Last updated: Oct 29, 2021
To echo his own chosen term, we find Mediator Keller’s report to be unreasonable and his views on collective bargaining inconsistent with past rounds of negotiations within the CAAT-A Division. His comments suggest that he has minimal understanding of what faculty workload actually looks like, not to mention the process by which our demands were collected—directly from you, our membership. Our Local leadership has been in close contact with the Faculty Bargaining Team since last year (minus the blackout period), and it is with certainty that we say the mischaracterization of our Team in this report is troubling.
While it is any mediator’s responsibility to bring their expertise to the table, including what their past experience leads them to understand as reasonable or attainable, these words are not neutral. In response to some of the report’s most concerning claims, we would argue:
- It is not reasonable to use the age of our collective agreement (CA) as the primary framework for negotiations, as when the mediator stresses he “reminded the CAAT-A team that what they were negotiating was a renewal of a mature collective agreement” (p. 4; this language also echoes earlier CEC communications). The CA is certainly “mature” in the sense that we bargained our first terms of employment over 50 years ago. But using maturity in this way overlooks how much the nature of our work has changed over five decades, let alone the last 18 months. Our workload factors were established in (and haven’t changed since) 1985. As a result, the massive changes to teaching methodology, pedagogy, and modality, the advancement of technology, the diversity of student demographics and needs, alongside changes to the college’s mandate and Ministry guidelines, remain unaddressed. Our current CA was imposed in 2017 through back to work legislation and binding arbitration, along with the cancellation of the Provincial Taskforce, which would have looked at faculty workload with a wide range of stakeholders. Our shift to emergency remote work in the short term of pandemic conditions appears likely to have significant long-term effects. For so many reasons, our working conditions have changed. Why should the age of a collective agreement determine its adequacy in addressing our current conditions?
- It is not reasonable to frame our workload proposals through the lens of Bill 124, as the mediator insists on doing (p. 9). Is hiring the number of people needed to make our real workloads match the numbers in our SWFs or contracts a “salary increase” in any meaningful sense? Or is this ultimately an argument that the Colleges should not have to pay fair wages for the actual amount of work undertaken? This is not a salary issue: there is nothing in these proposals that insists individuals be paid more, only that the college should have to account accurately for the work its employees do. If this results in more employees being hired, that is simply a workplace adapting its workforce to current conditions. Legislation that would make it illegal for workplaces to hire employees to meet demand is legislation that requires employee burnout and reduction in services. To conflate hiring with salaries goes beyond the scope of Bill 124. Why should the Colleges’ balanced budgets and ongoing surpluses be generated by failing to acknowledge and pay for real workloads?
- It is certainly reasonable to observe there are different understandings of what bargaining should seek to accomplish. However, in discussing our proposals around equity and Indigenization, Mediator Keller asserts “Collective bargaining, which is designed to change an employment contract, is not the right forum to effect social and cultural change” (p. 11). Clearly, we disagree in principle. Further, it is our understanding that both teams have found agreement on several areas around these issues. Certainly, at Humber, employees at all levels of the institution have made strides towards addressing equity, diversity, inclusion, Indigenization, and Truth and Reconciliation. It is troubling, therefore, to see Mediator Keller spend over a full page questioning the appropriateness of such commitments within a collective agreement. If the parties both accept the CA as a venue for such commitments, what is the objection? How else does change happen if not through such concrete commitments?
- It is not reasonable to base an understanding of each party’s good faith on the number of changes to language in the CA they bring to the table, contrary to the stress the mediator places on these figures (p. 2, 3, 4). Thousands of demands were brought forward by members across the 24 Colleges. Each Local then distilled and captured the essence of their membership’s demands. The Team formulated global demands, organized into themes, based on those top demands. As the Team continued to bargain in good faith, they pared down to a bare-bones 8 demands (not 19, as reported). If our number of demands seems high, this is a direct result of the lack of progressive change with each round of bargaining. It is not surprising that the CEC has proposed minimal changes to the CA—why would they when the existing language allows them to exploit faculty? Why should the CEC be rewarded simply for offering fewer changes to the current CA? Why are Faculty being reprimanded for identifying the areas where changes are urgently needed?