Today, three months after commencing work-to-rule action, we are setting a strike deadline in an effort to compel the College Employer Council (CEC) and the College Presidents to do either of the two things they have refused to do since bargaining began:
- Complete negotiations on faculty’s priority issues, or,
- Refer outstanding issues to binding interest arbitration.
If neither of these things happen, the 16,000 CAAT-A faculty will stop all work and commence picketing, on Friday, March 18th.
The Bargaining Team did not arrive at this decision lightly. We have remained committed to completing negotiations with the least amount of disruption, including our offer to send all outstanding issues to arbitration. However, since July, we have faced an Employer that has simply refused to negotiate. Despite our two provincial votes that rejected their offer and a work-to-rule campaign, the CEC and Presidents continue to say that they will not negotiate. And worse, the chances are very good that they will escalate negative actions against faculty.
Scheduling a strike deadline now ensures management cannot lock us out with no salary for a prolonged period after we submit our grades, which would have disastrous consequences for all members. Once the grades are submitted, we lose bargaining leverage. Our deadline also prevents the Presidents from disciplining faculty for work-to-rule, and prevents the Colleges from imposing worse Terms & Conditions at a time when strike action would be considerably less effective.
A strike deadline now means that the provincial legislature is still in session, and that the government–and opposition parties–will be acutely aware of a potential strike, leading up to June’s election. This is our only window for resolution. Once the government dissolves, there will be almost no opportunity to place pressure on the CEC to resolve the dispute.
Setting a strike deadline does not mean there will be a strike. The College Presidents still have a clear choice: negotiate, arbitrate, or put the students through a work stoppage. Based on CAAT-A’s history, and the experience of other post-secondary institutions across the country, strikes are often resolved through binding interest arbitration. Why would the Colleges choose to harm thousands of students and faculty when they can choose arbitration before a strike rather than after?
Student groups support our position that binding interest arbitration can bring an immediate end to this impasse. The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario wrote that “the CEC has continuously refused binding arbitration, demonstrating to workers and students that the CEC only has their own interests at heart – not the interests of instructors, professors, counsellors, librarians, and especially not students”. As well, the College Student Alliance, “the only college student-focused advocacy group in Ontario”, has announced that “Interest Arbitration is the best solution that puts college students first”.
We encourage you to reach out to students to put further pressure on the College Presidents to resolve this dispute immediately. They can write personal letters or use this easy form: https://www.collegefaculty.org/write-your-college-president/. We also encourage faculty to write personal letters to College Presidents telling them they have the ability—and responsibility—to end this now.
In the coming days, your Local Union will reach out to you to begin preparations for potential strike action on Friday, March 18th. We hope these preparations will not be necessary and that the College Presidents will do the right thing.
JP, Jonathan, Kathleen, Michelle, Ravi, Rebeca, and Shawn
Your CAAT-A Bargaining Team