Colleges Call a Membership Vote

According to the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, the colleges have finally requested that the Ontario Labour Relations Board hold a membership vote, in response to the union’s offer yesterday to take outstanding issues to binding arbitration.

Watch for the colleges — having asked for the vote — to now drag their heels, to ensure that the vote occurs after the February 11 strike deadline, thus causing maximum confusion.  “The college management’s bargaining team: Sowing dissent and disruption since 1973. Whaddaya think — catchy?

Anyway, writing a blog is more fun when events unfold slowly.  As it is, I spent hours on yesterday’s post, and it’s now basically out-of-date.  So I hope that you’ll understand if I try to salvage the bits that remain more significant than ever:

The faculty are now left with two choices: Take what the colleges are offering or opt for what an arbitrator would give.  The college management’s offer will, of course, be obtained if the faculty vote for it; arbitration would be the inevitable (to me) outcome of voting against the offer.  Maybe a strike would be needed; quite possibly it wouldn’t — but either way, arbitration is where the two sides would end up.  The question then is…

Will the faculty recognize that a contract achieved through binding arbitration literally could not be worse than the offer on which they’d be asked to vote?  Would they realize that they have truly nothing to lose by voting against that offer?  After all, binding arbitration would give them about an 80% chance of getting at least one of the following: a) academic freedom, b) SWFs to limit the workload of partial-load faculty, c) faculty power over determining course evaluation techniques, or d) an extra 0.5% of salary per year.  Voting for the management’s final offer would turn that into a 0% chance.

But were the college management to decline binding arbitration in favour of a membership vote, and were the faculty to vote against the offer, would [a strike be needed before the colleges consent] to binding arbitration?  Possibly, if the province hoped to take advantage of not having to pay professors for a couple of weeks, in order to cover some of the costs of the arbitrated decision.  On the other hand, during that strike, the colleges would have no power to compel a faculty vote, and possibly no power to alter their “final” offer, so it’s unclear that they would really stand to gain very much by interrupting classes for weeks, when they could bring things to the same (inevitable) outcome much, much faster.

Lastly, the blog got its 10,000th hit today.  Thank you all very kindly for your interest — you made it worth my while.  Thanks as well to those who have chosen to link to it or refer it to others.  I’m flattered by your esteem.

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