Strike Averted: Colleges and OPSEU Agree to Unconditional Interest Arbitration - Mar. 18, 2022
Today the College Employer Council and the OPSEU academic employees bargaining team representing full-time and part-time faculty, instructors, librarians, and counsellors met at the virtual bargaining table with a Ministry of Labour appointed Mediator.
On Thursday evening, the parties issued the following joint statement:
The CEC and OPSEU/SEFPO have reached an agreement to enter binding interest arbitration and the strike that was scheduled to commence at 12:01 am on March 18, 2022, is called off. This also includes all work-to-rule strike activities.
"We are pleased to advise that after 12 hours at the bargaining table, the parties have agreed to unconditional interest arbitration on both parties’ outstanding issues. Hearing dates mutually convenient to the parties will be scheduled soon,” said Dr. Laurie Rancourt, Chair of the Management bargaining team. “We remain committed to putting students and their education first".
There will be no strike at any of the 24 Ontario Public Colleges. The parties have reached an agreement to enter binding interest arbitration and the strike that was scheduled to commence at 12:01 am on March 18, 2022, is called off. College programs will continue normal operations and program delivery.
"In order to avoid any disruption to students, we were prepared to proceed, immediately and unconditionally, to binding interest arbitration before William Kaplan on all of the outstanding issues," said Graham Lloyd, CEO of the CEC. "After all that students, faculty and the College community have been through over the past two years, we felt it was essential that we put our differences aside and conclude these negotiations without a strike."
The College Employer Council and OPSEU/SEFPO have reached an agreement to enter binding interest arbitration and the strike that was scheduled to commence at 12:01 am on March 18, 2022, is called off. This also includes all work-to-rule strike activities.”
Today, Management and OPSEU return to the bargaining table to discuss the academic employee collective agreement. Management is prepared to meet all day and all night, and continue Friday and through the weekend if necessary. Colleges ask the Union to suspend any strike action in favour of continued talks.
We hope the Union will think of the students and reconsider making themselves available to meet with us Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Reaching an agreement to protect students and their education is the most important priority facing the parties.
Management Team Bargaining Update March 16
The Colleges remain committed to negotiating with OPSEU to conclude a collective agreement for academic employees. Yesterday, we asked the OPSEU Union bargaining team to rejoin us at the table in light of the letter from Treasury Board Secretariat affirming our position that Union workload demands, given the 1% wage increase already given, contravene Bill 124.
We know that workload demands have evolved over the past 10 years. We remain committed to a comprehensive neutral-led workload review, the findings of which will result in changes based on joint recommendations. Together, we can find the common ground needed to make meaningful workload formula changes.
Yesterday, we asked the OPSEU Union bargaining team to not harm students by going on strike and instead meet us face-to-face Friday, March 18, Saturday, March 19, and Sunday, March 20. Unfortunately, the Union bargaining team advised us that they were unavailable due to other commitments.
Rather than meeting face-to-face, we will be meeting with the OPSEU bargaining team and a Ministry of Labour Mediator virtually on Thursday March 17 to engage in a discussion about where both parties can compromise to reach a reasonable agreement.
We are asking the Union bargaining team to acknowledge that while immediate workload change can't happen now, we are committed to making changes jointly through a comprehensive consultative process. We look forward to concluding these negotiations for the sake of the students, faculty, and the greater College community.
At midnight on Tuesday, March 2, unionized faculty members in Ontario launched the third phase of a work-to-rule campaign associated with a current impasse in contract negotiations.
The union involved is the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Management takes the form of the College Employer Council (CEC), representing the 24 public colleges in Ontario.
The previous contract between the two parties expired at the end of September. Months of negotiations, some of them involving provincially appointed mediators and arbitrators, have failed to find common ground between OPSEU and the CEC.
In a mid-February vote, just over 60 percent of OPSEU members voted to reject the most recent CEC contract offer.
To-date, OPSEU has not indicated any intention to have its members fully withdraw their services in the form of a strike action.
The union, however, launched work-to-rule measures in December. As of March 2, it will more stringently pursue that course of action.
"Work-to-rule", generally, means that an employee will strictly abide by the language of an existing or previously existing contract - no more, and no less. That also means that no unionized employee will put in any additional hours beyond those specified in such contracts.
The important things to be emphasized are these:
- this work-to-rule campaign will not change the curriculum delivery method of in-person instruction for St. Clair College; and
- ultimately, the education of students will not be adversely affected.
As noted in previous communications, the primary effects of work-to-rule (that may be noticed by students) will be:
- reduced availability of non-classtime contact with faculty members, because they won't be expending any "extra time" to respond to students' communications;
- reduced written commentary on certain assignments, particularly essays. Students may only see grades with no detailed explanations or critiques on such projects; and
- a different means of grade assignment to students - for instance, directly via email - with marks only logged on to the Student Information System (via the Registrar's Office) at the end of the semester.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Academic Chair.