On 5 March 5 2019, VPALS Steve Hudson wrote an email to full-time faculty indicating that the College “has approved the creation of 28 new full-time faculty complements, to support the enrolment growth that has occurred. When combined with vacant complements and retirements, the College is planning on hiring approximately 50 new faculty in the coming months.”
While we are pleased to see VPALS Hudson’s statement, there is still significant ambiguity as to just how many full-time positions will be posted and filled and when this will all happen. With the Ford government’s budget coming on Thursday 11 April, there is great concern in the Ontario public college system as to how we will be affected. Northern College President Fred Gibbons stated in January, at the time of the tuition cuts, that he believes that more cuts are on the way for our system. Premier Ford has also recently been railing against the teachers’ unions in advance of their contract negotiations amid reports of significant job losses on the horizon. With all of this in mind, it will be incumbent upon members to continue to stand up to both the provincial government and College management to protect faculty rights and ensure that students receive the quality education that they are paying for.
As such, we have been asserting our rights under the Collective Agreement (CA) to ensure that the College becomes less dependent on precarious, contract faculty and hires the requisite number of full-time faculty to ensure the success of our students.
As a result of our 2017 strike, Arbitrator Kaplan ruled that we no longer have a moratorium on Article 2 (Staffing) grievances. This moratorium was in place between 2014 and 2017, and the College Employer Council pushed very hard to maintain this moratorium in the coming years. It was due to our five-week long strike that we were able to remove this impediment. Your Local 242 Executive Committee recently completed a comprehensive analysis of the College’s staffing needs and has submitted Article 2 grievances for 82 full-time faculty positions. Obviously, there is a significant gap between the number of full-time faculty that the College believes is required and what the Union has found. We are still awaiting a response from the College on these staffing grievances. With a surplus of $13.9 million in 2017-18 and a projected surplus of $10.9 million for 2018-19, we know that lack of financial resources should not be an issue; we are using the tools that we fought for in the CA to lock in as many positions as possible.
We will keep members apprised of further developments regarding the effects of the upcoming provincial budget while we continue the work to protect faculty rights in the face of potential challenges by both the provincial government and College management.
Your OPSEU Local 242 Executive Committee