Bargaining Update Highlights

In response to feedback from OPSEU/SEFPO College Faculty members, we are providing this summary of the contents of this bargaining update newsletter:

  • Final Demand Set (FDS) complete, membership engagement and delegate renewal
  • 18 demands representing the will of the membership in the areas of:
    • Wages and benefits
    • Workload
    • Employment security and precarity
    • Collegial governance and intellectual property
    • Equity
  • Demands affecting all members of the bargaining unit:
    • Full-time and partial-load professors and instructors
    • Counsellors
    • Librarians
  • Bargaining Climate
    • Government underfunding of the college system
    • Reliance on precarious workers
    • Affordability crisis
    • International student enrolment
    • Record profits at colleges
  • What can YOU do?
    • Sign the petition for more government funding
    • Stay Informed
    • Stay Involved
  • News Updates: Funding shortfalls persist despite warnings to Ministry

Final Demand Set now complete

The recent College Faculty Final Demand Set (FDS) meeting represents a significant milestone in the bargaining cycle. Following the election of our bargaining team, the general membership survey, and Local Demand Set meetings at each of the 24 public colleges, delegates from across the province met on March 22 and 23 to determine our demands for negotiations beginning in July.

Faculty spent two days reviewing demands developed by members from each of the 24 Locals and considered recommendations from the bargaining team before voting on the final demands to move forward in negotiations with the College Employer Council (CEC). It was gratifying to see a large contingent (approximately half) of members attending their first FDS; this renewal and revitalization of our membership bodes well for our bargaining unit as we organize together to address the important issues our system faces.

Through spirited discussion and debate, our final demands represent proposals that strengthen the quality of students’ learning conditions, our critical role in their academic success, and a stronger public system for all.

Bargaining Timeline diagram. 1. Bargaining Team Elected October 2023. 2. Bargaining Survey, January 2024. 3. Local Demand Set Meetings, February 2024. 4. CAAT-A Demand set meeting, March 2024. 5. Bargaining Begins July 2024. Green pinpoint between #4 and #5

Our demands (in alphabetical order, not priority ranking)

Eighteen demands are moving forward, including those related to academic freedom, collegial governance, and intellectual property; employment security and precarity; equity; wages and benefits; and workload.

The working lives of all members in the bargaining unit – full-time and partial-load professors and instructors, counsellors, and librarians – are directly affected by these demands, which come at a time when we face real challenges:

  • affordability (e.g., inflation, high interest rates, mortgage renewal, a continuing rental crisis, high grocery prices);
  • heavier workloads reflecting outdated formulas;
  • concerns over job security and the continued erosion of our work, especially for our most precarious members;
  • a lack of academic voice in how programming is decided and delivered;
  • the impacts of employment barriers that prevent full participation in the workplace for all members.

Here are our demands:

Academic freedom, collegial governance and intellectual property

  • Create faculty-majority collegial governance structures to ensure a meaningful role for faculty in academic decision-making including, but not limited to, strengthening decision making authority over course materials and modes of delivery and evaluation
  • Establish intellectual property rights for all educational materials produced in the course of employment; recognize faculty ownership of all performances in the course of employment, regardless of mode of delivery

Employment security and precarity

  • Improve job security for partial load faculty and employment stability for all bargaining unit members
  • Prevent the contracting in or out, privatization, or outsourcing of bargaining unit work in whole or in part

Equity

  • Allow for equitable access to union participation for all bargaining unit members.
  • Ensure equitable access to holidays, vacation, benefits, leaves, and other compensation to all members of the bargaining unit
  • Strengthen language to prevent bullying/harassment/racism/discrimination and to provide data, oversight, and accountability

Wages and benefits

  • Improve the salary grids and wages to better our position in relation to our comparator groups to account for inflation, and to ensure that compensation is equitable for all faculty members
  • Improve benefit coverage for all faculty

Workload

  • Counsellor and librarian workload measurements be quantified to ensure that services support student needs and meet professional obligations to regulatory bodies
  • Ensure that all faculty (professors, instructors, counsellors, librarians) workload is accurately measured, recorded, and fair.
  • Ensure that all work performed by partial load faculty is appropriately and equitably recognized, recorded, and compensated – including work done outside the contract period
  • Ensure that faculty have no less than 2 months of faculty-controlled and -determined non-SWFed work during one term per academic year.
  • Ensure that faculty workload measurements reflect current changes in our profession, including student needs (e.g., accommodations and language proficiency), delivery modes, artificial intelligence, and other relevant factors
  • Establish minimum complements of full-time bargaining unit jobs, in particular librarians and counsellors, at each college
  • Strengthen language around the role and workload of coordinators
  • Strengthen language to improve union representation of members and the ability for the union to grieve and advance workload complaints on behalf of members
  • Teaching faculty total workload be reduced to 40 hours or less in any given week.

Bargaining climate

While international student permit reductions will be in effect for the next two years and severe government underfunding has resulted in the colleges’ overreliance on both international tuition and precarious contract faculty in the first place, all 24 colleges have accumulated substantial sums of money. The colleges have collectively made over $2.3 billion since 2017 and posted a record profit of $668 million during the 2022-23 fiscal year alone. There is every reason to believe that they will be announcing (quietly) huge – perhaps record – profits again in the 2023-24 fiscal year, just as we enter bargaining.

Do not be surprised to hear your college administration and the CEC speaking of austerity in the coming months, as this is not an unusual tactic heading into a bargaining year. They used the unconstitutional Bill 124 as an excuse not to negotiate workload demands in 2021, and who can forget the cries of austerity leading up to the 2017 round of bargaining, while college presidents and their boards of governors tried to approve large executive compensation increases?

Take austerity talk with a grain of salt when you hear it, and do not let it dissuade you from supporting your demands, demands which ultimately strengthen your ability to carry out the important work you do in our classrooms – preparing the next generation of skilled workers for meaningful participation in our economy.

Organizing together

As we prepare for negotiations beginning this summer, it is important for members to be aware of our demands and engaged in the bargaining process. The more we organize together, the stronger we become at the bargaining table.

Reach out to your Local Executive Committee, your Bargaining Advisory Committee, and your Bargaining Team. Get the knowledge you need about key issues to be fully informed.

Sign the petition for College funding today!

To raise awareness about the key issue of chronic underfunding in Ontario’s postsecondary system, all members are encouraged to sign the petition to encourage politicians to recognize the critical role our College system performs in preparing healthcare, skilled trades, and childcare workers (just to name a few) for satisfying, rewarding careers in their respective fields.

Sign the hard copy petition for Queen’s Park:

  • Ask your steward or local executive member for a hard copy of the Fund Our Colleges petition. Encourage your coworkers to sign it too!

Click here to send an email to the Premier, your MPP and the Minister of Colleges and Universities:

Let’s stand together to send a powerful message: this is our work, we’re proud of our role in our students’ learning. What we do has long lasting benefits for our local communities and the future of our provincial workforce.

News updates: Funding shortfalls persist despite warnings to Ministry

In solidarity,

OPSEU/SEFPO College Faculty Bargaining Team:

Ravi Ramkissoonsingh, Chair (he/him)
Michelle Arbour, Vice-Chair (she/her)
Chad Croteau (he/him)
Bob Delaney (he/him)
Martin Lee (he/him)
Sean Lougheed (he/him)
Rebecca Ward (she/her)

Other Bargaining Updates

Indigenous Knowledge Update

In September 2022, Arbitrator Kaplan issued a letter of understanding regarding the definition of Indigenous Knowledge for the purposes of appointment factors in the Job Classification Plans. This Award was part of the 2021-2024 academic collective agreement. The...

College faculty arbitration update

OPSEU/SEFPO CAAT Academic and the CEC participated in a mediation/arbitration September 7-9, 2022. Following the mediation part of the proceeding, an arbitration occurred on September 9, 2022. The arbitrator’s award will form the new collective agreement and it is...

College faculty bargaining team statement

The college faculty bargaining team has issued the following statement: Arbitrator William Kaplan has imposed a media blackout on the upcoming voluntary mediation-interest arbitration between the colleges’ and college faculty bargaining teams. There will be no further...

Joint statement by OPSEU/SEFPO and the College Employer Council

OPSEU/SEFPO’s college faculty bargaining team and the College Employer Council have issued the following statement: 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,...

College faculty to resume talks with employer

Toronto – With some 16,000 college faculty set to go on strike at 12:01 Friday morning, the College Employer Council (CEC) and the faculty bargaining team have agreed to meet Thursday. “We were encouraged that the CEC replied to our letter and have agreed to meet...

College faculty set strike deadline

TORONTO – Some 16,000 faculty at Ontario’s 24 public colleges say they will go on strike at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, March 18 if the College Employer Council (CEC) does not agree to voluntary binding interest arbitration.   The faculty bargaining team sent an open letter...

Work to Rule: Phase 3

Started 12:01am, March 02, 2022 Focus Work-to-rule must impact the functioning of the colleges in order to work as a bargaining strategy to bring the Council back to the table to discuss faculty’s needs. The colleges and CEC have chosen to abandon negotiations and to...

Legal Brief Supports Faculty Proposals

Throughout this round of bargaining, the College Employer Council (CEC) has repeatedly refused to negotiate significant issues regarding workload, staffing, or fairness for partial-load faculty. They have justified their obstinacy by claiming that changes to these...