Kaplan Award on Remainder (Improvements to Benefits)

OPSEU Local 415

OPSEU Local 415 is the democratically-run body that represents Algonquin College full-time and partial-load faculty (professors and instructors), cousellors, and librarians.

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Arbitrator William Kaplan issued an award on September 23rd, 2022, which resulted in a new Collective Agreement (CA) with significant improvements for our members. Most of that CA became effective immediately on the date of Kaplan’s award. There has been one key outstanding issue and a resolution has, unfortunately, not come easily. The College Employer  Council (CEC)  has intentionally delayed providing the Union with essential information related to our benefits and the potential impact of a 1% increase in compensation upon them. This interference has delayed the completion, signing, and distribution of the CA to our members. Most importantly, it has delayed the start of key components awarded in the CA, such as the Workload Task Force and the determination of the Indigenous Knowledge Definition.  

Under the Ford government’s Bill 124, increases to total compensation – which includes both wages and benefits – have been capped at 1% per year for three years (known as the “moderation period”). The difference between total compensation and our legislated wage increases is known as the remainder. In short, the amount of the remainder determines any increases to our benefits.

Starting in July of 2021, we asked the CEC repeatedly for their detailed costing of the remainder amount. They eventually provided limited information and claimed that there was only enough to provide our members with up to $4000 per year of medical cannabis, although members’ ability to use this benefit came with significant restrictions. Subsequently, we obtained our own costing of the remainder from an expert in this area, Professor Robert Hickey at Queen’s University. Professor Hickey uncovered significant differences between the CEC’s costing and his own costing of the remainder.

A key difference is that the CEC did not believe that statutory benefits, such as Employment Insurance (EI), Canada Pension Plan (CPP), and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), should be included in the calculation of the remainder whereas Professor Hickey believed that they should. Professor Hickey’s costing analysis revealed that the remainder should be more than twice the amount that the CEC had been claiming.

As we have been unable to resolve this issue with the CEC and have experienced repeated delays due to the CEC’s not providing essential information, we asked Arbitrator Kaplan to rule on this unresolved remainder issue in a brief hearing on November 18th, 2022. Arbitrator Kaplan issued a ruling on November 21st in the Union’s favour. Arbitrator Kaplan further recognized the urgency in resolving this matter “so that the available monies can be allocated to the benefit of the bargaining unit.”

During the demand-set process in early 2021, our membership prioritized two improvements to our benefits: medical cannabis and dental implants. It is our hope that we can gain improvements to our dental coverage as a result of this latest award from Kaplan.

We expect to provide a further update and information about improvements to our benefits soon. This round of collective bargaining has already lasted almost a year and a half, and our next round will begin in a little over a year and a half. By standing together in solidarity, we have been able to make key gains, despite both the intransigence of the CEC and the significant impediments to free and fair collective bargaining which the Ford government has imposed .

In solidarity,

Your CAAT-A Bargaining Team

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