Con­tract talks stalled

Ge­or­gian Col­lege fac­ulty, prov­ince at im­passe over new deal; con­cil­ia­tor re­quested

The Barrie Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - BOB BRU­TON BAR­RIE EX­AM­INER

It’s tick-tock time again on new con­tract talks be­tween the prov­ince and On­tario col­lege fac­ulty, in­clud­ing those at Bar­rie’s Ge­or­gian Col­lege.

The col­lec­tive agree­ment for col­lege fac­ulty ex­pires Sept. 30, 2017.

The On­tario Pub­lic Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees Union (OPSEU) asked On­tario’s Labour Min­istry this week to ap­point a con­cil­ia­tor in its con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Col­lege Em­ployer Coun­cil when talks stalled af­ter just three days.

Kevin MacKay, a mem­ber of OPSEU’s pro­vin­cial bar­gain­ing team, said the stick­ing point is the union’s de­mand for a se­nate to make aca­demic de­ci­sions, while the board of gov­er­nors makes busi­ness ones.

“Right now in On­tario col­leges, fac­ulty don’t have the same abil­ity that our col­leagues in univer­sity do, to ac­tu­ally con­trol the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion,” said MacKay, a so­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Mo­hawk Col­lege in Hamil­ton. “That means what sort of ma­te­ri­als are used in cour­ses, how course are eval­u­ated. All of these things, we don’t have the abil­ity as fac­ulty to make those de­ci­sions.

“That is was our Num­ber 1 de­mand. That came from col­lege fac­ulty,” he said.

But Don Sin­clair, the Col­lege Em­ployer Coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, said that can’t be part of these ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“What the aca­demic union (OPSEU) is re­quest­ing or propos­ing or de­mand­ing through bar­gain­ing, is that they pro­vide a com­pre­hen­sive pro­posal around the cre­ation of sen­ates in the col­lege sys­tem,” he said.

“Sen­ates is a gov­er­nance is­sue, not a bar­gain­ing is­sue,” Sin­clair said. “When we bar­gain, we bar­gain about terms and con­di­tions of em­ploy­ment.”

He said the On­tario Col­leges of Ap­plied Arts and Tech­nol­ogy Act says col­lege boards of gov­er­nors and the gov­ern­ment de­ter­mine the in­di­vid­ual gov­ern­ing struc­ture of each of the 24 col­leges.

“We want to be pretty clear with OPSEU, right from the be­gin­ning of our ne­go­ti­a­tions.

We want to be pretty up-front across the table,” Sin­clair said. “We don’t have that man­date, nor are we able to bar­gain it.”

The Col­lege Em­ployer Coun­cil is the bar­gain­ing agent for the 24 On­tario col­leges in ne­go­ti­at­ing col­lec­tive agree­ments with union­ized staff. Each col­lege board de­ter­mines the terms and con­di­tions of em­ploy­ment for non-union­ized staff.

MacKay said con­trol­ling ed­u­ca­tion qual­ity is a non-mon­e­tary is­sue – it won’t cost more. It’s OPSEU’s pri­or­ity, but the other burn­ing is­sue is the amount of con­tract fac­ulty in the sys­tem.

And these ne­go­ti­a­tions, when they re­sume Aug. 1, will also be about com­pen­sa­tion.

“Ob­vi­ously, like any other work­ers, the cost of liv­ing con­tin­u­ally in­creases,” MacKay said. “A few years back we took ze­ros, like other folks in the pub­lic sec­tor, so would we ap­pre­ci­ate a raise in line with what other sec­tors are get­ting, sure. But I guar­an­tee you that is not the driv­ing is­sue at all at the table.

“If we were able to change the na­ture of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing in the col­leges, and give fac­ulty the abil­ity to be able to main­tain aca­demic stan­dards, and if we were able to do some­thing around the amount of con­tract fac­ulty, those are way more im­por­tant to us than wages.”

OPSEU says con­cil­i­a­tion is an im­por­tant step in bar­gain­ing; but if it fails, ei­ther side can start the clock tick­ing to­wards a le­gal strike or lock­out dead­line.

OPSEU Lo­cal 350 rep­re­sents 278 full-time fac­ulty and 299 par­tial­load fac­ulty at Ge­or­gian Col­lege’s seven cam­puses. An ad­di­tional 368 fac­ulty mem­bers teach on a part­time ba­sis and are not mem­bers of the fac­ulty union. Num­bers change ev­ery se­mes­ter, how­ever, es­pe­cially non-full-time fac­ulty. bbru­ton@post­media.com

MARK WANZEL/PHOTO

With the col­lec­tive agree­ment for col­lege fac­ulty ex­pir­ing this fall, time is run­ning out be­tween the prov­ince and On­tario col­lege fac­ulty, in­clud­ing those at Bar­rie's Ge­or­gian Col­lege.

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