As Chair of the OCAD University Bargaining Committee, I am writing to provide an update regarding the collective bargaining process underway between OCADFA and the University.
On July 3, 2020, the University formally notified OCADFA of its intent to request mediation/arbitration as a third-party intervention available under the Memorandum of Agreement to guide resolution of outstanding bargaining issues.
The University made this decision because it was evident that, during constructive bargaining discussions, though we made good progress to date on a number of issues, we were essentially apart on other several key issues. These include monetary items as they relate to provincial legislation that restricts compensation increases.
By way of background, here are some key highlights that reflect the positive bargaining process to date:
- Bargaining with OCADFA began in February 2020 for a renewal agreement to begin on July 1, 2020, with a total of 10 meetings that have been held to date. With the closing of campus buildings due to COVID-19 in mid-March, it was mutually agreed that bargaining would be undertaken remotely.
- The University and OCADFA representatives have worked constructively within the collective bargaining process during these unusual circumstances. It is interesting to note that several other post-secondary institutions paused their bargaining processes due to the pandemic.
- There has been good bargaining progress made on some important non-monetary items. In addition, the University and OCADFA agreed to proceed more immediately with letters of understanding on time-sensitive processes, including measures to increase diversity within the tenured/tenure-track hiring process, a voluntary retirement incentive offer for tenured faculty, and compensated training support for sessional instructors teaching remotely during the 2020-21 academic year.
The areas in which the University and OCADFA find themselves fundamentally apart are in the following:
- The understanding of the University is that we are bargaining within the parameters of Bill 124, Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019, which applies to the Ontario university sector and requires a three-year ‘moderation period’ of compensation restraint of no more than 1% increases in compensation.
- OCADFA tabled monetary proposals that are significantly in excess of the maximum increases outlined in the legislation and are not, in the view of the University’s Bargaining Committee, reflective of OCAD U’s current financial reality.
- Bill 124 considerations aside, the University’s bargaining mandate and approach are also constrained by profound fiscal challenges it is facing. Contributing to the University’s current budget deficit are reduced revenues through decreasing enrolment trends and a 10% government reduction in domestic tuition fees instituted in 2019-20 with no increase in domestic tuition fees for 2020-21. The budget situation is being further exacerbated by the pandemic, with an anticipated drop in domestic and international enrolment, resulting in increased deficit projections.
It is clear that the multi-year financial forecast for the next five (5) years will challenge the University community to work together to find creative solutions. At this time, the University’s Collective Bargaining Committee believes that engaging a third party will help us find these creative solutions and reach a settlement that is both reflective of the critically important contributions of faculty and academic staff to the educational experience of students, and our fiscal and legislated constraints.
Once again, we thank OCADFA for the progress we’ve made to date on some very important non-monetary items and we look forward to continuing our negotiations with them with this third-party mediator.
We will share more information in due course and as permitted under the rules of arbitration/mediation.
Chair of the OCAD University Bargaining Committee