A Reader Writes in

Well, I do believe that the two bargaining teams have been back at the negotiating table this week.  I can’t imagine that much has been accomplished at the table, if the management team is still waiting for the Union team to provide a ratification vote for an offer that is scheduled to expire, um, yesterday, and the Union team is expecting the management team to negotiate the Union’s demands in the absence of a strike authorization mandate.

With that said, I’m delighted to have received a letter from one prof, who drew my attention to one thus-far-unanalyzed (by me) part of management’s offer.  S/he writes:

First let me say I believe your analysis thus far is spot on. There is another section of the management offer I find particularly troubling. Pasted below:

5. (NEW) Letter of Understanding – Fair Workplace, Better Job Act, 2017 (Bill 148 Issues)

Within 30 days of Bill 148 becoming law, the parties agree that the parties will meet to negotiate consequential adjustments to the collective agreement language, it being understood that these language adjustments are intended to be revenue neutral.
Should the parties fail to agree on the adjustments, either party can request that any outstanding issues be submitted to an arbitration board composed of a neutral Chair and a nominee for each party. Failing agreement on a chair, the parties will request that the Ministry of Labour appoint the Chair.

Our correspondent continues:

I believe that this is an attempt by management to circumvent any obligations they may face under Bill 148 particularly as it would apply to equal pay for equal work. If this is allowed to happen it will prove extremely detrimental to all contract employees. Without something similar to the SWF for contract employees then management would strive to make the argument that contract employees don’t do the same work as full time and thus would not be eligible to receive appropriate pay for their efforts. This is, in my opinion, a glaring attempt of management to try to circumvent the letter and intent of the pending legislation.

I am a former full time faculty who is now retired, but I continue to teach as a part time faculty member and as such I am in a bit of a precarious position and would appreciate you keeping my identity anonymous.

Firstly, thanks for the letter; secondly, I’m committed to preserving the anonymity of all submissions, whether they be received via the “Leave a comment” button below, or e-mailed to ontariocollegeprof@yahoo.com.

As I understand it, Bill 148 is designed to improve the working conditions of precarious workers in Ontario, by legally requiring wage fairness for part-time, casual, temporary, seasonal and contract employees, including (but not limited to) vacation pay, overtime pay, and public holiday pay, as well as changes to employees’ rights regarding scheduling.

Let’s be real that this bill, if it becomes law, will “have a major impact on [the] operations” of employers who rely heavily on precarious labour.  That impact, after all, appears to be the purpose of the bill.

As our correspondent indicates, the specific language of the College’s offer is designed to shield the Employer — not from the Bill itself, necessarily — but from any expense associated with its implementation.

But given that the bill is virtually designed in order to create costs for employers (the costs of equal pay for equal work, for example, or public holiday pay, e.g.,), how can the the Employer possibly implement Bill 148, while still keeping that implementation revenue-neutral?

Would the Employer suggest that the implementation be delayed?  Or suggest that an arbitrator must uphold the principle of revenue-neutrality when judging the adequacy of the Bill’s implementation at Ontario colleges?  Or would the Employer instead argue that this offer (if accepted by faculty) requires that the costs associated with Bill 148 be offset with cuts elsewhere?  (And, if so, where specifically?)

[As well, I’m no lawyer, but if the matter came to arbitration could the Employer then argue that Bill 148 wouldn’t apply if a pre-existing Collective Agreement contemplated it and mitigated its effects, as the language of the manager’s offer seems designed to do, in our reader’s opinion?]

Strangely, the Employer hasn’t been forthcoming on specific ideas of how Bill 148 could be implemented in a revenue-neutral way.

I might suggest that CAAT-A faculty ought to demand to know precisely what the Employer means by the proposal that “these language adjustments” of the Collective Agreement, in light of Bill 148, “are intended to be revenue neutral”, before they even consider such an offer.

Otherwise, I might need some clarification from the mathematicians among you, on how one could…

a) Increase Partial-Load salary/benefits to a level that is proportionate to those of Full-time faculty,

while at the same time…

b) Maintaining revenue-neutrality

It almost would seem as if some other change would be needed, but I just can’t seem to put my finger on it…


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