Dear Fellow Faculty Members,
I hope you enjoyed the Family Day Weekend. This past week was a busy and somewhat productive one. We met for a full day on Monday with the Administration’s team, and two long days on Wednesday and Thursday with our provincially appointed mediator.
Monday started slowly with little progress.
With the help of the mediator on Wednesday we saw small progress on some key issues such as collegial hiring committees. However, despite indicating that they wanted to start at 8:00 a.m. that day, they did not come to the table until just before 11:30, and in fact by about 7:30 p.m. we had spent all but 30 minutes in the morning and about 3 ½ hours in the afternoon with them at the table. This has been common practice this round of bargaining – it is unfortunate we cannot use our scheduled time to bargain and have important conversations at the table, not in the caucus room.
The next day they came to us with only five proposals, all monetary, with very little movement in each. We continued to bargain with the mediator’s assistance until after 10:30 p.m. Our team moved substantively on a number of non-monetary issues, and we’ve verbally agreed to sign off on some more proposals . We presented a number of possible resolutions to outstanding grievance and arbitration matters; we are disheartened that the Administration prefers to pay massive legal and arbitration fees in fighting faculty issues and concerns, rather than investing these resources into making the University a better place to work and learn. In the interests of reaching agreement, we agreed to defer a number of outstanding matters to future legal proceedings.
They did agree to withdraw Article XX – Termination of Employment, which is one very positive step forward. Unfortunately, much of our bargaining time last week was consumed by a possible withdrawal of the Ministry of Labour from our workplace, but we are happy to report that we can continue to rely on the expertise of our provincially-appointed mediator as she guides us forward in settlement discussions.
On the monetary side, despite a stated commitment to equity and recent publicity about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at UOIT, they are proposing to exclude our Academic Associate members in every possible way from Collective Agreement rights beyond bare legislative minimums, and in at least one case pushing even those boundaries by proposing to collapse legislatively obligated vacation pay into base salary. All Faculty Members deserve at least vacation time and/or pay, holidays, and fair benefits protection.
We’ve seen minor movement on compensation for some Faculty Members, which is better than zero, but not much. Their position on benefits remains unchanged. They’ve verbally committed to minor increases in paramedical and vision services, but will not agree to include these commitments in the collective agreement. Apparently, benefits are non-negotiable. They are proposing removing Benefits Coverage from the Agreement.
They provided the full slides they commissioned to substantiate their benefits assertions. Further analysis of their benefits data reveals their initial presentation was selective and focused on two areas where UOIT’s benefits compare favourably. In all other areas that we can find we rank last or next to last.
On Wednesday they also invited Craig Elliott, the UOIT’s Chief Financial Officer and Pamela Onsiong, Director, Financial Planning and Reporting to answer questions about the “perceived budget surplus”. I am pleased to report that they confirmed much of the information in our slides, which underpins our understanding of the recent financial statements and the actual surpluses accumulated over the past several years.
We will share more detailed information with you at our in-person bargaining update this Wednesday, and hope to see you there!
Bargaining Team Members:
Mike Eklund, CNO, Professor, FEAS
Bin Chang, Associate Professor, FBIT
Sue Coffey, Associate Professor, FHS
Ana Duff, Academic Associate, FBIT
Qusay Mahmoud, Professor, FEAS
Elita Partosoedarso, Associate Teaching Professor, FHS
Ruth Simpson, Associate Teaching Professor, FHS
Christine McLaughlin, Executive Director, UOITFA
Chelsea Bauer, Executive Assistant, UOITFA