Categories
Bargaining CAAT-A News News

Announcement of Strike Deadline

Today, three months after commencing work-to-rule action, we are setting a strike deadline in an effort to compel the College Employer Council (CEC) and the College Presidents to do either of the two things they have refused to do since bargaining began: 

  • Complete negotiations on faculty’s priority issues, or,
  • Refer outstanding issues to binding interest arbitration.  

If neither of these things happen, the 16,000 CAAT-A faculty will stop all work and commence picketing, on Friday, March 18th.  

The Bargaining Team did not arrive at this decision lightly. We have remained committed to completing negotiations with the least amount of disruption, including our offer to send all outstanding issues to arbitration. However, since July, we have faced an Employer that has simply refused to negotiate.  Despite our two provincial votes that rejected their offer and a work-to-rule campaign, the CEC and Presidents continue to say that they will not negotiate. And worse, the chances are very good that they will escalate negative actions against faculty. 

Why now?

Scheduling a strike deadline now ensures management cannot lock us out with no salary for a prolonged period after we submit our grades, which would have disastrous consequences for all members. Once the grades are submitted, we lose bargaining leverage. Our deadline also prevents the Presidents from disciplining faculty for work-to-rule, and prevents the Colleges from imposing worse Terms & Conditions at a time when strike action would be considerably less effective.

A strike deadline now means that the provincial legislature is still in session, and that the government–and opposition parties–will be acutely aware of a potential strike, leading up to June’s election. This is our only window for resolution. Once the government dissolves, there will be almost no opportunity to place pressure on the CEC to resolve the dispute.  

Setting a strike deadline does not mean there will be a strike. The College Presidents still have a clear choice: negotiate, arbitrate, or put the students through a work stoppage.  Based on CAAT-A’s history, and the experience of other post-secondary institutions across the country, strikes are often resolved through binding interest arbitration. Why would the Colleges choose to harm thousands of students and faculty when they can choose arbitration before a strike rather than after? 

What’s next?

Student groups support our position that binding interest arbitration can bring an immediate end to this impasse. The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario wrote that “the CEC has continuously refused binding arbitration, demonstrating to workers and students that the CEC only has their own interests at heart – not the interests of instructors, professors, counsellors, librarians, and especially not students”.  As well, the College Student Alliance, “the only college student-focused advocacy group in Ontario”, has announced that “Interest Arbitration is the best solution that puts college students first”.

We encourage you to reach out to students to put further pressure on the College Presidents to resolve this dispute immediately.  They can write personal letters or use this easy form: https://www.collegefaculty.org/write-your-college-president/. We also encourage faculty to write personal letters to College Presidents telling them they have the ability—and responsibility—to end this now.

In the coming days, your Local Union will reach out to you to begin preparations for potential strike action on Friday, March 18th. We hope these preparations will not be necessary and that the College Presidents will do the right thing. 

In solidarity,
JP, Jonathan, Kathleen, Michelle, Ravi, Rebeca, and Shawn
Your CAAT-A Bargaining Team

Categories
Bargaining CAAT-A News News

Letter to Students

The email and attachments below were sent to student associations today.  Please feel free to distribute this to or share this information with your students.

Dear Students:

College faculty have agreed to go to voluntary binding interest arbitration to save the school year, and have asked the College Presidents to do the same.

While we believe that the best deals are reached through continued negotiations, we know that the College Presidents will not engage with faculty about our proposals.  That’s their choice.

We also know that it is time to find a solution that does not jeopardize the school year through lockout or strike.

That’s why we’ve agreed to send all issues to binding interest arbitration, for a neutral third party to decide.  We propose immediately ending this impasse by asking a mutually-agreed arbitrator to step in as William Kaplan did in 2017, and has been done in recent university faculty association strikes.  This would end the negotiations without a strike or lockout.

All the College Presidents have to do is AGREE.

Binding interest arbitration has been the usual way for labour disruptions to be settled in the past when we have not been able to negotiate an agreement.  It is the common way for labour disputes in the post-secondary sector to get resolved – common enough that it’s written into several collective agreements.  Faculty are offering to do this BEFORE a lockout or strike. Binding interest arbitration is not a win for faculty.  It’s not a win for College Presidents.  

It’s a win for students.

The College Presidents have refused this offer for months.  Their claim that arbitration simply “splits the difference” is false. What they want is “final offer selection”, which means one side wins and the other loses.  It has been nearly universally rejected as an effective means of resolving labour disputes. It’s just another way for College Presidents to force their position on faculty.  

To learn more, or to send a letter to your College President asking them to save your school year, go to https://www.collegefaculty.org/write-your-college-president/

Faculty want to support students: we will not strike if the College Presidents agree to binding interest arbitration.  

In solidarity,
The College Faculty (CAAT-A) Bargaining Team:
JP Hornick, Chair
Jonathan Singer, Vice-chair
Kathleen Flynn
Michelle Arbour
Ravi Ramkissoonsingh
Rebecca Ward
Shawn Pentecost

CAAT-A Students Flyer

Categories
Bargaining CAAT-A News News

Work-To-Rule: Phase 3

Starting 12:01am, March 2, 2022

The Colleges’ team, via the CEC, continues to assert that they will not return to the bargaining table, nor agree to refer outstanding issues to interest arbitration, despite faculty having clearly rejected their final offer.  Typically in bargaining, following a failed final offer vote, the employer concedes that they need to move on workers’ demands.  As this Employer team continues to stonewall instead, we have no choice but to increase pressure through the next phase of work to rule.  

This phase (see Phase 3 guidelines here) has been reviewed by our legal team, Local Presidents and Bargaining Advisory Committee, and is designed specifically to increase that pressure and to limit the likelihood of a lockout.  It centers on three areas: online course delivery, evaluation and grade entry, and  non-teaching activities/weeks.  These are described in detail in the Phase 3 document; here we provide a bit of context on why these are now struck work.  We will also forward a letter from our legal team reinforcing the importance and lawfulness of our work-to-rule activities.

We have also created a letter you can share with your students that explains what faculty are doing and why.  Feel free to adapt it to your needs.  

We have also created letters that you can send to your manager, including one for coordinators specifically, should your manager try to pressure or direct you to engage in any struck work.  Please cc it to your Local union so that we can track and support you fully.

REMEMBER: work-to-rule is a temporary situation intended to bring enough pressure quickly to avoid full labour disruption.  The more faculty respect the struck work criteria, the more protected we all are, and the quicker this will be done.  In order for this to be successful in getting the Colleges back to the table or into arbitration, it has to be difficult for the colleges.

Mode of Delivery

We are asserting that faculty have a right to decide the mode of delivery for the courses that we teach. Under our work-to-rule action, faculty have the right to stay online if they wish to for the remainder of the Winter Term for the benefit of our students.

Whether we choose to teach online, in a hybrid format, or entirely face-to-face, we are still completing our teaching contact hours, associated preparation, evaluation and feedback, and complementary functions (i.e., performing the work that we have been contracted to do). 

Changing the mode of delivery of a course midway through the term may not be good pedagogically for our students and may make for additional workload that is not accurately represented on our SWFs. Further, we are hearing  complaints from many students that they are unable to make the switch from fully online to face-to-face learning in the middle of the term because they already have family and job commitments that were made based upon being completely online. Additionally, some are experiencing challenges finding short-term accommodations for the final seven weeks of the term. 

Grading and Data Entry of Evaluation 

This phase will continue to see faculty completing all weekly evaluation and feedback for student work in the time attributed for that task on their SWFs, which is a continuation of the previous phases.  As we know, this demonstrates the extra volunteer work that faculty put into grading and the inadequacy of our current factors, but it does limit the detailed individual feedback that faculty can provide to students.

This phase will also see faculty providing assignment grades to individual students upon request, rather than posting them to the College’s LMS. Additionally, when we submit final grades to the College, we will not do so in the way currently designed by the Colleges, which places all of the work on faculty rather than supervisors.  These protocols also respect the principles of work-to-rule by ensuring that faculty – particularly Partial-Load faculty – do no work beyond what is recognized and compensated.

This is going to cause some inconveniences to faculty and students, but nothing we are doing is intended to hurt students.  There is a simple reason for this action: we are trying to avoid the need to escalate further, and to limit the College’s ability to engage in a lockout, by reducing easy college access to student grades to date.   

To make this part easier, we have created videos to help you understand how to download your existing grade books from your LMS, along with tips about how to make this process simpler.

Non-teaching activities/weeks

Non-teaching activities are those activities that are undertaken by counsellors and librarians (as well as professors who are not currently teaching). Non-teaching weeks cover those periods that are not covered by contracts for PL faculty, or by SWFs for FT faculty.  Non-teaching weeks include the “spring break” week, also known as reading or intersession week.  We have extended the struck work from Phases 1 and 2, and asked that faculty not participate in college-initiated activities, such as Town Halls, meetings, and college PD and training.  

For counsellors and librarians, this means prioritizing your work so that it fits within your 35 hours.  The same is true for professors who are assigned work that does not involve teaching.  It means no extras, and no volunteer work.  It also means not running college-initiated activities during the spring break week, nor asking other faculty to participate in these sessions.  It also means no evening or weekend work—this is about limiting your work strictly, and setting boundaries.  The Colleges run on the volunteer overtime you put in, rather than having appropriate staffing levels. 

Program coordinators do not have SWFs for this period, and are not assigned any time for coordination activities during this week, including examples such as student recruitment, meetings, and planning.  We have also asked that coordinators refrain generally from participating in contract faculty hiring throughout work-to-rule.  For coordinators during SWF’d time, you should stay within your attributed time and specifically assigned tasks.  If you have time assigned, but only broad tasks, then it is up to you (not your manager) to prioritize your activities and stay within your assigned time.  For coordinators, supervising any faculty members is always against the Collective Agreement, and offering any input whatsoever into the hiring or rehiring of potential contract faculty is struck work in Phase Three.

Professors and instructors should not engage in preparation and evaluation during reading/intersession week/Spring Break. The time we need to do our prep and eval should be fully recognized on the SWF.  Most of us play catch up during reading week, and we really shouldn’t need to. The fact that we’re now all accustomed to doing prep/eval during reading week reinforces the fact that our current SWF factors are insufficient.

It is not our responsibility to spend our own professional development time to make up for the College’s failure to provide sufficient time during the SWF period to complete preparation or evaluation.  In normal circumstances, non-teaching periods are used for activities initiated by the faculty member or by the College.  During work-to-rule, non-teaching periods are used for activities initiated only by the faculty member. 

This extends to academic integrity and dishonesty processes, as well as supplemental assignments/exams.  Again, these processes take well beyond the attributed time on your SWF or contract.  These protocols ensure that academic integrity issues are identified and addressed, without unloading time-consuming College processes onto faculty in the form of unrecognized and uncompensated work.  Furthermore, if faculty are given no “additional attributed hours for evaluation/feedback” on their SWF, then preparing and grading supplementary exams is purely volunteer work, which we do not do during work-to-rule.

Solidarity works

We hope that this helps provide enough background and rationale to demonstrate the importance of these activities.  If you have questions about your specific circumstances, or the process, please reach out to your Local union.  Together we will work to get you the information and support you need.

And the work-to-rule process is working: every day we are sent stories of faculty exercising their legal right to strike and successfully pushing back against managers who ask them to violate the work-to-rule guidelines.  Many colleges are rescheduling activities and cancelling meetings as a result of faculty solidarity.  Reports from across the system tell us that the pressure on frontline managers is trickling up to Deans and VPs, and that the College Presidents are starting to get the message.  

Faculty solidarity works: your team is doing everything we can to protect the year for students, and to achieve a fair settlement that addresses faculty needs.  It is up to the College Presidents to do their part. 

In solidarity,

JP, Jonathan, Katie, Michelle, Ravi, Rebecca, Shawn
Your CAAT-A Bargaining Team