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Government signals intent to move forward with “mandatory co-op”
In a series of comments made last week, the Government of Ontario has indicated that it wants to move forward with creating mandatory work-integrated learning for secondary and postsecondary students. This policy would mean that every high school, college, and university student would be required to complete some form of work-integrated learning before receiving their diploma or degree.

Carleton prof “invalidated” from Board of Governors, CUASA files grievance
Root Gorelick, the Carleton professor at the heart of an ongoing controversy about transparency and accountability at the university’s Board of Governors, has been effectively removed from the Board. His “invalidation” occurred after he refused to sign the Board’s new Code of Conduct, which Gorelick believes is intended to stifle dissent and obscure the Board’s decision-making process. In response, the Carleton University Academic Staff Association has filed a grievance.

OCUFA supports CUPE 926 at Laurier
CUPE 926, which represents all regular workers within Wilfrid Laurier University’s Department of Physical Resources, is currently in difficult negotiations with the university administration. The employer is seeking to outsource cleaning work on campus, replacing good full time custodial positions with low-paying precarious jobs. The employer also set a deadline after which they would impose terms and conditions of work. This is why the CUPE 926 members are now on strike.

Government signals intent to move forward with “mandatory co-op”
In a series of comments made last week, the Government of Ontario has indicated that it wants to move forward with creating mandatory work-integrated learning for secondary and postsecondary students. This policy would mean that every high school, college, and university student would be required to complete some form of work-integrated learning before receiving their diploma or degree. The proposal was a key recommendation of the Premier’s Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel, released on June 23, 2016.

New Minister of Advanced Education and Skills (formerly Training, Colleges, and Universities) Deb Matthews said the following in Queen’s Park Briefing (subscription required):

“We definitely need better, more timely and regionally specific labour market data, and that’s a real starting point for us. We know for sure, anecdotally, from employers that they’re having trouble finding people to fill certain jobs, and so identifying where those gaps are and quantifying it is a big first step. But we’re not going to wait to get all that information before we move forward on implementing the recommendation.”

There is as yet no timeline – or cost estimate – for implementing the mandatory work-integrated learning policy. Critics are nonetheless cautioning that it will be expensive. Andrew Langille, who has been vocal on the mandatory co-op proposal, said in QP Briefing:

“To ensure high-quality, sustainable placements, there needs to be some level of funding, and for every student, that would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of billions of extra dollars injected into the system…that’s not going to happen.”

OCUFA will be monitoring the development of the mandatory work-integrated learning policy closely, and will be meeting with Minister Matthews in the coming weeks to discuss the government’s plans. OCUFA is particularly interested to learn how the government plans to cope with the persistent problem of co-op unemployment already present in the system; how equity in placement quality between different programs and credentials will be ensured; and how the potential impact on the labour market of introducing thousands of student workers will be managed.  

Carleton prof “invalidated” from Board of Governors, CUASA files grievance
Root Gorelick, the Carleton professor at the heart of an ongoing controversy about transparency and accountability at the university’s Board of Governors, has been effectively removed from the Board. His “invalidation” occurred after he refused to sign the Board’s new Code of Conduct, which Gorelick believes is intended to stifle dissent and obscure the Board’s decision-making process.

In response, the Carleton University Academic Staff Association has filed a grievance and released the following statement:

Today, CUASA has filed a grievance on behalf of Professor Root Gorelick in response to the Employer’s continued actions to circumvent the CUASA collective agreement.

Our members’ rights should never be checked at the doors of a boardroom when they choose to participate in the formation and recommendation of policy within the University, participate in the governance of the University, and while performing service.

CUASA has serious concerns for all of our members who may express interest in these elected positions. Only a short year ago, the Board of Governors attempted to amend the bylaws to force the full exclusion of union officers due to an “irreconcilable” conflict of interest and bar them from holding elected Faculty seats.

One of CUASA’s union officers was appointed after Professor Gorelick’s Expression of Interest was rejected and was required to sign the Code of Conduct in order to preserve his right to retain the Faculty Governor seat.

CUASA will continue to vigorously defend the rights of all our members. All of our members should have the ability to express interest and participate in open elections.

Professor Gorelick documented his conflict with the Carleton Board of Governors in an article in the latest issue of OCUFA’s Academic Matters.

OCUFA supports CUPE 926 at Laurier
CUPE 926, which represents all regular workers within Wilfrid Laurier University’s Department of Physical Resources, is currently in difficult negotiations with the university administration. The employer is seeking to outsource cleaning work on campus, replacing good full time custodial positions with low-paying precarious jobs. The employer also set a deadline after which they would impose terms and conditions of work. This is why the CUPE 926 members are now on strike.

OCUFA and its members across Ontario stand in solidarity with CUPE 926 in their fight for good jobs. Last week, OCUFA President Judy Bates sent the following message to Max Blouw, President of Laurier:

Dear Max,
On behalf of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) and the 17,000 full-time and contract university professors and academic librarians we represent at 28 member associations across the province of Ontario, I am writing to urge you to return to the bargaining table with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 926, negotiate in good faith, and reach a fair deal.

The custodians, groundskeepers, and tradespeople who are members of CUPE Local 926 do important work that keeps Wilfrid Laurier University running. Threatening to impose a contract, while publicly discussing contracting out the jobs of the workers you are ostensibly negotiating with, is an excessively aggressive approach to bargaining.

If continued, this bullying tactic will place Wilfrid Laurier University in a small group of rogue employers in the university sector. Terms and conditions have been imposed on academic workers only twice at Ontario universities. In both cases, the imposition of a contract did irreparable damage to labour relations at the institution, and harmed the reputation of the universities among their peers. Faculty at universities across Ontario have condemned this approach to bargaining wherever it has occurred.

OCUFA is aware that bargaining is also underway with our contract faculty colleagues at Wilfrid Laurier University. We expect a respectful and fair approach to bargaining across the university sector and hope that you will commit to upholding this standard when negotiating with all employee groups on your campus.

A recent public opinion poll found that 94 per cent of Ontarians expect universities to be model employers in their communities. Now is a time to support more good jobs for Ontarians, not fewer. Faculty across the province support workers at Wilfrid Laurier University in their effort to defend good jobs. We hope that you will reconsider your approach to this issue and work with them to come to a fair settlement.

Sincerely,
Judy Bates, President, OCUFA

If you would like to send your own message of support, please visit the CUPE 926 website.


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Got a question or comment for OCUFA Report? Email the publisher at gstewart@ocufa.on.ca.

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