As we enter a Bargaining Year, we have already started regular communications with our faculty counterparts at WLUFA.
Back in June 2019, the provincial government introduced Bill 124. This bill restricts increases to anything that is considered monetary to 1% per year for 3 years for all public sector workers. This includes salaries, benefits, vacation entitlement, etc. One of the few exceptions on the list is merit, something that is not common in unionized environments, but prevalent in management and administration contracts. I expect that all major public sector unions in the province will legally fight this legislation once it becomes law as it restricts our right to collectively bargain our employment conditions.
In the University sector, our support staff colleagues at the University of Ottawa have been in negotiations for months. Back in July, the union filed for Conciliation, the process where the Ministry of Labour appoints a conciliator/mediator to come and assist both sides with reaching an agreement. They met with the conciliator on September 16th and, to date, have not been able to reach agreements on key issues. The union is exploring their next steps.
On the education front, unions that represent workers in the elementary and secondary school boards are in the midst of bargaining. The workers represented by CUPE (custodial, tradeworkers, education assistants, early childhood educators, and more) recently announced a 93% strike mandate. On September 30th, they are starting a partial withdrawal of services. The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) are currently doing a strike vote, while the secondary school teachers and support staff (OSSTF) are about to start bargaining the first week of October.
A open call for the WLUSA Collective Bargaining Committee will come out in mid- to late October. Without a doubt, the effects of Bill 124 and the massive funding cuts to secondary and post-secondary education are going to make the negotiations process quite different this year.