Response to 15 College Students Associations Across Ontario Send Open Letter to College Employer Council, Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Ministry of Colleges and Universities
Dear Student Leaders:
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and perspective. We understand the stress you are under, and share your concerns about the continued unrest.
Over the past several months, college faculty have attempted to find middle ground and de-escalate tensions. We have scaled back our proposals significantly from our original positions, and back in November, offered to refer all outstanding matters to voluntary binding interest arbitration to ensure stability in the system. To be clear, binding interest arbitration is not a win for either side, it is simply a path through this impasse without labour disruption in the face of current global events. It is also the most likely outcome following lockout or strike, and was what the government legislated to end the strike in 2017.
Following faculty’s rejection of College management’s offer in February, we offered to return to the table to negotiate, or to go to voluntary binding interest arbitration. The College management team refused saying that they could not negotiate faculty’s proposals because they are “unacceptable” to college management. They also refused arbitration, however, because they state that they have a duty to negotiate.
We can only conclude from their circular logic that the College management team is only willing to negotiate if faculty drop all of our demands. Faculty are, like all public service workers, taking a 4% per year pay cut in real wages due to the government’s wage restraint legislation. That cut will disproportionately affect new faculty over the life of their careers with the colleges. Nonetheless, our demands are NOT about wages: they are about direct improvements to your learning experience and equity for all faculty. The vast majority are at zero cost to the colleges.
Instead of finding a solution, the College Presidents, who direct the College management team, are forcing an unnecessary escalation. We know we can’t move any further; that’s why we proposed binding interest arbitration as a solution. We’ve asked the College Presidents to agree, but they would rather risk your year than seek a resolution.
We hope they’ll listen to you, the students, and do the right thing. We’ve drafted our own letter for students that goes directly to their college presidents. You can find it here, and we encourage you to share it with your members if you desire: https://www.collegefaculty.org/write-your-college-president/
This is not about winning; it’s not a game for us as faculty. This is about fighting for what’s needed for you in the system to ensure you have the supports you need to succeed. We know that right now you need stability, too. That’s why we are willing to arbitrate if the College management team refuses to negotiate.
Take care, and please feel free to reach out if you’d like to meet and talk further. We’d be happy to meet with you directly as well.
JP, Jonathan, Katie, Michelle, Ravi, Rebecca, Shawn
The College Faculty (CAATA) Bargaining Team
Press Release Announcing Student Association Open Letter
London – 15 Student Associations and their leaders from across the province of Ontario are urging the College Employer’s Council and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union to continue to bargain in good faith following the Union’s recent rejection of the CEC’s latest contract offer. Over 240,000 post-secondary students are being directly affected and the attached letter outlines student concerns.
“Students have faced a wide array of challenges during the past two years as learning environments have changed. The student experience has diminished, and students are once again caught in the middle of contract negotiations”, stated Fanshawe Student Union president Ricardo Souza.
“Students and their families are now worried if their semester will be disrupted by a faculty strike or an escalation of work-to-rule such as we see beginning Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022. This can cause further stress as it may affect their ability to complete their program requirements on time, or in a rushed manner like the 2017 faculty strike,” continued Souza. “Every day of uncertainty hinders the communication of students with their institutions and faculty, and every day that tensions are escalated, hurts students and their ability to learn, creating even more anxiety.
“We eagerly await a resolution to this ongoing situation.”
For more information:
Ricardo Souza e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read the student’s letter here: