Negotiations and Strike Vote FAQ - December 7
As we approach the deadline for the strike vote (Dec 9 to 11), we want to provide clear responses and specific information around questions we have received regarding the current state of negotiations and the strike vote.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The CAAT-A bargaining team has publicly stated that giving them a strike mandate will not lead to a strike. Is this true?
No, it is not. This is the same assertion that the CAAT-A team made in 2017 before it took faculty out on a five-week strike. The demands left on the table are many of the same demands from 2017. These demands were not awarded after the 2017 strike, and they have not become any more realistic in 2021. They are still demands that the Colleges cannot ever agree to.
Although strike votes don’t always lead to a strike, the demands that are on the table precipitated a strike in 2017 and will again in 2021.
The CAAT-A team says that giving them a strong mandate will provide leverage to get what they want from the CEC. Will it?
No, it will not. The demands that the CAAT-A team has on the table are demands that the colleges can not ever agree to. That will not change even with a 100% strike vote.
What will the CEC do if the CAAT-A team does not receive a strike mandate?
If there is no strike mandate, the CEC will request a final offer vote on its last offer. The terms proposed by the CEC are entirely reasonable and address, in a productive way, the issues raised by the CAAT-A team [you can read about the CEC’s proposal here].
The CAAT-A team has said that a strong strike mandate will protect employees from the unilateral imposition of terms by the CEC. Is this true?
No, it will not. Whether or not the union receives a strike mandate from its membership, the CEC can unilaterally introduce terms and conditions of employment on December 13th. In the face of unilaterally introduced terms, all that a strike mandate does is permit employees to strike rather than work under the terms that are introduced.
Will the CEC introduce terms and conditions of employment that would negatively impact employees?
No. The CEC has no intention of introducing terms and conditions of employment which would take away the rights of, or that would negatively impact, individual bargaining unit members.
Will the CEC introduce terms and conditions of employment on December 13th that affect individual employees?
Yes, on December 13th, to improve working conditions for individual employees, the CEC will implement the following terms and conditions of employment which are contained in its offer:
- Maximum annual wage increase, retroactive to October 1st 2021, as currently allowed under Bill 124.
- Medical cannabis coverage prescribed by a licensed physician to a maximum of $4000/year, subject to prior authorization by the insurer.
- Permit Indigenous teachers to bring an elder or traditional knowledge keeper to the WMG as an advisor.
- Permit Indigenous employees to bring an elder or traditional knowledge keeper to grievance meetings as an advisor.
- Coordinator duties will be reduced in writing before an employee accepts a coordinator-ship. Such acceptance will remain voluntary.
- Update the counsellor class definition.
- Partial Load employees will accrue service for statutory Holidays on which they were scheduled to teach.
- Partial Load registration date change from October 30th to April 30th.
- Extend Partial Load registration preference to courses which a partial load employee taught while part-time or sessional.
- Partial Load priority will continue for a course even if the course code changes, unless there has been a major revision of the course or curriculum.
Isn’t a strike vote just a normal part of bargaining?
No, it isn’t. Many collective agreements are successfully negotiated without resorting to conciliation, mediation, or strike votes. Unfortunately, this approach appears to have become a regular tool in the CAAT-A team’s toolkit. Strikes start with strike votes.
A strike is in nobody’s best interest. We can’t afford another strike. Successive strikes will result in our system earning a reputation similar to that of some other post-secondary institutions that experience strikes every three to five years. That sort of reputation will harm our ability to attract and retain students, which may have a negative impact on employment.
What happens if there is a strike?
Persons on strike do not receive wages for the duration of any strike activity in which they are involved. Every week on strike will cost striking employees 2% of their annual salary.
How long could a strike last?
No one can predict how long a work stoppage will last but the last two strikes in the college sector each lasted for several weeks. The most recent strike in 2017 lasted over five weeks before the bargaining unit was legislated back to work. OPSEU has a pending court challenge contesting the back to work legislation that was applied at that time.
How many votes does the union have to get to achieve a strike mandate?
The vote will be decided by a 50% + 1 majority of those who cast their vote. If only a few people vote, those voters will decide this question for everyone across the province. We encourage all faculty to exercise their right to vote and have their voice heard.
When will there be a vote?
The secret ballot virtual vote will take place from December 9th to 11th, 2021. All full-time and partial load professors and instructors and full-time counsellors and librarians will receive communications from the OLRB with details on how and when to vote. If you are one of the foregoing employees and you don’t receive a communication from the OLRB, you can contact the OLRB by phone 416-326-7432 (English), 416-434-6748 (French) to request voting materials.
Will the union, the CEC, colleges, or managers know how faculty members voted?
No. The ballot is secret, and no one will know how individuals vote.
Why won’t the CEC accept the arbitration offer which was put forward by the Union?
Rather than negotiate a settlement that both parties can live with, the CAAT-A team has proposed to delegate its obligation to a third party and have a bargain imposed. The CEC has gone as far as it can on the issues that the CAAT-A team has on the table and is not prepared to have an arbitrator “split the difference”. The CEC has complete confidence in the reasonableness of its proposal and has proposed, therefore, that arbitration by Final Offer Selection be used. Unfortunately, the CAAT-A team doesn’t appear to have confidence in the reasonableness of its proposal and has not agreed to Final Offer Selection Arbitration.
Isn’t final offer selection just a gamble?
No, it is not. The final offer selection process creates an opportunity for arbitrator Kaplan to bring both sides together in an attempt to negotiate a settlement. Only if those efforts fail will he choose one offer or the other after hearing fully from both parties with respect to the rationale for their proposal.
If there is a strike and we are legislated back to work, won’t arbitration be imposed?
If employees are legislated back to work, the government can impose arbitration which could be final offer selection. In a postal strike in 2015, the Government of Canada imposed final offer selection as the method of arbitration for settling the collective agreement. In some Ontario labour disputes, final offer selection has been used as the method of arbitration to conclude a collective agreement. There is no guarantee that the form of arbitration imposed following a strike will be the sort of arbitration that the CAAT-A team has proposed.