Strike Vote Requested

Well, the College Faculty bargaining team has called for the Ontario Labour Relations Board to hold a strike authorization vote, as indicated in this press release (and this article).

To my knowledge, a successful strike authorization vote would permit this bargaining team to be first CAAT-A bargaining team ever to be supported by a strike mandate prior to the expiry of the existing Collective Agreement.

What that would mean (and what I expect is part of the team’s strategy) is that, if a successful strike vote were to be held in mid-September, then the last few scheduled dates of bargaining between the two teams could be more productive, given that management would know that a strike could be imminent if no settlement were reached.

(Obviously, an unsuccessful strike vote would have the opposite effect, which leads to the general conclusion that management has little reason to make any significant compromise in negotiating, until the Union membership gives their team a strike authorization mandate.  It’s for this reason that I typically tell members that — until a successful strike mandate has been obtained — our “bargaining demands” are simply “bargaining requests”.)

So, judging from the press releases and publications, it seems that the Faculty bargaining team is driving hard to compel a meaningful engagement at the bargaining table concerning some of the major non-monetary demands, such as academic freedom and collegial governance (on the one hand), and improved job security for contract faculty, on the other.

If either of you are in the mood to get into the weeds of negotiating, I would encourage you look at the actual contract language put forth by the faculty bargaining team in pp. 5-24 of this document (pages 1-4 include the Union’s contextual positioning statement) — there’s quite a bit there (not least of which a demand for a minimum “Full-Time faculty : Contract faculty” saffing ratio and meaningful seniority for Partial-Load faculty.  (Actually, the proposed changes to Article 26, on Partial-Load Faculty, are fairly extensive and profound, and appear to me to incorporate much of the spirit of the Liberals’ new Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.  If either of you happen to be contract faculty, I would invite you to send your feedback on them, at ontariocollegeprof.ca — all responses will be kept strictly confidential.)

So, I’m kind of reminded of the last time I bought a car.  It’s in the buyer’s interest to negotiate the price of the car before negotiating the price of a trade-in or applying any discounts; it’s in the seller’s interest to combine all of the factors (sale price, trade-in value, financing, discounts) in one big “deal”.  I realize that’s a somewhat awkward metaphor, but the essential point is that the Faculty bargaining team seems to be pushing hard to compel the Management team to negotiate some of the top faculty demands before moving on to others; management seems to be. . . reluctant to do so, and (in its public statements) somewhat ambiguous about what, specifically, it is attempting to obtain at the negotiating table.

The Faculty bargaining team has already requested (and received) a Ministry conciliator, presumably in order to spur on negotiations; it is requesting a strike authorization vote, presumably in order to get a meaningful show of faculty support behind those efforts.

So, feel free to share (at ontariocollegeprof@yahoo.com) any thoughts with both of the readers of this blog: Should a strike vote wait until after all scheduled days of bargaining have elapsed and proven fruitless?  How do you think the proposed changes to Article 26 would impact the lives of Partial-Load faculty?  (In particular, would the proposed new Article 26.09A be a change that might impact how Partial-Load might vote in a strike authorization vote?)

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