Provincial “Consultations” with Public-Sector Unions: An Update (11 August 2010)

By:  Cathy Christie, President, Queen’s Faculty Association

Dear QUFA Members,

On July 20, as you may know, the Ontario Government ordered what it is calling “consultations” with public-sector unions (those representing universities, health, education, and public service) in connection with its goal of freezing public-sector compensation for the next two years. These “consultations” are being held in Toronto and the university sector was up first.

I am writing to update you about this issue.

Representatives from all groups representing academic staff in Ontario met July 30, 2010, to formulate a collective response to the provincial government’s initiative. At this meeting, which I attended with QUFA negotiators Marvin Baer and Allan Manson, we approved a resolution that underscores the importance of finding local solutions to meet local priorities through collective bargaining. We then selected a delegation to represent academic staff at the provincial “consultations” and mandated it to inform the provincial government that groups representing academic staff will:

  • conduct contract negotiations in the letter and spirit of free collective bargaining in accordance with their rights and with their tradition of responsible labour relations; and
  • strenuously oppose any infringement of free collective bargaining.

This delegation included staff support from both OCUFA and CAUT, as well as a legal advisor from Sack, Goldblatt & Mitchell.

The resolution that was approved by representatives of the provincial faculty associations on July 30  guides the discussions that are taking place in Toronto this week. Please note that these are “consultations” and NOT negotiations, so there is no “table.” The delegation agreed to attend only in order to seek further clarification about the process and to inform the provincial government that faculty associations intend to bargain as usual.

I was impressed with the consensus among the representatives of academic staff concerning the position that should be taken in these “consultations.” The delegation delivered the strong message to the government that bargaining at the local level is sacrosanct and that any kind of provincial framework agreement is a non-starter.

A Queen’s News Centre article of August 9, 2010, gave the impression that Dan Bradshaw (Associate Vice-Principal, Faculty Relations) and I were jointly invited as representatives from Queen’s. This was erroneous. I attended as a member of the delegation representing academic staff. Dan Bradshaw is attending as a member of a group nominated by COU to represent university administrations. QUFA has asked Queen’s News Centre to correct the information on its website.

QUFA is committed to providing its members with timely and accurate information. I will update you next week.

Cathy Christie
Queen’s University Faculty Association

August 11, 2010

This entry was posted in Budget/Crisis, Clippings, Collective Bargaining. Bookmark the permalink.

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