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The social movement continues – On the line: College Faculty Strike Bulletin #6

On the Line: College Faculty

The social movement continues

As you know, the government announced on Thursday that they are legislating college faculty back to work.  The union did not agree to back to work legislation, it was imposed by government.

College faculty will return to work next week, although we will not know the exact date until back to work legislation passes. We believe they will succeed in passing the legislation into law as the Liberals have a majority government.

We always knew this legislation was an option, and are disappointed, but we are still hopeful that our issues will be positively addressed in the arbitration process set out in the bill. The extraordinary vote results on Council’s forced contract offer, with a 95 per cent turnout and an 86 per cent rejection rate, will work heavily in our favour.

It became apparent on Thursday afternoon, November 16 that the College Employer Council continued to have no interest in bargaining. Despite our members’ resounding “no,” Council refused to remove concessions and were absolutely unwilling to engage in negotiations. In response, the Wynne government moved on legislating faculty back to work.

Regardless of this result, we have made historic gains. We have inspired a movement against precarious work. We have made the case, beyond any doubt, that faculty academic freedom and collegial governance are critical to the integrity and quality of college education. We have built stronger and more united locals. We have exposed the deeply problematic workings of the CEC. And we have an unprecedented mandate from members to support how our issues are heard at arbitration.

We have gotten as far as we have because of the hard work, dedication, and resolve of local leaders, new activists and thousands of faculty. We thank each of you for this.

We are also deeply grateful to all of our community and labour allies, and especially the students who joined us on the picket line and supported faculty. We do everything we do for our students, and we are deeply committed to their education, careers and future.

Faculty stand with students

A key part of returning to work after our strike is ensuring we create the best possible learning environment for our students, listen to their concerns, and address the reasons for the strike. Please be sure to copy and distribute the “Faculty stand with students” document emailed to all faculty members along with this bulletin.

Keep the momentum going!

Remember, we took a stand on principle and won an important victory.

  • The first morning we go back to work, your entire local should meet and go in together.
  • Attend your local general membership meeting.
  • Get involved in local committees (such as the workload monitoring group).
  • Start a new committee (social, political action, communications, etc.).
  • Enforce your collective agreement and stand up for your workplace rights.
  • Maintain a local flying squad.
  • Consider getting involved in your local as a steward.

Faculty return-to-work: what to do

Your faculty bargaining team is giving the following direction to ensure that you are protected when you return to work and that any overtime you work is accounted for.  

The back-to-work legislation specifies that the working conditions we are returning to are the conditions in place a day before the strike became lawful. This means that the previous collective agreement is in force, along with all of the workload and grievance provisions.

We have no influence over the return to work protocol other than what is in our collective agreement, however the collective agreement contains the tools we need. We just have to use them.

Return to work recommendations

  1. In all communications with your supervisor, copy the union local.
  2. Under 11.02A1 (a) and (b), each faculty member should request a new workload and semester completion conversation with their supervisor. 
  3. From this meeting, faculty should request that a detailed semester completion plan be issued in writing by the supervisor. 
  4. Faculty should then request a revised SWF for the rest of the semester. 
  5. Faculty should document all hours worked (log your hours at the end of each day).
  6. Faculty should refer their SWF to the workload monitoring group if there is any disagreement about workload, or if you end up working more overtime.
  7. Faculty should be paid for overtime that is accurately recorded on their revised SWF.
  8. Faculty do not have to agree to overtime, nor do they have to agree to an extension of their teaching time.

Issues with managers

  1. If there are any issues with managers being coercive or bullying, faculty should document the incident in an email copied to the union local.
  2. Faculty can file complaints under Article 4.02A5 and 4.02A6 — the anti-bullying and harassment Article. The union local can help with this.

Issues with students

  1. Faculty should take 20 minutes at the start of class to explain to your students why you were on strike. You can encourage students to contact the union local if they have further questions.
  2. The union has sent all faculty members a template "message to students" that you can send out to your students.
  3. The majority of students understand why faculty were on strike, and will just be happy to be back in class. Faculty should utilize the student code of conduct and/or Article 4.02A5 and 4.02A6 to document any harassing behaviour, should it occur, and to file a complaint. Faculty should not tolerate student harassment.

Justice for partial-load faculty

The bargaining team wants to extend a special thank you to all of our partial load colleagues, so many of whom walked the lines for the past five weeks. While we can't control the return-to-work protocol due to the back-to-work legislation, your concerns are the key issues we will be fighting for over the next several months.  

Our binding arbitration battle will focus on those gains around job security, pathways to jobs, and improved seniority that were in our last proposal.  The provincial task force will focus on fighting precarity and improving the full-time faculty complement.

Your fight for better work is our fight.  We have not and will not lose sight of that.  On a local level, if you experience any problems with your contracts during this return to work, please be in touch with your local and keep the bargaining team apprised.  We will be keeping track of all issues and will raise them at arbitration.