Faculty at Ontario’s 24 public colleges have set a strike deadline for 12:01 a.m. on March 18 if the College Employer Council (CEC) does not agree to voluntary binding interest arbitration.
The faculty bargaining team sent an open letter to college presidents on March 14, asking them to agree to the arbitration, which involves both parties asking a neutral arbitrator to resolve a bargaining dispute as an alternative to a strike or lockout. Both sides provide proposals to the arbitrator, who creates a compromise from the two proposals.
In a March 14 news release, OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said it is not too late to avoid a strike. “I firmly believe we can reach a deal at the bargaining table,” said Thomas. “I’m convinced a deal is there and that we can avoid a messy strike that is not in anybody’s best interests.”
However, in a March 14 response to staff, the CEC said they have made numerous attempts to make a deal with 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.”
Uncertainty at Conestoga College has been growing as Ontario College Faculty ramped up a work-to-rule action.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which represents Ontario College Faculty (CAAT-A) and the College Employer Council (CEC), continue to face off in an ongoing battle to reach a collective agreement.
After months of failed negotiation attempts, CAAT-A ramped up the work-to-rule action to pressure the CEC to return to the bargaining table.
On March 2, college faculty entered phase 3 of Work-to-Rule.
In February, OPSEU rejected the CEC’s final offer vote. Of the 66 per cent of faculty that voted, 62 per cent voted to reject the employer final offer.
Students at Conestoga College may be impacted by work-to-rule phase 3 because faculty will not be working beyond their assigned hours.
Some changes students might notice include grades not being automatically posted to eConestoga, grades taking longer to be received, and less feedback with grades. In some cases, program coordinators may refer student questions to their managers.
Conestoga College students looking for updates on the CEC and CAAT-A bargaining can go to https://conestogastudents.com/board-of-directors/cec-and-caat-a-bargaining-2021/.