TORONTO – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) strongly condemns the government’s tabling of back-to-work legislation aimed at striking academic workers represented by Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903 (CUPE 3903) and defends the rights of academic workers to a fair negotiation process. This legislation breaches the constitutionally protected right of CUPE 3903 members to freely negotiate their agreement and undermines the collective bargaining process. More generally, such legislation subverts the bargaining process by signalling to employers that they can avoid meaningful engagement in collective bargaining by stonewalling and waiting for government intervention.
OCUFA welcomes William Kaplan’s recommendation for the creation of a government task force on precarity in postsecondary education employment, as outlined in the Industrial Inquiry report commissioned by the Ontario government. The increasing number of precarious positions on our university and college campuses is a critical concern that needs to be addressed. However, it is important to note that growing precarity in our educational system will not be resolved by undermining the collective bargaining process.
Strikes and bargaining difficulties in the sector are products of underfunding and problematic hiring practices in the postsecondary system. Contrary to Mr. Kaplan’s suggestion, an investigation into alternative “methods of dispute resolution” simply ignores the underlying issues and is a solution in search of a problem. In fact, almost all negotiations in the postsecondary sector are concluded successfully, without a need for job action. In the rare instances job actions have taken place, they have been short. An inquiry or a commission with a mandate to explore alternative means of dispute resolution fully misses the mark. What we need instead is a thorough review of the impact that systematic underfunding has had upon our postsecondary system, and the role that the Ontario government and postsecondary employers have played in creating and reinforcing precarity.
Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 28 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information and to download the poll results, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.
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