Last updated on March 18, 2022
Strike Averted: Colleges and OPSEU Agree to Unconditional Interest Arbitration
Toronto – March 18,2022 – Today the College Employer Council and the OPSEU academic employees bargaining team representing full-time and part-time faculty, instructors, librarians, and counsellors met at the virtual bargaining table with a Ministry of Labour appointed Mediator.
On Thursday evening, the parties issued the following joint statement:
The CEC and OPSEU/SEFPO have reached an agreement to enter binding interest arbitration and the strike that was scheduled to commence at 12:01am on March 18, 2022, is called off. This also includes all work-to-rule strike activities.
“We are pleased to advise that after 12 hours at the bargaining table, the parties have agreed to unconditional interest arbitration on both parties’ outstanding issues. Hearing dates mutually convenient to the parties will be scheduled soon,” said Dr. Laurie Rancourt, Chair of the Management bargaining team. “We remain committed to putting students and their education first”.
There will be no strike at any of the 24 Ontario Public Colleges. The parties have reached an agreement to enter binding interest arbitration and the strike that was scheduled to commence at 12:01 am on March 18, 2022, is called off. College programs will continue normal operations and program delivery.
“In order to avoid any disruption to students, we were prepared to proceed, immediately and unconditionally, to binding interest arbitration before William Kaplan on all of the outstanding issues,” said Graham Lloyd, CEO of the CEC. “After all that students, faculty and the College community have been through over the past two years, we felt it was essential that we put our differences aside and conclude these negotiations without a strike.”
Bargaining Resumes: Management Urges Union to Call Off Strike
March 17, 2022
Today, Management and OPSEU return to the bargaining table to discuss the academic employee collective agreement. Management is prepared to meet all day and all night, and continue Friday and through the weekend if necessary. Colleges ask the Union to suspend any strike action in favour of continued talks.
We hope the Union will think of the students and reconsider making themselves available to meet with us Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Reaching an agreement to protect students and their education is the most important priority facing the parties.
Union Escalation, Information for Students
March 14, 2022
The past two years have been really hard for everyone. Every time we thought College life might be returning to normal, the pandemic would worsen, and situations across the globe developed. The continuation of your education is a priority for the College. It is therefore with much regret that we advise that on March 14, the OPSEU academic employees representing full-time and partial-load professors, instructors, librarians, and counsellors have given notice that they refuse to moderate their demands and they will withdraw their services starting a full walk-out strike on Friday, March 18, 2022.
The College Employer Council has provided a list of Frequently asked Questions to address some of the questions and concerns that you will no doubt have as a result of their decision.
Sincere Attempt to Reach Agreement
Please know that Management has made numerous attempts to reach an agreement with the Union. As far back as a year ago, in March 2021, Management asked the Union to extend the current agreement without any changes so that we could complete the school year without interruption and recognize the uncertain times in which we are living. The Union flatly refused that offer without any discussion.
In November 2021 management made a final offer where we put aside all of our demands. The only outstanding issues are those that an independent mediator, with 40 years of experience in helping parties come to an agreement, advised were unachievable either through direct negotiations or in binding arbitration. He stated that many of the Union’s remaining demands are “completely unrealistic”. This is because they are demanding changes that they know colleges cannot make. For instance, they have made demands about their workload that violate the law governing compensation. The government has confirmed the Union demands violates the law, yet the Union refuses to moderate it choosing to strike.
Unfortunately, despite this advice to them, since November 18th, the Union has repeatedly rejected the CEC’s invitation to moderate its remaining demands and return to the table to conclude a collective agreement. It is false and misleading for the Union to suggest that a deal at the table is possible in the face of the Union’s own intransigence on the remaining demands.
As the independent mediator advised them, and we have consistently stated since July, the Union demands now remaining could never be accepted. For instance, they want to resolve issues without compromise and simply take them to an arbitrator.
The Union is claiming it had no choice but to strike because the Colleges have refused to bargain and have refused arbitration. This is simply untrue.
CEC has repeatedly offered Final Offer Selection Arbitration. If the Union is satisfied that its offer is reasonable, then it should allow an arbitrator to choose between it and the CEC Offer. The Union has refused to do so which we believe is because it knows that their offer is unrealistic and unacceptable, despite all claims to the contrary.
By insisting on interest arbitration to conclude this round of bargaining, the Union has refused to recognize that the Colleges have not asked for anything and have already agreed to many of the Union demands. Simply put, we have repeatedly tried to reach agreement without any positive response from the Union.
We have put aside all of our demands on a without-prejudice basis and have advised we cannot give any more. We have consistently stated since July that the remaining Union demands could never be accepted. Insisting we take them to interest arbitration is a failure to respect our consistent assertion that these demands fall well outside any acceptable provision. We can never accept them.
Indeed, we ask the Union to reconsider our proposal for an arbitrated solution via Final Offer Selection to ensure there will be no harm or interruption for students.
The outstanding demands over which faculty will be walking out either violate the laws around compensation, give away decision making about fundamental College operations, or undermine College operations in general.
In view of how the Colleges have demonstrated their willingness to concede and compromise under the circumstances, the decision to strike is short-sighted and comes at the expense of students and the College system.
The Colleges have stated on numerous occasions since November that they will never lock-out faculty. Our promise to students is to continue to make every effort to reach a fair agreement. We want to achieve this with as little disruption as possible. Unfortunately, the Union has chosen to go on a strike. We have sincerely tried to find an agreement and will continue to pursue a reasonable agreement.
Ontario Colleges Academic Employees Continue Without a Collective Agreement: 62% voted to reject the employer final offer
Toronto, On – Friday February 18, 2022 – This week, Ontario College full-time and partial-load instructors, professors, librarians, and counsellors voted on the employer final offer. Of the 66% that voted, 62% voted to reject the employer final offer. This means that 41% of the bargaining unit rejected the offer.
“We are disappointed that academic employees have rejected the employer final offer. There remain very few outstanding Union demands, but the CEC has repeatedly told the faculty bargaining team that they are unacceptable and management can never agree to them,” said Dr. Laurie Rancourt, Chair of the CEC bargaining team.
Currently, academic employees are engaging in what they refer to as work-to-rule.
“The Union has asked the Colleges to consider voluntary binding interest arbitration. It is not the answer to concluding negotiations. The parties have the responsibility to bargain and negotiate a settlement that both parties can live with. The Union has proposed to delegate its obligation to a third party” said Graham Lloyd CEO of CEC. “We are not prepared to have an arbitrator “split the difference” on key issues that Colleges have already stated are unacceptable to begin with and this vote result has not changed that. In essence, there is nothing to split.”
The Colleges will continue to operate until an agreement is reached or OPSEU decides to escalate beyond work-to-rule.
Notice of Vote
The College Employer Council (the “Employer”) has requested the Board conduct a vote of the Academic unit covering full-time and partial load employees on whether to accept or reject the Employer’s last offer, dated January 17 2022, received by the Union. The Colleges Collective Bargaining Act, 2008 states that before or after the commencement of a strike or lock-out, the Employer of the employees in the affected bargaining unit may request a vote by the employees on the last offer received by the Union with respect to all matters that remain in dispute between the parties to the collective agreement. A copy of the Employer’s last offer, dated January 17, 2022, can be found on the Employer’s website and the website of each of the colleges. It can also be found at http://www.olrb.gov.on.ca/LastOffer/1918-21-VO_Final-Offer.pdf Voters are entitled to vote without interference, restraint or coercion. The Board’s Returning Officer will be overseeing the vote. This is a SECRET BALLOT vote and your vote is strictly confidential.
METHOD OF LAST OFFER VOTE
The vote will be conducted ON-LINE or by TELEPHONE.
ELIGIBILITY TO VOTE
Eligible voters are those in the Academic unit covering full-time and partial load employees.
The vote will commence on February 15, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. and closes on February 17, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). You may vote any time during this period. To vote online, visit https://olrb-crto.simplyvoting.com and follow the instructions. To vote by telephone, dial 1-877-382-9947 (toll free) and follow the instructions.
Eligible voters will receive an email on Monday, February 14, 2022 at their College email address outlining how to vote and providing a personal identification number (PIN). You will need a PIN to cast your vote. If you believe that you are eligible to vote and do not receive an email on February 14, 2022 outlining how to vote and providing a personal identification number (PIN), you may contact the OLRB Help desk at the numbers and hours below:
OLRB Help Desk Telephone:
French – (416) 434-6748
English – (416) 326-7432
OLRB Help Desk Hours of Operation:
February 15 (9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.)
February 16 (1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
February 17 (11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.).
All times listed are Eastern Time.
The PIN which will be provided is strictly for personal use and must not be shared.
QUESTION ON THE BALLOT
The ballot that will be provided to voters contains the following:
The Employer’s last offer was received by the Union on January 17, 2022.
I accept the employer’s offer received on January 17, 2022.
I reject the employer’s offer received on January 17, 2022.
The counting of the vote and the announcement of the result will proceed at a time and place to be determined and the parties will be advised accordingly.
DATED: February 11, 2022
Address all communication to:
Ontario Labour Relations Board
505 University Avenue, 2nd Floor
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2P1
ONTARIO LABOUR RELATIONS BOARD
FRENCH OR ENGLISH
Si vous communiquez avec la Commission, vous avez le droit de recevoir des services en français et en anglais. Vous pouvez consulter les règles de la Commission, les formulaires et les bulletins d’information sur le site Web de la Commission au www.olrb.gov.on.ca ou composer le 416-326-7500 ou (sans frais) le 1-877-339-3335 pour de plus amples renseignements. Veuillez prendre note que la Commission n’offre pas de services d’interprétation dans les langues autres que le français et l’anglais. You have the right to communicate with, and receive available services from, the Board in either English or French. You can access the Board’s Rules, Forms and Information Bulletins from its website at www.olrb.gov.on.ca or by calling 416-326-7500. Please note that the Board does not provide translation services in languages other than English or French.
ACCESSIBILITY and ACCOMMODATION
In accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, the Board makes every effort to ensure that its services are provided in a manner that respects the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities. Please tell the Board if you require any accommodation to meet your individual needs.
Board hearings are open to the public unless the panel decides that matters involving public security may be disclosed or if it believes that disclosure of financial or personal matters would be damaging to any of the parties. Hearings are not recorded and no transcripts are produced.
Ontario Colleges Put Employer Offer to a Vote For Full-time and Partial-Load Academic Employees
Today, the College Employer Council (CEC) representing the 24 Ontario Public Colleges, asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to conduct a vote with OPSEU academic employee membership on the CEC’s most recent offer.
This morning, full-time and partial load academic employees received a copy of the CEC offer along with an overview explaining the changes to the current collective agreement. The CEC has been bargaining with the Union bargaining team (representing partial-load and full-time instructors, professors, counsellors, and librarians) since July 2021.
In October, the parties voluntarily entered a month-long mediation with renowned mediator Brian Keller. He terminated mediation and issued a report of his findings when it became clear to him that “the Union team’s proposals were highly aspirational but not realistic”.
In November the parties met in conciliation; however minimal changes had occurred since meeting with the mediator and so a No Board report was issued. “It has become clear that the Union will not moderate their demands regardless of the advice they are given or the fact the College sector continues to navigate a global pandemic. As such, the Colleges must think of the students.
Students who have been faced with unprecedented amounts of uncertainty in their lives and in their College education,” said Dr. Laurie Rancourt, Chair of the CEC Management Bargaining team. “Today, the CEC has asked the OLRB to hold a vote for College unionized academic employee members to vote on its most recent offer. Additionally, we urge OPSEU to keep their promise to put students’ needs first by not escalating the labour dispute. We ask that they allow College faculty to continue working until the results of the employer vote come in, especially given the modest 59% strike mandate result.”
The CEC offer includes all the terms and conditions the Colleges introduced on December 13, 2021 as well as three joint working groups on areas of shared interest between the CEC and the Union. “We embrace the chance to review workload, EDI, and Indigeneity in the Colleges, and are hopeful these joint working groups will provide the necessary data for informed decisions moving forward. The management vote gives academic employees a chance to have their voices heard on our offer,” said Graham Lloyd, CEO of CEC. “We are asking academic employees to look at our offer and recognize that we’ve reasonably addressed the areas of concern their bargaining team put forward. This includes introducing mechanisms for joint investigation and collaboration to improve conditions in key areas. A vote yes is a vote for labour stability and a vote to put students and their education first”.
The most recent CEC offer focuses on enhancements for academic employees and includes no concessions. A summary of these enhancements is provided below. To review the details of the full offer visit www.collegeemployercouncil.ca/en/bargaining/CAATA2021.
- Increase maximum annual wage to the maximum, retroactive to October 1st 2021, as currently
allowed under Bill 124.
- Include medical cannabis coverage prescribed by a licensed physician to a maximum
of $4000/year, subject to prior authorization by the insurer.
- Enable Indigenous teachers to bring an elder or traditional knowledge keeper to the WMG as an
- Enable Indigenous employees to bring an elder or traditional knowledge keeper to grievance
meetings as an advisor.
- Document Coordinator duties before an employee accepts a coordinatorship. Such acceptance
will remain voluntary.
- Update the counsellor class definition.
- Enable Partial Load employees to accrue service for statutory Holidays on which they were
scheduled to teach.
- Change Partial Load registration date from October 30th to April 30th
- Extend Partial Load registration preference to courses which a partial load employee taught while part-time or sessional.
- Continue Partial Load priority for a course even if the course code changes, unless there has been a major revision of the course or curriculum.
- Add a new Letter of Understanding regarding the creation of a Workload Committee. The parties agree to engage in a two-step process with the purpose of resolving workload considerations. The Committee shall discuss and examine issues relating to the assignment of work to full-time faculty under Article 11 and to partial-load faculty under Article 26.
- Recognize the parties shared commitment to achieving employment equity within the college system. The parties shall establish a subcommittee of the Union/College Committee who shall, working in consultation with the existing college committees addressing EDI issues, report to the full UCC which shall then make annual recommendations to the President.
- Add new Letter of Understanding on Indigenization, Decolonization, and Truth and Reconciliation. OPSEU shall join with the CEC in establishing a collaborative Indigenous-driven process to work on issues related to Indigeneity in the context of employment under theAcademic and Support Staff collective agreements within the Colleges.
- Identify two Indigenous arbitrators to be added to the list of arbitrators used in arbitration processes and listed in the Collective Agreement.
To review details of the bargaining process, a timeline of events, and all proposals from both parties,visit collegeemployercouncil.ca.
Monday, December 13, 2021
College Employer Council – Strike Mandate
As of Saturday, December 11, the CAAT-A bargaining team representing full-time and partial-load professors, instructors, librarians, and counsellors received a strike mandate. On Sunday, December 12, the CAAT-A team provided notice for labour action which can start as early as Saturday, December 18, 2021. The Ontario Colleges have always been committed to ensuring labour stability for all members of the college community, faculty, staff, and students alike. Throughout the ongoing collective agreement negotiations, the College Employer Council (CEC) has been clear with the CAAT-A bargaining team about areas that still show room for common ground and which unreasonable and unlawful demands we cannot agree to. As of Monday, December 13, the CEC has introduced terms and conditions to improve the working conditions for individual employees.
For more information please visit collegeemployercouncil.ca.