OPSEU College faculty reject two-year extension offering stability and wage increase
TORONTO, Feb. 23, 2021 /CNW/ - Students and their education need to come first. In unprecedented times that have been filled with uncertainty, disruptions and pivots, the Colleges have made an unprecedented move to try to provide greater stability for students' education and faculty employment.
2021 is a bargaining year with the Academic Collective Agreement expiring September 30, 2021. While formal bargaining was not expected to begin before July 2021, in an effort to address employment stability, earlier this month, the College Employer Council (CEC) reached out to OPSEU, as the Official Bargaining Agent for the full-time academic faculty, with an offer of a two-year extension. Additionally, the CEC proposed a wage increase recommendation effective April 1, 2021, for each year, which is six months prior to the original expiry date of the Collective Agreement. CEC was asking that all parties, OPSEU leadership, faculty, and Colleges, put their differences aside to ensure stability for the students.
"Extending the Collective Agreement would have allowed the Ontario Public College system to focus on students' education. Between the move to remote learning, reduced class sizes, and inability to complete work placements, students have faced real challenges throughout the pandemic. An extension at this time would help Colleges navigate the current pandemic, and the necessary work to exit it as strong as possible, while working with OPSEU to address the economic uncertainty the future brings." Said Graham Lloyd, CEO of College Employer Council "We believe an extension of the Collective Agreement at this time is appropriate because, while Colleges are planning ahead, they are currently facing very uncertain times in the college system due to, among other things, deficits, reduced revenue, lower student enrolment, and a decade of reduced government funding for essential programs. We believe the offer to extend the Agreement creates some stability without formal bargaining during these times."
While the current Collective Agreement doesn't expire until September 2021, the Colleges believe the early one per cent wage increase in accordance with Bill 124 and the stability the extensions would provide both students and faculty outweigh the need for any immediate changes that cannot be addressed otherwise.
The Colleges, CEC, and OPSEU meet regularly to discuss and implement changes on an ongoing basis. Recently this has included the implementation of two paid sick days for COVID-19 testing, transition pay for isolated faculty, and, working with government, to address vaccination for faculty members. The Colleges believe in working with OPSEU we can address important concerns such as student and faculty safety, remote teaching and mental health as they arise and not only at the bargaining table.
Lloyd added, "it is unfortunate OPSEU members did not want to extend the Collective Agreement. We felt offering to increase the Academic faculty salary six months earlier, for each of the next two years, was important while continuing the ongoing work to strengthen employment relations in this environment. Ultimately, we hoped the full-time and partial-load faculty would accept the salary increase and two years of labour certainty so that we could address more certainty for the students and college system."
About College Employer Council
The College Employer Council (CEC) is the government-mandated bargaining agent for the 24 Ontario publicly-funded Colleges in negotiating Collective Agreements with unionized staff. In addition, the CEC provides a variety of services for the College system such as advice and guidance on human resource issues, Collective Agreement administration, research, and is the policyholder for group benefits.
SOURCE College Employer Council
For further information: or media inquiries, contact: Abby Radovski, Director of Communications, Abby.Radovski@thecouncil.ca, (437) 232-4980; Graham Lloyd, CEO, Graham.Lloyd@thecouncil.ca, (416) 902-9543