Discussing a Potential Strike: Faculty Association Toolkit

Tips for Student Discussion of a Potential Strike

  • Always ask them to follow the Faculty Association on social media for more updates!! twitter.com/uoitfa and facebook.com/uoitfa and instagram.com/uoitfa
  • They can visit uoitfa.ca/bargaining2018/ to read all of our bargaining updates
  • Students are always welcome to reach out the Faculty Association for further questions at office@uoitfa.ca
  • Do not use class time to discuss the potential strike with students – invite them to arrive 10 minutes before class is scheduled if you are open to discussing the potential of a strike.
  • The Faculty Association has resources available to make this discussion easier for our members – we have a Potential Strike Information for Students PowerPoint Presentation about the current bargaining situation and Take Action to Avert a Strike Information Poster that outlines how students can take action to avert a strike.
  • The Faculty Association has resources available for students and Faculty Members who want to show support – we have buttons for both students, community members and Faculty Members!! If you’d like some for your students or one for yourself please drop by the office or let the Faculty Association know via email at office@uoitfa.ca

Discussing a Potential Strike: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Faculty Association bargaining for?

The Faculty Association is bargaining for many improvements but three of the larger issues still on the table are: pension and benefits, workload, and job security. The UOIT Administration is looking to remove some rights and protections that UOIT Faculty already have specifically relating to benefits and job security.  UOIT Faculty receive some of the worst benefits in the University sector in Ontario and they have no seen an improvement since UOIT first opened almost 15 years ago. As well UOIT has one of the highest workload provisions across Ontario. This has a direct effect on student learning conditions at UOIT. Unfortunately, higher than average workloads and student-faculty ratios mean less time innovating curriculum, developing ourselves professionally, and mentoring students. We are looking to bring Faculty workload provisions in line with other Universities across Ontario.

Why should UOIT students care about the Faculty Association’s negotiations?

When we negotiate with the university for a new contract, we try to improve our working conditions. At UOIT, faculty working conditions are student learning conditions Our working conditions have a direct effect on the quality of your education. The quality of your education is determined by a number of factors, including: class and size; how much time your teachers have to develop and teach courses; how much time your teachers have to grade your work and give you one-on-one instruction; what kind of resources are available to students and teachers alike; and whether your education environment is open and inclusive.

How can I help UOITFA reach a fair and equitable settlement with the Employer?

We do not want a strike at UOIT and we are working hard to avoid one but we need the support of students and UOIT community members. Faculty Members need the support of the UOIT community to help remind the UOIT Administration that Faculty Members and our students should be the university’s top priority. You can help us avoid a strike by sending a letter in support of UOIT Faculty at www.uoitfa.ca/take-action. The more messages we can send to the UOIT Administration, the greater chance we can avoid a strike. The last two rounds of bargaining we were able to send almost 1000 messages to the Administration which helped us avoid a strike.

Can UOIT afford to give Faculty a better contract with all of the cuts going on right now?

Faculty Members at UOIT have been working to negotiate a fair deal to improve working and learning conditions by bringing them in line with those offered at other universities in Ontario. Faculty Members at UOIT have not had an improvement to their pension and benefits since the University first opened even though UOIT has run planned and unplanned surpluses since 2011 that total $84 million dollars. Many of the issues on the table are not monetary issues including the issue of job security.

Now that the Faculty Association has a Strike Mandate, what are the next steps in the bargaining process?

There is an extensive process that must occur before UOITFA would take a strike position:

  • The UOITFA, the Employer, or both apply for conciliation
  • A conciliator is appointed and conciliation dates agreed to
  • There is at least one conciliation meeting in the attempt to reach an agreement
  • Conciliation reaches impasse
  • 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.

Do negotiations continue after a strike mandate is received?

Yes. Both sides continue to negotiate in an effort to achieve a collective agreement with the help of a conciliator. Conciliation is a process offered by the Ministry of Labour to provide help in reaching a collective agreement. Conciliators focus on getting a collective agreement settled. Conciliation is mandatory before the parties can engage in a strike or lockout. It can be requested by either side and is a common step of the bargaining process. The Faculty Association has entered conciliation and will continue to work towards negotiating a settlement with the help of the mediator.

Do I need to be worried about a possible strike or lockout?

At this stage, the Faculty Association may have to enter into a legal strike position as of the end of February. The Faculty Association will have to enter into a legal strike deadline if the UOIT Administration continues to ignore large issues like benefits, workload and job security.

Will a strike effect my classes?

A strike will affect your classes if they are taught by a full-time Faculty member including tenured, tenure-track, teaching or limited-term faculty. The Faculty Association is unsure what plans the UOIT administration would make in the event of the strike but we will do everything we can to keep you informed. Follow the Faculty Association on our social media platforms to make sure you don’t miss any updates.

Important Definitions

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. 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.

Conciliation

It is 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. It can be requested by either side and is a common step of the bargaining process. The Faculty Association has entered conciliation

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.

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).

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.

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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