As students and instructors get back into the classroom, it’s back to bargaining for Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the College Employer Council. After Kathleen Wynne introduced back to work legislation, both parties have been referred to arbitration with a mediator.
Darryl Bedford is the President of local OPSEU 110, says that the decision may take several months but is positive in the potential of the new agreement.
“We feel fairly confident because of the action we took and the vote we took to reject the employer’s offer, and that an arbitrator’s going to take that in into consideration.”
With many issues to sort out through the following weeks, Bedford also addressed his concerns with the College Employer Council.
“So there were all kinds of places, where the College Employer Council was asking us to accept concessions. They were essentially poison pills. Our members looked at that language and they felt they needed to vote against it.”
The five week strike marked the longest college labour dispute in the province’s history. Bedford said that the labour relations model at the provincial level is “broken”.
“It needs to be fixed. We can get there, but we’re going to need the government’s help”.
The last vote the college employees participated in saw a 95% turnout, with an overwhelming 10,477 votes against, and 1,663 votes for the last proposal deal.
“Were in a situation where, I think that we can really make a difference for the next 50 years in the college system,” Bedford said, “ When all of this is said and done, we’re going to end up with colleges that are more stable.”
By the end of this week, both parties must agree upon a mediator-arbitrator. Hearings are to begin within 30 days, with an agreement hopefully within 90 days. If a settlement is not agreed on, the mediator-arbitrator will then hear from both sides to render a decision. The final collective agreement will be binding for both parties.