Bargaining 101

As the Faculty Association continues to bargain with the Administration, we wanted to ensure our members have as much information about the process as possible. Please read through the following FAQ for general information about the bargaining process including information on Strike Mandate Votes.

DEFINITIONS
Normal bargaining
Intensive bargaining
Conciliation
Mediation
Lockout
Strike
Strike Mandate
Ratification

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I give the Bargaining Team a strike mandate?
Do negotiations continue after a strike mandate?
How can I help UOITFA reach a fair and equitable settlement with the Employer?
Does a strike mandate lead to a strike?
Do I need to be worried about a possible strike or lockout?
How much is strike pay?
What about my benefits?
What must I do to qualify for strike pay?
Will I have access to campus during a strike or lockout?
Will I have UOIT email access?
Will I receive strike pay if I am on sabbatical, parental/maternity leave, or disability leave?
If I am a program chair, program director, or assistant dean do I have to go on strike?
What sort of financial preparations should I make before a strike or lockout?
How can I stay informed and get involved?
Who should I contact if I have additional questions?
What are the next steps?

 


DEFINITIONS

Normal Bargaining
Meetings are scheduled between UOITFA bargaining team and UOIT Administration’s bargaining team – we negotiate articles, provide clarification and answer questions.
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Intensive bargaining
Same process as normal bargaining – but the timeline is condensed with consecutive all-day sessions to increase momentum towards a deal.
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Conciliation
It can be requested by either side and is a common step of the bargaining process
A process offered by the Ministry of Labour to provide help in reaching a collective agreement. Either party may apply to the Ministry for a conciliator. Conciliators focus on getting a collective agreement settled. Conciliation is mandatory before the parties can engage in a strike or lockout.
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Mediation
Optional – both parties have to agree.
It involves an unbiased third party who helps the parties negotiate a settlement. In mediation, the mediator tries to guide the discussion in a way that optimizes the parties’ needs.
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Lockout
A work stoppage forced by the Employer. This is done to compel the employees to accept a collective agreement (i.e. – UOIT prevents us from coming to work).
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Strike
A withdrawal of an employee group’s services to an employer. This is a democratic pressure tactic academic staff can use in a unionized environment to get a fair settlement. If a union hasn’t held a strike vote and been through conciliation, a strike cannot legally take place.
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Strike Mandate
A strike mandate may not result in a strike. It is a bargaining chip that can be used to secure a better deal at the table. The FA’s bargaining team must receive direct explicit empowerment from the membership in order to be able to carry forth a strike. This means that without a strike mandate, there is very little strength behind each proposal put forth by the bargaining team. Strike mandates are arrived at through a secret ballot election run by the UOITFA. The majority of those voting must be in favour of a strike mandate in order for the bargaining team to be empowered. The result and turnout of this secret ballot is given to the Executive Committee which decides which information they will release to whom and when.
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Ratification
At the end of the negotiation process, members get to vote through a secret ballot to accept or reject the new agreement. Similarly, the University must also ratify the Collective Agreement. At UOIT, this is typically done through a committee at the Board of Governors. Both parties must ratify an agreement before it can be implemented.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I give the Bargaining Team a Strike Mandate?
Strike preparedness sends a strong message to the employer about the unity and conviction of UOITFA members. It also sends an unequivocal message that the membership stands behind its Bargaining Team.
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Do negotiations continue after a strike mandate is received?
Yes. Both sides continue to negotiate in an effort to achieve a collective agreement.
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How can I help UOITFA reach a fair and equitable settlement with the Employer?
At this point, you can help by attending general meetings, reading bargaining bulletins carefully, and talking about issues with your representatives, UOITFA officers, and other UOITFA members. You can also volunteer with the Action Committee to do as little or as much support work for your team as you would like.
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Does a strike mandate lead to a strike?
In most cases, it does not. Often a strong strike mandate alone is sufficient to get the Employer to take the union seriously in negotiations. There is an extensive process that must occur before UOITFA would take a strike position:

  1. The UOITFA, the Employer, or both apply for conciliation
  2. A conciliator is appointed and conciliation dates agreed to;
  3. There is at least one conciliation meeting in the attempt to reach an agreement
  4. Conciliation reaches impasse
  5. The Ministry issues a “no-board” report. There is a seventeen day waiting period. After all of these steps, the UOITFA Executive Committee would call a strike if and when there seemed to be no other way to reach an agreement. After seventeen days, the Employer could lockout UOITFA members.

A strike or lockout does not happen overnight; there is plenty of advance warning and significant planning involved.

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Do I need to be worried about a possible strike or lockout?
At this stage, you do not. However, you should be aware that a strike or lockout is possible, and you should become familiar with the vocabulary and practice of legal strike action. It is important to learn about the issues at stake. While a strike is unlikely, it is always important to be financially prudent and to plan ahead. In university bargaining, strikes are much less frequent than strike mandates, and lockout is a rare event at Canadian universities.
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How much is strike pay?
Striking UOITFA members receive financial support in the form of strike pay. UOITFA is a member of the CAUT Defence Fund. If the UOITFA is on strike, this fund disperses to the union strike pay from its $24-million reserves an amount equal to $88 per member of the bargaining unit for each of seven days of the week. These non-taxable funds are distributed by the union only to those members who perform strike duty (such as picket duty or other equivalent work for the strike headquarters).
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What about my benefits?
Most employers allow benefit plans to continue through a strike if the union covers the cost. If the employer is being punitive and resists the continuation of benefit plans, alternative arrangements are in place through the CAUT Defence Fund and CAUT. Regardless of coverage, it is to your advantage to purchase eyewear, visit the dentist, stock up on medications, and schedule other routine medical procedures covered by our benefits prior to a strike or lockout deadline.
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What must I do to qualify for strike pay?
You must participate in strike duty assigned by the Action Committee. You must sign in for strike duty each day to receive strike pay.
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Will I have access to campus during a strike or lockout?
No, except under limited circumstances where the Action Committee has issued a picket line pass (e.g., to feed lab animals, etc.). Even those members who receive passes must participate in all other strike activities, such as picket line duty. It is useful to begin thinking now about what you might need to remove from your office or lab prior to a strike deadline.
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Will I have UOIT email access?
At some universities, the union and administration have signed protocols that permit for the continued use of university email; some other universities do not. Because our employer may prove to be punitive and restrict email access, we ask every member to retain an outside email account and to notify the UOITFA of their alternative email address.
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Will I receive strike pay if I am on sabbatical, parental/maternity leave, or disability leave?
It is UOITFA’s position that members on sabbatical, disability, and parental/maternity leave should be considered as not participating in the strike action, and should continue to receive pay and benefits from the employer. At this point, we do not know what the employer’s position would be in regards to sabbaticants. If the employer decides to act punitively, the union will provide strike pay to sabbaticants at the same rate as those members who can participate in strike duty.
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If I am a program chair, program director, or assistant dean do I have to go on strike?
Yes, if program chairs, directors, and assistant deans are members of the bargaining unit, they will have to go on strike.
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What sort of financial preparations should I make before a strike or lockout?
It is never too early to begin thinking about prudent financial preparations for a potential strike or lockout. If a strike or lockout appears to be imminent, you should consider contacting your bank managers, mortgage officials, or other financial advisors and inform them of potential strike or lockout. You should be aware that some credit card companies and banks offer insurance in case of strike or lockout, and can also make alternative payment schedules. You will need to check with your own financial institutions. UOITFA can provide a letter explaining the situation for your financial situation if you wish.

If you have expenditures that need to be reimbursed by the university, it is to your advantage to submit receipts in a timely manner.
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How can I stay informed and get involved?
Continue visiting the UOITFA website and checking your e-mail.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions?
If you have additional questions, please contact any member of the UOIT executive or your representative for your Faculty. You can contact the UOITFA Office at 905-721-8668 ext. 2049.
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What are the next steps?
The collective bargaining process requires careful and extensive preparation, and part of this preparation includes the formation of an Action Committee. While the UOITFA continues to bargain in good faith with the Administration with the goal of reaching a fair and equitable collective agreement, our members need to begin preparing for the possibility of a “no-board” report, which would put us in a legal strike or lockout position seventeen days later. No union enters negotiations with the intention of facing a strike (or lockout), but the UOITFA would be remiss in its duty to represent its members and further their goals to the maximum extent provided by labour law if we did not plan for the possibility of a strike. If you would like to be part of this committee, please contact the UOITFA.

No experience is necessary, and training and support is received from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, as well as other faculty associations. Service on the committee counts towards service to the university as it is service to the FA.

Strike preparedness sends a strong message to the employer about the unity and conviction of members of the bargaining unit. It also sends an unequivocal message that the membership stands behind its Bargaining Team so it can negotiate the best possible deal for you.
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