2017 Negotiations Messages (#2)

So, the CAAT-A bargaining team appears to be putting out newsletters at a prodigious rate, having recently published the fourth Negotiations Update (also linked on the right-hand column), before I’d had a chance to read the third.

Of course, that fourth one was motivated by events, specifically the CAAT-A bargaining team’s request that the Ontario Labour Relations Board appoint a conciliator to help break through a perceived logjam in negotiations, when the two teams resume negotiations in August.  This request has a couple of implications, and I hope to have the chance to discuss them soon.

But I wanted to take a moment to turn my thoughts to the College Employer Council’s first Negotiations Update (June 8, 2017).CECBulletin1

If the OPSEU Bargaining Team’s newsletter was characterized by the themes of dynamism and diversity, the first management-side newsletter was conversely characterized by themes of professionalism and experience.

That tone of confident experience is, in fact, present from the first word of the College management’s first headline: “Experienced Colleges’ Bargaining Team Prepares for 2017 Negotiations”.

(Now, I had been under the impression that the team was in fact the College Employer Council’s bargaining team, but there’s every possibility that that I’m incorrect on that point, despite the fact that–in every Collective Agreement in the last 10 years–the pages where the two teams are listed as signatories does identify the members of the management-side bargaining team as signing “For the Council”, not “For the Colleges”.)






But I digress…

Experience.  Professionalism.

You can see it in the suit jackets featured in the cover page team photo (I count three blue, two black, one charcoal, and one tan, for those keeping score at home), as well as the graphs, which are (I must confess) an object of envy.

The theme also carries through the bios of the nine team members.  If my math is correct, I note that two of the bios list roles as college VPs; two as deans; three as Chairs; a whopping four with Human Resources backgrounds.

So, evidently, the field of Human Resources is the path to which high school guidance counsellors should direct aspiring future “College” bargaining team members, if the current bios are any indication.  A close second, seemingly, would be law: Three of the team members boast background as legal practitioners.

A less likely path to becoming one of the nine people representing the Colleges in bargaining that affects all 24 public Colleges in Ontario, and directly shapes the education of well over 200,000 full-time students each year?  College Professor.  Only two bios of the nine bargaining team members make any reference at all to teaching experience.

Granted, maybe all nine of them have College teaching experience and know what it’s like inside a College classroom, and know the difference in preparation required by an online course vs. one taught in-class, and know how long it takes to rewrite a midterm exam for the benefit of a student with a special needs accommodation.

Maybe all nine of them have that kind of knowledge, because those are precisely the kinds of workload issues that the College Employer Council has charged them with negotiating.  So it’s reasonable for Ontario taxpayers to expect that they have a first-hand knowledge of the kind of issues impacting students that they are currently negotiating.

But if all nine of them have that experience, that authority–well, only two of the bios made reference to it.  Maybe knowledge of how Ontario College students actually receive their education wasn’t considered as important as, say, law degrees or experience in HR departments.

And perhaps reasonable people can disagree on whether it’s important for the people who have been placed in a position to negotiate Article 11.01 E3 (which attributes time to faculty for evaluating and providing feedback to students) on behalf of the Colleges have any experience whatsoever in the task of evaluating and providing feedback to students.
In fact, I invite reasonable people to disagree about this issue on this very forum, by e-mailing their thoughts to ontariocollegeprof@yahoo.com.

My next post will look at some of the claims in the Council Bargaining Team’s first newsletter.  In the meantime, I’ll sign off with a passage from Plato’s Ion that comes to mind.

Soc. Tell me then, what Nestor says to Antilochus, his son, where he bids him be careful of the turn at the horse-race in honour of Patroclus.
Ion. He says: “Bend gently in the polished chariot to the left of them, and urge the horse on the right hand with whip and voice; and slacken the rein. And when you are at the goal, let the left horse draw near, yet so that the nave of the well-wrought wheel may not even seem to touch the extremity; and avoid catching the stone.
Soc. Enough. Now, Ion, will the charioteer or the physician be the better judge of the propriety of these lines?
Ion. The charioteer, clearly.
Soc. And will the reason be that this is his art, or will there be any other reason?
Ion. No, that will be the reason.
Soc. And every art is appointed by God to have knowledge of a certain work; for that which we know by the art of the pilot we do not know by the art of medicine?
Ion. Certainly not.
Soc. Nor do we know by the art of the carpenter that which we know by the art of medicine?
Ion. Certainly not.
Soc. And this is true of all the arts;- that which we know with one art we do not know with the other? But let me ask a prior question: You admit that there are differences of arts?
Ion. Yes.
Soc. You would argue, as I should, that when one art is of one kind of knowledge and another of another, they are different?
Ion. Yes.
Soc. Yes, surely; for if the subject of knowledge were the same, there would be no meaning in saying that the arts were different,- if they both gave the same knowledge. For example, I know that here are five fingers, and you know the same. And if I were to ask whether I and you became acquainted with this fact by the help of the same art of arithmetic, you would acknowledge that we did?
Ion. Yes.
[. . . ]
Soc. Then he who has no knowledge of a particular art will have no right judgment of the sayings and doings of that art?
Ion. Very true.
Soc. Then which will be a better judge of the lines which you were reciting from Homer, you or the charioteer?
Ion. The charioteer.
Soc. Why, yes, because you are a rhapsode and not a charioteer.
Ion. Yes.
Soc. And the art of the rhapsode is different from that of the charioteer?
Ion. Yes.
Soc. And if a different knowledge, then a knowledge of different matters?
Ion. True.

Experience.  Professionalism.

But which experiences?  And which profession?

As ever, feel free to direct your thoughts, corrections, questions, and criticisms to ontariocollegeprof@yahoo.com


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