TORONTO, February 22, 2023 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) calls on universities across the province to revisit employment agreements with faculty and academic staff negotiated during the last three years under the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act—formerly Bill 124, now declared unconstitutional.
“Faculty, librarians, and staff have worked tirelessly in service of their students, colleagues, and their institutions since 2019—and throughout the pandemic—despite unconstitutional interference from the government on their collective bargaining rights,” said Sue Wurtele, President of OCUFA. “For three years, contracts were settled while the rules were rigged. Now that this legislation has been overturned, university administrations need to respond to academic workers to reopen those agreements and put fairness on the table.”
In late 2022, Justice Markus Koehnen struck down the legislation at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Koehnen said the legislation interfered with collective bargaining in several ways, including limiting the scope of bargaining, preventing unions from trading salary demands for non-monetary gains, limiting the right to strike and independent arbitration, and significantly altering the power dynamics between parties at the bargaining table.
OCUFA campaigned against the legislation since it was proposed, including as part of a coalition that launched a coordinated Charter challenge in 2020, led by the Ontario Federation of Labour and representing more than 250,000 Ontario workers across more than 40 unions. The government stated publicly it plans to appeal the ruling.
“The government’s announcement to appeal this ruling is an irresponsible use of taxpayers’ money, and Ontario’s leaders should be focused on investing in public universities and all other public services instead of trying to erode workers’ rights,” said Wurtele.
OCUFA also says university administrations should engage with faculty to redress the wrongs of the legislation now instead of waiting for an appeal or tie up the Court with remedy proceedings.
“After this victory for the labour movement, there is an opportunity now for universities to work in good faith with faculty associations to restore fairness in agreements that were previously stifled by unconstitutional government inference,” said Wurtele. “OCUFA supports its member organizations as they seek to move forward and get the best agreements for their members.”
Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 30 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.
For more information, contact:
Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite, Communications Lead at 416-306-6033 or firstname.lastname@example.org