Bargaining/Solidarity Update Nov. 17th


  1. Bargaining Update

It has been an intense couple of weeks for TUFA’s Executive and Bargaining Team. Yesterday, we hit the half-way point of our scheduled meetings with the Employer and we want to take this opportunity to bring members up to speed on what has happened to this point. Following an exchange of initial proposals on October 26th, your Bargaining Team spent the next two weeks preparing responses to the employer’s initial positions.  In the first week of bargaining (Nov 9 through11) , the two teams powered through a number of non-financial items and we reached tentative agreement on new language advancing many of TUFA’s Equity objectives. This week (Nov 16 through 18), we are working to address matters that significantly affect members’ experience of the workplace, but which involve the redistribution of existing resources rather than new dollars. We are seeing progress here as well, and hope to reach a  tentative agreement on improvements to such things as the teaching support fund, and the conditions of work for teaching-intensive members. Next week (Nov 22 through 24), our focus will be on the big financial issues (pay, benefits, complement, facilities issues). If we need to add more days at the table, we will. Bargaining is not, of course, about sticking to an initial position, but it does require you to track your principles as you go. In our case, this means that in engaging with the employer, our Bargaining Team has an eye always on our bargaining mandate. Necessarily, there will be tradeoffs and compromises, but we will soon have a good sense of whether we are on track to secure an Agreement consistent with the directions received from the membership. If we are not, then we will take stock, possibly add bargaining days, and shift some of our focus from the table to workplace actions.  From today’s vantage point, we see good prospects for working with the employer’s team toward a successful resolution of this bargaining round. That said, if your winter coat is threadbare and your mittens too flammable for warming over a burn barrel, this may be a good time to ask for some new kit.  With Labour issues heating up across the province, you’ll likely be able to make good use of these items regardless. . . .

  1. Solidarity at Home

In preparation for this bargaining round, TUFA has been in communications with our colleagues in OPSEU 365 (also now in bargaining) and Trent’s student unions to ensure that our stated objectives and strategies align with theirs.  These consultations have been enormously productive and the common refrain from all organizations is that Trent University’s capacity must grow in response to growth.  The squeeze on staff resources putting added pressure on our members (AAAs, IT support, Student counselling, etc.) manifest as overwork and stress on OPSEU members, and frustration among students. As organizations, we all want Trent to succeed, but agree that new investments and resources are required to stabilize campus operations in the wake of year-over-year enrollment increases. The TCSA has launched a crucially important campaign to press the administration to address these very issues: “Excaliburnt Out” launches tomorrow evening with a bonfire for students and TCSA has shared with us several items (attached) explaining this campaign and how TUFA members can support it. Please review the attached docs, and if you’re able to do so, stop by the TCSA’s bonfire between 6:00 and 10:00 pm tomorrow (November 18th – behind the Athletic Centre on Symons campus). Once there, shake hands, bump elbows, high five, do whatever you’re comfortable doing to let students know how much we appreciate their advocacy. The message underlying the Excaliburnt Out campaign harmonizes perfectly with the case our Bargaining Team has been making to the employer in negotiations: Trent must make renewed investments in its personnel and services to allow all of us to accomplish the important things that we came here to do.

  1. Solidarity Away

Followers of TUFA on Facebook or Twitter will have seen pictures of our Chief Negotiator, Treasurer, and Executive Director protesting at Queen’s Park and many of us attended the big rally outside MPP Dave Smith’s Office on November 4th, all rallying in support of CUPE-OSBCU members opposed to Bill 28. Labour’s mobilization across the Province forced the government to repeal Bill 28 and its egregious invocation of the Notwithstanding clause. We cannot now allow the government’s retreat to be a simple bait and switch and it will be important to renew demonstrations of Solidarity with these education-sector workers if they are not able to secure a fair agreement over the weekend. We will update members as soon as possible next week of any actions planned in support of CUPE-OSBCU negotiations. Meanwhile, TUFA took a lead in driving Faculty Association solidarity with striking University workers (CUPE 3912) at Dalhousie, Mount Saint Vincent, and Saint Mary’s universities. Those workers secured significant pay adjustments and other gains before hanging up their picket signs. TUFA also participated in OCUFA’s lobby efforts at Queen’s Park earlier this week at which we (collectively) made the case for bringing Ontario up from the bottom of the barrel in terms of per-student funding in Canada. Our message there, as at the bargaining table here, is that the quality of our institutions cannot be sustained if the only trick left in the bag is to speed up the conveyor belt. . . .

In Solidarity,

Moira and Marcus

Dr. Moira Howes

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy

President, Trent University Faculty Association

Dr. Marcus Harvey

Executive Director, Trent University Faculty Association