Political battles are won by calm persistence and cool perseverance. Your Union College Committee UCC, and Workload Monitoring Committee WMG, have won three major concessions from management. I am certain that Sheridan’s current labour-management respectful cooperation is a result of our common interests of spending our professional lives in a productive workplace. Having been involved in provincial college committees and local union committees for more than two decades, I know that other Ontario Colleges’ have, and need, a more confrontational engagement strategy.
As President, and I speak for David How, our Chief Steward, we believe in negotiations first. Where many Ontario Colleges rack up grievances we rack up ‘discussions’ with management about poor treatment and unfair bureaucratic burdens. Local solutions can be accomplished in a timely manner, whereas grievances take three months on average for a first hearing. It is the same two or three managers who exercise power and exclusivity rather than wisdom and collegiality, that make up most of our “discussions”. Repetition is telling enough.
We are the exception to the other colleges for our 7 Complementary Hours for desk work outside of Prep and Evaluation time, while the Collective Agreement only stipulates 6. The other college Union Presidents call it the Sheridan hour, given to acknowledge the introduction of email and online resources into the student-teacher relationship. And all provincial eyes are on Sheridan, watching our anticipated professional independence, given our management’s greater recognition of Academic Freedom, a result of our University aspirations.
No doubt our catchment area, in three growing cities, and our international outreach, helps makes us one of the more affluent colleges. Affluence is a great mediator. Of course Sheridan’s affluence won’t ease any individual colleague’s distress with how they are managed, that’s why we need and have a union with experienced advocates. And it doesn’t prevent executive number crunchers from crunching into our workplace satisfaction (see No Laptop For You Page 3). But affluence is much better than austerity; the Collective Agreement gives extraordinary lay-off powers to managements that can prove austerity. Can’t see our university aspiration expenditures coinciding with austerity claims.