Employer still refuses to discuss faculty issues
Following the strong strike vote by college faculty last week, your union bargaining team returned to the table this week ready to bargain in good faith and move negotiations forward to a fair settlement. Unfortunately, the College Employer Council continued their refusal to engage in meaningful discussions.
We hoped that our successful lobby day at Queen’s Park (see below) on the heels of faculty’s strong strike mandate vote would cause the Council to see bargaining in a different light. It did not.
As a result, your college faculty bargaining team has asked the conciliator to issue a “no-board” report, a move that will increase pressure on the employer by taking the next step toward a legal strike or lockout position.
Under the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act (CCBA), either party can request a no-board report, which is typically issued within a few working days of the request. From there, workers can strike, or their employer can lock them out, 16 days later.
Depending on what day the no-board report is issued, faculty and the colleges will be in a legal strike or lockout position in the week following Thanksgiving Day.
This does not mean the faculty team has set a strike deadline. Under the CCBA, the union must give five days’ notice of a strike and the employer must give five days’ notice of a lockout. If we are approaching a legal strike or lockout position and bargaining is progressing, we will continue bargaining. Your team remains committed to getting a deal, first and foremost.
To that end, and in an effort to trigger real negotiations, the faculty team made significant moves in bargaining this week. Unfortunately, the College Employer Council continues to reject the basic principles of equity and fairness or to even engage in discussions on key faculty demands. It is clear that their proposals would entrench the inequities in our collective agreement and that they are set on abdicating their responsibilities for equal pay for equal work under Bill 148.
The point of asking for the no-board is to change this. It is our hope that moving forward in this fashion will make our employer see that our members understand that, in order to settle this at the bargaining table, council has to begin engaging in constructive negotiations.
Chair, College faculty bargaining team
Setting the agenda
Faculty educate MPPs, media at Queen’s Park lobby day
College faculty are setting the agenda in this round of collective bargaining.
Thirty-one faculty members from across the province were at Queen’s Park Wednesday to educate MPPs about two of the critically important issues the union has put on the table: education quality, and fairness for faculty.
“I think it is incredibly important to educate legislators and reporters about what is at stake in our negotiations, especially when it comes to collegial governance and fair treatment for contract faculty,” said JP Hornick, chair of the college faculty bargaining team. “We had more than 20 MPPs at our kick-off breakfast, our news conference was well attended, and we did one-on-one meetings with MPPs all day.
“I don’t think the lobby could have gone any better, and I want to congratulate all the members who attended and all the OPSEU staff who helped make it happen.”
One of the MPPs who attended the breakfast, and spoke, was Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development. Matthews, who serves as Deputy Premier, is widely seen as the most powerful person in cabinet, next to the Premier.
While Matthews was noncommittal on faculty issues, saying she would leave bargaining to the bargaining table, she gave those issues a respectful hearing. Regarding job security and equal pay for equal work for contract faculty, Matthews said, “We understand the issue and we want to be part of the solution.”
Later in the day, in response to a question in the legislature from London West MPP Peggy Sattler, Matthews welcomed the OPSEU delegation. “It is impossible to imagine our province without colleges, and I just want to take this opportunity to thank the people who make our colleges great, and that is the faculty.”
MPP Sattler’s questions focused on job security and equal pay for equal work.
“The issue of precarious employment in our colleges is a very real and live issue,” Matthews said in response. “We recognize this issue, and the Minister of Labour has introduced Bill 148 that actually starts to address this issue."
Labour Minister Kevin Flynn expressed optimism about collective bargaining, noting that it seldom ends in strike action. Flynn then praised his own Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, underscoring that “the intent… is to inject more fairness” into workplaces.
“Bill 148 is far from perfect, but it has utterly changed the context of our negotiations with respect to contract faculty,” said JP Hornick. “It is encouraging to see that top government ministers understand that, but it is critical that all MPPs understand it as well. So I want to underscore just how important it is for faculty to be calling their MPPs and letting them know what we need and what they can do to help.
“With the ‘click-to-call’ feature on our website at collegefaculty.org, calling your MPP couldn’t be any easier.”
At the morning news conference Wednesday, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas called on the government to step in with more funding to help the colleges meet their obligations.
“In [former Conservative Premier] Bill Davis’s day, the Government of Ontario provided 75 per cent of the funds to run the colleges. Today, that number is less than half,” he said. “The shortfall has been paid for by students and their families, and it has been paid for by faculty and staff (although not college presidents).
“Cheap labour has been a cornerstone of college cost-cutting for decades now. We are here today to say that the era of insecure, underpaid, precarious work must end – not only in our colleges, but in our society as a whole.”
York worker-student alliance lends support to college faculty
Member organizations of the Cross-Campus Alliance of faculty, support staff, and student organizations at York University have issued a statement in solidarity with OPSEU college faculty.
“We call on the College Employer Council to bargain in good faith and meet the fair demands of the college faculty and we urge the York University community to sign the petition to improve the learning and teaching environment of Ontario’s public colleges,” the statement concludes. Click here to read the full statement.
Your college faculty bargaining team AT Queen’s Park on September 20 with OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. Left to right: Darryl Bedford, Local 110 (Fanshawe); Nicole Zwiers, Local 354 (Durham); Kevin MacKay, Local 240 (Mohawk); Almeida; Thomas; Shawn Pentecost, Local 415 (Algonquin); JP Hornick, Local 556 (George Brown); Ravi Ramkissoonsingh, Local 242 (Niagara); Mona Chevalier, Local 470 (La Cité collégiale).