This just in from a retired FT faculty who remains in the College system…
Congratulations on a successful strike vote.This should help with the next round of bargaining.There are three pieces of data that I would like to see added to communications – or at least I’d like to know personally.1. How does the 68% compare to previous votes. Is it higher or lower?2. I understand there have been something in the range of 12 strike votes over the 50 years the colleges have existed in Ontario. What were the numbers for each? Is there a trend or pattern?3. The union frequently says 81 per cent of teachers are part-time. This made me nervous that in a strike we would barely be missed as the non-union part-timers could be pressured to cross the line, because they (we) don’t have strike pay. However my wife pointed out that this may be 81% of the people but not 81% of the teaching, because full-time faculty frequently teach three, four or five courses (depending on other duties and class size) while part-time teachers frequently teach only one course at a time. So what percentage of the courses are taught by part-time versus full-time faculty? While this may be less dramatic, it may also reassure members of our power in numbers.Thanks in advance for your response.
Well, I’ll do my best to reply, but I’m not an authority in these matters, really. I’ll start by inviting anybody who can correct any of my comments below with more authoritative facts or recollections.
1. 68% is a relatively high strike vote for the bargaining unit. I have heard that the all-time strike vote record is 72%, and that was, if memory serves, in the face of some serious takeaways offered by the Colleges (related to sick days, if my second-hand memories serve — I’m counting on someone to remind me).
The noteworthy thing about the current vote (in my opinion) is not only that it’s high by the standards of the bargaining unit, but that it was that high, despite the fact that bargaining remains underway, and in the face of the Employer’s (highly contestable and contested) claim that their offer represented no concessions.
By way of comparison, as I noted earlier, in 2010, the strike mandate was only 57%, and that was after bargaining had broken down and after the Council had essentially antagonized faculty by unilaterally imposing Terms & Conditions of employment (thus turning its back on the process of bilateral negotiations in order to do whatever it wanted).
2. I don’t know the results of all of the strike votes in the past. Confederation College helpfully notes that “Of the 12 strike votes in the past 50 years at Ontario colleges, only three have led to a strike”. (By comparison, the College Employer Council unhelpfully alleges that, “In previous bargaining rounds, when the union bargaining team has been granted a strike mandate by faculty, it has normally led to strike action”, which might say something about its trustworthiness on matters related to strikes.)
But I don’t think that long-term trends are especially helpful. My personal feeling is that the explosion of contract faculty in the ’90s, coupled with new legislation dictating bargaining (in 2008) suggests that it’s only helpful to look at more recent history for comparisons.
3. There may be some confusion here about the Bargaining Team’s claims. The September 12 Negotiations Bulletin states,
Right now, 81 per cent of teaching in the colleges is done by contract faculty. That number has shot up by more than 10 per cent since our last round of bargaining, and a big reason why is the freeze on posting and filling jobs under Article 2 of the
collective agreement. If management has its way, that freeze will be extended in the upcoming contract. If that happens, what percentage of teaching will be done by contract faculty by the time of our next round of bargaining? Eighty-five per cent? Ninety? More?
So, to be fair, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that Union say that 81% of teachers are part-time. It has said that 81% of teaching is done by contract faculty. I strongly suspect that that can be interpreted to mean that 81% of all teaching contact hours are performed by contract faculty.
Now, where potential strikes are concerned, it needs to be immediately noted that that that 81% of teaching contact hours are taught by Partial-Load contract faculty (who are in the CAAT-A bargaining unit) as well as by Part-Time and Sessional contract faculty (who are not).
This is significant for your concerns because the number of Partial-Load faculty means that a large portion of that 81% would also be eligible to strike, to perform strike duties, to receive strike pay from OPSEU and their Locals (where applicable), and to apply for hardship funds as needed.
If there is a strike, then all 12,000 members of the entire provincewide bargaining unit — both full-time and partial-load — would be on strike. And while our Part-Time and Sessional colleagues are not in the bargaining unit, and while there is a chance that the Colleges might be permitted by law to try to run throughout a strike, it it hard to imagine that the 12,000 members of the bargaining unit “would barely be missed” in any strike situation.
Which, I would expect, ought to inspire the Employer to begin negotiations in earnest, when the parties return to the bargaining table on Monday.