When negotiations break down - Macleans.ca

When negotiations break down

College faculty union braces for vote on final offer before strike deadline


With the strike deadline pushed back to Feb. 17 from Feb. 11, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says they are looking for binding arbitration in negotiations with Ontario’s colleges that broke down in December. Faculty gave the union strike mandate in a Jan 13 vote.

The union, which represents 9,00 0 faculty members from 24 Ontario colleges, has urged its members to reject the college’s final offer that is being brought to vote by management on Feb 10, under the auspices of the Ontario Labour Relations Board. OPSEU’s bargaining team had refused to bring the proposal to faculty itself.

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While representatives on either side post new fact sheets and updates almost daily, it clouds the facts and arguments debated at the bargaining table.

As it stands, the union’s most recent proposal for settlement asks for the following:

– 7.5 per cent salary increase over three years for all faculty

– increased job security by limiting external contracts

– workload considerations and protections for full-time faculty, including additional paid time for preparation, special circumstances and out-of-class assistance for students

– increases in health and insurance plans

Most of these provisions follow quoted recommendations from the workload task force, that assessed workload concerns following the 2006 Ontario colleges strike. As part of their new contract, OPSEU is asking that these recommendations come into fruition, as they argue they have yet to be addressed.

A week after the union proposed this contract proposal, the colleges tabled their final offer, which includes:

– 5.75 per cent salary increase over three years

– Additional time allotments for out-of-class assistance for teachers with an excess of 260 students

– Maintains previous workload agreements, with some adjustments

The colleges bargaining team maintains that many of the recommendations made by the task force have been implemented to date, but the colleges final offer does address and accept several of the proposed updates and changes to workload, health, safety and grievances.

Meanwhile, as faculty wait to vote on this final offer for settlement, OPSEU has posted several new fact sheets outlining reasons faculty should vote “no” on the most recent offer. These reasons include a salary increase they say is “less than what high school teachers and other Ontario post-secondary teachers were given,” and that the offer “ignores the Task Force’s key recommendations.”

Ultimately, the fact sheets read as propaganda, and while the union leaders have the right to spread whatever message they want to their members, in order to achieve a settlement, avoid a strike, and have a fair and informed vote on the most recent offer allowing faculty to decide if the deal works for them, they need all the facts. And not the ones that make OPSEU look like warriors and the colleges look like bloodsuckers.

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When negotiations break down

  1. I am a member of faculty who happens to be against striking. However, I object to the characterization of one side as issue propoganda. In fact, both sides are doing an excellent job of bending facts and picking and choosing the points that will suit their particular arguments.
    This is a very complicated issue involving principles as well as economics and using such phrases as “bloodsuckers” used by members of the media and the inflammatory language that both the union and management are using in some of their communiques belittles the agony that many faculty are feeling as they try to determine what to do without disrupting their students’ lives even further than this whole debate has already done.
    May professionalism be the principle that guides government management, union leaders, faculty and the media.

  2. Well said Jo Anne! I am a Continuing Education student at Humber and all that I pray for is that my unemployment due to the lack of skills should NOT be prolonged by an unnecessary college strike. Please, keep working and keep up the debate until all sides agree, but don’t let it stiffle and ruin the lives of the students who are so very, very dependant upon their teachers to be able to learn and grow and ultimately, earn for themselves.

    I am a second career individual, I NEED to stay in class and NEED to finish this certificate ASAP. Thank you.

  3. As a full time faculty member, I have just decided to vote against the offer because binding arbitration will be better for us. I don’t really care what Macleans says or calls us, because they clearly don’t know the facts, or if they do aren’t saying anything against college management… no surprise there.

  4. See what the faculty negotiators have been dealing with. David Scott is a spokesperson for the colleges and must have learned his negotiating skills from a Monty Pithon skit.

    But David Scott, a spokesman for the college council, said flatly that bargaining is over.
    Here is what he told the Owen Sound Sun Times:

    “There’s going to be no more negotiations. We’ve given our final offer and the union rejected it. There’s no going back to any table and the union has been told that clearly. So for them to say we can go back to the table is misleading.”

    The college council has also rejected binding arbitration.

    “It’s not the answer,” Scott said. “There’s no further negotiations and there’s not going to be binding arbitration . . . It’s not an option we’re going to support.

    “The key thing that we are saying is we want the (Feb. 10) vote because we want the faculty to decide. And if they accept the offer we’ll have a full collective agreement . . . if the offer is rejected, there’ll be a strike.”

    Well David, there will be more negotiations and even arbitration if Minister Milloy and Premiere McGuinty says so, and I believe they will to avoid a damaging and unnecessary strike.

  5. The offer the colleges have tabled is terrible; it will unquestionably affect my teaching practice and deteriorate my students’ learning.

    It’s telling that the only WTF recommendation that the college management adopted is the one that increases workload for 20% of faculty. This could lead to layoffs and decreased teaching opportunities for partial-load faculty.

    Reject the offer — we’ll fare much better in binding arbitration.

  6. Under the terms of Management’s offer partial load max. Hourly Rate is $136.62!!!
    That’s over $1600 per week for a 12 hour part-time job! Many of these faculty have other jobs…I think they are paid well for their prep and marking!

  7. Bill, please do us all a favour and turn down any gains we ever made. You can’t play both sides if you continue take the benefits, dental, eyes, pension, salary, etc. These only came after the strikes and some very hard bargaining, not from the benevolent nature of our management.

    Your approach is a farce and you know it.