By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
After five months at the bargaining table, the Ministry of Labour has been called in to assist in scripting a new collective agreement between UOIT and its faculty association.
Mike Eklund, president of the UOIT Faculty Association, says their agreement with the university expired on June 30, 2017.
According to a notice on the association’s website, the two sides met on Sept. 18, after which, the association filed for conciliation.
“This is a normal part of bargaining and a mandatory step towards being in a position to legally engage in job action,” the notice reads.
The Ministry of Labour will now appoint a conciliation offer who will attempt to help the two sides reach an agreement.
Should this fail, the conciliator may issue a declaration of “No Board”. Seventeen days after the issuance of this “No Board”, and provided a strike mandate has been secured by a vote of its members, the association would be in a legal position to strike.
However, the notice on the association’s website states, “a strike mandate does not necessarily mean we will strike.”
According to Eklund, the main point of contention for the association is workload mandated by UOIT.
Teachers at UOIT have an eight-course workload per year.
“It’s a very large teaching load,” Eklund says, noting that most universities require teachers to have around six courses per year, a number the association is campaigning for.
“That would bring it in line with other [universities]. We see that as a normal amount.”
In addition to regular bargaining updates, the faculty association has posted a petition, addressed to UOIT president Dr. Tim McTiernan, on its website calling on the university to “re-examine its priorities.”
“While other universities have affirmed their commitment to teaching excellence in supportive working conditions for teaching-intensive positions, UOIT has not fostered an equitable working environment. It claims to like its unique model, and refuses to explore diverse alternatives we can all agree create a great place to work, teach and learn,” the petition states.
As of Monday, the petition had 173 signatures.
Before the association filed for conciliation, Eklund told The Express the intent of the petition was to “make sure administration was behind these negotiations.”
“We felt we had to make the public aware of this,” he says.
John MacMillan, director of communications at UOIT, says the university is focused on “getting a collective agreement” with the teaching faculty and was not willing to comment on specific discussions in the negotiations.
“It’s better for us to discuss those things at the bargaining table,” MacMillan says.
As far as the petition is concerned, MacMillan stated, “We are not going to comment on anything the faculty association includes on its website.”