First round of ‘wage freeze’ talks strike out with professors.

Province is trying to reach a consensus through moral suasion rather than legislating a wage freeze

By Elizabeth Church (Education Reporter)

Globe and Mail, August 26, 2010

]The Ontario government’s efforts to get a two-year accord on wage freezes for unionized public sector workers has hit a roadblock, with talks at a standstill for at least two of the first groups at the table.

Discussions among the province, employers and unions were broken off in the university sector by faculty, and failed to last beyond one day with members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. The employee groups say they will consult with members before deciding on their next step, although university faculty have made it clear to the province they feel the issues being discussed should be addressed with each university individually through collective bargaining.

“The group that was there from our side won’t be returning,” said Henry Mandelbaum, executive director of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. Mr. Mandelbaum said his group is meeting next week to decide on future actions, but pointed out it has no authority to negotiate for its members.

Earlier this summer, the McGuinty government announced plans to hold several rounds of talks with workers and their employers in different sectors. Talks are in a break this week, with a second round set to begin on
Monday with a new group of workers and employers.

A delegation representing 33 faculty associations met for one week with university leaders and government
officials as part of the hastily arranged consultations. Faculty association leaders sent a statement to the province last week expressing their desire to address issues at a local level and rejecting the premise that a
two-year wage freeze is the only way to deal with Ontario’s financial problems.

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