The teams met on July 7 and 8 to discuss ground rules, set the tone for bargaining, and exchange initial proposals.
Two factors distinguished this round of bargaining from previous rounds, from the start: We are bargaining using an online platform for the first time, and the College Employer Council insisted on an expanded team that included six college administrators, four College Employer Council administrators and executives, a management-side lawyer, and a Director of Communications.
While the two sides reached agreement on a number of basic rules, including those around bargaining remotely, the Employer team did take exception to the notion of permitting faculty to observe at the table.
Your team proposed that the Union be permitted to invite observers who would be muted and bound by confidentiality and the other rules of the table, and to try it on a trial basis. This proposal originated in a motion that CAAT-A delegates had previously approved unanimously. In response, the Employer team’s chair, Laurie Rancourt, said that they preferred bargaining “without the stifling presence of an audience”.
Our team disagrees with that sentiment and believes that faculty should be able to observe negotiations that directly impact their working conditions and lives, and we look forward to continuing that conversation at our upcoming August dates. Your team will ensure that faculty are included in our conversations, will have access to our proposals, and will have ample opportunities for feedback about what happens at the table.
We welcomed the ability to hear more about the Employer teams’ priorities and goals for this round of negotiations. The Employer team repeatedly asserted its interest in achieving mutual agreement and respecting the needs of all parties, though an initial review suggests that there are some areas of concern, including potential changes to our workload that might be implied within the Employer’s notion of a “modern year-round college.”
The Employer team’s initial proposals also suggest that the employer seeks a longer probationary period, a new category of contract faculty, changes to professional development leave, and possible inclusion of “respectful workplace” language.
However, a comparison of the two sides’ preliminary priorities invites hope that we can find common ground on several important issues. Both sides affirm the importance of a Collective Agreement that acknowledges the differences between asynchronous and synchronous delivery, the need to improve the partial-load registry, and the importance of updating CA language to support Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
While the concrete proposals from each side regarding these issues have yet to be tabled, your team is committed to working to negotiate improvements where common ground exists.
We are committed to continuing to work with the Employer team at the table to bargain a settlement that both meets faculty’s needs and ensures quality education for students.
For updates, please visit: http://www.collegefaculty.org