After nine months of bargaining, the Association is seeking the help of a conciliator from the Ontario Ministry of Labour to seek a fair deal for the renewal of the collective agreement. The collective agreement expired a year ago, August 31, 2016.
If conciliation is unsuccessful to break the impasse, either party may ask the government for a ‘’no board’’ report with a legal strike or lockout to follow.
Some progress in bargaining has been made on a number of minor issues, including anti-harassment language, the grievances procedure, payment for training on new information technology, and the provision of general liability insurance.
Despite these productive conversations, the employer has thus far rebuffed our significant efforts to obtain equal pay and equal benefits for equal work, substantial improvements in job security, and better working conditions. The university also continues to reject our reasonable demands for an evaluation system of teaching on par with those of full-time professors and the right of part-time professors to have representation on the university’s governance bodies.
Our bargaining demands were formulated on the basis of a bargaining survey that saw a record high response from over 400 members. The proposals were discussed and adopted at several membership meetings last year. Most recently, the membership affirmed the importance of these proposals at the general membership meeting on April 6.
While the employer has withdrawn a number of concessionary proposals, they still seek the flexibility to hire non-unionized labour and hold on to a draconian proposal that would see members lose the ability to teach a course if they receive a course evaluation below 3.79 twice.
Bad Faith Bargaining Complaint
The APTPUO was also forced to file a bad faith bargaining complaint to the Ontario Labour Relations Board that the University of Ottawa has violated the statutory freeze on working conditions during negotiations for a new collective agreement. As you may be aware, article 5.5 obliges the employer to present changes of minimum required qualifications to the Association with justifications and to get the Association’s approval on these.
The employer imposed new requirements this summer for hiring part-time professors in a number of faculties without obtaining the prior consent per the statutory freeze during negotiations. One of these new requirements allows departments to disqualify part-time professors for a course, even if she or he had taught the course satisfactorily in the past.
Our initial efforts to resolve the situation failed as the University refused to undo the changes to the postings. When they also failed to assure the union that no other changes to job requirements had been made, the Association was left with no other option to preserve the integrity of the collective bargaining process.
In its response to the OLRB, the University admits that it made changes to 1,248 job postings over the past three years, but failed to uphold its obligation to engage the Association in these changes more than 95% of the time. The employer, in violating the collective agreement in this way, has contributed to a lack of confidence in the bargaining process.
We want to make sure that the employer fully complies with the statutory freeze during bargaining, but we are also asking the Board to make sure the University compensates those members who have lost work as a result of these illegal changes.
We will schedule a special general meeting at the end of the month to discuss the actions we collectively need to undertake to obtain a fair collective agreement. The APTPUO will also reach out to other campus unions and student associations. We have also indicated to the employer our willingness to continue with bargaining until a conciliator is appointed.
In the meantime, please continue checking your e-mail and the website.