Bargaining, Round Two: Week One Wrap-up

All of the factual claims here come from OPSEU’s latest update here.  The unfounded speculation is my own.

Most of the concessions came from the colleges, and most were minor.

— A 4-year contract is still the one on the table.  [Increasingly, I think that’s a problem, particularly on the question of salary, in the face of long-term inflation expectations]

— The colleges offered an extra 0.25% raise for 2010-2011.   This would bring their offer from 2009-2013 to 1.75%, 2%, 2%, 2%.  [That raise seems justified, given that the Bank of Canada’s inflation target is, er, 2%.  Is there any chance we could just settle on a two-year contract at 2% per year + academic freedom, and see where the economy lies in 2011?]

— The colleges didn’t compromise on anything related to the Workload Task Force (i.e., Academic Freedom, Collegial decision-making re: evaluation factors on the SWF, additional per-student time for profs with an extraordinary number of students).

There are a few other points, but most of them small or procedural, basically restoring some (but not all) of the faculty rights that the college claimed never to have taken away in the first place.

It doesn’t look like the union compromised at all (except to introduce some clarifications to its position), which isn’t a big surprise, since it had already made (unreciprocated) compromises on their positions re: salary, workload, and new hiring, in December.

So the ball may now be in the union court, but the net is still ridiculously high.  The colleges did some tweaking, but didn’t do anything that would convert anybody who had voted in favour of a strike.

As I’ve said all along, negotations don’t inspire much confidence, since the intractable issues concern power, not money.  (Specifically, the power to make academic choices).  With money, it’s pretty easy to find a compromise or a median; with power, not so much.

Money, academic freedom, partial-load issues: The colleges will likely have to make a big concession on one of them, to avoid a strike.  If it ends up going to arbitration, then the colleges will probably lose ground on two of the three.

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