The OPSU Unified ratification vote will be on January 24, 25 and 26, 2022.
It will start at 8 a.m. on January 24 and run continuously until 8 p.m. on January 26.
Members are encouraged to click the link in the email they received through the employer email on Friday, January 7, 2022, and provide a personal email address to receive a voting credential from Simply Voting (our external voting manager).
Credentials will not be sent to workplace/government email addresses.
Items in the first pass
Your bargaining team made proposals based on demands submitted by the members well in excess of the one per cent wage cap. We bargained like this legislation did not exist.
Timing of bargaining
It’s our understanding that in previous rounds of bargaining, the team would meet in Toronto at a hotel and work Monday afternoon to Friday morning, then return to their homes on the weekends until the end of the bargaining cycle.
Given that we are in a global pandemic, we needed to adjust the way we met to discuss bargaining and during negotiations.
The use of a virtual platform resulted in less time spent travelling, which contributed to the speed of the bargaining process. It’s our understanding that in previous rounds of bargaining, the employer would propose concessions bargaining. The employer’s first proposal did not propose any significant concessions bargaining. This allowed us to negotiate better improvements for our members.
As well, Bill 124 hampered our ability to negotiate above a one per cent cap. This limited the amount of items the bargaining team and the employer could negotiate into the new collective agreement. This had an unexpected side effect of speeding up the bargaining process, because there were fewer issues to discuss at the bargaining table. Bill 124 allowed your bargaining team to focus on issues that were important to most members, like increases to paramedical benefits.
As of January 1, 2022, every hour worked accumulates towards seniority. This is retroactive to January 1, 2022.
A change in the pension factor would have come with such a high price tag to both the employer and the members. In the realm of Bill 124, it was not possible to accomplish this. Members would have seen increased deductions in their pay totalling hundreds of dollars each month, and with the financial pressures families are already feeling, this was not the time to implement this change.
Members still have access to three paid compassion days, as per previous collective agreements. The only change in this contract is that members are clearly entitled to two days for dependant or elder care without further explanation.
There are no changes to the approval process for TEIs. It is still at the full discretion of the employer. If members have a specific exit date in mind, they should clearly put this in their email submission of their TEI request.
One per cent
OPSEU/SEFPO, your bargaining team and all members of OPSEU/SEFPO know that we are worth more than one per cent, and we asked for more than one per cent. Unfortunately, the current government has put the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act (Bill 124) into law, limiting our wage and overall compensation increases to one per cent per year over a three-year period.
The bargaining team was able to achieve the maximum allowable increase to our wages and benefits. The team squeezed as much out of the one per cent as we possibly could. The bargaining team encourages everyone to speak to their MPPs, their friends and family about Bill 124 and what can be done to overturn this unfair piece of legislation.
The bargaining team received 27 special case submissions for consideration to present to the employer.
Special cases are an OPS Unified bargaining process which the employer doesn’t have to participate in. The bargaining team presented special cases to the employer. The employer did not want to discuss them, because they were not in compliance with Bill 124.
Every special case was seeking substantial wage improvements that would go well beyond the one per cent cap under Bill 124. The bargaining team submitted an individual Bill 124 exemption for all 27 special cases. If the exemptions are denied, the bargaining team has no other options to proceed with them until the next round of bargaining. The Treasury Board has not provided any response to the exemptions submitted to date. Special cases and classification issues can continue to be discussed with your Ministry Employee Relations Committees.
What happens if we vote no?
The OPS Unified bargaining team has unanimously recommended that this tentative agreement be accepted.
To be clear, we don’t like being restricted to the one per cent wage increases any more than the next person. We proposed stronger improvements for wages and benefits. We brought forward special cases. We brought forward professional fees. We tried to address classification issues. We tried to make TEI language stronger. We tried to address all the things that were identified in the member demands. The employer refused to entertain these demands.
When voting on January 24 to January 26, we need you to carefully consider what a no vote means. If members vote no, you are sending your bargaining team back to the table, and there’s the potential we would get less than what we currently bargained. All the gains we bargained during this tentative agreement may not be available if we are sent back to the bargaining table or in future rounds of bargaining. The employer may force a final-offer vote that is less than what we negotiated. The employer may also end contract negotiations and force emergency and essential services negotiations and send us to a picket line or lockout.
A no vote may send us to the picket line faster than you think. While certain tactics may help slow the negotiating of emergency and essential services agreements, the employer can make these negotiations happen quickly.
OPSEU/SEFPO and your OPS Unified bargaining team stand behind this deal. We have negotiated the best possible deal we could get in this political climate. We need all members to vote, and we strongly encourage you to vote yes to this agreement.