The new collective agreement for full-time college faculty was awarded Dec. 20 by the mediator-arbitrator, William Kaplan. This new agreement is the result of back-to-work legislation passed on Nov. 19, when CEC and OPSEU were unable to come to an agreement on their own. The new agreement is set to expire on September 30, 2021. It’s comforting to know college students will not see another faculty strike for at least four years.
After months of failed negotiations, OPSEU finally agrees with CSA’s original recommendation that arbitration was the best way to end the faculty strike. It’s unfortunate 1 in 10 students felt it necessary to discontinue their studies, resulting in a lost semester or a lost school year, because OPSEU and CEC refused to listen to them.
Government-appointed mediation-arbitration took three days. Had OPSEU and CEC agreed to CSA’s arbitration request on Nov. 7, a deal could have been reached weeks ago and back-to-work legislation could have been avoided. It’s both disappointing and frustrating students were ignored.
Through divisive and contradictory media statements, both OPSEU and CEC shoulder equal blame for providing mixed-messages from day one of the strike. Students must be able to trust college labour negotiations moving forward. They deserve factual, timely information to better understand the day-to-day progress being made, especially since it has a direct impact on their education, finances, and livelihood.
CSA has the following recommendations:
Government and stakeholders must include students in conversations regarding the creation of a more transparent collective bargaining process. The Premier has mentioned she may consider reviewing the College Employer Council, specifically its structure and accountability; CSA should be involved in these discussions.
A mechanism that looks at when a semester is in danger, when it may be lost, and what power the government has to intervene so students have a clear timeline of what to expect in a labour disruption must be implemented.
CSA should be included as a member in the Province-wide Task Force. As the only advocacy group that solely represents Ontario college students, and considering both Parties claim to put students first, CSA must be at the table.
WHAT WAS INCLUDED IN THE AGREEMENT?
You can download the Kaplan Award in full here. Highlights include:
A four-year, 7.75 per cent total salary increase
The right for “[e]very faculty member is able to exercise academic freedom in the performance of his/her duties. Academic freedom at the College includes the right to enquire about, investigate, pursue, teach and speak freely about academic issues without fear of impairment to position or other reprisal.”
Province-wide Task Force - Ontario Public Colleges: The Next 50 Years
“The Parties agree to request the government to establish a Province-wide Task Force, facilitated by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD), to review and explore effective means of ensuring that colleges thrive as quality academic institutions going forward, so that people in every community and occupation have the knowledge and skills that help to build a strong and successful province.
The Task Force will include representation from key stakeholders (MAESD, the Council, CAAT Academic Faculty, CAAT Support Staff, students and employers) and will consult broadly with colleges, students, parents, faculty, support staff, employers, communities and other stakeholders to examine major issues facing the college sector in its mission to provide high quality post-secondary education and training.
Without limiting the ability of the Task Force to explore key relevant issues, the Task Force specifically will consider and develop recommendations on the following matters in relation to:
Appropriate staffing models, including, but not limited to, faculty complement, and the issue of precarious work
The necessary funding requirements to support the delivery of quality education and training in the Ontario college system to ensure that it is innovative, relevant and responsive
Accessibility and student success, including student mental health and labour-market readiness
Academic governance structures and intellectual property issues that will promote excellence in college education, research, and training
The government will work together with the Parties to establish the Task Force, including its terms of reference and membership, so that its work can get underway by no later than Jan. 1, 2018. The Task Force should seek input and undertake consultations in all major regions of the province. It will report to the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development with interim findings no later than May 18, 2018, and a final report that will be received by the Minister by the Fall of 2018. The Minister will acknowledge receipt of the Task Force report.”