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Latest from CollegeFacuty.org
Latest from OPSEU.org
Good Morning Colleagues,
Here are five good reasons to vote “NO” on the College Employer Council’s (CEC) Forced Offer Vote coming up On February 15 to 17.
1) Our workload formula, covering full-time faculty only, has gone largely unchanged since 1985.
2) By the College Employer Council’s (CEC) own numbers (we believe them to be even higher), over two-thirds of faculty in our system are precariously employed contract faculty
3) We are attempting to protect our work which is being contracted out and privatized, including:
4) Labour disruption can be avoided by the CEC by
5) The entire college system has had $1.65 billion in surplus over the past five years
In the next couple weeks, before the forced offer vote, please take some time to look into the background of this upcoming vote. You will find details in
If you haven't received the following short email from OPSEU central on behalf of our Bargaining Team (BT), you can opt in from the information below.
Greetings from OPSEU,
As you know from our previous communication, the employer has requested a forced offer vote. We need to make sure we connect with you regularly to let you know what is going on. To do so, OPSEU is working with Stratcom to keep you and all our members informed through SMS text messaging. We see this as the fastest and most effective way to communicate and mobilize. As you know, clear and timely communication is critical at this stage.
The goal is to obtain CAAT-A members’ non-college contact information, including cell phone numbers. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out emails, voice messages and live calling to members to update this information. Please take a moment to update your contact information and in particular your cell phone number. It will only take 30 seconds.
Alternatively, you can text CAAT-A to 90993 to register your contact information. Please feel free to forward this email to other members who may not have received it.
As you may be aware of by now, a forced offer vote will be held online from 9 am on February 15th to 3 pm on February 17th. You are being asked to vote on the last offer presented by the College Employer Council (CEC), which is virtually unchanged from its November 23rd offer. Faculty have already rejected this with the strike mandate we handed down in December.
The upcoming vote is a critical one that will have both short- and long-term consequences on collective bargaining in the college sector.
In the short-term, voting to REJECT means that we will end up with a new collective agreement that is better than what the CEC is presently offering. The CEC offer does not meaningfully address faculty demands around key issues:
- more time for students,
- partial-load job security,
- preventing contracting out, to protect the work of counsellors, librarians and all other faculty,
- faculty consent for how the colleges use our course materials,
- equity and decolonization.
Once we reject this offer, the CEC will have no tactics left to avoid bargaining faculty issues.
For the second consecutive round of bargaining, the CEC has demonstrated little willingness to negotiate our demands, and instead continues to stoke fear of a full strike and threats of reprisal to try and divide faculty. After a five-week long strike in 2017 that resulted in significant gains for college faculty (e.g., academic freedom, increased seniority rights for partial-load members, and the creation of new full-time positions by removing a moratorium on Article 2 grievances), the CEC gambled this round that faculty would not stand together again, even after experiencing significant changes to our working conditions over the past four years.
But we are, and we are telling them that their strategy isn’t working for faculty. Let’s continue to prove them wrong – not just for our own good but for that of our students.
If the CEC is successful in having faculty accept their offer, there will be no incentive for them going forward to change their negotiation strategy of delay, defer, deny, and do nothing.
Why would they change their approach if it works for them this time? Taking a forced offer vote–rather than negotiating or agreeing to faculty’s offer to refer unresolved issues to voluntary binding interest arbitration–demonstrates little respect for faculty. If the CEC can routinely avoid negotiating in good faith, our needs and the needs of our students will not be met and our system will suffer as a result.
Voting to REJECT the CEC offer in mid-February does not mean a picket line–it means a better resolution for all.
We will send an undeniable message to the CEC, and the college presidents who direct them, that faculty issues must be taken seriously.
JP, Jonathan, Katie, Michelle, Ravi, Rebecca, and Shawn
The forced offer materialized within a few hours of my Monday morning prediction. I was wrong in one part of my prediction, they did not offer a signing bonus. It’s a take it or leave it deal. We already rejected their final offer with our 69.9% strike mandate vote, which made our current work-to-rule strategy legal.
Going back on that strike mandate vote by swallowing this forced offer vote will end any future constructive collective bargaining. Confrontational bargaining will result, because nothing will be accomplished at the bargaining table. The College Employer Council (CEC) will not put out their full demands until close to the end of our contract, they will argue that they cannot even come back to the table until we give up some of our major demands. Next they will impose their new version of our Collective Agreement (CA) and then go over the heads of our elected Bargaining Team (BT) and put the forced offer vote to the membership at large. Just as has happened in this round.
Binding arbitration, which our side has asked for, is what happened in 2017. In binding arbitration the arbitrator looks at both sides’ final offers and arrives at a compromise. The CEC wants the arbitrator to pick one sides’ final offer and accept it in full. There would be a winner and a loser in their choice of arbitration. They expect to win because the arbitrator cannot overrule the government’s 1% maximum salary increase. And so all their demands would follow into our CA.
It leaves us with no choice but to work-to-rule (W2R) or strike until they come back to the bargaining table or the government orders us to cease all job actions and forces binding arbitration upon us both as happened in 2017. With this being an election year our political position enhances the closer we get to Ontario elections.
If we do not reject their offer by a good margin we will have to accept the forced offer. It is only by a labour action like W2R or a strike that we can change the status quo of where we are right now and protect the collective bargaining process in future rounds.
It seems that the OLRB has set February 15-17 as the days for our vote. With no substantive change from their last final offer, we must vote against this forced offer. See our BT’s explication below.
For months, CAAT-A faculty have been bargaining for modest, realistic, but much-needed improvements to the College system. The CEC and the Colleges have refused to address these issues, resulting in our successful strike vote in December.
As we predicted, the CEC has called for a forced offer vote (likely to be scheduled sometime in February). The CEC's offer is virtually identical to the one faculty already rejected in December.
The CEC has bypassed the bargaining team and our negotiator and called for a forced offer vote—on an offer that again refuses to address faculty issues.
Nothing has changed from their last offer on November 23.
As a reminder, here’s what’s wrong with their offer:
- it allows for contracting out of all faculty work and contains no protections for partial-load faculty, counsellors, librarians, or coordinators
- it contains no changes to workload factors, which have remained unchanged since the ’80s
- it does not acknowledge the need for faculty consent prior to the reuse or sale of their course materials
- their proposed workload taskforce looks to expand two-tiering of faculty workload (including apprenticeship, aviation, academic upgrading, placements, and “other specialized programs”)
- their proposed equity taskforce and roundtable on Truth and Reconciliation are all for show and do not guarantee any changes at all in the next three years and beyond
- it contains no commitment to improved ability to bridge benefits for PL members, a group already without the same benefits as FT.
Faculty have already told the CEC that this offer isn’t good enough for us and our students. Apparently, we need to reinforce this message loudly and clearly. They can take a forced offer vote only once, and this is a further attempt by the CEC to force their position on faculty.
If, following the rejection of their forced offer, the CEC continues to refuse to bargain faculty demands, the faculty team will leave open the door to voluntary binding interest arbitration. The CEC could have chosen this path at any point to avoid further pressure on faculty and students.
Rejecting their offer takes away their last tool, and ensures that any final agreement will be better than this.
Vote to REJECT the employer’s offer. We are bargaining for better: time for our students, quality education for all.
JP, Jonathan, Katie, Michelle, Ravi, Rebecca, Shawn
In this Update:
CEC Forced Offer? Will the CEC By-Pass Our Bargaining Team Again
Can One Fit 44 Hours In A 40 Hour Week?
OPSEU Files Unfair Labour Practice (ULP) Complaint to the OLRB (attached)
Ten Things Ontario College Students Should Know: Student Information and FAQ
Can Faculty be bought for trifling bonuses? We’ll soon find out. Did you notice that we just received our retroactive pay from the College Employer Council’s (CEC) imposed contract. That is less than $200 after taxes for fifteen weeks, to those at the highest pay step.
Look for the CEC to add a signing bonus to the one forced offer they are permitted to make over the heads of our union bargaining team (BT) directly to our membership; that’s you, that’s us. And look for that one-time offer to come as soon as today or this week, while they think we’re softened up by the retroactive pay.
They should know better, considering Ontario’s College Faculty chose to reject their forced offer after three weeks on the picket line in 2017. Rather than accept their menu of concessions, we were forced to stay on strike for two more weeks until the government legislated us back to work with binding arbitration. Work-to-Rule (W2R) is our new labour action strategy.
Seems like the CEC never anticipated we would counteract their bad faith bargaining by choosing a different strike strategy. Our new labour interruption action has us doing less harm to our students and to our bank accounts. And, there is the collateral value, never imagined by the CEC when they abandoned the bargaining table. They gave everyone a poignant purpose to see how our Standard Workload Form's (SWF) maximums measure up against our real weekly hours worked.
The time limits on SWFs are set in stone during W2R. Some of you have written to ask if they should average times until they reach 44 hours; do a little more marking one week, less another. No, we never should, though most who are involved in the work they love, and know their managers have their back, work overtime without knowing it. There is a fine line between working to live and living to work when everyone respects your hard-earned contribution. Right now the CEC is stabbing us, and our collegial local managers, in the back.
So, no extra work during W2R. The CEC is hoping that more than 50% of us are not paying attention to how their unilateral action will erode our worklife, our calling, deliver less to our students’, our charges’ education. It’s time for some Faculty action; that’s where W2R is providing collateral value. Here’s some background knowledge worth keeping with you after W2R.
Fasten your barrister belts, we’re going forensic. Our legally assigned workload contracts, our SWFs, are based on maximums not averages. Case and point, our Collective Agreement (CA) says we work a maximum five eight-hour days in Articles,
11.01 K 2 Weekly contact hours assigned to a teacher by the College may be scheduled into fewer than five contact days and such compressed schedule shall be deemed to be five contact days.
11.01 L 1 The contact day shall not exceed eight hours from the beginning of the first assigned hour to the end of the last assigned hour
That’s a 40 hour week. Yet, our SWF does not go into overtime until we go over 44 hours a week. So how many can our managers assign, forty hours or forty-four hours? The extra four hours was a concession made in 1985 for those weeks when there is more to do, so that overtime pay does not often come into play. Forty-four hours was a maximum:
11.01 J 1 Such teaching contact hour agreed to in excess of the respective weekly teaching contact hour maximum shall be compensated at the rate of 0.1% of annual regular salary. Such workload hours agreed to in excess of the 44 hour weekly workload maximum shall be compensated at the rate of 0.1% of annual regular salary. Such overtime payments shall be for the greater amount but shall not be pyramided.
Everyone knew it was a forty-hour week; the full-time college classes were scheduled from nine to five! And the 1985 academic year had 32 weeks of teaching (two sixteen week semesters), there were four consecutive working non-teaching weeks for program planning and course development, eight professional development (DP) weeks minus public holidays, and eight vacation weeks.
11.01 B 1 Total workload assigned and attributed by the College to a teacher shall not exceed 44 hours in any week for up to 36 weeks
Now we teach 35 weeks a year, have seven disbursed non-teaching working weeks for program planning and course development, 2 PD weeks minus public holidays, and eight vacation weeks. Assigning maximums is the norm now; no doubt you have heard your AD say that they have been ordered to maximise SWFs. That’s how a small 1985 concession (first four hours on the rare heavy week, no overtime) manifests in 2022.
So, when our demands ask for an extra minute and a half a week to evaluate each student’s matriculation, there’s no time, we’re already maxed out. The college would have to reduce our course load, hire more teachers and raise Ontario’s post-secondary student expenditure so that we are no longer the lowest per student funding Canadian province in college training and retraining of its workforce!
The numbers in our CA are maximums not to be averaged. During W2R, any leeway would be like crossing a picket line, strike breaking.
From Our Bargaining Team:
In response to escalating rhetoric from the College Employer Council and a number of colleges, OPSEU/SEFPO has filed an unfair labour practice (ULP) complaint regarding union interference with the Ontario Labour Relations Board [see attached].
The filing of the ULP follows a week in which several colleges–including Niagara, St. Lawrence, Humber, and Fanshawe–have directed faculty to stop sharing bargaining information via their email signatures or LMS. Many colleges, however, continue to use college resources in order to circulate their own bargaining information from the CEC to all faculty, staff, and students.
Specifically, the complaint centres on the ways in which the CEC team and certain colleges “…have blatantly interfered with the rights of OPSEU’s members to choose to demonstrate support for their bargaining agent’s position during contract negotiations” and have attempted to silence support for the union to gain “an unfair advantage in bargaining.” The ULP also asserts that they “have also interfered with the Union’s right to seek support from its members, and to engage in strike activity that is free from undue influence and threats of reprisal.”
While Graham Lloyd’s, CEO of the CEC, last issued letter asserted that faculty bargaining messaging is “anti-college”, he also included a set of his untested opinions about whether work-to-rule is a form of strike, and whether faculty SWFs are a reflection of our workload. His letter is a deliberate, if clumsy, attempt to distract and confuse faculty about their legal right to participate in work-to-rule.
Lloyd also states that the CEC will only come back to the table on the condition that faculty drop any demands the CEC is unwilling to consider.
The two questions that both Lloyd and the colleges do not answer or address in their communications are quite telling:
Instead, the CEC – and the college administrators who direct their team – continue to engage in a fear-based campaign that doesn't even pretend to counter the merits of faculty concerns and proposals. We have not undertaken the filing of this ULP lightly; we strongly and simply believe that faculty have the right to communicate with our students and the public about our bargaining, and to be able to do so in an environment free from reprisal or threats of reprisal.
Fortunately, Sheridan Management has chosen not to toxify our workplace to the degree of the aforementioned colleges.
Here is a brief overview of bargaining and work-to-rule, which was targeted to students:
We continue to encourage all faculty to use the following text in the signature of their College emails:
In response to the College Employer Council's decision to impose employment conditions following the College Faculty voted to support strike actions (https://www.collegefaculty.org/2021/12/17/opseu-sefpo-stands-in-support-of-college-faculty-members/), Ontario college faculty are now following work-to-rule guidelines established by the Faculty Bargaining Team.
Faculty have chosen to focus on our students' needs and not interrupt College courses with a strike at this time, while demanding that our employer negotiate a fair resolution to this labour dispute. Work-to-rule means that we will be working only the time outlined by our current contract and workload assignments, or job descriptions. This means that we may not be available for additional, volunteer work that we may normally do, or work outside of regular work hours. Therefore, we may take more time than usual to respond to emails or other forms of communication and any additional work-related requests.
Currently we are in Phase 2 of the planned work-to-rule job actions. For more information on these actions including a work-to-rule FAQ, please visit: https://www.collegefaculty.org/work-to-rule/. We appreciate your patience and your support in our efforts to improve working conditions for Ontario college faculty and the learning conditions of Ontario college students.
Good Morning Colleagues,
It’s January 10, all our SWFs and Workload Memos and Partial-Load Contracts are in play. If you haven’t started, it’s time to keep a log of the times and coinciding work you do, so as not to exceed the limits of the current working-to-rule (W2R) labour action.
Document the time you spend making notes, preparing slides, mail-outs, jotting down ideas, following up with modified or new charts, diagrams, lesson plans, emailing students, colleagues, managers, APAs, PAC members, corresponding with suppliers, employers, advertising programs, placing students … the list is endless and ever changing. The invisible work we do is often unrecognized; it can be as unlimited as each professor’s imagination and dedication.
During W2R it is this invisible work we need to reveal, record and – stop doing when the SWF/contract hours recorded have been expended. We have every right to limit our work to the allotted SWF or contract limits, see the letter from President Warren Thomas below. During W2R we have a duty to cut back the substantial extras we provide, so that we avoid the total disruption of classes a strike would entail. And this will make clear to our managers, how much we do beyond our workload agreements.
Documenting our work will illuminate how our SWFs and contracts work. They are the scaffolding of the next 15 weeks of work; best to understand what we are signing up for when we sign our documented workload. SWF factors and hourly calculations by professors will help prevent mathematical manipulation by managers, a requirement for informed workload consent. Any acquired workload knowledge will add collateral value to this labour action.
Let me presume the argument that you might get from your AD to do work that is not otherwise assigned as a line item on your SWF. If your AD points to:
Article 11.01 F 1 - An allowance of a minimum of six hours of the 44 hour maximum weekly total workload shall be attributed as follows:
four hours for routine out-of-class assistance to individual students
two hours for normal administrative tasks.
Point right back to them that the key words are 'routine' and 'normal', and therefore these duties cannot be specifically directed by oral or written direction if they are not on a SWF or in a contract. Sheridan has been more understanding than many other colleges by giving an extra complementary hour on most SWFs in recognition of the extra time needed since the advent of email and Learning Modular Systems. But similarly, this hour is for the “complementary function listed as an ancillary professor’s role”. 'Ancillary', like ‘routine’ or ‘normal’ tasks, are not specifically named duties.
To conclude, keep a log of times and work done. Perhaps email your ADs to let them know when 50% of the allotted time is up for any specific duty on your SWF or in your contract, perhaps again at 90%. But certainly, once you have completed allotted times each week for preparation and evaluation and all duties specifically named on your SWF or contract, let your AD know that any work still needing completion, will have to wait until next week’s log time begins.
Sheridan administration has not been as confrontational to our W2R initiatives as have some other colleges. But all 24 colleges are directed by the College Employer Council (CEC), which is taking a much more draconian approach than bargaining in good faith would allow. Which is why our leadership at OPSEU central has responded strongly, as you can read below in Union President Warren Smokey Thomas’ letter to Graham Lloyd, Chair of the CEC.
January 7, 2022
Graham Lloyd Chief Executive Officer College Employer Council
Faculty members represented by OPSEU/SEFPO working at Ontario’s 24 public colleges have now begun Phase 2 of the work-to-rule campaign, as part of a legal strike action, which began on December 18, 2021.
As you know, work-to-rule is a legally recognized form of strike action, as per the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act (CCBA). The CEC is aware of this, and has responded to OPSEU/SEFPO’s strike action on its website. Clearly, there is no confusion about whether our members are engaged in strike activity.
There should be no confusion about the scope of that strike activity either. OPSEU/SEFPO has been abundantly clear about the scope and has clearly communicated that our members will not be performing tasks outside of the strict letter of the Collective Agreement, and where applicable, the requirements of their SWFs, including participation in orientation events. Such tasks are considered struck work, and performing them would be equivalent to crossing a picket line.
Any direction from the employer to faculty to not engage in strike activity - or any reprisal, or threat of reprisal for doing so - will be considered interference with the union and OPSEU/SEFPO will take any, and all, appropriate steps required. We will not allow our members to be intimidated, coerced or retaliated against.
You can imagine how disheartening it has been to hear that our members are receiving threatening communications through the employers’ communication system across the 24 colleges. This is classic union busting, Graham. I’ve been around long enough, and I’ve seen it all. We’ve had members being targeted by the employer, and threatened with discipline.
I write to you today demanding an end to these harmful intimidation tactics, and to remind you that such tactics are in potential violation of the CCBA. Our union will continue to support college faculty members, and we will proudly defend any, and all members who face disciplinary retaliation.
It’s time to lower the temperature and get back to the bargaining table.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas President, OPSEU/SEFPO CC. JP Hornick, Chair, CAAT-A Bargaining Team
Good Morning Colleagues,
One questions from two of our constituencies is being asked more than any other, based on a standard college reply to faculty members’ notice of exercising work-to-rule in not attending meetings this week. Here is an example of the college’s reply,
AD to faculty member:
I agree, none of us wish to be in this situation.
As this is a non-teaching period, it is covered by 11.08 “In keeping with the professional responsibility of the teacher, non-teaching periods are used for activities initiated by the teacher and by the College as part of the parties' mutual commitment to professionalism, the quality of education and professional development. Such activities will be undertaken by mutual consent and agreement will not be unreasonably withheld.”
In the spirit of this clause in the collective agreement, I am requesting that you, as a coordinator, attend your program specific session of orientation to welcome students, present your program with the PPT presentation your prepared and answer questions as is customary.
Hopefully, this unfortunate situation will be resolved soon.
Here are two answers that I prepared and will stand by. The first is for faculty not attending meetings, including orientations:
Thank you for bringing up Article 11.08, which stipulates that activities in non-teaching periods be undertaken by mutual consent. It is the union’s position that the concept and spirit of mutual consent was abandoned by the College Employer Council (CEC) in all Ontario colleges' union-management agreements, when the CEC refused to accept binding arbitration as a means to prevent or resolve this current impasse begun by management's No Board filing, followed by their unilateral imposition of a new Collective Agreement, and labour’s subsequent work-to-rule action.
It is the local union’s hope that local management will understand, if not sympathise, with Local 244’s principled and legal labour action. These meetings can be held next week when our SWFs are active, under Article 11.01 F 1 during the stipulation of “two hours for normal administrative tasks”.
And for coordinators who might be lately charged with other duties or leading student or faculty meetings, please answer with the following, feel free to personalize, particularly in the last paragraph if you are speaking of duties other than meetings:
Thank you for bringing up Article 11.08, which stipulates that activities in non-teaching periods be undertaken by mutual consent. It is the union’s position that the concept and spirit of mutual consent was abandoned by the College Employer Council (CEC) in all Ontario colleges' union-management agreements, when the CEC refused to accept binding arbitration as a means to prevent or resolve this current impasse begun by management's No Board filing,, followed by their imposition of a new Collective Agreement, and labour’s subsequent work-to-rule action.
And further, to prove the abandonment of the concept and spirit of mutual consent by the CEC, they unilaterally imposed changes to our last Collective Agreement (CA). One of the changes in Article 14.03 A 3, which deals with coordinators, was to change how specific duties are itemized. Where the last, and now obsolete, version of the CA stated the duties, “shall be determined”, the current, and operational CA, states that coordinator duties shall be, “reduced to writing”.
Since this duty was not “reduced to writing prior to the acceptance of the designation”, and we are currently under the legal labour action of working-to-rule, I regret that I will not be attending this meeting. It is the local union’s hope that local management will understand, if not sympathise, with Local 244’s principled and legal labour action. These meetings can be held next week when our SWFs are active, under Article 11.01 F 1 during the stipulation of “two hours for normal administrative tasks”.
Be assured that your local union and OPSEU Central will defend our rights to take this labour action just as they would a full-fledged strike, which we hope will not become necessary as it is more harmful to students than our current work-to-rule partial labour interruption.
You may have read the College Employer Council's (CEC) last Bargaining Update sent through Information Sheridan this afternoon. It implies that the mandatory Standard Workload Forms are not the full measure of our workload. They implicitly argue that there is no measurement to apply,
“As a reminder, the collective agreement requires teachers to perform such work as is necessary to deliver their assigned courses to students in accordance with the course outline to the best of their ability and the standard required by the College.”
That is a bad faith insinuation, which is easily contradicted by our Collective Agreement rights to challenge our assigned workload through the Workload Monitoring Group (WMG) and, if necessary, to a third-party Workload Arbitrator (WA). The right to challenge our workloads is based on the ability of the WMG and the WA to assess the full measure of our workloads according to the numbers, the mathematics, in Article 11.
And the CEC is undermining the Colleges by redundancy, suggesting that course outlines do not already reflect the standards required by the College. Course outlines are the Colleges' contracts with students, surely they should reflect College required standards.
You may have received a message from your College, “Your Right to Choose Regarding Work-to-Rule.”
We appreciate the College Employer Council's latest update, in which they remind faculty members that every college employee “has the legally protected right” to engage in work-to-rule or other labour action without fear of reprisal.
As the CEC correctly identified, faculty are in a legal strike position, and the protections of the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act (CCBA) and Collective Agreement apply. Faculty should, therefore, not experience reprisal from the colleges for participating in the work-to-rule action.
From a union perspective, solidarity is the foundation of our strength, and participation as a union member in job action is required to demonstrate that strength. While the CCBA allows individual faculty the ability to cross a picket line by performing struck work, doing so undermines the very solidarity required for successful job action.
Today’s message from the CEC was clearly intended to stoke fear and division among faculty, and is likely attributable to the incredible strength and solidarity faculty are currently demonstrating during our first ever work-to-rule job action.
In one key respect, we agree: no college should reprise against faculty for exercising their rights, or participating in their union.
JP, Jonathan, Katie, Michelle, Ravi, Rebecca, Shawn
Welcome Back Colleagues,
Back to virtual student contact, mostly, back to the pandemic’s new variant and governmental reactions. Welcome back to no contract and to work-to rule (W2R). We have become resilient; we have shouldered as much or more last year and the year before. Our united strength and determination, as I read and hear it in your correspondence to the union, and saw it in our last Sheridan vote, is heartening. We surprised the College Employer Council with our determination in 2017; we can do it again in 2022.
The details of W2R in the College System are crystallizing. Strategies are emerging as you’ll find in the Bargaining Team’s updates; the first of 2022 is below. There is a Town Hall about W2R strategies this Wednesday night, again details below.
Your questions to the union executive at Sheridan, asking about what is a defined duty and when W2R can be applied, shows much that we have in common but also the multi-faceted needs of our diverse programing. We must often judge for ourselves, what is work and what is extra-work. Keeping a log of hours and duties will help considerably, as will understanding your Standard Workload Form (SWF). This week, when we have no designated duties by SWF or Non-Teaching-Memo (NTM), is particularly perplexing. Here is the governing Collective Agreement Article:
11.08 In keeping with the professional responsibility of the teacher, non-teaching periods are used for activities initiated by the teacher and by the College as part of the parties' mutual commitment to professionalism, the quality of education and professional development.
Such activities will be undertaken by mutual consent and agreement will not be unreasonably withheld.
No SWF will be issued but such activities may be documented. Where mutually agreed activities can be appropriately performed outside the College, scheduling shall be at the discretion of the teacher, subject to the requirement to meet appropriate deadlines.
So that, if you do not have a direct written order for work outside of the above, you should notify your AD, that because of W2R you are not taking on any other assignment or work. You’ll find model language below. Please convey any repercussions that come your way directly to your local steward and your Local Union Executive. We have OPSEU’s legal opinion that W2R activities are legally like strike duties and those on W2R are guaranteed the same legal protection as those on strike.
As we enter into the Winter semester, as well as Phase 2 of our work-to-rule job action, we know that you have many questions. The Locals and Bargaining Team have received common questions in regard to start-up meetings, orientation, and coordinator work in particular.
We address some of these below, and will provide further details at our provincewide Zoom webinar on January 5th (see details below).
We have also created a series of videos about how to read and understand your SWF, so that full-time faculty can understand the limits of your assigned workload.
Specific information relevant to partial-load faculty can be found here, and your Local can also address questions and concerns, or forward them on to the bargaining team.
Many questions have arisen regarding pandemic health and safety in the return to face-to-face classes for labs/shops/co-op and field placements, particularly in the face of many colleges’ refusal to institute physical distancing measures, provide appropriate PPE, install HEPA filtration units, or provide paid sick time to contract faculty. We encourage you to ask questions of your college regarding their commitment to the health and safety of students and faculty as it relates to the current wave of the pandemic. Similarly, we remind all faculty that you have the right to refuse unsafe work. If you are unsure if your working conditions are safe, please contact your faculty representative on the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (or your Local Union). You can also contact your local public health authority or the Ministry of Labour.
The CAAT-A Divisional Executive is organizing a Provincewide Town Hall, as we enter into Phase Two of Work-to-Rule at our Colleges. The Bargaining Team will be discussing work-to-rule and answering common questions we've received. In addition, attendees will also have the chance to submit questions.
When: Jan 5, 2022 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Faculty Town Hall
Register in advance for this webinar:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
We are currently attempting to provide simultaneous translation at this meeting.
1. Should I attend meetings and orientation sessions during the week of January 3-7?
Do not participate in the following pre-semester activities: professional development, town halls, school/divisional/department meetings, recruitment, orientation, etc.
To be clear, between January 4-7 (a non-teaching/11.08 period), any work that is assigned by managers should not be undertaken. Article 11.08 does not give managers the right to assign work during non-teaching periods; these periods are instead reserved for mutually agreed-to activities. While the Collective Agreement says that agreement shall not be unreasonably withheld by either faculty or managers, we are currently in work-to-rule, and it is therefore reasonable for faculty to refuse the tasks that managers attempt to assign them during non-SWFed periods.
2. What activities should I avoid, starting on January 3?
Do not engage in any tasks that are not explicitly recorded on your SWF or (if partial-load) your contract, including volunteer meetings or committee work, extracurriculars, informal assistance to managers, programs, special projects.
3. What if I’m a program or course coordinator?
The same applies to program and course coordinators. The colleges have chosen to impose terms and conditions, including that “Coordinator duties will be reduced in writing before an employee accepts a coordinator-ship. Such acceptance will remain voluntary.” Coordinator duties are included on your SWF, and take place during the period covered by your SWF. The colleges have not changed those terms and conditions, and have said that they will not be imposing further terms and conditions. For the time being, that means that coordinators are not to participate in the struck work listed above.
While you should have been provided a written list of assigned coordinator duties and a clear number of hours on your SWF for the performance of those duties, that would only apply during the SWF period. During the non-teaching period before or after the SWF, you are not obliged to perform those duties.
4. How can I respond to my supervisor this week?
You are invited to adapt either of the following messages, to suit your purposes:
“Unfortunately, I am not in the position to attend any meetings this week, as CAAT-A faculty are currently in Phase 2 of the work-to-rule campaign. Engaging in struck work at this point would be equivalent to crossing a picket line. I hope that this work-to-rule job action will demonstrate the value of faculty work, get the employer back to the table to negotiate the issues important to faculty, and make a full strike unnecessary.” or
“In accordance with the work to rule plan, I will not be attending college meetings or activities this week, nor any that are not specifically recorded on my SWF with appropriate time attributed. While It gives me no joy to refrain from campus activities, I believe in the collective bargaining process and the rights it has provided me and countless others. Until the bargaining team directs otherwise, this is my position.”
5. What should I tell my students about work-to-rule?
You are invited to adapt either of the following messages, to suit your purposes, depending:
“Thank you for your email.
At the moment, all college faculty (Librarians, Counsellors, Professors and Instructors) are engaging in labour action - 'Work to Rule'. Under our current contract, I am allocated 6 hours of administrative time during the week. This includes emails, meetings, and regular contact with students and external stakeholders. I am also attributed no more than 5.4 minutes to grade each student’s work and provide feedback, weekly. The workload formula which gives these numbers hasn't changed in almost forty years!
Any work/emails which take longer than the times that I have been attributed for those tasks each week will be deferred to the following calendar week. Please encourage the college president to direct the College Employer Council to return to the bargaining table to resolve these issues. If this is urgent, please contact [provide your chair’s name and e-mail].”
“In response to the College Employer Council's decision to unilaterally impose employment conditions after college faculty voted to support strike actions (https://www.collegefaculty.org/2021/12/17/opseu-sefpo-stands-in-support-of-college-faculty-members/), Ontario college faculty are now following work-to-rule guidelines established by the Faculty Bargaining Team.
Faculty have chosen to focus on our students' needs and not interrupt College courses with a strike at this time, while demanding that our employer negotiate a fair resolution to this labour dispute. Work-to-rule means that we will be working only the time outlined by our current contract and workload assignments, or our job descriptions. This means that we may not be available for additional, volunteer work that we may normally do, or work outside of regular work hours. Therefore, we may take more time than usual to respond to emails or other forms of communication and any additional work-related requests.
Currently we are in Phase 2 of the planned work-to-rule job actions. For more information on these actions including a work-to-rule FAQ, please visit: https://www.collegefaculty.org/work-to-rule/.
We appreciate your patience and your support in our efforts to improve working conditions for Ontario college faculty and the learning conditions of Ontario college students.”
Your CAATA Bargaining Team
Attached you will find an abbreviated poster and a more fulsome strategy plan for Phase II of our Bargaining Team’s advice on how to Work-to-Rule (W2R) in the college system.
The principles involved are not new to our previous mail outs. Some of you have written to ask for more details, and some of you have already ceased the extra-SWF hours normally volunteered. The teaching we do is delivered in so many different ways that the general principles must be applied to your individual circumstances. You know what extra time you put in; you know which work does not appear on your SWF. That is the work to withhold.
If you’re not sure about how to read your SWF, we will hold SWF workshops in the new year. Disseminating SWF awareness is the collateral value of this W2R exercise.
We need a fresh start; we need more time for our students, for comprehensive preparation and evaluation in this digital world. As well, we are seeking remuneration equity and job security for our part-time contract worker colleagues and equity and inclusion to racially marginalized members of our community.
Let me end the year by wishing you, on behalf of your Local Faculty Union Executive, a restful and refreshing holiday, and spiritually renewing holy days as is your practice.
We can all celebrate the closing of 2021 and a fresh start for 2022, Happy New Year.
The ideas on how to enact Work-to-Rule (W2R) are still evolving. I believe that it will be more difficult in colleges than in high schools where W2R is a regular work action. I expect the Bargaining Team (BT) will have more concrete strategies in Phase Two. To end the semester, perhaps it's enough to clock your overtime and perhaps change your signature as suggested in the BT's Phase One publication.
Is it possible to get some greater clarity around what we're supposed to be doing here?
We're all in new territory, and doing our best to interpret the BT's plans as they come out. It is new to them as well. As I wrote in my last email, given the enactment of W2R in the last week of the semester, the most valuable exercise is to log your hours per task. The Bargaining Team recommends using Toggl, an app for a phone or computer that can assist you in tracking your time. Finish off this semester as best you can and be ready to enforce W2R more rigorously next semester.
I have been asked to participate in departmental duties that are not directly related to teaching, are these duties beyond W2R limits?
Yes, if the work is not on your SWF, it is not your work. Refer it to your AD. W2R would have you turn all work beyond your allotted SWF time back to your AD, as it is their problem, not yours.
Is there a calculator provided by the union to translate evaluation and prep factors into real minutes?
It is right on your SWF. Each course has total hours of preparation, teaching and evaluation. There is a working SWF excel sheet on our webpage, local244.ca, where you can input the prep and eval factors that better reflect your work, and see how they add up.
FORMULA FOR CALCULATING HOURS FOR PREP & EVALUATION:
Preparation Hours Per Subject: Prep factor x Teaching Contact Hours = Time Per Week
Evaluation Feedback Hours Per Subject: Eval Factor x Class Size x Teaching Contact Hours = Time Per Week
Is there a way for the union to help us obtain the evaluation factor breakdown for each of the courses we teach (how the total was arrived at)?
Yes, one can do the math; the numbers and formulae are in Article 11 and how it applies to the evaluation assignments or tests on your course outline.
There are 3 categories of Evaluation types:
However, frequently, Evaluation factors given will be a mix of types. For instance, in a mixed evaluation factor, say 50% routine or machine assisted marking + 50% essay/project would be: .015 + .030 divided by 2 = .0225. We will hold workshops on this in the new year. It would be illuminating if in your SWF meeting with your AD, you ask your them to explain how they arrived at a mixed evaluation factor.
The “click-to-email” campaign does not allow me to customize my message. I did not feel comfortable sending the boilerplate email to Janet as-is, but I would have sent it had I been able to personalize it slightly.
You can write to Janet without the boilerplate.
Contract, Precarious Work Professors:
I have heard from contract workers who feel that they have been left out in the cold. That is true, but it is not the union that is ignoring your plight, it is management. There are three contract worker categories, sessional – 13 or more teaching contact hours (TCH), part-time – 6 or fewer TCH, both of which are non-unionized groups. Partial-load – 7 to 12 TCH are unionized. All our contract workers have always had the most to lose; Work-to Rule substantiates this.
The precarity of all part-time professors has been a major issue in the last and the current rounds of bargaining. Article 26.10 and the Partial-Load Registry is the result of this advocacy. It’s just too bad that management has misinterpreted the article to mean seniority by contract (courses bundled to create a contract) while the union interprets it as seniority by course. We have a constitutional challenge out on this and it is part of our demands for contract faculty seniority protection in this round of bargaining.
And we have been trying to get part-time and sessional profs unionized so that we can try to have more influence on their working conditions. It is the Colleges who have blocked this move towards parity. We have had two votes on this, both of which have been challenged and discounted by management. In this round of bargaining, one of our key demands is to have the non-unionized contract workers’ courses count towards their overall seniority as outlined in Article 26.10. Right now, only their partial-load courses are counted.
In my opinion, I don’t think that anyone should withhold marks yet in this Phase 1 of W2R work action. Certainly not contract workers whose future employment could be at stake, when full-timers are in no comparable danger. Precarious workers should not do anything to jeopardize their livelihood. Count and track the hours that you are working to help us make the case that you are being abused by the colleges. And try to get the job done, maybe not as thoroughly as you would like, but within the time limits of your contract.
Change the signature line on your college and personal email to read:
“The College Employer Council and college management have chosen to impose terms and conditions of work on college faculty, rather than agreeing to extend existing terms while the faculty and employer bargaining teams negotiate a Collective Agreement. College faculty have begun a work-to-rule campaign, in protest. For more information, click here collegefaculty.org.”
As I wrote in my last email, given the enactment of W2R in the last week of the semester, the most valuable exercise is to log your hours per task. One aspect of W2R is to have us turn all work beyond our allotted SWF or NTM time back to our AD, as their problem, not yours. But of course a dedicated teacher finds that hard to do; we can only ask that you try your best to keep solidarity with the work action.
Please have patience we're learning as we progress towards more effective W2R strategies.
Sheridan, unlike other colleges, has not yet sent us the College Employer Council’s initial terms of imposition. Here they are:
Today, the CEC initiated the introduction of the following terms and conditions of its proposal to improve working conditions for individual employees.
- Maximum annual wage increase, retroactive to October 1st 2021, as currently allowed under Bill 124. Retroactive payments will be processed as soon as possible.
- Medical cannabis coverage prescribed by a licensed physician to a maximum of $4000/year, subject to prior authorization by the insurer.
- Permit Indigenous teachers to bring an elder or traditional knowledge keeper to the WMG as an advisor.
- Permit Indigenous employees to bring an elder or traditional knowledge keeper to grievance meetings as an advisor.
- Coordinator duties will be documented before an employee accepts a coordinatorship. Such acceptance will remain voluntary.
- Update the counsellor class definition.
- Partial Load employees will accrue service for statutory Holidays on which they were scheduled to teach.
- Partial Load registration date change from October 30th to April 30th.
- Extend Partial Load registration preference to courses which a partial load employee taught while part-time or sessional.
- Partial Load priority will continue for a course even if the course code changes, unless there has been a major revision of the course or curriculum.
The insult is in the imposition itself. However we frame it, the terms actually do include some of our proposals, although not to the extent that we want. And we are definitely lacking any kind of workload improvements. As an offer, it definitely does nothing to improve our working conditions.
Also, “Update the counsellor class definition”, is worrisome, as the update could make it easier to contract out our counsellor positions.
The imposition is an insult, the terms don't offer the improvements we are seeking to our 1985 envisioned, pre-internet, parameters of our workload. But most of all it is an insult to our democratic establishment of demands and election of Bargaining Team representatives.
BARGAINING TEAM UPDATE TO FACULTY MEMBERS – IMPOSITION AND WORK-TO-RULE
The College Presidents (and their bargaining agent, the College Employer Council) have unilaterally imposed terms and conditions of employment on all of us. The changes that they have imposed so far are based on faculty proposals bargained at the table. The CEC team has, instead, simply refused to discuss or refer our remaining issues to binding interest arbitration, effectively forcing faculty to work under their preferred terms.
The Employer may present these conditions as benign, and indeed many of them are points on which both teams had reached agreement at the bargaining table. However, these are only the initial terms and conditions of employment that have been imposed by the College Presidents and CEC. They can change these conditions at any time, with no notice, and can also impose different conditions at different colleges. These changes could impact any aspect of our working conditions, including salary, workload, vacation, professional development, and employee rights.
Imposition thwarts faculty’s ability to actually negotiate our working conditions, which requires our consent.
The following imposed conditions are far from positions that faculty had proposed at the bargaining table, and may hurt individual faculty members:
Update the counsellor class definition
The CEC has imposed their own language, which allows for the outsourcing of counsellor work. Individual faculty members – in this case, counsellors – stand very much to be negatively impacted by this imposition despite the CEC’s claims to the contrary.
Coordinator duties will be reduced in writing before an employee accepts a coordinator-ship. Such acceptance will remain voluntary
While both the Union and CEC have agreed to the documentation of coordinator duties, the Union also proposed that such duties be “reasonable”. Without that word, the employer has the ability to make the duties of the coordinator position unreasonable, which could result in no faculty member taking the position and the college assigning those duties outside of the bargaining unit. Additionally, if a coordinator accepts unreasonable coordinator duties because they wish to keep the position, they could be disciplined if they are unable to complete those duties. Yet again, individual faculty members can be negatively impacted by these terms and conditions, contrary to the CEC’s claims.
Medical cannabis coverage prescribed by a licensed physician to a maximum of $4000/year, subject to prior authorization by the insurer
While the Union and CEC have agreed, in principle, to this, the Union was still attempting to gain additional information from the CEC as to whether dental implants or other benefit improvements were a possibility. We expect medical cannabis coverage will only be available to a small number of members, given the restrictions imposed on this benefit by Sun Life.
To enable faculty to respond effectively to management’s imposed terms and conditions, the faculty bargaining team has informed the Employer that work action will commence on December 18th. We envision a process of escalating work action, commencing with a phased-in series of work-to-rule actions.
INDIVIDUAL FACULTY MEMBERS SHOULD NOT CHANGE THEIR WORK HABITS UNTIL DECEMBER 18TH, AND AFTER THAT DATE INFORMATION WILL BE PROVIDED BY THEIR UNION LOCAL LEADERSHIP AROUND WHAT SPECIFIC LABOUR ACTIONS TO TAKE.
This strategy has proven effective in other educational contexts in Ontario. It was ONLY made possible by the fact that faculty voted to authorize work action (up to and including a strike) last week.
In solidarity, JP, Jonathan, Katie, Michelle, Ravi, Rebecca and Shawn
Thinking of Truth and Reconciliation Day
I am haunted by the villages,
towns & cities full of ghosts,
of the generations that never unfolded
lost in the mass graves of residential schools.
The babies crying out for their mothers’ and fathers’
loving arms and caring kisses,
baby coos, family laughter, shared meals,
the hunters, the farmers, the Chiefs, the mayors
the craftspeople, the poets, the story-tellers,
immersed in nature and seasonal preparations,
the Elders imparting their wisdom,
all missing, never having had the chance to be.
It’s not only the nightmarish memories
The fear children faced alone
The hopelessness of losing your families
Of traditions just learned and never passed on,
The lost inside jokes, the choked off family vernaculars
The cruelty of the supposed saviours, lingering
Like the knots on the hangman’s noose.
These are all memories that cry for atonement.
But what of the languages that never developed,
The frozen dances in transcending circles
The well-worn paths between villages?
What of the numbers and futures
That never had the chance to celebrate
Life’s milestones? Let them
Walk with their descendants,
Heads held high with pride,
While we bend ours in shame.
September 30, 2021
Attention all rainbow-identified members: OPSEU/SEFPO’s Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel (RAA) will be holding monthly Queermunity town halls via Zoom on the last Wednesday of each month!
Be sure to join them as they discuss queer issues, chat about upcoming events and host guest speakers!
Register for the May 26th session with special guest speaker Jade Pichette (they/them) from Pride at Work Canada!
Watch the video below for more details!
Click here to be added to the Queermunity email list! Your welcome email will include the Zoom information.
Dates and times: Wednesday
June 30, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30pm
July 28, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30pm
August 25, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30pm
September 29, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30pm
October 27, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30pm
November 24, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30 pm
If you have any questions or would like to be a guest speaker, please contact email@example.com
It is the time to end basic injustice and basic discrimination, a message from OPSEU and LOCAL 244
We must end this struggle together
For OPSEU Staff And Member
Anti-Black racism is not new.
The brutality of current events, heightened by social media’s incredible power to share and motivate, has shifted the world into action. Systemic racism is deadly real. It is deeply rooted in a painful history that has disproportionately affected Black communities for generations.
OPSEU recognizes this and will be a leader in effecting change. We are inviting all staff and members to take part in this important conversation.
Together we will create real, meaningful change – change that does not leave anyone behind.
The town hall will be hosted by well-known personality and anti-Black racism activist Farley Flex, and will feature a panel of OPSEU members – including President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida – and OPSEU staff.
To accommodate different schedules, the town hall will take part in two sessions:
• Noon to 1:30 pm EST on Tuesday, July 7 • 7 to 8:30 pm EST on Tuesday, July 7
All members and staff are welcome to participate in one or both of the sessions.
There are a variety of ways to participate in either English or French.
If you’re an OPSEU member and OPSEU has your up-to-date phone number, all you have to do is pick up the phone. We’ll call you around 10 to 15 minutes before the session starts – just stay on the line and you’ll be connected to the call. (To ensure OPSEU has your most up-to-date number, please call 1-800-268-7376.)
Please note: OPSEU staff members will NOT receive one of these calls.
OPSEU members and staff can also participate by dialing in directly or over the web. Here’s how:
• 877-229-8493 (ENGLISH) o ID code: 112847 • Web streaming (English, audio-only, closed-captioning is available) o https://video.teleforumonline.com/video/streaming.php?client=12847
• 877-255-5810 (FRENCH) o ID code: 117019 • Web streaming (French, audio-only)* o https://video.teleforumonline.com/video/streaming.php?client=17019
*Please note that closed-captioning is not available in French.
Shauna-Kay graduated with a MBA in General Management, a graduate certificate in Public Administration, and an Honours B.A in Criminology and Political Science. Currently, she works as a Court and Client Representative at the Toronto Superior Court of Justice, writes for online magazines, and serves in community organizations.
Carlotta is a member from OPSEU Local 228 and currently works as a Court Clerk and Registrar for the Ministry of the Attorney General. She strives to create opportunities through education that enlighten and empower others about the importance of tolerance and compassion in the workplace so that things such as homophobia, islamophobia, and systematic racism become unbeknownst to places as diverse as the OPS and OPSEU.
Peter has worked as a Property Valuation Specialist for 30 years for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. He is the current Chair of OPSEU’s Coalition of Racialized Workers (CoRW) and he has been active within OPSEU in various capacities since 1992.
Evan is a Customer Service Representative for the LCBO, President of OPSEU Local 376, and the Region 3 Representative on OPSEU’s Provincial Young Workers Committee (PYC). He is a strong believer of Mahatma Gandhi’s mantra, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” and has applied it to his union activist life for the past five years.
Andrea McCormack is a longtime OPSEU staff member. She is a staff rep in the Hamilton office and is currently temporarily reassigned as an Employment Equity Lead. Andrea also sits on the board of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, representing Canada and the Eastern U.S.
Joscelyn came to OPSEU’s Health and Safety unit as a full-time staff member in 2016. Before that, he’d been an active OPSEU member since 1990. He has served as the local Vice-President at the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre, Vice-chair to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, Youth Justice Divisional Health and Safety Committee, and he also proudly represented the members on the Anti-Discrimination and Systemic Change Committee (ADSC).
Farley is a community-capacity builder, social activist and entertainment industry entrepreneurial pioneer. He is the co-creator of the very successful Just Think 1st anti-violence/anti-gun violence awareness campaign, and the SAY IT LOUD national initiative to promote Black Pride and Positive Cultural Identity to Black youth funded by the Canadian Department of Heritage.
———- 30 ————
I don't say this from experience. I say this because of the unspeakably brutal images and news reports we're seeing every day. And I say this because I've always tried my best to be an active listener - and I believe first-person stories and accounts from members, friends, and colleagues.
I now know that many of my own life experiences and successes - no matter how common and achievable I may have thought them to be for everyone - were born out of privilege. A privilege that Black people have never known.
OPSEU has always fought for social justice. It's a big part of why I am so proud to be President of this great union. Our Black members and staff experience racism every day. We are committed to learning from their experiences and stories, and being an active part of the change that is so needed now.
This we know: anti-Black racism is systemic, deadly serious, and all around us. Black people are being killed in the street, but systemic racism is also killing them in health care and the criminal justice system. It is failing them in education, social services, and in the hiring practices and policies of governments and employers. OPSEU will act. But for that action to be meaningful, we must be thoughtful. We must actively listen to all Black voices in order to learn the truth, and most importantly, to understand.
We are very aware that silence is not an option. We will be loud. We see the marches and hear the voices calling for change - many of those voices belong to OPSEU members and staff. As a union, we are taking time for pause and deliberation. We must ensure our next moves benefit Black people and amplify their voices, while educating and mobilizing the masses. We haven't always gotten it right. But we want to get this right.
We are committed to being allies with the Black community and creating real change. We also acknowledge that systemic change requires ongoing work and long-term commitment. OPSEU is taking the lead. We will continue to push to ensure that all Black lives matter. And when I say all Black lives matter, I mean ALL Black lives: female, male, trans, and LGBTQ2+.
We will create a space for conversations and make room to hear from the people who know best what is needed: our Black members and staff.
In the coming days we promise to provide details for our first initiative and continue the conversation.
We stand in solidarity,
Warren (Smokey) Thomas OPSEU President
– 30 –
These three words best describe a global community’s feelings of hurt, heartbreak, and frustration in response to the recent police-involved and unnecessary deaths of black people in Canada and in the United States.
Regis Korchinski-Paquet was a 29 year old black woman from Toronto who died on May 27, 2020. Toronto Police responded to a domestic incident where they observed a woman on the balcony of the 24th floor. A short time later, Korchinski-Paquet fell and died on the scene.
George Floyd was a 46 year old black man from Minneapolis who died on May 25, 2020. While handcuffed and lying face down, Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd was already unresponsive for 2 minutes and 53 seconds of that time. ‘I can’t breathe’ were Floyd’s last words. They were reminiscent of Eric Garner’s last words, a black man who died in 2014, when NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold during an attempted arrest. Garner repeated these words 11 times while lying face down on the sidewalk.
Breonna Taylor was a 26 year old black woman and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). She was killed on March 13, 2020 during a botched raid in her home in Louisville, Kentucky. Breonna was shot at least eight times while asleep. Police were in search of a suspect related to a drug investigation who was already in custody.
Ahmaud Arbery was a 25 year old black man who was killed on February 23, 2020 in Brunswick near Glynn County, Georgia. He was pursued by Travis and Gregory McMichael, two armed white civilians, on a Sunday afternoon while he was doing what he loved – jogging. Gregory, the senior McMichael, used to work for the Glynn County Police Department. The accused were arrested 74 days after Arbery’s death and it was predominantly because the video of his death went viral and community members from across the United States condemned the incident.
This is what racism in 2020 looks like.
The protests in Canada, the United States, and Europe have demonstrated a strong commitment from people of all races and backgrounds to speak out against systemic racism. It is a well-known fact that Black communities in particular, are subjected to higher rates of scrutiny and incarceration by the criminal justice system. The very system that is supposed to serve and protect has continuously failed racialized citizens.
“I am deeply saddened that in 2020, racism and injustice towards the Black community continues to look like this with unnecessary lives being lost” said OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “I support the peaceful protests because people understandably want to be heard and they deserve answers. Strong leaders are those who are willing to sit down, listen and engage in difficult conversations because that is the only way for meaningful change to happen” he added.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how Black communities are disproportionately affected on many socio-economic levels. For instance, they are more likely to have lower paying, precarious jobs which are easily subject to layoffs. They are also more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses and have higher uninsured rates which limits their access to healthcare. And finally, they are more likely to live in substandard housing or are homeless which makes them more susceptible to infectious diseases. Living in poverty also makes it difficult to abide by social distancing measures. Many low income families have to rely on one another to help make ends meet. Many have to go to work even in the absence of any health and safety measures. They also have no choice but to pool together resources like sharing cars and living spaces.
Moreover, Black parents have to sit with their children and explain to them that they may be stopped, arrested or even shot because of their skin colour.
“These are the realities for Black people living in North America today” said Peter Thompson, Chair of OPSEU’s Coalition of Racialized Workers. “Fixing the underlying conditions of systemic racism, all of which date back to when Black people were first brought here as slaves, is the reason for these protests” he added.
To be ‘shocked’ is not enough. To be ‘wowed’ is not a sign of solidarity. To be ‘complacent’ is not acceptable. But more importantly, to remain silent is a condonation that basic injustice and basic discrimination towards Black people does not exist. It is time to put an end to this unfair treatment because Black lives matter.
—– 30 —–
On behalf of our Sheridan faculty, counsellors and librarians, Local 244 of OPSEU stands in support of our LGBTQ+ community and is proud to be a part of the Pride Month 2020 celebrations.
As a union, we both believe in and promote equality and a harassment-free work environment, along with tackling discrimination in our communities, unions and homes.
The OPSEU Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel is an alliance that provides representation and support to our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, asexual, queer, questioning, two-spirited (LGBTTIAQQ2S) members.
One of Rainbow Alliance’s initiatives is a Safe Schools Campaign where members are working to make schools safe and inclusive for all and encourages schools to adopt proactive discrimination and harassment policies, along with ensuring inclusive curriculum and positive role models.
Here at Sheridan, we the faculty, along with ALL members of our great Sheridan community, support and uphold the ideals of diversity, equity and inclusion for all.
OPSEU Faculty Union Local 244
Sheridan College, Oakville Ontario
For more information on OPSEU’s Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel:
March 12, 2020
I won’t go into the pandemic facts; no doubt you are all keeping informed. There are some good websites below.
What might be news for you is that, like Sheridan, all Ontario colleges have suspended or strictly curtailed international travel. Laurentian University has closed their buildings and put all classes online because one of their professors was found to have Corona virus. Many of my Local President peers from across the province have reported that their colleges are making plans, or at least opening discussions on possible building closings and online alternatives to save this semester.
Your CAAT-A Union communication lines across the province are humming. Besides the paramount safety concerns, we must monitor and plan strategies for the Labour concerns that might arise from modified learning delivery. RM Kennedy, our Divisional Executive Chair summed it up succinctly.
Some of the issues we are centering on, include, but are not limited to:
- the assumption that faculty have the technological ability or even home infrastructure to teach online
- workload tracking
- intellectual property, in light of a mass dump of material online
- sick days for contract faculty
- complex accommodations for students (with workload implications)
At Sheridan we have started preliminary talks with the College. COVID-19 is the main agenda item at our Union College Committee (UCC) meeting coming up this Monday. I will bring up the pandemic concerns later today with our President and Vice-President Academic with whom I sit on the Senate Executive Committee. I expect that they too are in discussions.
Although I would like to have more information for you, I felt it important to let you know that your Local Union is very concerned and active. I will report back as new information surfaces. For sure I will update you on what we learn at the UCC on Monday.
Wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick or if you know that you have been in contact with someone who has the virus. These are strange times, we will adjust.
Some pertinent links:
Laurentian Classes Cancellation
Live Coronavirus Tracker (refresh to update)
Ontario Ministry of Health