UOITFA Strike Mandate Vote FAQs

Strike Mandate Vote: FAQ for UOITFA Members

What is a Strike Mandate?
A strike mandate may not result in a strike. It is a bargaining tool that can be used to secure a better deal at the table. The UOITFA’s bargaining team must receive direct explicit empowerment from the membership 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 vote 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.


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.

Do negotiations continue after a strike mandate is received?

Yes. A strong strike mandate vote buts us in a strong position to bring in a third-party mediator or to enter into conciliation. 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.

As a UOITFA member, how can I help UOITFA reach a fair and equitable settlement with the Employer?
At this point, you can help by attending meetings and in-person bargaining updates, reading bargaining updates carefully, and talking about issues with your UOITFA representatives and officers, other UOITFA members, your students and other members of the Ontario Tech community. The UOITFA is here to help you navigate these conversations and you can reach out to us at office@uoitfa.ca for support or more information. You can also volunteer with the Action Committee to do as little or as much support work for your team as you would like.

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 even if we have a strike mandate vote:

  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.

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. 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.

How can I stay informed and get involved?

The UOITFA will continue to host virtual bargaining updates and we encourage our members to attend as many of these updates as possible as these meetings allow us to have candid conversations with our members about bargaining. Please continue to look for email and social media updates as well. The more involved our members are in the process, the stronger we are at the bargaining table – remember, action works!!!

If you wish to get involved with the Faculty Association’s Action Committee, please contact office@uoitfa.ca for further information.

Strike Mandate Vote: FAQ for Ontario Tech Students and Community Members

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: job security, pension and benefits, and workload. Ontario Tech’s Administration has proposed to eliminate many of the rights and protections, specifically relating to job security and workload, that Faculty Members at Ontario Tech already have in their Collective Agreement.

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

When we negotiate with the university for a new contract, we try to improve the overall quality of education for everyone at Ontario Tech. The quality of your education is determined by a number of factors, including class and size; how much time Faculty members have to develop and teach courses; how much time your instructors have to grade your work and give you one-on-one instruction; what kind of resources are available to students and Faculty alike; and whether your education environment is open and inclusive.

Ontario Tech already has one of the highest workloads across Ontario and the Administration is proposing changes that would only make it worse. This has a direct effect on student learning conditions at Ontario Tech. 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.

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

Yes, Ontario Tech has been running surpluses for the nearly every of the past 10 years including a budgetary surplus last year that could be used to strength the quality of education here at the University.

As well, even though there have been many cuts to the post-secondary sector over the last few years, the Ford government, through Bill 124 has also imposed a 1% cap on monetary increases to Collective Agreements in Ontario. This means that in many cases the UOIT Faculty Association is limited in what we even ask for when it comes to monetary issues. In fact, many of the larger issues on the table right now are not monetary issues. There are many ways that the Ontario Tech administration could improve the quality of education here at Ontario Tech without having to increase spending.

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

At this stage, the UOIT Faculty Association may have to enter into a legal strike position if the Ontario Tech Administration continues to ignore large issues like equity, workload and job security.

Will a strike effect classes?

A strike could 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 Ontario Tech Administration would make in the event of the strike, but we will do everything we can to keep you informed. Follow the UOITFA on our social media platforms to make sure you don’t miss any updates.

We do not want a strike at Ontario Tech and Faculty Members are working hard to avoid one, but we need the support of students and Ontario Tech community members. You can support Faculty Members and help avoid a strike by checking back with the UOIT Faculty Association for future updates and actions that will help us avoid a strike.

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 vote 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.

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.

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. – Ontario Tech 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 Ontario Tech, 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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