chairs at a table

Bargaining Update: Preparing for negotiations

I hope this Bargaining update finds you safe and well. I pray that you are settled in your duties and are
being productive working from home.

As you may already be aware, our Collective Agreement expires June 30th, 2020. Many of you ha
already reached out to Keith or myself asking about our bargaining status. Here is a synopsis of what has
transpired to date.

For the past few rounds, we have made a strong effort to reach an agreement prior to the end of the
current Agreement, but as you know recent events, government decisions, and other internal changes
have caused us to take more of a “wait and see” approach.

In June 2019, the Provincial Government launched Bill 124 that legislates wage increases of just 1% per
year over the next 3 years. This law makes it very difficult to bargain anything related to compensation.
All provincial unions, including OSSTF, have launched a Charter challenge against this Bill and we have
been waiting to see when this challenge may be heard by the courts. Additionally, all elementary and
secondary school teachers and support staff were already in the midst of bargaining. It was important to
see how those sessions would impact Bill 124.

Internally, we launched the new Job Evaluation System. In those presentations, it was the hope that by
late Summer, we would be at a stage where discussions would begin about what a new Salary Grid
would look like.

Then, of course, came the pandemic known as COVID-19 which has slowed down a lot of processes and
introduced new challenges. To the points above, the pandemic has stalled all court proceedings around
the Charter challenge and has caused delays in the submissions of Job Analysis Questionnaires (JAQs).
As you may know, the faculty union (WLUFA) has reached a new collective agreement with the
University for their full-time unit. Keith and I have kept regular communication with the bargaining
leaders in WLUFA to understand the challenges that come with bargaining in a virtual environment.
Keith and I began meeting with representatives in Human Resources early in 2020 and both sides
acknowledge that without the ability to bargain much in terms of compensation, bargaining will not be
“traditional” in any manner, which has caused the Collective Bargaining Committee to think differently
in its approach.

The Collective Bargaining Committee met on a regular basis in February and March to prepare a
Membership Survey and brief. However, with the impact of the pandemic, the Committee halted its
normal march towards bargaining. The Committee started meeting again in late May and early June,
meeting in the virtual world of Teams and Zoom. We have started new conversations and are
attempting to create scenarios around the Charter challenge, the job evaluation system, and the

Expect over the coming days and weeks to receive a brief survey from the Committee and regular
updates as we move toward renewing our Agreement. In the meantime, you should know that on July
1st, the terms and conditions of our current Collective Agreement will remain in effect until a new
Agreement is reached. Changes to the Agreement made after July 1st are typically made retroactive to
July 1st, when applicable.

If I have failed to answer a question you had or if this message has inspired new questions, please email
me and I will respond.

In solidarity, always being mindful of our rights and protections, and that of our home Laurier.

Niru Philip
Chief Negotiator, WLUSA/OSSTF D35