Union team sets June 17 strike deadline as employer’s offer still falls short
Your OPSEU bargaining team at MPAC met with the employer team on Wednesday, May 25 for a full day of bargaining with the help of the conciliator. Unfortunately, we did not achieve the tentative agreement we were hoping for. At the end of the day, we asked the Ministry of Labour for a “no board” report to set the clock ticking towards a strike deadline. That deadline is June 17 at 12:01 a.m.
Setting a strike deadline is a big step, and we did not take it lightly. But it was obvious to all of us that our employer still needs extra motivation to bargain an acceptable deal.
The parties did exchange some useful information on Wednesday. Last week, the employer provided the union with an estimate of how much money MPAC expects to save by forcing former Ontario Public Service (OPS) employees at MPAC to pay half the cost of their post-retirement health benefit premiums. On Wednesday, a staff member from OPSEU’s pension and benefits department joined us at the bargaining table to reaffirm the union’s objections to this idea and answer the employer’s questions as well.
Nonetheless, this employer demand remains a major roadblock to a deal. In addition, the employer continues to demand the elimination of severance pay for any staff divested from the OPS. Accreditation and the term of the next agreement remain outstanding issues as well.
We repeated our dissatisfaction with respect to the employer’s overall approach to bargaining. We made it very clear that the employer’s wage offer cannot help but contribute to low morale at MPAC – especially given the increases managers have seen over the last few years. As we pointed out, our bosses have enjoyed wage hikes of anywhere between 5 and 30 per cent over the last two years. Surely that’s a sign that MPAC can afford to show frontline staff a little financial respect.
While talks did not produce a deal on Wednesday, negotiations are not over. The parties have agreed to meet again on June 15 and 16 to try to hash out a deal before the strike deadline.
For the contract you want, take action now!
From the progress at the table so far, it is clear that President Antoni Wisniowski and the MPAC board do not yet understand the determination of frontline staff to get a fair collective agreement. We need to demonstrate it more clearly. There are two ways to do this.
First, show your support for your OPSEU bargaining team in the workplace. You know what you have to do. Wear black. Take your coffee breaks with your OPSEU mugs. Wear your buttons – because it really is “time to build morale.”
Second, let MPAC management know that you are ready to strike if its bargaining team refuses to negotiate an acceptable deal. This means filling out OPSEU’s Form B (Member Personal Information Form) so you can collect strike pay. It also means setting up your local strike headquarters and making sure it is fully equipped. Make a plan to hold a grand opening before June 15. Hold a picket sign party. Most of all, be ready for action – and show that you are.
Your OPSEU bargaining team believes a tentative agreement is within reach. With your help, we’ll reach it.
Chair, OPSEU Bargaining Team at MPAC