It came down to the wire, but after months of bargaining and organizing, the teaching faculty members of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association (UOITFA) have reached a new (and only their second) three year collective agreement with their employer.
The settlement will mean gains across the board. Previously, UOIT’s teaching stream instructors had the highest workloads for teaching-intensive faculty in Ontario and no agreed upon definition for what constituted a “course”. Now, the faculty will have their workload reduced to the maximum of the equivalent of seven courses per year, with a standard definition of what that entails, and a revised distribution of effort (70% teaching, 20% service, 10% research/other). The faculty association also achieved stronger academic freedom provisions, competitive salary increases, and a further harmonization of their working and compensation conditions with those of their tenured and tenure-stream colleagues.
The agreement represents a major victory for the faculty association. Inspired by OCUFA’s Countdown to Strong bargaining program, the UOITFA developed and followed a strategic timetable that supported their bargaining team in negotiations and ensured they would be prepared to strike, if necessary.
As bargaining came down to the wire, faculty association executives, staff, and volunteers set up tables and talked to members about the priorities for this round of bargaining. The UOITFA set up an online letter-writing campaign, which faculty and community allies used to send over 1,200 emails to senior administrators at the university. Through all of this work, which made the organizing efforts of the faculty association visible to the administration, the UOITFA put pressure on their employer to reach a fair deal at the table.
By mobilizing their membership early on, and showing the university administration that the members strongly supported the bargaining team, the faculty association was able to win a strong collective agreement that was unanimously approved by the membership.
This article originally appeared in OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week, please subscribe.