This week, news broke that the Ontario Labour Relations Board will investigate the McMaster administration’s conduct during its negotiations with cleaning staff. The administration threatened to outsource the jobs of the cleaning staff if they did not approve the final offer, prompting the investigation. The cleaning staff in question are the lowest paid staff at the university.
On August 1, 2014, 74 faculty, students, and staff wrote an open letter to Patrick Deane, President of McMaster. The letter strongly criticizes the administration’s tactics as “unacceptable,” as they “force some of the most vulnerable members of our community to choose between a living wage and retaining their jobs.”
This news comes at a time of increasingly aggressive employer behavior seen at bargaining tables across Ontario. Last week, the employer at the University of Windsor imposed a settlement on professors and academic librarians after walking away from the bargaining table. Faculty at Windsor are now planning to hold a strike vote on August 14th. While many faculty associations are continuing to successfully negotiate new agreements, reports indicate a difficult bargaining environment. With many faculty associations in bargaining this year, we may very well see more and more of these provocative tactics used across the province.