Official Website for OPSEU Local 415

{CAATA-Pres} FOR DISTRIBUTION: College Faculty: Update from your bargaining team – Issue #3

Update December 20 read here

Dear CAAT-A Faculty:

Attached you will find a bulletin that details faculty’s wins in Arbitrator Kaplan’s award which dictates our new Collective Agreement.  This award, from a neutral arbitrator, is a clear vindication that faculty’s vision for the college system is not only reasonable, but necessary for Ontario colleges.

Despite Council and management’s attempts to claim this for themselves, there is no way to read this award other than as an unprecedented and historic victory for college faculty. Arbitrator Kaplan heard submissions from both sides, probed these issues deeply, and appears to have agreed that faculty had the better plan for the colleges.

For context, arbitrators are inclined to keep status quo in their decisions; Kaplan instead has–based on the strength of our submissions–repudiated Council’s concessions AND given us our language on academic freedom in the new Article 13, “Copyright and Academic Freedom.”  We cannot overemphasize how unusual this is.

In addition, we fought hard for and won gains for our partial load faculty on seniority and job security.  For the first time ever, partial-load faculty have been included in the lump sum awards given by an arbitrator.  In addition, the Provincial Task force will begin in January to address issues of complement and precarity, and we meet with the employer to begin discussions on Bill 148 on January 15.

Kaplan has primarily adopted our RTW language, and repudiated Council’s claims that no additional work was required to salvage the semester.  Indeed, by granting lump sums to every faculty member, he has acknowledged that the strike is an atypical circumstance that requires remuneration.  He has also made the salary increase retroactive–something the Council fought stridently against.

Faculty are more united and organized than ever.  We have mobilized, walked the lines together, and stood our ground against an aggressive and intransigent Council team, against a government willing to violate our Charter rights, and together we made breakthrough gains on the quality of education and fairness for all faculty.

We must now turn our energies to the work of the Provincial Task Force: ensuring a faculty complement that works for the system and reduces precarity; creating a co-governance system that includes the voices of faculty and students in a meaningful way; improved funding for the system; modernizing counselling to improve student mental health in the colleges; and enshrining intellectual property rights for all faculty.

Our fight is not over–the issues with Council that came to light in this round need to be addressed, along with the damage done to labour relations at all colleges.  In addition, we have the upcoming Charter challenge to our bargaining rights. The work of the task force will require our continued mobilization and vigilance to ensure that it has teeth and that our key issues on governance and precarity are not lost.

On behalf of the bargaining team, however, I want to thank each of you for your incredible support and determination to make these gains possible.  Take some time to celebrate this massive victory:  we’ve earned it.

In solidarity,

JP

College Faculty: Update from your bargaining team – Issue #3

December 20, 2017 

Arbitrator awards union language on academic freedom; previously agreed-to items included in award

Just over a month after the province legislated striking faculty back to work, we have a new collective agreement.

In an award issued Wednesday, December 20, arbitrator William Kaplan set out the terms of a four-year contract that will govern faculty work until September 30, 2021. The award includes language on items previously agreed on in bargaining, plus his (final and binding) decisions on issues that were still in dispute when bargaining ended.

Academic freedom

On academic freedom, Kaplan accepted the union’s language in its entirety, with the addition of five words to clarify one point. The new language under the heading “Copyright and Academic Freedom” makes it clear that all faculty have the right “to enquire about, investigate, pursue, teach and speak freely about academic issues without fear of impairment to position or other reprisal.”

This change is nothing less than historic. It is a watershed moment for the colleges that will be truly transformational in the years ahead.

Wages

On wages, the award provides the agreed-on raises of 1.75, 2.00, 2.00, and 2.00 per cent over the four-year term, but retroactive to October 1, the beginning of the contract. The employer had called for the first wage increase to take effect on the date of the award.

Partial-load faculty

Among the items negotiated prior to the back-to-work legislation were huge gains for partial load faculty. Under the new contract, partial-load faculty will:

  • get their contracts earlier;
  • move up the salary grid twice as fast;
  • have their seniority respected when applying for new contracts; and
  • have a much-improved chance of being considered for full-time positions.

Paramedical coverage 

Coverage for paramedical services under the benefit plan increases to $2,000/year, up from $1,500. Social workers and psychotherapists are now added to the list of eligible paramedical providers. 

Article 2 grievances

The Letter of Understanding that placed a moratorium on the filing of grievances related to Article 2 of the collective agreement (“Staffing”) is deleted from the collective agreement. Members may now file grievances when the employer violates Article 2. However, the arbitrator has ruled that such grievances “cannot rely on staffing which occurred from September 1, 2014 to December 20, 2017 to assist in establishing a breach of either of those Articles.”

The next 50 years: province-wide task force 

Under the new collective agreement, a new multi-stakeholder government-facilitated task force will be established to make recommendations on faculty complement, precarious work, college funding, student success, collegial governance, and other issues critical to the success of the college system. This is a serious forum in which faculty will be able to make their voices heard. The government has committed to considering the task force’s recommendations at the Cabinet level.

Bill 148

The award orders the parties to meet to discuss the way changes to Ontario labour laws under Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, affect members of the bargaining unit. This is where issues like equal pay for equal work will be sorted out. On issues where the parties cannot agree within one year, the award includes a binding process that allows either party to send the matter to a three-person arbitration board.

Teaching contact hours

The award clarifies that a teaching contact hour is a teaching contact hour now matter how it is delivered: “Regardless of the delivery mode, courses shall be deemed to have the same number of teaching contact hours as they would if taught entirely in the classroom or laboratory.”

Students requiring accommodation

Under a change to Article 11.02 C 2, the Workload Monitoring Group can now formally consider the number of students needing accommodation. This replaces the narrower term, “students with special needs.”

Recognition of formal qualifications

Under the job classification plans for professors, counsellors, librarians, and instructors, faculty members will now be able to get up to seven years’ credit for formal qualifications.

Counsellor classification

The parties will review the class definition of a Counsellor and consider updating it.

Additional francophone arbitrator for grievances

The award adds two new arbitrators, including one francophone, to the list of arbitrators eligible to rule on faculty grievances.

Return-to-Work Protocol

Kaplan has awarded each full-time faculty member a lump sum of $900, and each partial-load faculty member a lump sum of $450, to compensate for any extra work performed following the strike. The lump sums are an acknowledgement that faculty needed to do extra work in order to save the semester.

The union had proposed, and the arbitrator agreed, that partial-load faculty, not just full-time faculty, should receive the lump-sum payment. This is the first time this has happened in any faculty back-to-work protocol.

The lump sum payments settle “all claims, grievances or other complaints related to workload arising from the return to work from the strike.” For clarity, this means that all workload grievances related to the strike are deemed to be settled, and faculty may not file any new workload grievances arising from the strike.

For the purpose of calculating pay lost from the strike, the award says that one day is worth 1/261 of annual salary. This was the union’s proposal.

The award emphasizes that “there shall be no reprisals or discipline by either party arising from strike activities, including pre-strike activities.”

The arbitrator has ruled that the number of professional development days will be reduced to nine. The employer had asked that it be reduced to eight.

Standard Workload Formulas will not be adjusted down as a result of student withdrawals that occurred during the strike.

Four professors at La Cité who were suspended after the strike maintain all their rights under the collective agreement and at the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

The return-to-work protocol is retroactive to November 20, 2017.

Read the award

The entire award from arbitrator Kaplan is online at https://opseu.org/information/read-college-faculty-contract-arbitration-award.

What is mediation/arbitration?

Arbitrator William Kaplan produced Wednesday’s arbitration award through a process called mediation/arbitration, sometimes called “med/arb.” The provincial government imposed this process on faculty in November when it passed Bill 178 to end the college faculty strike.

Med/arb does not mean that bargaining starts all over from the start; the med/arb process normally begins where talks broke off, and arbitrators include agreed-to items in their final rulings. In med/arb, the parties do not get to add new proposals. What typically happens is that the parties present their arguments, and the arbitrator decides which ones are the most compelling. All of the issues the arbitrator chooses to rule on are bundled together, and the resulting bundle is an award that includes all the changes to the collective agreement for the current round.

Tremendous award

Please read here 

 

Today’s award, from a neutral arbitrator, is a clear vindication that faculty’s vision for the college system is not only reasonable, but necessary for Ontario colleges.

 

Faculty mobilized and stood our ground against an aggressive and intransigent Council team, against a government willing to violate our Charter rights, and we made breakthrough gains on the quality of education and fairness for all faculty.

 

Among these breakthrough gains:

  • An article on academic freedom for all faculty for the first time, using language the faculty team had proposed.  This is a historic breakthrough and enormous victory.
  • Improved staffing language and job security for partial load and full-time faculty
  • Improved seniority language for partial-load faculty
  • A return to work protocol that acknowledges the work required by faculty to complete the compressed semester via lump sum payments.  In addition, these include partial-load faculty for the first time in the history of CAAT-A.  The protocol also adopts the faculty team language on professional development days, lost pay calculation, and protections against reprisal.
  • An end to the moratorium on staffing grievances.
  • A Provincial Task Force to examine: faculty complement, precarious work, provincial funding of the colleges, student mental health, academic governance, intellectual property
  • In addition, the parties will meet in January to discuss changes to the CA related to Bill 148
  • The parties will review and potentially update the class definition of a counsellor

In addition to these gains, by standing strong, we beat back the Council’s concession demands.

 

We will now turn our energies to the work of the Provincial Task Force: ensuring a faculty complement that works for the system and reduces precarity; creating a co-governance system that includes the voices of faculty and students in a meaningful way; improved funding for the system; modernizing counselling to improve student mental health in the colleges; and enshrining intellectual property rights for all faculty.

 

Arbitrator Kaplan heard submissions from both sides, probed these issues deeply, and appears to have agreed that faculty had the better plan for the colleges.

 

Our fight is not over–the issues with Council that came to light in this round need to be addressed, along with the damage done to labour relations at all colleges.  In addition, we have the upcoming Charter challenge to our bargaining rights. The work of the task force will require our continued mobilization and vigilance to ensure that it has teeth and that our key issues on governance and precarity are not lost.

 

On behalf of the bargaining team, I want to thank each of you for your incredible support and determination to make these gains possible.

 

In solidarity,

 

JP

News release on arbitration

As you can see from the attached news releases, we have spent the past few days in mediation, followed by arbitration on December 16.  We are expecting Arbitrator Kaplan’s decision this week.

Thanks to everyone for all of your hard work and support.  We are looking forward to seeing Kaplan’s award and we will send it and any additional information as soon as we receive it.
In solidarity,
JP Hornick, Chair CAAT-A Bargaining Team

OPSEU NEWS RELEASE for November 30, 2017: “Suspensions at La Cité show why ‘academic freedom’ matters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                       November 30, 2017

 

Suspensions at La Cité show why ‘academic freedom’ matters: OPSEU

 

TORONTO – The suspension of four college professors at La Cité collégiale in Ottawa shows why college faculty must have the freedom, and the authority, to make decisions on academic matters, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) says.

“La Cité has suspended four OPSEU members for standing up for the integrity of their profession,” said JP Hornick, chair of the college faculty bargaining team for OPSEU. “College administration wants faculty to say that students possess the full range of skills related to the practice of respiratory therapy whether they do or not.

“This just shows what faculty have been saying all along: college administrators are making decisions about academic programs that they are not qualified to make,” she said. “In this case, administrators are putting both students and the public in danger.”

The union has proposed that the College of Respiratory Therapists of Ontario be brought in to assist with the matter.

The return to work of over 12,000 faculty after a five-week strike that ended November 20 has been plagued by problems that are interfering with the colleges’ efforts to save students’ semesters, Hornick said. Bill 178, the back-to-work legislation passed November 19, requires the parties to abide by the existing faculty collective agreement, but the colleges are refusing to do so.

“Unless the colleges begin issuing new contracts and Standard Workload Forms to faculty to make up the lost time, we are heading for a crisis very soon,” she said. “Faculty are working hard to save the semester, but we will not do it in a way that violates our collective agreement or the law.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas called the colleges’ antics “classic union busting.”

“The problems at La Cité, which is notoriously anti-union, are just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “The colleges are engaging in a centrally coordinated strategy that appears designed to bust the union even if it means sacrificing education quality. That’s why I’m calling on Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews to direct the colleges to obey Bill 178 and start cooperating with faculty to save the semester.”

 

– 30 –

 

For more information: JP Hornick, 416-806-9526; Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Mona Chevalier, OPSEU college faculty bargaining team (French only), 613-606-2238

Update from the bargaining team

Here is our new update from bargaining team here 

Strike Pay and Wynne admits faults

Strike Week Five Pay is now available in the union office, which has hours 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For those faculty picketing at Perth or Pembroke, or at other colleges, your cheque will be available at your home campus.

 

Cheques for Pembroke will be delivered there on Thursday.

 

——————————————-

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne admitted on Monday evening during a town hall meeting in Toronto that there were issues with the College Employer Council and that there needed to be more accountability.

You can read the full story here: https://theghpost.ca/2017/11/21/wynne-admits-faults-with-collective-bargaining /

 

Update Sunday, November 19

Adele Yamada and Neil Hunter – their interviews regarding the return to work legislation on CBC Friday “All in a Day” show

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/programs/allinaday/back-to-work-reactions-1.4408202

Personal items left in the trailers
We collected a number of items from the three trailers on Friday. They will be available for retrieval from the Union Office (C215b) this week.
 
Letter to the editor: Response to the Ottawa Citizen editorial that appeared in Saturday’s edition
The editorial “Grading the Strike,” does a great disservice to the faculty of Algonquin College. While on the one hand the editorial says in a most off-hand manner  ”the union may have had good reasons to reject the offer “ (without articulating what those good reasons might be, and there were quite a few as reported in your own paper over the past five weeks), it then characterizes the response of faculty upon hearing news of the 86% vote to reject the employers’ atrocious offer as “unmitigated glee,” “celebrating the fact the students might well lose their term.”
If the nameless, faceless authors of this shameless piece of tabloid journalism had taken the time to review the facts as reported in the past five weeks by their own reporters, they ought to have known that no single faculty member has ever expressed the false sentiment the editorial claims.   
The moment captured by your photographer was one of relief: relief that a terrible offer that would not have addressed any of the issues that were at the root of the strike had been resoundingly rejected. Relief that the five weeks (although it should have only been three weeks had the employer acted responsibly and finished negotiations rather than walking away and prolonging the strike with their ill-conceived forced offer vote) of walking in rain, cold, and wind for quality education were not in vain. Relief that, for the many students who had walked the lines with us, sent us messages of support, and identified with the fight against precarious work, we did not abandon our principles and take a bad deal. And relief that, for the many members in our local community who are also struggling against the gig economy and who saw our strike as part of a larger social movement to put an end to precarious work, we remained resolute in our efforts to firmly reject a future where precarious work is the norm rather than an aberration.  
In short, if one were to apply the editorial’s grading system to the editorial itself, it would have received an unqualified F. Perhaps after faculty are back in the classroom where we want to be, the authors of the editorial might avail themselves of our Journalism Program where critical thinking and objective reporting are taught.  
Jack Wilson, Professor and
Proud Member of Algonquin College Faculty and First VP of OPSEU 415
Monday – return to work (the legislation HAS passed)
 The legislation may be found at this link
 

Strike Bulletin #6 and Message to Students

Attached here please find a bulletin and message to students for distribution to all members ASAP.  In it you will find information about return to work and suggestions on how faculty can keep up the the momentum we have built.

While the decision of the Wynne government to legislate us back is not the ideal way to end the strike, it is not the end of our battle by any stretch.  The team is prepared for whatever form the upcoming arbitration will take.  Indeed, in the history of our bargaining, our most important gains have come through arbitration–including both our SWF and our comparator groups.  This process simply extends our bargaining away from the table, and we stand to make significant gains in this process and the provincial task force.

To do so, we will need to stand together and stay mobilized for the months ahead.  When we return to the colleges next week, we need to do so with our heads held high.  This has been a historic round, and the best is yet to come.  Our rejection of the forced offer vote, in which 95% of our members voted 86% to reject the Council’s offer, has changed the face of bargaining in post-secondary systems in Ontario, and will have ripple effects across the labour movement.  Our strong stand on precarious work has led to the strengthening of Bill 148, and inspired other workers to stand up for their rights as well.
With that in mind, we strongly encourage you and your members to gather together on the morning of the return to work and walk in to each campus together in celebration of what we have accomplished as a single faculty standing in solidarity.
We remain committed to this fight for quality and fairness, and we will not rest until we have achieved our goals.
In solidarity,

Your bargaining team

OPSEU to government: disband College Employer Council

 

November 16, 2017
OPSEU to government: disband College Employer Council
TORONTO – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is calling on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to disband the College Employer Council, the “private club” that represents 24 public colleges in collective bargaining.
“Today, after college faculty overwhelmingly rejected Council’s latest contract offer, we hoped real negotiations would ensue,” said JP Hornick, chair of the OPSEU college faculty bargaining team. “But in a joint meeting this afternoon with the Premier and Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews, it became clear that, of the three parties in the room, only two were concerned with saving the semester for hundreds of thousands of students.
“One of those parties, the College Employer Council, refused to accept that their approach to bargaining had failed, and refused to do anything to get our students back to class.”
In talks late this afternoon, Hornick said, Council refused to remove the “poison pills” in its offer and made no move toward a settlement – even when faculty offered to send a key item, academic freedom, to arbitration.
Commenting on a government move to introduce back-to-work legislation, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas laid the blame for it at Council’s door.
“When our team made a last-ditch effort to get students back in class on Monday, the colleges dug in even further,” he said. “If there is going to be legislation, it should include measures to disband the College Employer Council altogether.
“Council is a private club that is accountable to no one,” he said. “It is a small group of privileged people that asked for 30 to 40 per cent wage increases this year but are more than happy to make work more and more precarious for the frontline faculty who make education happen.
“Council is a shadowy agency beyond the reach of freedom-of-information and salary disclosure laws, yet it is funded entirely by public dollars and students’ tuition,” he said. “It exists for no other reason but to enrich its directors, and it should be outlawed.”
For more information: JP Hornick, 416-806-9526; Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Mona Chevalier, OPSEU college faculty bargaining team (French only)

College faculty reject contract, call on employer to get back to the table

November 16, 2017
College faculty reject contract, call on employer to get back to the table
TORONTO – Ontario college faculty have rejected a contract offer from their employer and are calling on the College Employer Council to come back to the table this afternoon and finish the job of negotiating a collective agreement.
In voting this week, 86 per cent of faculty voted to reject Council’s November 6 offer. Ninety-five per cent of the 12,841 people on the voters’ list voted.
“No one is surprised that college faculty rejected the Council’s forced offer. It was full of concessions and failed to address our concerns around fairness for faculty or education quality,” said JP Hornick, chair of the faculty bargaining team for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). “We stand with hundreds of thousands of college students when we say ‘enough already.’
“Let’s get back to the bargaining table and complete these negotiations.”
The forced offer vote was a one-time option allowed under the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act.
“It is unfortunate that Council extended our strike and kept students out of class for an extra two weeks by calling for this vote,” said Hornick, “but now that it’s over, it’s time to move on.
“With cooperation from Council at the bargaining table I believe we can settle this strike in short order.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas congratulated faculty for standing up for a better college system by rejecting the offer.
“Calling for this vote was a bully move by Council,” he said. “At a time when we were only a few steps away from getting a deal, they overplayed their hand and robbed students of two weeks of their education.
“Council’s bargaining team should either settle this strike immediately or resign and be replaced by competent negotiators.”
For more information: JP Hornick, 416-806-9526; Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Mona Chevalier, OPSEU college faculty bargaining team (French only)

 

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