TORONTO, Jan. 18, 2022 /CNW/ - OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says a better deal can be achieved and is advising college faculty to reject the employer's latest offer, after the College Employer Council (CEC) filed for a forced offer vote Monday.
"It's still possible to reach a deal at the bargaining table," said Thomas. "Ramming through a forced agreement won't be helpful to labour relations at the colleges, and it certainly won't improve the quality of education. It's important to try to reach a negotiated settlement - one that puts students first."
But instead of negotiating, the employer has walked away from the table and imposed terms and conditions on faculty as of last December. Their latest offer, which they will put to a forced offer vote, has not changed since their offer from November 23, 2021.
OPSEU/SEFPO College Faculty bargaining team Chair JP Hornick says the CEC has shown complete disregard for the bargaining process by bypassing the bargaining team, and calls their latest move an attack on collective bargaining rights.
"For months, college faculty have been bargaining for modest, realistic and much-needed improvements to Ontario's public college system," said Hornick. "The CEC and the colleges refuse to address these issues, and as we predicted, they've now called for a forced offer vote to try and ram through an offer that's out-of-touch and unacceptable.
"This offer is virtually identical to the one that faculty already rejected in December," added Hornick. "It wasn't good enough for faculty or our students then, and it still isn't good enough now. Apparently, we need to reinforce this message even more loudly and clearly, which is why we're urging all faculty to vote to reject the forced offer deal."
Labour law stipulates that the employer can take a forced offer vote only once. If faculty vote to reject the offer, the college faculty bargaining team is hopeful it will be the signal needed for talks to resume. But, if the employer continues to refuse to bargain, the team remains open to voluntary binding interest arbitration to avoid further strain on students and faculty.
"Rejecting this forced offer vote is the best path forward for faculty," said Thomas. "It takes away the CEC's last tool, and it ensures that any final agreement will be better than this one, which is exactly what has happened in previous rounds of bargaining.
"We can only go up from here," added Thomas. "It's time to get back to the table and bargain a deal that's good for faculty, students and the entire public college system."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO)