Ontario Public Colleges Ask for Conciliation and File Complaint with OLRB

Bargaining at an impasse: mediator finds academic bargaining team approach and demands unlawful and unrealistic

TORONTO, Nov. 1, 2021 /CNW/ – Since July 2021, the College Employer Council (CEC) representing the 24 Ontario public Colleges and the OPSEU CAAT-A bargaining team representing college academic employees (full-time and partial-load professors, instructors, librarians, and counsellors) have been meeting at the virtual table. Throughout the bargaining and mediation process, the CEC tried to engage the CAAT-A team in discussion to better understand the needs of its members so that an agreement could be quickly reached in the best interests of students, employees, and the greater College community.

“The CAAT-A team demands touched on more than 50 per cent of the clauses in the collective agreement. Almost all of the proposed changes would fundamentally change the agreement and are not feasible for legislative, fiscal, or operational reasons” said Dr. Laurie Rancourt, Chair of the CEC Management Bargaining team. “In a mature collective agreement, the parties typically table a modest number of proposals for incremental changes. Since tabling demands, the CAAT-A team has refused to engage in any discussion of the rationale behind them.”

During mediation, based on feedback received from the CAAT-A team, the CEC amended the without prejudice settlement offer. That without prejudice settlement offer remains open for acceptance and represents a moderate path to settlement as recommended by mediator Keller. The settlement proposal (three-year agreement that includes an immediate increase in compensation, expert-led committees on areas of shared interest, and asks zero concessions of the academic employee group) is available at www.CollegeEmployerCouncil.ca .

In his report, respected mediator M. Brian Keller criticized both the CAAT-A team’s approach to bargaining and the demands on the table. After four weeks of trying to get the CAAT-A team to table reasonable demands and engage in unscripted meaningful discussion, mediator Keller terminated mediation and issued his public report. Mediator Keller wrote (in part): 

” In summary, in my view, the CAAT-A team has not engaged in meaningful bargaining with a view to concluding a collective agreement.  In my preliminary, and subsequent meeting with the CAAT-A team, I believed I had clearly articulated that almost all that was being sought was unachievable either through direct negotiations with the employer or, if it came to that, in binding arbitration.  I am still firmly of that opinion. Many of the CAAT-A team’s remaining demands are highly aspirational and completely unrealistic.  The CAAT-A team claims to recognize that but has showed no willingness to sufficiently moderate its demands to give me any hope that further mediation at this stage could result in a negotiated agreement.”

“It has become clear to us that the CAAT-A team has no interest in bargaining a renewal collective agreement with the CEC which is why we have requested that the Ontario Labour Board find that the CAAT-A team is not bargaining in good faith. Even mediator Keller recognized this in his report saying that the CAAT-A team’s strategy is faulty if their goal is to achieve a renewal collective agreement,” said Graham Lloyd, CEO of CEC. “Let’s be clear, the Colleges do not want students and employees to be harmed by a labour dispute. The CEC has taken every step possible to reach a collective agreement including presenting three settlement offers since February 2021. The CEC has also requested conciliation to continue moving the process to conclusion.”

Though conciliation has been requested, the CEC remains ready to bargain with the CAAT-A team as soon as they remove from the table the demands the mediator found unlawful and unreasonable. A copy of the mediator’s report is available at www.CollegeEmployerCouncil.ca .

About College Employer Council

The College Employer Council (CEC) is the government-mandated bargaining agent for the 24 Ontario publicly-funded Colleges in negotiating Collective Agreements with unionized staff. In addition, the CEC provides a variety of services for the College system such as advice and guidance on human resource issues, Collective Agreement administration, research, and is the policyholder for group benefits.

SOURCE College Employer Council

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