Upcoming Dates

Just a note that the following dates (relevant to the bargaining process) are now confirmed:

  • December 7th (6:30-8:00 p.m.): Provincewide information session hosted by the CAAT-A Divisional Executive, featuring the faculty Bargaining Team. This session specific to partial-load faculty.
  • December 8th (6:30-8:00 p.m.):  Provincewide information session hosted by the CAAT-A Divisional Executive, featuring the faculty Bargaining Team. This session open to all faculty, including partial-load.
  • December 9th @ 9:00 a.m. – December 11th @ 3:00 p.m.: Online strike authorization vote, conducted by the Ontario Labour Relations Board
    • This vote is needed to authorize the faculty bargaining team to organize any work action, which may or may not include a strike
  • December 13th: The first day that either party may take labour action:
    • The first day that management may lock out CAAT-A faculty members
    • The first day that management may unilaterally impose Terms & Conditions of employment, affecting such areas as workload, pay, benefits, labour rights
    • The first day that unionized faculty members may, with a successful strike vote, organize labour action

As a reminder, the faculty bargaining team has proposed referring all issues that remain unresolved (following negotiations) to voluntary binding interest arbitration, as a means of resolving bargaining without disruption to our work or our students’ academic year.

A Seasoned GTA Prof Writes

One of the things that I found as soon as I got involved in academic labour issues is that my sense of time changed, and I started looking at change in terms of different time frames. For example, the degree to which our class sizes are impacted by a decision that someone made in 1985, or the fact that both teams are already writing potential recommendations for the next round of bargaining into this round’s Collective Agreement (in a nutshell, the faculty team’s proposal provides for mechanisms that would guarantee such recommendations; the CEC team’s proposal would let the Employer prevent recommendations from being put forwards).

So you start to think of it as something like a chess game, only there’s a gap of years between each move. (The metaphor breaks down when you consider that arbitrator’s rulings can redefine the meaning of negotiated language, in between rounds of bargaining.)

And in the last round of bargaining, I think that I e-mailed the bargaining team’s chair and vice-chair, when I thought that the Employer was proposing a reasonably innocuous bit of language that could end up having problematic effects about a decade later, if specific other things were to happen in the meantime.

All of which is to say that you start to value institutional memory. Right now, for example, in the face of the Employer’s ability to unilaterally Impose Terms & Conditions of Employment (16 days from now), many of our members experienced the Imposition of 2009; many did not.

So it’s in that spirit that I welcomed the following letter from a professor who leads with their experience. I have redacted any identifying information:

I started work as a full time faculty [in the late eighties]. I’ve been through the 2006 strike, the 2009 imposed terms & conditions, and the 2017 strike. After 32 years  as a faculty member, I am more than frustrated with the College Employer Council – their actions, their communication mistruths, and their callous disregard for both students and faculty. 
Given the CEC behaviour in the past, I am not surprised – but I am frustrated for everyone who has poured their heart and soul into doing their best for students during the pandemic. Doing their best for students has often been at the expense of faculty well-being and more so since March 2020. Working in a [Centre for Teaching & Learning], I’ve noted how tired faculty have become but the past 18 months, it’s been beyond tired. It’s an exhaustion that goes bone-deep. What an unfortunate time for our employer to take this adversarial stance.
It strikes me as absurd – working in a [CTL] and talking to faculty about learner-centred education, UDL [Universal Design for Learning], pedagogies of care, humanizing learning – and, especially authentic assessment – knowing full well that implementing any of these things is often beyond the scope of what SWFs allow–if, in fact, the people I’m working with are lucky enough to have a SWF. 
New faculty don’t know what they don’t know. They’re afraid–as are many faculty–of where we are heading if there is a strike. After 32 years, I’m afraid of what will happen if we don’t take a strong stance. What will happen to those new faculty? What will happen to future faculty? Will Apprenticeship and Academic Upgrading faculty be treated differently? 
In closing, let me say how much I appreciate your insightful emails and your podcast. Thank you.

In return, thank you for the kind words and also for the questions at the end, which will hopefully give me material for an upcoming post. As ever, readers are welcome to reach me at ontariocollegeprof@yahoo.com — all letters will be kept strictly anonymous.

Our Current Offer of Settlement

So, I’ve been inviting faculty to offer their thoughts and opinions (on either what I write here or discuss on The Ontario College Podcast) at ontariocollegeprof@yahoo.com. I’m grateful to two individuals who reached out to me last week, to discuss the current Offer of Settlement. I’m hoping to feature their letters this week (and I invite you to share your own), but I wanted preface those discussions by presenting the faculty’s current Offer of Settlement (dated November 18) and offering some quick thoughts about each of the 18 major proposals in it.

I’m pasting the complete offer below, in .pdf form. To explain the formatting a bit, the words that are in bold and underlined are new Collective Agreement language that is being introduced in the proposal; the words that are struckthrough are being removed from the CA (according to the proposal). The words that are in yellow highlighting represent changes from the Faculty team’s last Offer of Settlement (on Nov. 8). Many of those highlighted sections feature new language that has been incorporated from the College Employer Council’s (CEC’s) previous Offer of Settlement (of November 10).

So, let me try to walk you through the proposals, briefly. This won’t be a deep dive, but it will hopefully provide a bit of an overview so that I can discuss some of them in greater detail later. Let me start by noting that I’ll be looking at these proposals in a thematic order, so the numbering below will be…messed up.

To start, let’s draw attention to the three committee structures that are proposed: one on workload; one on Equity, Diversity & Inclusion; and one on Indigenization, Decolonization, and Truth & Reconciliation. In the hopes of arriving at a deal at the table, these structures were proposed as a compromise from earlier proposals that made extensive changes to the CA to address these issues. They are in response to arguments that these issues are broad and may require research, analysis and/or consultation. In other words the faculty team has agreed (as a compromise position) to refer some large matters to committees throughout the life of the Collective Agreement, but only on the condition that the processes result in concrete recommendations or changes at the end of that time.

Faculty Proposal #6: Workload Committee (Letter of Understanding)

  • The faculty proposal provides for a professional researcher and a substantial period of time to analyze broad aspects of faculty workload, including that of Counsellors, Librarians, and the measurement and compensation of Partial-Load workload
  • It also has “Teeth”: If the parties can’t agree, a dispute resolution mechanism incorporates a third-party arbitrator’s workload recommendations into the 2023 Collective Agreement, and the committee would review workload every three years
  • Management’s comparable proposal might lead to zero change; it also targets areas for two-tiered workload protections

Faculty Proposals #7 + #8: Defining different modes of in-class and online teaching, and providing additional attributed hours for courses with an online teaching component, following discussion with supervisor

  • This creates the opportunity for immediate necessary relief for professors and instructors
  • Permits faculty and managers to come to agreement on additional attributed hours, and permits faculty to refer disputes to the Workload Monitoring Group for resolution
  • Unlike CEC’s proposal, this would provide faculty with needed time immediately, rather than years from now, if ever

Faculty Proposal #9: Increasing “Essay/Project” evaluation factor from 0.03 hours (per student per Teaching Hour) to 0.04 hours

  • Currently, faculty who teach a 3-hour class where students are evaluated only on the basis of written work or projects receive a maximum of 5.4 minutes per student per week for evaluation and feedback
  • This proposal would increase that number to 7.2 minutes per student per week
  • Unlike CEC’s proposal, this would provide faculty with needed time immediately, rather than years from now, if ever

Faculty Proposal #17: No bargaining unit member will suffer layoff, lose hours or lose wages as a result of the Employer’s contracting out work normally done by faculty in the bargaining unit

Faculty Proposal #18: The College shall not use, share, sell, or transfer course materials produced by faculty members without their consent

  • This proposal is necessary to protect faculty jobs and bargaining unit work
  • This proposal is comparable to Intellectual Property language in Canadian postsecondary institutions. Faculty in the B.C. college system, for example, own the copyright for all work produced in the course of their normal assigned duties
  • The CEC has offered no satisfactory explanation why faculty consent would be an unreasonable condition of the sale of faculty-produced materials

Faculty Proposal #10: Addition of language that coordinator duties must be “reasonable and reduced to writing” before the coordinator role is accepted

  • This proposal makes sure that coordinator assignments are clear and reasonable
  • This proposal serves to discourage potential management efforts to assign bargaining unit work outside the bargaining unit by creating workloads that would reasonably be refused by bargaining unit members
  • CEC’s proposal omits the words “reasonable and”

Faculty Proposal #1: Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (Letter of Understanding)

  • Local subcommittees of the existing Union/College Committee at each College would seek to implement employment systems, policies, and practices that are non-discriminatory and equitable in nature and effect
  • Provincially, a subcommittee of the Employer-Employee Relations Committee (EERC) would make recommendations for the next round of CA bargaining
  • Unlike the CEC’s proposal, this committee “has teeth”: Where the provincial committee can’t agree, an arbitrator will decide upon recommendations for the next round of bargaining

Faculty Proposal #2: Round Tables on Indigenization, Decolonization, and Truth & Reconciliation (Letter of Understanding)

  • Provides a clear scope and framework for Indigenous-led and jointly-Chaired Local Round Tables to review each College’s policies and practices
  • Provincially, the chairs of each College’s Round Table would participate in a subcommittee of the EERC, to make recommendations for the next round of CA bargaining
  • Unlike the CEC’s proposal, this provincial subcommittee has a dispute resolution mechanism: Where the provincial committee can’t agree, an Indigenous arbitrator will determine recommendations for the next round of bargaining

Faculty Proposals #3 + #4: Access (for faculty who identify as Indigenous) to an Indigenous Elder / Traditional Knowledge Keeper as a personal support in Workload Monitoring Group meetings and Grievance Meetings

  • This faculty proposal is currently in both sides’ Offers of Settlement
  • Would improve equity of current dispute resolution mechanisms in the CA

Faculty Proposal #5: Addition of two Indigenous arbitrators to the existing list of arbitrators in the CA

  • This faculty proposal is currently in both sides’ Offers of Settlement
  • Would improve equity of current dispute resolution mechanisms in the CA
  • Part of the faculty team’s proposed dispute resolution mechanism for the provincial Round Table on Indigenizaiton, Decolonization, and Truth & Reconciliation

Faculty Proposal #11: Amendment of Class Definition of Counsellor

  • Language in faculty proposal has already been included in current CEC offer of settlement
  • CEC proposal also includes “poison pill” language that could take work away from counsellors and assign it outside of the bargaining unit, as well as undermine the autonomy of Counsellors to do their work

Faculty Proposal #12: Partial-Load faculty can bridge benefits during non-teaching periods with mere written offer of future employment

  • Currently, Partial-Load faculty need contracts for future teaching, to bridge benefits between employment periods
  • This proposal would enable PL members to bridge benefits upon receipt of an offer of future teaching
  • This item has no cost to the Colleges — members pay 100% of benefits during bridged periods

Faculty Proposal #13: Partial-Load faculty shall get credit for holidays when calculating service

  • This proposal is featured in both teams’ current Offers of Settlement
  • It is a very minor improvement that would in limited cases permit PL faculty to get a new salary step a month sooner than they would otherwise

Faculty Proposal #14: Partial-Load faculty shall be eligible for seniority hiring for courses that they have taught in any Partial-Load capacity (not just as part of a PL contract)

  • This proposal would broaden the seniority hiring entitlements for qualified PL faculty on the PL registry

Faculty Proposal #15:

a) Partial-Load faculty shall be eligible for PL Registry (and seniority hiring) if they are currently teaching Partial-Load or have done so in the past

  • Would maximize contract faculty members’ eligibility for seniority provisions of the PL Registry, at no cost to the colleges
  • The current Collective Agreement excludes Partial-Load faculty from the PL Registry if they are not currently employed as PL or lack 8 or more months of service as PL.

b) Partial-Load faculty shall keep seniority right to teach classes, even if the course code or name changes

  • Prevents college managers from undermining PL seniority rights by making superficial changes to courses

Proposal #16: Partial-Load faculty shall be eligible to the maximum number of assignable courses (up to 12 teaching hours) for which they have seniority per the PL Registry

  • Maximizes opportunity for PL faculty with seniority to have contracts that provide a living wage
  • This proposal has negligible cost (if any) to the Colleges

Monetary Proposal:

  • Bound by the limits set out by Bill 124, both parties have agreed to annual salary increases of 1% across the board
  • This would likely represent a loss in real wages (after inflation) of approximately 10%, over the three-year life of the Collective Agreement that the CEC proposes
  • Both parties have agreed to language that would see wage negotiations reopened if Bill 124 is overturned by the courts or replaced

Benefits: In addition to covering medically-prescribed cannabis, the balance of the 1% increase in benefits (permissible under Bill 124) should be used to subsidize the cost of dental implants.

Podcast Episode #4 Published!

Okay! Lots to report obviously, but let me start by offering a plug for my new-ish podcast, “The Ontario College Podcast”. The fourth episode (recorded on Tuesday Nov. 16, prior to the start of Conciliation) was published today. It’s the first new episode in an unreasonably long time, and I’ve flattered myself that the podcast was singlehandedly responsible for the College Employer Council’s touching recent obsession with communication blackouts.

Episode 4: Facts, Fiction & Conciliation

In this episode, I analyze some of the CEC’s messenging (and I note that the CEC’s messages today do nothing to contradict my theory). I also offer a preview of the Conciliation process — one that, alas, has already been surpassed by events, specifically the CEC’s request (on the first day of Conciliation!) for a “no board” report, whose only function that I can think of is to serve as a legal precondition for labour disruption.

Lastly, I talk about some of the principles that have guided the faculty bargaining team’s efforts to balance short-term and long-term thinking in arriving at the specific language and proposals in our recent Offers of Settlement. Although I refer specifically to the faculty team’s November 8th Offer of Settlement, the general and specific points that I make still seem to apply to the new Offer that the faculty team submitted today.

Anyway, let me see if I can string together a few posts on the current state of bargaining over the next few days. You’d do me a big favour towards that end by e-mailing me at ontariocollegeprof@yahoo.com and offering any of your own thoughts on what you’ve been hearing from both sides right now, or questions about the bargaining process — particularly a question that might not have been addressed at the November 11th Provincewide bargaining update, which had attendance of over 1,500! Or maybe you’d like to share some of your current experiences teaching — including teaching as Partial-Load — to help remind us all what we’re bargaining for in the first place.

Of course, the College Employer Council doesn’t need any reminder of what it’s like in the classroom right now, since — as they remind us — 79% of College administrators in the Ontario public College system have teaching experience.

Perhaps in a future #MythBusterMonday, the CEC would be willing to share some details as to whether that teaching experience was, say, at the postsecondary level, or in the Ontario public College system, or frankly whether it was even in any kind of formal education system whatsoever. And boy would it be gratifying to know how many administrators have postsecondary experience in the specific kinds of teaching modes (like asynchronous online or hybrid or hy-flex) for which they’re providing faculty with only 108 minutes to prepare a 3 hour class (per the “Established B” factor, which hasn’t changed since 1985).

Or hey, maybe they’ll just go back to talking about communications blackouts.