Hindsight is 20/20

Hindsight is 20/20

If this is true, in the year 2020 how will faculty look back at this round of bargaining?  Was this the round of bargaining where Fleming faculty fought for fairness, quality education, full time jobs and equal pay for equal work or, did we accept an unsustainable contract that put the percentage of full time faculty into single digits and, gave the power to make all classroom and curriculum decisions to management in order for your curriculum to be delivered as cheaply as possible regardless of quality? Did we have perfect vision in 2017?

Earlier this week, management at Fleming sent out an update on “bargaining” from the position of the College Employer Council.  As many of you observed, the Employer is using fear mongering and spin to make the Employer’s offer look reasonable and acceptable.  The Employer wants you to believe that our bargaining team views a strike as the only option.

What is alarming to faculty at Fleming is the Employer’s own statistics on current staffing.  We thought it was bad at a ratio of 30% full time faculty:70% non-full time faculty; however, the new data is significantly worse.

81% of teaching contact hours in the college system in Ontario are taught by non-full time faculty.  Only 19% of teaching contact hours are taught by full time faculty.

This is a shocking statistic.  What is even more concerning is that the Employer has put language in their offer that will prevent colleges from hiring full time faculty for another four years. Could this mean that by the end of their proposed contract, the percentage of hours taught by full time faculty could be in the single digits?  The answer is YES!

Faculty and students know that our contract faculty put their heart and soul into the curriculum they teach.  We know that frequently contract faculty do work without compensation; their work is precarious in that they never know if they will get another contract regardless of their expertise and dedication to student success.

Our bargaining team has provided faculty with clear, concise and in-depth bulletins and videos that include factual information and our bargaining team’s experience with negotiations.  I say negotiations: however, as we have clearly seen, the Employer is not interested in negotiating.  The Employer has consistently responded with  “No” to any of the demands brought forward by our team, even the demands that have no significant cost such as faculty making decisions in the classroom. In most instances, the “no” response from the Employer came without any level of discussion or negotiation.

On Wednesday, Fleming faculty held a General Membership Meeting (GMM) where well over 85 faculty and counselors attended at both the Brealey and Frost locations; the largest Local 352 GMM in my recollection.  Coincidentally, there were five other Local GMM’s held this week and all had record numbers for attendance.  Faculty across our college system care about quality education and care about students. This message is clear.

On September 14th we need to show our bargaining team that they have our support to stay at the bargaining table and negotiate the demands that we elected them to negotiate.  A strong strike mandate will let the Employer know that we want the Employer at the table with our team, negotiating a fair contract that creates a sustainable college system in our province and provides our students with a quality education delivered by full time and contract faculty where each college values the expertise of  faculty as leaders in education.  I ask you to vote YES on September 14th to support or bargaining team.

in solidarity,

Liz Mathewson

Local 352 president


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