We understand that many of you have concerns about the recent press release about OPSEU launching a charter challenge of the back-to-work legislation passed by the Liberals to force an end to the college faculty strike. The Divisional Executive and Bargaining Team assure you that this is a necessary challenge and one that does not undermine in any way what we have accomplished this round. Indeed, this is in the best interests of our CAAT-A Division.
The back-to-work legislation was a direct challenge to the fundamental right of workers to withdraw our labour when faced with a recalcitrant employer who is unwilling to bargain. It was also clearly intended to undermine our momentum following the incredibly high vote to reject the employer’s offer by our faculty: 95% of our faculty voted 86% to reject.
Following the mediation/arbitration and the Kaplan award, the Council has instructed the colleges to use the narrowest and most restrictive interpretation of the award. This has resulted in many members not receiving the lump sum pay set out in the return-to-work language, fear mongering that Bill 148 will result in program closures, language in partial-load contracts that attempts to undermine the registry and other gains, and a continuation of the hostilities they stoked during bargaining. While we can and will take on many of these battles directly via the arbitrator and the provincial task force, we must also hold the government accountable for their role in preventing us from negotiating our collective agreement.
To leave the back-to-work legislation unchallenged would be an affront to union principles, and would set the stage for the employer to continue to bargain by stonewalling going forward. The remedy we are seeking is simple: we start bargaining from where we are now once the court finds in our favour. We do not revert back to the pre-Kaplan award, but begin from there immediately. We are not and will not end up back out on strike when we win; we simply begin a new bargaining cycle that allows us to build on what we’ve already started.
We hope this message helps clarify some questions and allay your concerns.
RM Kennedy, for the CAAT-A Divisional Executive
JP Hornick, for the faculty bargaining team