OPSEU to government: disband College Employer Council

Back to work legislation would have been unnecessary and students would have been back in class faster if the College Employer Council had taken negotiations seriously.

Toronto (17 Nov. 2017) — The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is calling on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to disband the College Employer Council, the “private club” that represents 24 public colleges in collective bargaining.

“After college faculty overwhelmingly rejected Council’s latest contract offer, we hoped real negotiations would ensue,” said JP Hornick, Chair of the OPSEU college faculty bargaining team. “But in a joint meeting with the Premier and Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews, it became clear that, of the 3 parties in the room, only 2 were concerned with saving the semester for hundreds of thousands of students."

College Employer Council appeared uninterested in reaching an agreement

“The College Employer Council, refused to accept that their approach to bargaining had failed, and refused to do anything to get our students back to class,” said Hornick.

In talks late yesterday afternoon, Hornick said, Council refused to remove the “poison pills” in its offer and made no move toward a settlement – even when faculty offered to send a key item, academic freedom, to arbitration.

OPSEU attempted to reach a negotiated settlement

Commenting on a government move to introduce back-to-work legislation, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas laid the blame for it at Council’s door.

“When our team made a last-ditch effort to get students back in class on Monday, the colleges dug in even further,” he said. “If there is going to be legislation, it should include measures to disband the College Employer Council altogether.

College Employer Council members unaccountable, even though the Council is publicly funded

“Council is a private club that is accountable to no one,” Thomas said. “It is a small group of privileged people that asked for 30 to 40 per cent wage increases this year but are more than happy to make work more and more precarious for the frontline faculty who make education happen."

“Council is a shadowy agency beyond the reach of freedom-of-information and salary disclosure laws, yet it is funded entirely by public dollars and students’ tuition,” he said. “It exists for no other reason but to enrich its directors, and it should be outlawed.”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE