The Unit 2 Bargaining Team met with the Employer on June 13th and June 17th, aided by a provincially appointed conciliator. The Union has made considerable movement in an effort to secure a fair and reasonable agreement for our members. The employer, however, tabled a set of proposals that failed to address any of the key priorities identified by the membership and are unwilling to discuss improvements to job security or the creation of a retirement security plan.
The Employer’s “settlement offer” was a 2-year agreement and contained increases of only 1% to the base rate in each year and no meaningful improvements to job or retirement security. The union’s extremely modest proposal to create joint committees where we could at least discuss the issues of job and retirement security have also been ignored. The offer expired on June 27th at 4 p.m. Because the Employer’s so-called settlement offer failed to address any of the major issues identified by the membership, the Union’s elected bargaining team notified the Employer that we would not be accepting that offer.
On June 28th, the Employer informed us that it has requested a ‘No Board Report’ from the conciliator. This is a legal process required under the Labour Relations Act in order to start a countdown toward a work stoppage. As such, the Union has every reason to believe that the employer will lock out union members by mid-to-late July (the exact date of a lockout remains TBA – a lockout can begin 17 days after the issuance of the conciliator’s ‘No Board Report,’ and the conciliator has five days to issue the report after being requested to do so). Furthermore, on the day a strike or lockout can begin, the Collective Agreement is no longer in force and the employer can unilaterally change the terms under which we work, whether or not job action occurs, leaving Sessionals in a vulnerable position.
The Union has been clear and reasonable in our demands throughout the ten months that we have bargained. The membership deserves a fair increase to wages (especially in light of rapidly rising inflation), improvements to job security language, and access to retirement security. In support of these proposals, a record-setting number of Sessionals voted 85% in favour of strike action if needed. We believe that a fair and reasonable settlement can still be negotiated and have worked tirelessly in good-faith to secure a fair agreement, but the Employer has responded only with ‘no’ and now looks poised to lock out Sessional Faculty in the middle of summer.
The Union is hoping to continue to bargain with the Employer, with the assistance of the provincially appointed mediator, in July, but in the interim we need to prepare for job action should negotiations fail to lead to any meaningful gains for the membership.
As part of our ongoing strike preparations, the Union is running an important “Picket Captain Training” workshop on June 30th from 1-4 p.m. at the CUPE National Office at 21 King St. West in Hamilton. Members voted overwhelmingly to engage in job action if needed, and it looks like it may become necessary. If you are interested in attending the Picket Captain training session, or in joining the Strike Committee, please e-mail our Mobilizer, Walter, at firstname.lastname@example.org.