A Southern Ontario Prof Shares their Thoughts

…as we prepare for next week’s forced offer vote.

I’m grateful to have received this e-mail at ontariocollegeprof@yahoo.com, and also grateful that the writer chose to share not just their thoughts, but their thought process with us.

Please feel free to share your own. I may not agree with it; I may not agree with everything published below, but I’m happy to share opinions that are respectful and directed towards an audience of Ontario college faculty.

Well, here we are, staring down the barrel of a loaded gun once more, a forced offer vote.

One thing I can’t tell you is how my colleagues are reacting to all this. The voices I hear certainly seem vocal enough against the offer, but I also know how few I interact with these days. Not too many people have dropped by my office on their way somewhere else in the last 2 years.

I can only share my thoughts on this current offer, and hope that it resonates with you and others.

At first glance the offer doesn’t look like it’s terribly far away from a deal. I think that’s the scariest thing in this round, many of my colleagues may look at this and say “meh, close enough”. There are many things in this offer that don’t excite me personally. The progress on Indigenous participation in our system? Intellectually I can connect that it’s certainly worth having, and from the point of view of social justice I absolutely support it, but I don’t identify as indigenous so … in a contract where I get one vote to represent my point of view, maybe this doesn’t resonate with me.

Hey, they’re going to add medicinal mary-jane to the contract. Again, not something that vaguely excites me. Legalizing pot went a long way to getting Trudeau elected though. Yes I know, medicinal marijuana isn’t street pot, but it’s also not something near and dear to me.

I have to say, as a full time faculty member, a tremendous amount of the “progress” in the offer leaves me nonplussed. There’s the miserly 1% Bill 124 raise, that will wind its way through the court sometime before retirement – still waiting on the challenges to the back to work legislation by the Wynne Liberals and the cancellation of the arbitrator awarded report from the Ford Conservatives to work themselves out.

That last one though … that seems important though. In this current offer there’s the commitment to study a bunch of stuff that might be important to me as a faculty member. I see the word recommend, not the word “will implement”, but we can trust them right? They’re interested in studying the probl…. oh wait, they’re not, that’s why the last one just got canceled as a waste of taxpayer money.

They claim that the intellectual property provisions violate and are inconsistent with the Copyright Act. It seems to me that someone so certain in this position would be happy to have an arbitrator come to the table and slap our noses with a rolled up copy of the Act right? I mean, the Copyright Act wouldn’t have any specific wording in it to manage this situation since it’s so ridiculous? Now, I’m not a lawyer, but section 13(3) “Work made in the course of employment” and the discussion about “in the absence of any agreement to the contrary” is just something for the lawyers to get a kickback from “big printing” kickbacks right? I can trust that I should put my very best efforts into course materials because they’d never be given freely to Continuing Education to be delivered under a different course code by non-union employees right? There’s no chance at all the college would “accidentally” leave a copy lying around with one of these new private-public partnership deals right? I mean surely TriOS and the like have their own course that perfectly matches the learning outcomes of my courses, which allows them to deliver the under the same course code and credential right? There’s absolutely no chance that their non-unionized workforce is taking jobs out of the public system using my efforts…. right? They’ve never, ever, bundled up an entire program and wholesale sold or licensed it to an overseas institution, right? Right? Oh.

I know that their claim about less jobs if they use more partial load instead of part time employees has absolutely nothing to do with part time being classed as non-union and therefore not protected by the Collective Agreement, right? I mean a fully loaded partial load staff member, operating as part of the union, and earning a supporting wage is no more stable or reliable for either them nor for students who will know the instructor has taught the course a few times and knows the ins and outs right? That stability won’t result in less of my work day going to voluntarily training and onboarding new people who rotate in and out every 4 months, right? I mean, just look at the librarian and counselor positions that they’ve created, instead of 1 full time job, we got a bunch of lower paid, more duty, short term contract jobs. That was a big gain, right?

Ok, ok, ok. You see where I’m going. This contract is far less about “what’s in it for me?” and far more about “what’s missing that affects me?”. I firmly believe that the “concessions” made by the CEC in this round would not exist without OPSEU pushing at the bargaining table. Just like last round though, they put the poison pill buried deep inside. Last time they made us walk a picket line for 5 weeks to recover Article 2 protections that they were abusing to high heaven. The result? A lot of full time positions got backfilled the way they should have always been. This is the thin end of the wedge for them. If we don’t force them to come and negotiate then they never will. I didn’t think that the work to rule campaign was working until I saw the bully tactics and the heavy handed threat to dock pay for an illegal walk out. If they really felt our work to rule campaign was this then they could and would seek an injunction in the courts. Instead they go for the scare tactic.

Remember last round when Kaplan released his decision, it was highly critical of the CEC’s tactics. Let’s get another one of those reports. After the strong NO vote last time the arbitrator very largely said that the faculty demands WERE reasonable and awarded a lot of what we were looking for. THAT’S why they don’t want binding interest arbitration. THAT’S how we scare them back to negotiating a contract.


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