million [Council figures]
  • The union is proposing a 2.5% increase which costs $15.5 million. [2.5% x $620 million]
  • The union proposed an allowance for faculty who’ve been at Step 21 for a year – $500. 
  • The number of faculty at Step 21 is approximately 2450 currently.
  • The cost of that proposal is therefore $1.225 million. [$500 x 2450]
  • Total first year cost of the salary increase is $16.725 million. [15.5 + 1.225 million]

That is a 2.6% increase to college faculty salary budget in 2009, and a .059% increase to the total system budget.

Including an increased allowance in the second and third years, the average annual total salary increase is still less than 3% per year, just over $ 19 million per year.

Q: Do the union proposals require the colleges to spend what they are asserting?

A: Absolutely not.  The inclusion of theoretical costs inflates the numbers enormously.  The actual hard costs are far less.

FAQ: Grievances and Arbitrations under the Imposed Terms and Conditions

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Individual Grievances

Q: Does a faculty member who has a grievance have limited access to grievance processes, up to and including a board of arbitration?

A: Management has removed the Grievance Scheduling Committee.

They have relegated arbitration to a local matter.

This removes the impartiality of the Committee.

It increases the likelihood for local pressure from managers on individual faculty concerning their grievances.

It goes against the trend in most workplaces that have established grievance systems.

They are essentially asking faculty to trust the human resources manager to ensure impartiality.

Union Grievances

Q: Will union grievances continue to be processed up to a board of arbitration?

A: No, by imposition, the union will not be allowed to grieve on behalf of its members.

Policy violations cannot be grieved.

The union will not be allowed to grieve violations of the terms and conditions of employment.

Management has the freedom to make any policy changes they want, at any time under imposed terms and conditions.

Time Limits

Q: Do the new terms eliminate the right of arbitrators to waive time limits on grievances?

A: The Colleges Collective Bargaining Act, 2008 gives arbitrators the authority to waive time limits in grievance matters, unless modified by a collective agreement. Management’s imposed terms and conditions have removed this newly acquired right and inserted language to restrict arbitrators.

Arbitrators should have the discretion to waive the time limits if warranted and fair.

Arbitrators List

Q: Is it true that the colleges unilaterally added five new persons solely of their choosing to the list of arbitrators?

A: Yes, four new arbitrators were agreed to, 2 from each side. The colleges added another five. The balance of the previous agreed to list has been altered significantly.

Imposition of terms and conditions

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Q: What does the “imposition of terms and conditions” mean?

A: The Colleges have a right under the revised Colleges Collective Bargaining Act (CCBA) to impose unilateral terms and conditions of employment rather than negotiate a settlement.

Q: Does that mean they have imposed a new contract?

A: No: absolutely not.  There is no contract at all.  A contract is a signed agreement between two parties, which binds both to the agreements made. Once the Colleges imposed terms and conditions, the old contract was null and void.

Q: What employment rights do faculty now have?

A: None, other than what the CCBA grants, which is the right to a union, and the minimums of the Employment Standards Act.  All other rights are gone. The terms and conditions are binding on you but not the Colleges. The employer can change any condition of employment at any time. Until there is a signed contract, regular and partial-load faculty have the same rights as part-time faculty.

Q: Does this include salary, job security, benefits?

A: Yes.  Any term can be changed at any time.  For now, the Colleges have decided on a salary increase and to leave benefits unchanged.  But, there is nothing without a contract in place to prevent them from changing salary in the future or curtailing benefits.  The imposed terms already cut off the joint appeal process for denied benefits, and increase the cost of the benefit package negotiated for retirees.

Q: Is there no requirement for a vote on imposition?

A: No: the imposition requires no vote. It is unilateral. The Colleges now have the power under the revised CCBA to take a vote on their offer.  The union invited the Colleges to do that rather than impose their terms and conditions. The Colleges refused

Q: Can the union take a vote?

A: The union can take a strike vote and is doing so.  The union can also take a ratification vote and will do so when there is a settlement at the negotiating table.  The employer has the right to take a vote.  The union will take a vote when it is recommending acceptance.

Q: How long will the imposed terms and conditions remain in place?

A: There are no time limits on any terms. The duration of any or all of the imposed terms and conditions is open to change by management at any time.

Q: Can the employer change anything now that the terms and conditions have been published?

A: Yes.  In fact, the terms announced and published on November 18 were already different from what the Colleges said on November 12.

Q: Are there Concessions?

A: Yes, there certainly are. 

Q: How do we restore a contract?

A: There are only two ways to end this imposition: 

a negotiated settlement, or the employer takes a vote on the terms and conditions and over 50% of the faculty accept

Q: How does a strike vote help?

A: A strike vote puts a great deal of pressure on both sides to reach a settlement. It is very common to have agreements once a strike mandate is in place and a strike date is set.

Q: Must there be a strike?

A: Absolutely not. There have been a dozen strike votes in college faculty negotiations in the past and only three of those resulted in a strike.  The other 9 strike votes produced a negotiated settlement.

Q: Must the imposed terms and conditions be the same at every college?

A: No. The imposed terms and conditions can be different at different colleges. The imposed terms already allow colleges to handle grievances and benefits claims differently.