Today, in response to escalating rhetoric from the College Employer Council and a number of colleges, OPSEU/SEFPO has filed an unfair labour practice (ULP) complaint regarding union interference with the Ontario Labour Relations Board [see below].
The filing of the ULP follows a week in which several colleges–including Niagara, St. Lawrence, Humber, and Fanshawe–have directed faculty to stop sharing bargaining information via their email signatures or LMS. Many colleges, however, continue to use college resources in order to circulate their own bargaining information from the CEC to all faculty, staff, and students.
Specifically, the complaint centres on the ways in which the CEC team and certain colleges “…have blatantly interfered with the rights of OPSEU’s members to choose to demonstrate support for their bargaining agent’s position during contract negotiations” and have attempted to silence support for the union to gain “an unfair advantage in bargaining.” The ULP also asserts that they “have also interfered with the Union’s right to seek support from its members, and to engage in strike activity that is free from undue influence and threats of reprisal.”
While Graham Lloyd, CEO of the CEC, issued a letter yesterday asserting that faculty bargaining messaging is “anti-college”, he also included a set of his untested opinions about whether work-to-rule is a form of strike, and whether faculty SWFs are a reflection of our workload. His letter is a deliberate, if clumsy, attempt to distract and confuse faculty about their legal right to participate in work-to-rule.
Lloyd also states that the CEC will only come back to the table on the condition that faculty drop any demands the CEC is unwilling to consider.
The two questions that both Lloyd and the colleges do not answer or address in their communications are quite telling:
1. Why won’t the colleges address faculty demands on workload, partial load issues, contracting out, intellectual property rights, equity and decolonization?
2. Why won’t the CEC/college team agree to go to voluntary binding interest arbitration on outstanding issues, which the faculty team first offered on November 18 and which remains on the table as an option?
Instead, the CEC–and the college administrators who direct their team–continue to engage in a fear-based campaign that doesn’t even pretend to counter the merits of faculty concerns and proposals. We have not undertaken the filing of this ULP lightly; we strongly and simply believe that faculty have the right to communicate with our students and the public about our bargaining, and to be able to do so in an environment free from reprisal or threats of reprisal.
Your CAATA Bargaining Team