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College Faculty: Update from your bargaining team – Issue #2

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Mediation set for mid-December

Arbitrator William Kaplan has set out his schedule for trying to arrive at a new collective agreement for Ontario college faculty through mediation.

Beginning December 12, both the College Employer Council and OPSEU will file mediation briefs to give the arbitrator background information on the issues in dispute. Kaplan, an experienced arbitrator agreed to by both parties, will meet with union representatives December 14 and employer representatives December 15. After that, there will be two days of mediation December 16-17.

If the parties do not reach a new collective agreement through mediation, arbitration of unresolved matters will begin in early- to mid-January.

Earlier this week, Council’s law firm, Hicks Morley, brought a preliminary motion before the arbitrator to speed up the process and have arbitration start before January. The arbitrator did not grant the motion, and instead accepted the timeline proposed by the union. Kaplan also denied another motion from Council, which called for a freeze on the filing and processing of grievances or workload complaints related to faculty’s return to work post-strike. This is an important victory for the union: absent a return-to-work protocol, the grievance process is essential to protecting faculty’s rights in the workplace.

Bill 178 directs the arbitrator to finalize the new collective agreement no later than 90 days after being appointed. While this deadline may be extended if both parties agree, a likely scenario is that faculty will have a new contract before the end of February 2018. If the contract is ordered by the arbitrator, it will be final and binding, with no ratification by the parties.

Council has agreed that OPSEU’s participation in the mediation/arbitration process is “without prejudice” to the union’s position on Bill 178, the back-to-work legislation passed November 19, is a violation of faculty’s rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Faculty back suspended profs at La Cité

College faculty across Ontario are expressing their support for four suspended respiratory therapy professors at La Cité collégiale in Ottawa. The four members of OPSEU Local 470 were suspended until January 26, apparently for “insubordination,” after they refused to agree that the college’s plan for saving the semester would meet the requirements of their professional college, the College of Respiratory Therapists of Ontario.

But there appears to be something else going on at La Cité. After suspending the four professors, La Cité demanded that at least one faculty member remove a Twitter post containing a link to the Ottawa Citizen story. La Cité has accused union members of “tarnishing” the reputation of the college.

La Cité management acts as if the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects both union activity and free speech, doesn’t exist.

It does. Faculty are committed to defending the quality of the programs we deliver, and we will continue to say so, out loud, in every available forum. Faculty will also stand together and support one another when we are targeted by our administrators. The faculty bargaining team, CAAT-A Divisional Executive, and OPSEU are helping with a province-wide solidarity action to support the La Cité Four.  Locals and members are stepping up, too, and helping to support these faculty members financially now that they are facing additional weeks without pay. Details on the solidarity action and financial support will follow shortly.

All of this shows just how scared the colleges are of faculty solidarity and how desperate they are to drive wedges between us. If we continue to stand together, however, we will win.  Stand up, speak up, and fight back: our strength is in our continued collective action.  

In solidarity,

JP Hornick
Chair, your faculty bargaining team

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