WLUFA Bargaining Update
By Bill Salatka
I have written this newsletter for the benefit of those Members who were unable to attend the bargaining unit meetings held before reading week. In order to explain the bargaining activities between WLUFA and the Administration, it is necessary to understand the bargaining priorities of each party.
The bargaining priorities of the Administration are:
- Increased pension contributions by Members and reduced benefits for inflation protections for retirees,
- Professional teaching positions,
- Increased costs for retiree health benefits, and
- Changes in the Library management structure.
The bargaining priorities of WLUFA are
- Fair compensation, and
- Custody and control of Member files.
Both parties were in conciliation on February 8 and February 9. The Conciliator, who is appointed by the Ministry of Labour, works with both parties in an attempt to reach a negotiated settlement. Sometimes the Conciliator brings full bargaining teams together. At other times, the Conciliator asks for the chief negotiators and just a few bargaining team members to meet with him or her. In these smaller meetings, generally negotiation is done without prejudice. This means that offers and counter-offers are not binding in the future.
During conciliation both WLUFA and the Administration attempted to clear off items that appeared to be getting in the way of an agreement. Both parties also continued to negotiate language for the Professional Teaching Position. For these positions, WLUFA is seeking the usual protections for the assignment of workload, a non-teaching term, and access to start-up funding.
Pensions were also negotiated during conciliation. The major disagreement is the degree and nature of inflation protection available to future retirees. In the table below, we have illustrated what the changes to the pension plan the Administration is seeking would mean if applied to the period 1991 to 2010. The right-hand column shows the impact their proposals will have on our pension fund if we accept them.
|Inflation adjustments||Inflation proposal|
During conciliation WLUFA continued to press the Administration for a revised compensation proposal. The Administration continually refused to do so. The Conciliator suggested that WLUFA provide a compensation proposal without prejudice, that is, a non-binding offer. WLUFA did so. After an extended period of time, the Administration produced an offer that provided small improvements over current cash compensation.
That offer on its own might seem good, but it is not since both cash compensation and the pension fund effects must be taken into account when assessing total compensation. WLUFA found the offer inadequate on a total compensation basis when the increased cash contributions to the pension fund by Members and reductions in inflation protection were taken into account. At that point, WLUFA asked the Conciliator for a “no-board” report.
The “no-board” report was filed with the Minister of Labour on February 15th. Mediation will take place on February 29 and March 1. The Conciliator will now serve in the role of Mediator. On or after March 3 WLUFA can call for a strike if it is necessary. The Administration is also in a position to lock us out at that time. Neither party is required or obligated to call for a strike or lockout on or after March 3. However, a legal strike or legal lockout is a possibility after midnight on March 3.
I want to point out that this is part of the normal process of collective bargaining. The March 3rd date puts pressure on both parties to come to an agreement. In the past two years, Faculty Associations and Administrations all across Ontario have bargained hard right up to the deadlines, generally coming to an agreement at the last minute.
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