A message from Maureen Murphy-Fricker, Local 237 President
What is going on…with the College Bargaining Team?
The College Employer Council’s (CEC) abysmal offer of settlement amounted to a few ‘baby carrots’, (we’ll call them that for now), while dismissing almost every aspect of our 17 demands. It is nothing less than a slap in the face to faculty who have worked tremendously hard supporting the College since 2017, with its focus on internationalization, and the recent dramatic switch to online learning during the pandemic.
This stage of bargaining obviously involves heightened posturing. The CEC is preying upon faculty it believes to be now more separated and vulnerable, and thus likely to accept concessions such as:
the 1008-hour new PL probationary period, and increased FT probationary period
no new language to acknowledge and protect the work of Coordinators
narrowed job description for Counsellors
dismissal of the Next 50 Years Workload Task Force (part of the 2017 Collective Agreement)
These are all contentious issues and for that reason, our Bargaining Team felt an astute mediation-vs-escalation strategy was warranted.
One positive spinoff from this, however, is that it has effectively enhanced solidarity among our CAAT-A members…another flashback to 2017. Members are now going back and reviewing the Union’s and College’s proposals and responses, asking more questions, signing their membership cards, tuning into The Ontario College Podcast, and lending expertise and support to our bargaining team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
So…"Are we going on strike?" My response to many of our members asking this same question has been that there's no way to know at this stage, as bargaining is still ongoing. It will come down to the will of the membership to stand behind their demands and, if needed, vote for a strike mandate. Remember that strike mandates do not necessarily mean we are going on strike. Rather, the mandate is a means for getting the CEC to seriously negotiate instead of dodging our demands.
Let's face it, nobody wants a strike! So, one key strategy right now is for us to build member solidarity, through bulletins, updates, podcasts, a General Members’ Meeting (GMM) and this newsletter.
Additionally, I offer the following bargaining reflection from Sheridan College’s Union President, Jack Urowitz (Sept. 15, 2021):
"So far, we see the College Employer Council (CEC) a corporation set up by the government artfully dodging our very real concerns. They say, “We have identified and proposed modest changes to the Collective Agreement that address concerns that both parties likely share.”
Although they haven’t tabled what’s below yet, they indicated that their possible future proposals may include:
creating a two-tiered collective agreement in which new faculty would be subject to different working conditions, including teaching on Saturdays and Sundays, without additional compensation
exempting faculty members in academic upgrading, apprenticeship and aviation programs from workload protections offered by the SWF
changing the definition of the academic year to 12 months from 10, which would permit managers to assign vacations at any time of the year
allowing greater management control of what faculty do in professional development periods
eliminating or reducing prep time for asynchronous online courses
permitting managers to assign classes of virtually any length
The above hardly seem like ‘modest’ proposals. Sadly, the CEC stated that, “We have also identified Union demands that we are unable to consider for fiscal, operational, or legislative reasons.”
Fiscal Reasons? Twenty-two of the twenty-four Ontario Colleges showed a surplus in the year of COVID’s enrollment drop. And why obfuscate by separating fiscal from operational reasons? If we changed how the colleges operate, we could free up some expenditures and perhaps have a net gain in fiscal resources.
The Union proposals were all tabled August 3 - 5. We have not yet had any counter proposals to any issues but those of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Truth and Reconciliation, on which we already agree. The CEC Bargaining Team has come back recommending that a Joint Advisory Group for EDI concerns and a Joint Advisory Round Table on Truth and Reconciliation be established by March 1, 2022. The last time pressing matters were put off to an Advisory Group after the 2017 Collective Agreement Bargaining, was for the Ontario Public Colleges: The Next 50 Years. You might remember that the Ford Government cancelled that Task Force just as its work was nearing completion.
The Union demands are all compilations of Demand Setting Meetings from across all 24 Colleges. You can see them all here: https://www.collegefaculty.org/bargaining-updates/
Where do we go from here? As a union, we need to stand strong and united, both to protect our members and to defend quality education, for now and for the future.
To stay up-to-date with the current negotiations, we encourage all members to attend the General Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, September 29, at 5 p.m. via Zoom. See our website for details. If you are Partial Load or Full Time and haven’t formally signed up for the union, please contact the union immediately.
And in other news…Steward vacancies
The following Steward positions are currently vacant:
· Life Sciences
· Health Sciences
· Business-Guelph Campus
· Cambridge Campus
· Waterloo Campus
· Guelph Campus
· Stratford Campus
· Ingersoll Campus
· Brantford Campus
Now, more than ever, we need representatives from these groups to step forward. Stewards are a voice for their peers. They bring the concerns of their colleagues to the table and act as a liaison between the members and the Local Executive. The commitment? One meeting per month (via Zoom) from September to April. You don’t need to know anything about unions or collective agreements. Training and support are available. Questions? Contact Bev Stone at Bstone237@gmail.com .
Workload and SWF Problems?
Members should contact the union if they have
not received a revised SWF
not received a College exemption for mandatory vaccinations
have increased workload due to the later Sept 21 visa entries
have any questions at all about your workload
2017 Strike Pension Buyback Reminder
"Where a member's pension is affected by a strike that occurs within the best 60 consecutive months as used in the calculation for the member's pension entitlement, the Local shall reimburse the member for an amount equal to the employer's contributions that would have been made during that period of time.
To be eligible for reimbursement, the member must have performed strike duties (or approved modified strike duties or received employment insurance) and not have engaged in strikebreaking. Payments are only to be made during the year of the member's retirement. The member must present confirmation of his/her retirement date and proof of her/his contribution payment to the CAAT Pension Plan prior to being reimbursed by the Treasurer."