A (slightly) new spin on some old ideas – the latest College Council bulletin

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There is a new council bulletin circulating that I am sure you will see soon if you have not already.

Despite hiring a private “spin doctor” (with public money of course), the council has nothing new to offer in this latest communication.

Like the previous bulletins, this one attempts to present the Colleges’ last offer as ‘responsive’ to the issues raised at the table by the CAAT-A bargaining team.  And of course they recycle the familiar ‘not letting faculty vote on the offer’ line, without mentioning the own right to bring their offer to a vote.

Since they offer nothing new, previous rebuttals should suffice, but since I have no marking to do, here’s a new one.

Contract faculty and staffing ratios

The over use and unfair working conditions of contract faculty has become the #1 issue of this strike.  At the core of this issue is Article 2 of the Collective Agreement.  Article 2 states that the colleges will “give preference to the designation of full-time positions as regular rather than partial-load teaching positions” (2.02), as well as “rather than sessional teaching positions” (2.03A).  This preference is limited by things like program quality and economic viability.

Article 2 has been part of our collective agreement for a long time.  While not perfect, it has helped us fight for full-time positions.  Article 2 was ‘suspended’ in the previous contract, meaning that no staffing grievances could be filed.  This moratorium expired with the previous contract, and Article 2 is now back in effect.

In their bulletin management states that their offer “specifically requires every college, when it is staffing a program, to give preference to creating full-time jobs over partial-load jobs except where justifiable operational considerations require different staffing”.  They present this as something new, but this is simply plain old Article 2 back from suspension.

What they don’t mention is that they have added new language to the C.A. that essentially guts Article 2:

  • New language to specifically exempt Part-Time contracts (6 contact hours or less) from this article.
  • Removal of the language from 2.03 that requires the rollover of Sessional positions into full-time
  • An entirely new contract position call “temporary full-time”.  They try to sell this as gain for the union when it is a huge concession which will allow for even more teaching to be done by precarious workers.

If that is not enough, they also propose to remove overtime limits on full-time faculty which will lead to further reductions in the full-time complement.

Their intent could not be more transparent: they want to continue the precipitous reduction in the percentage of teaching that is being done by full-time faculty.  Previously they wanted to extend the moratorium on Article 2, and now that it is back, they want to gut it.

They go on to claim that the colleges cannot possibly work with a 50/50 staffing ratio.  One must question the competence of college administration if they truly believe that they cannot operate with at least 50% of the teaching being done by full-time faculty.  Remember also that they have claimed that the Colleges already have a 50/50 ratio in place.  Which is it guys?

Don’t be fooled, the colleges’ offer is a terrible one that only ‘responds’ to our issues by doing exactly the opposite of what we are asking for.

How did we get here?

As we said at the outset, there is nothing new here, and that is the problem.  Since July, the council has refused to engage in discussion on the issues that our members have overwhelmingly said are their top priorities.  We have held a strike vote, and have been picketing for two weeks because we believe in the issues and want them addressed.  Still nothing.

This is unacceptable.  The council, the college presidents, and the Minister are not doing their jobs.  Collective bargaining should involve some actual bargaining, some discussion and negotiation about the main issues on each side.  Instead we have stonewalling and a complete lack of leadership from the Council.

These are highly paid public servants as well as high-priced lawyers (https://hicksmorley.com/) and spin doctors (http://dsconsulting.ca/) on retainer with public money, and they are doing nothing to address the issues.  In the Toronto Star Minister Deb Matthews is quoted saying ” why the parties aren’t bargaining is beyond me,”…. is it not her job to know why they are not bargaining?

We demand better and will not settle for less.

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  1. Daphne Hoover Reply

    Both the bargaining unit and the college council are to blame.

    Respect the students and end the strike.

    Respect faculty who voted against the strike mandate and end the strike.

    Respect faculty who were swayed by the union’s suggestion that voting for the strike mandate would “show we are serious” and end the strike.

    Don’t claim a moral high ground to the Council. Go to the table everyday even if there is no one on the other side.

    Don’t pretend that you represent all 12,000 members when only 60% voted on the strike mandate and a third of them voted know.

    If you think that we didn’t get all the concessions that you wanted, appoint more skilled negotiators next time.

    End the strike.

    • lec653 Reply

      Thanks for your comments Daphne. Of course all members are respected, but as in any democratic system, the majority rules and once a vote is held actions will be determined based on that vote.

      In our Local’s opinion, there is no excusing the Council’s refusal to even entertain discussions around the major issues brought to the table by the CAAT-A bargaining team. These issues were democratically decided on by our 12,000 members through the demand setting process. These issues were further affirmed by the strike vote. It is the Council’s responsibility to negotiate in good faith according to the Collective Bargaining Act. Any reasonable interpretation of “good faith” would expect the Council to at least consider and discuss the issues brought to the table under these circumstances.

      The union has moved considerably from its opening positions. The Council has never changed its position that the only path to settlement is via its unilaterally prescribed terms. We stand by our claim that this is not good faith negotiation, and that the Council is not doing its job in this process. We encourage the Minister to provide the leadership and vision that is lacking and direct the Council to return to the table with a sincere intent to discuss the concerns of the faculty.

      Thank you again for your comments.

  2. Daphne Hoover Reply

    Members who voted against the strike mandate are not respected. Our voices are subsumed by the bargaining team who claim support of 12,000 people even though this is clearly not the case. Listen closely to JP Hornick who claims that the union represents the views of all of the members.

    Remember — 68% of 60% is hardly a resounding mandate. Your support even among those who voted for the mandate is waning. Go to a picket line and take a survey — about 20% are true believers who believe that students as collateral damage is acceptable; most of the rest of us want to go back to class. Also, we can assume that the members who don’t show up to picket are mostly against the strike.

    Let us go back to class. We can wear union buttons or baseball hats or something to show solidarity, but let us teach. You can continue the negotiations without damaging the students. I realize that makes the negotiations more difficult, but you are playing with people’s lives.

    • lec653 Reply

      Democracy is like that. Prime Ministers are sometimes elected with less that 50% of the vote, never mind 68%, and they still make decisions for all Canadians.

      Work stoppages in the education system are terribly unfortunate. With only 3 previous strikes in the 50 year history of Ontario colleges, it is clear the faculty do not take them lightly. In the end, this is the collective bargaining system we are in, and when issues are important enough, and the employer is stubborn enough, strikes may happen.

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