Our Colleges, Our Ontario, Our Contract – Bargaining Begins This Fall

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Bargaining Bulletin #1
June 19, 2024

Highlights:

  • Notice to bargain will be given to the CEC on July 2nd.
  • Colleges continue to show strong financial health through record surpluses.
  • International student caps have been allocated, with many colleges seeing little decline in enrolments.
  • Ontario continues to rank dead last amongst the provinces in government funding for the post-secondary sector. Take action on chronic underfunding at FundOurColleges.ca
  • Collective bargaining dates “at-the-table” have been set.
  • Members can expect the employer to ramp up rhetoric attempting to divide our membership – united we bargain, divided we beg!
  • The CAAT-A Divisional Meeting took place between May 24-25, 2024, with many new faces from amongst your colleagues elected to provincial committees
  • Stay informed – and get involved in organizing efforts, email bargainingteam2024@gmail.com

As we find ourselves already in the thick of summer, your College Faculty Bargaining Team is hard at work preparing to head back to the bargaining table. Notice to bargain will be issued to the College Employer Council (CEC) on July 2nd. Please find enclosed important updates regarding the bargaining climate and next steps.

A Profitable Year for Ontario Colleges

The most recent fiscal year ended on March 31st, 2024, and we are awaiting the full financial statements from all 24 colleges. The colleges posted almost $1 billion in surplus from 2021-2023, including a record of $668 million recorded surplus in the 2022-23 fiscal year; early signs indicate large profits repeating for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

The bottom line for members: the colleges have been very profitable this fiscal year.

The Impact of International Student Caps

Colleges have received their international student allocations for the upcoming 2024-2025 academic year. While some colleges may experience a decrease in international enrolment, for many there will be little difference. We can expect that the numbers of international students across all institutions will continue to remain high, as colleges are proceeding with recruitment activities around the world in preparation for life beyond the federal government’s two-year moratorium.

Two-thirds of colleges will see their public-private partnerships (P3s) affected over the next two years, as international students at those institutions will no longer be allowed to apply for post-graduation work permits. While some P3s are nearing the end of their terms, others will remain operational well beyond the two-year moratorium. It is worth noting that domestic enrollment has begun increasing again and is expected to climb for the next few years.

Ontario Colleges Are Being Left Behind – Take Action at FundOurColleges.ca

Ontario’s public colleges are meant to prepare students for good jobs and provide the economy with a skilled workforce – but for years, they have been starved of funding. Ontario remains dead last among the provinces for per-student funding of postsecondary education.

Chronic underfunding is hurting our students and our colleges, leading to increased privatization of the college sector, seen in the flourishing of P3s; expansion of online programming delivery through OntarioLearn through non-unionized labour with no quality assurance measures; and the systematic exploitation of international students.

This social and economic landscape is far from the founding vision of Ontario’s college system, intended to provide a low-cost foundation for the future of Ontario’s workforce to build their skills and knowledge. Our colleges must remain accessible, public institutions if the communities they foster are to thrive.

College faculty provide a vital public service to our students – training the workforce of tomorrow. With that in mind, we ask that you take action at www.fundourcolleges.ca – sign the petition to send a message to your MPP, the Premier, and the Minister of Colleges and Universities. If thousands of us take action, we can put pressure on the provincial government to fund our colleges now!

Upcoming Bargaining Dates

With our collective agreement scheduled to expire on September 30th, we are eager to get back to the table and bring all of us closer to the contract we deserve. The CEC initially offered two dates in July and the final two weeks of September, in addition to October 1st. We accepted all offered dates, while offering more (41 in total). Between your College Faculty Bargaining Team and the CEC, we have now mutually agreed upon 24 scheduled dates of bargaining.

We will strive to accomplish as much as possible across these dates. The goal, as always, is to reach a collective agreement that satisfies member demands. You can review our last bargaining bulletin here.

Myth-Busting the CEC: Getting Ahead of Employer Rhetoric

Over the past few rounds of negotiations, the CEC has been consistent with messaging to faculty members – making it easier for members to recognize patterns and dispel myths. You will predictably encounter similar messages this round, such as:

“The faculty bargaining team does not represent the membership.”

This argument ignores our democratic processes of electing the bargaining team, local demand set meetings, and final demand set processes with delegates from the 24 colleges

Trust us. We have your best interests at heart.”

The CEC and colleges have been fighting the union certification of sessional and part-time college faculty for the past seven years and have enthusiastically embraced the use of poorly compensated, non-unionized faculty at the private colleges they partner with. Does this indicate to you that the CEC has the best interests of college faculty at heart?

“Yes, we have lots of money, but we don’t know what will happen in the future.”

Financial trends all indicate that the colleges remain profitable, and will continue to be so in the near future.

“International student caps are creating uncertainty and the colleges need to be nimble and flexible.”

As this point in time, these caps are only in effect for the next two years. This logic overlooks that international student caps were implemented because of irresponsible college administration.

“Faculty demands cost too much to implement.”

How does this square with the hundreds of millions of dollars of reported profits by the colleges, with much of that going to their growing administrative ranks?

“Let’s just roll over the current collective agreement for a couple of more years to provide certainty and stability.”

According to the colleges, there is never a good time to bargain and address members. The CEC presented similar arguments in 2017 and 2021; both rounds of negotiations were crucial in obtaining important advances for all faculty.

“The top step on the faculty salary grid is over $126,000.”

This argument implies that college faculty should accept the status quo, despite: half of college instruction being delivered on the backs of precarious workers; our wages consistently falling behind our comparators, while members struggle with an affordability crisis and higher interest rates; increased costs of mortgage renewals, rent, food, and gas prices.

To be crystal clear: when we account for inflation, our salaries are decreasing and college faculty have taken a paycut. The CEC would also rather dismiss the fact that most of our demands relate to the impact of our working conditions on student learning conditions – all while administrator salaries and the proportion of administrators to faculty both continue to rise.

Stay Informed, Get Involved

When workers take a bold stand for their rights, the employer see what an organized membership is willing to do. Let’s be a rising tide that lifts each other up! Whether you are working this summer or able to have vacation time, we wish you all the best and ask that you stay engaged as we move closer to the bargaining table.

CAAT-A Divisional Meeting Update

The CAAT-A Divisional Meeting took place between May 24-25, 2024, with many new faces from amongst your colleagues elected to provincial committees to represent over 16,000 College faculty members provincewide.

“The weather is not the only thing heating up these next months, with bargaining on the near horizon,” said Pearline Lung, CAAT-A DivEx Chair. “We are looking forward to working closely with the CAAT-A bargaining team as they get ready to head back to the table with the CEC.”

Your 2024 CAAT-A Divisional Meeting Election Results were as follows:

Divisional Executive

  • Pearline Lung, Local 562 (Chair) (member)
  • Michelle Arbour, Local 125 (Vice-Chair) (member)
  • Jeff Brown, Local 556 (member)
  • Robert Montgomery, Local 655 (member)
  • Rebecca Ward, Local 732 (member)
  • Josée St-Jean, Local 673 (alternate)
  • Anna Ainsworth, Local 560 (alternate)
  • Gavin Hemeon, Local 732 (alternate)

Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) 2024-2028

  • Anita Arvast, Local 350 (member)
  • Siobhan Bell, Local 560 (alternate)

Collective Bargaining Information Service

  • Jim Carr, Local 560 (member)
  • Sarah Wiebe, Local 556 (2024-2028) (alternate)
  • Milos Vasic, Local 562 (2024-2026) (alternate)

Health & Safety Coordinating Committee 2024-2028

  • Gavin Hemeon, Local 732 (member)
  • Jason Hunter, Local 350 (alternate)

Joint Educational Qualifications Subcommittee 2024-2028

  • Rebecca Mills, Local 240 (member)
  • Kelly Ould, Local 125 (alternate)

Joint Grievance Scheduling Committee 2024-2028

  • Martin Lee, Local 415 (member)
  • Melanie Doyle, Local 350 (alternate)

Joint Insurance Committee

  • Maria Vasilodimitrakis, Local 560 (member)
  • Henry Lowi, Local 562 (member)
  • Rebecca Mills, Local 240 (2024-2028) (alternate)
  • Darcie Hillier, Local 242 (2024-2026) (alternate)

Sick Leave Buyout 2024-2028

  • Melanie Doyle, Local 350 (member)
    Miriam Novick, Local 562 (alternate)

Locals Legal Coordinator 2024-2028

  • Josée St-Jean, Local 673 (member)
  • Miriam Novick, Local 562 (alternate)

Regions 1 & 2 – Divisional Solidarity Fund Trustee

  • Kevin MacKay, Local 240 (member)
    Alan Warren, Local 125 (alternate)

Regions 3 & 4 – Divisional Solidarity Fund Trustee

  • Jason Hunter, Local 350 (member)
  • Iain Robertson, Local 350 (alternate)

Region 5 – Divisional Solidarity Fund Trustees

  • Pearline Lung, Local 562 (member)
  • Jim Carr, Local 560 (alternate)

Regions 6 & 7 – Divisional Solidarity Fund Trustees

  • Gavin Hemeon, Local 732 (member)
  • Josée St-Jean, Local 673 (alternate)

In solidarity,

Your CAAT-A Bargaining Team:

Ravi Ramkissoonsingh, L242, Chair (he/him)
Michelle Arbour, L125, Vice-Chair (she/her)
Chad Croteau, L110 (he/him)
Bob Delaney, L237 (he/him)
Martin Lee, L415 (he/him)
Sean Lougheed, L657 (he/him)
Rebecca Ward, L732 (she/her)