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Court Strikes Down Bill 124

TORONTO – OPSEU/SEFPO is calling it a win for hundreds of thousands of workers as the Ontario Superior Court declares Doug Ford government’s wage-stifling Bill 124 “void and of no effect.”

The decision comes following a court challenge launched by a coalition of unions and associations, including OPSEU/SEFPO, seeking to declare Bill 124’s wage cap unconstitutional. The court found the law violated workers’ right to freedom of association and substantially and unjustifiably interfered with collective bargaining rights.

“This is a historic victory and a further example of what can be accomplished when workers and unions stand together to fight to protect our Charter rights,” said JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President. “Now we’re calling on the Ford government to accept this decision instead of proceeding with an appeal so we can chart a pathway to a solution to the staffing crisis that is plaguing the public sector.”

Bill 124 caps public sector compensation at one per cent, at a time when inflation is at a forty-year high and when public health care is facing a staffing crisis due to Ford’s wage restrictions.

“This is a win for all workers,” said Laurie Nancekivell, First Vice-President/Treasurer of OPSEU/SEFPO. “Our message to this government is to respect the court’s decision, skip the appeal and move forward to fix the underfunding and understaffing crisis in public services.”

OPSEU/SEFPO will pursue all avenues to re-open negotiations that were stifled by Bill 124.

“This is not the first time this government has sought to attack the rights of workers. We need to make it the last,” said Hornick. “Our members—health care workers, education workers, frontline public service workers–deserve a significant remedy after having their rights trampled and after sacrificing so much during the pandemic and long before it.”

Remember to sign your Union Card!

All Full-Time and Partial-Load Faculty are covered by a collective agreement, but OPSEU membership is not automatic. Signing your membership form makes you a Member in Good Standing and ensures your eligibility for benefits such as access to provincial meetings and OPSEU training, hardship funds, and strike pay in the event of work stoppage.

Read more …

Bill 148 – Arbitration – Kaplan Ruling

On April 15, members of OPSEU and DivEx met with arbitrator William Kaplan to deal with preliminary objections on the Bill 148 Letter of Understanding. Arbitrator Kaplan’s decision was not favourable for the Bargaining Team. On a positive note, Kaplan did not rule on the merits of whether contract faculty deserve equal pay for equal work, only that due to the repeal of much of Bill 148 by the Ford government, he was not in a position to arbitrate this issue.

Ford’s Attack on Post-Secondary Education

Premier Ford wasted no time to begin his attack on public sector education. While his changes affect Ontario students from kindergarten to the post-secondary level, here’s an outline of how colleges and college students are being affected. Within a year, Ford has:

  • reduced post-secondary tuition by 10% without providing any additional provincial operating grants to colleges, which will inevitably hurt program quality
  • made cuts to OSAP, which will hurt both students and the colleges
  • made student union membership voluntary – an attack on student democratic rights
  • imposed a regressive free speech policy without any faculty consultation
  • presented a provincial budget that includes a performance-based funding model for PSE institutions, where 60% of funding is based on 10 metrics (more info below)
  • held a Sustainability and Renewal consultation – a clear attack on faculty over the age of 65 (more info below)
  • announced a public sector wage consultation – a façade in anticipation of imposed restrictions on future collective agreements and/or other noxious regulations

Protests against Ford have yet to cease, and in fact, the resistance continues to grow stronger. CAAT-A will continue to work closely with students and PSE allies to fight for quality education for Ontario students.

Ford’s Attack: Performance-based Funding Model

On April 11, the Ford government announced that 60% (by 2025) of Ontario post-secondary funding would be linked to performance metrics determined by them through the SMA3 process. This is a remarkable jump from the 2-3% proposed by the previous government and raises many concerns for our sector around employment stability and quality of education. These metrics are designed as pass/fail – in other words, these are all or nothing models of funding. They could essentially be a delayed cut in disguise. Based on the technical briefing provided by the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, there are nine system wide and one institution-specific metrics for colleges:

  1. Graduate earnings
  2. Experiential learning (Number & Proportion of Graduates in Programs with Experiential Learning)
  3. Skills and competencies related metric (TBD)
  4. Graduate employment (Proportion of Graduates Employed FT in a Related or Partially-related Field)
  5. Institutional Strength /Focus (Proportion of Students in Identified Area of Strength)
  6. Graduation Rate
  7. Apprenticeship related metric (TBD)
  8. Innovation (Funding from Industry Sources)
  9. Community / Local Impact (Student Population as a Proportion of Local Population)
  10. Institution-specific Economic Impact Metric

Part-time Academic Organizing Drive

On Thursday, April 25, OPSEU organizing and DiVex had a hearing at the OLRB in front of OLRB Alternate Chair Matthew Wilson. The date was supposed to address the matter of who should be included in the part-time bargaining unit, and in particular, whether the unit should properly include individuals who hold non-teaching academic contracts. Obviously, OPSEU argued that it should include all academic work, including non-teaching work such as coordination and curriculum development. However, instead of hearing arguments on this issue, OPSEU met CEC (College Employer Council) obstruction and the day turned into case management negotiations regarding timelines for the production of documents and challenges. The outcome is that OPSEU has another extended timeline that will last until December 2019.

Overall, the whole process is extremely taxing and involves thousands of disputes over the status of both individuals and groups of potential members. The CEC could end these disputes by agreeing to simply count the ballots. In the meantime, OPSEU Organizing and DivEx will be reaching out to individual Locals with queries about the status of certain individual members.

Cancellation of the College Task Force

As we know, the Provincial Joint Task Force created to address and resolve key issues from the last round of bargaining was immediately cancelled by Ford on June 29, 2018. Members of the task force, however, were not notified until July 13. OPSEU/DiVex has already filed a Charter challenge to the back-to-work legislation (Bill 178), and filed a second on September 5, 2018 in regard to the cancellation of the task force. OPSEU are now in the process of scheduling dates related to submission of affidavits, evidence, and cross-examinations, along with securing hearing dates by late August 2019. While this will likely be a lengthy legal process, OPSEU will also be exploring ways in which we they can continue the work of the task force via EERC and other mechanisms.

Shared Governance Symposium

Planning is underway for a Symposium on Shared Governance in 2020. Ontario Colleges. Sheridan has applied for University / polytechnic status it would stand out in the Canadian Post-Secondary sector as being the only system without a form of shared governance. This increasingly reinforces a corporate structure of financial priorities and leaves faculty experts without a voice. Having won academic freedom in the last round of bargaining and the right to speak to all issues of academic quality and concern, the participation in the governance of the colleges is the next fundamental exercise of that academic freedom.This symposium will examine the issues of shared governance in the college context: shared governance models, outcome-based programs, codes of conduct, fiduciary duty, confidentiality versus transparency, among other topics.

CAAT-A Strike and Arbitration Award 2017

Faculty members across the Province were on strike for 5 weeks in order to achieve improvements to their collective agreement. Faculty were successful and the strategy by Council to have faculty accept an offer filled with concessions failed. On December 20, 2017 arbitrator William Kaplan set out the terms of a four-year contract that will govern faculty work until September 30, 2021.To read more on the award, please refer to the following link: