Arbitrator resolves outstanding issues between OPSEU and CEC regarding the new collective agreement
Credit: JORDAN CROW
All outstanding issues regarding the collective agreement between OPSEU and the CEC were resolved through binding mediation-arbitration.
On Nov. 19, the provincial government passed Back-to-Work legislation, which made striking faculty return to classes despite the OPSEU and the CEC failing to reach an agreement at that time for the new collective agreement.
As a result, the government issued that all outstanding areas of bargaining would be decided through binding mediated-arbitration. The arbitrator selected by both parties for the process was William Kaplan.
Both parties met with the arbitrator from Dec. 14 to 16 and the arbitrator requested that a media blackout take place until the award was released on Dec. 20.
The key issue that remained unresolved before the implementation of Back-to-Work legislation was academic freedom within the college system. The arbitrator awarded academic freedom language to the new collective agreement. Some of the language that is added to Article 13 of the collective agreement includes, “Every faculty member is able to exercise academic freedom in the performance of his/her duties. Academic freedom at the College includes the right to enquire about, investigate, pursue, teach and speak freely about academic issues without fear of impairment to position or other reprisal.”
The arbitrator also awarded all full-time faculty members to receive a $900 lump sum payment and all part-time faculty receive a $450 payment. In addition, the arbitrator awarded a 7.5 per cent wage increase for faculty over the next four years. This wage increase was included in CEC’s offer before the strike began.
The government will also be instigating a task force to investigate several aspects of the college system such as staffing models, student success and more. The task force will report their findings and make recommendations based on the data collected.
“It would have been better to have a negotiated settlement. But through the arbitration, I think we have reached an outcome that is positive, and positive for moving forward,” Darryl Bedford, president of OPSEU Local 110 said. ”With academic freedom and the task force that will look at how academic decisions are made in a college, I think we are setting the stage for the next 50 years of the college system.”
The Interrobang was able to get in contact with media relations at the CEC, but unfortunately, were unable to arrange an interview with a CEC representative before the article’s deadline.
According to a CBC News article by Andrew Lupton titled, Both sides praise arbitrator ruling in college faculty labour dispute, the CEC said in a statement that they were very pleased with the Kaplan Award. “We have a workable award that is in the best interests of all parties and we want to thank the arbitrator for his efforts,” Sonia Del Missier, Chair of the CEC’s bargaining team said in the CBC article.
The new collective agreement will expire on Sept. 30, 2021.Individuals can view the Kaplan Award at the College Employer Council’s website at thecouncil.on.ca/.