General Discussion

Posted on 08-15-2012 under General Discussion

August 15, 2012

Kevin Flynn
MPP Oakville

Dear Mr. Flynn,

I have worked as a Support Staff employee at Sheridan College for almost 12 years and I am with the CAAT Pension Plan. The proposed changes being put forward by Premier McGuinty to public sector pensions are a bad idea. My pension plan is just fine, the way it is.

The government claims that there are a number of issues they wish to address by reforming my pension plan: a) moving to a 50/50 cost sharing, b) ensuring plans are fully funded, stable and viable, c) introduction of a dispute resolution process, d) pooling assets to lower costs, e) restricting governance by imposing that deficits can only be addressed by benefit reductions and not contribution increases and, f) changing governance from member trustees to professional trustees.

My plan already has a 50/50 cost sharing, put in place by my responsible member trustees from the inception of the plan.

My plan is fully funded and currently has a going concern surplus of 154 million dollars. My plan uses a prudent blend of realistic assumptions, a diversified asset mix, actuarial smoothing and other measures to manage intergenerational equity, and minimize volatility at the same time as securing pension benefits. The plan’s history shows it is stable and viable. The government has failed to prove that my plan is not.

My plan already has a dispute resolution process. It has rarely been used as all of the trustees and sponsors realize that the best plan is one where the parties work together in the best interest of plan members and plan sponsors.

My plan’s investment program is as sophisticated, assets as diversified and the operations as efficient as larger funds. This is in part because plan design, investments, risk tolerance, risk management, governance, communication and education – all of which are part of the pension plan value and efficiency equation – are aligned under one governance structure across the post-secondary education sector. I realize that pooling assets to make a larger fund may seem attractive, however, bigger is not always better. If pooling is to be considered then, thought must be given to aligning like minded stakeholders and not just done for the purpose of appearing to do something. My plan knows who it should align itself with, and is investigating this on their own. Forced pooling of assets would not be in the best interest of my plan.

My plan is part of an agreement I have with my employer, to defer wages so that I can retire with dignity. It is not a “get rich” scheme. It is however, a way for me to retire with enough to live on without sinking into poverty and finding it necessary to rely on social programs. It is not “gold-plated” by any means. The average support staff pension is $12,000.00 per year.

My plan does not need to be managed by the very people who manufactured our current economic environment. Having members involved with the plan is crucial. I want someone involved that has an interest in how well the plan is functioning as they have a vested interest in ensuring that the plan is prudent, sound, and maintains the promise to deliver a pension to members when they retire.

The proposed changes being put forward by Premier McGuinty to public sector pensions are a bad idea. My pension is just fine the way it is. It does not need the government’s interference.

These have been difficult economic times, especially for pension plans. With low interest rates, and markets that are not consistent, my plan has done exceptionally well. It is because of the forethought of the trustees and sponsors that it has matured into a plan that I know I can rely on.

As an MPP you were elected and took an oath to represent the people of your riding. I’m asking you to fulfill your oath and represent me and to oppose any legislation that threatens my pension. I am also asking you to deliver a message to our Premier and his government; Keep your hands off my pension plan!

I look forward to your response to this matter and your commitment to ensuring Premier McGuinty and this government keeps their hands off my pension plan. I would also like to offer you an invitation to come to Sheridan College and engage in a dialogue with your constittuints on this issue.

Sincerely,

Frederick Oliver
V.P. Communications, OPSEU Local 245

Posted on 11-02-2010 under General Discussion, Your Local President

From time to time, workers believe that their job has changed in context to what has been documented in their Position Description Form (PDF).

The Parties to the Collective Agreement have an agreed to process, within the Agreement to deal with these concerns.  Article 18.4 is an agreed to, fair and effective way to determine if your position is accurate and properly evaluated.

For some supervisors/managers it would appear they fear this agreed to process to the extent that it has been related to me that some managers/supervisors have told workers a number of totally erroneous and false workplace outcomes should a worker exercise their rights under the agreed to Collective Agreement with the employer.

So, some “BULL” from the BOSS.

EMPLOYER LINE

Oh, if you ask to have your job looked at, and if there is more that 30% change of duties and responsibilities, the employer must re-post the position.

THE REALITY

This it totally a lie!  There is NOTHING in the Collective Agreement that requires the employer to re-post YOUR job if there are changes to the extent that there will be a payband change.

EMPLOYER LINE

Well, should you challenge the employer (launch a proper grievance) you will get a BLACK MARK attached to your name and that will have an impact in the future employment relationship.  (really on anything that is an employment relationship)

THE REALITY

I guess this is really up to the member concerned if you truly believe the employer is placing marks beside workers names, however this is just purely an intimidation tactic. OPSEU has negotiated terms and conditions of employment that you have had participation in from setting bargaining demands to change the collective agreement through to the final ratification of your working conditions.  It is not much different if  you have entered into an agreement with your neighbour about how a fence line is to be managed and respected. If you choose to not exercise your negotiated RIGHTS, well, I guess your neighbour ‘wins’.

DOING SOME RESEARCH

A workbook has been prepared for Support Staff employees in the OPSEU bargaining unit who believe their position description has been improperly classified and/or otherwise misrepresents the duties and responsibilities that has been assigned to them.

The use of this workbook is to assist the employee and the Local Union Representative in discovering the facts about their current Position Description Form (PDF) and prepare vital information about their job in order to properly support their job evaluation grievance.  It is common to spend dozens of hours in preparation.  This workbook is designed to keep the worker on track and focused to the issues they are in dispute over with the employer.

In addition to this workbook the worker will also need a copy of the collective agreement, the current position description form, the job evaluation manual for support staff and a grievance form.  These documents are available from the Local Union Office.

In order to get the official PDF, you will need to ask human resources for a copy, and at the same time request the job evaluation information about your position.  This is under article 7.2 and 7.2.1 of the collective agreement.  A memo sent to HR should say something like “please provide me with a copy of my position description form along with the job evaluation information as per article 7.2 and 7.2.1 of the collective agreement.”

WHAT IS A JOB EVALUATION GRIEVANCE

A job evaluation grievance happens when an employee claims that his/her assigned job is improperly stated in the PDF and/or the factor ratings have been miscalculated resulting in a lower payband than the employee believes is correct for the position.  It is the employer’s right and responsibility to assign work to their employees.  In doing so however the employer must document their right to assign work in the Position Description Form (PDF) and this document must indicate all key elements about the job.  PDFs should be reviewed at least every two years to ensure the document is current.  If an activity or level of responsibility is not reflected in the PDF, the employer will not have considered it in rating the job. Therefore it is very important that when you review the PDF, you ensure that everything is included because one of the very first things that must happen in the step one grievance meeting is a declaration from you stating in writing whether you agree or disagree with the PDF that has been provided to you.

On your job evaluation grievance form, you will need to be able to specify the payband you believe your job should be placed in.  In order to do that, you will need to analyze your PDF along with other information you may have.  Here is a link to a zip file containing the Job Evaluation workbook, the How to Write a PDF manual and Job Evaluation manual. These will have the necessary factor charts to help you evaluate your PDF.

Situations that are probably not the subject of a job evaluation grievance are as follows:

  1. When the employee is seeking a general pay increase.  General pay increases are negotiated between the Union and the Council of Compensation and Appointments.
  2. The employee feels they deserve more pay because they are a hard worker. The college system does not have a merit system of pay for performance.
  3. The employee has reached the maximum level of the pay grid that the position is assigned to.  The employer values the work that is assigned in a PDF at the job rate for the position.  Employees who first go into the position do not receive the job rate but receive a rate of pay lower and progress to the job rate.  The employer does this because they feel they need not pay the employee the full rate for the position while the employee is still “learning” the job.
  4. The employee compares rates of pay to other jurisdictions in the public and private sectors.  Again, these kinds of situations are claims that are more properly addressed at the provincial bargaining table between the Parties to the collective agreement.
  5. The employee believes they are doing the same kind of work as a co-worker who is receiving a higher payband.  It is very difficult to make these kinds of comparisons because what is rated is each PDF against the Manual, not position to position.

Should you decide to grieve your PDF your first step should be to contact a steward or you VP Grievance. See opseu245.org for contact information.

In Solidarity,

Jay Jackson
President, OPSEU Local 245

Posted on 10-27-2010 under Bargaining, General Discussion

Hi Folks

Found in today’s Toronto Star is an article about public sector wage compensation,

the bottom line is the suggestion the Education and Health will see the lowest increase at about  %1.4

-Tom Wilcox

Here’s the link:

http://www.thestar.com/business/recession/article/881225–ontario-workers-to-lag-behind-other-provinces-in-pay-increases

ARTICLE:

Ontario workers can expect the lowest pay increase across the country in 2011, according to an annual report gauging employer outlook across the country.

On Tuesday the Conference Board of Canada released Compensation Planning Outlook 2011: Playing It Safe in the Face of an Unsteady Economic Recovery.

Ontario workers can expect a base pay increase of 2.6 per cent in 2011, the report showed. Pay increases for non-unionized employees are expected to average about 2.8 per cent.

“Things are not quite back to business as usual for compensation planners. The economic recovery is still unsteady and burdened by risks from abroad,” said Karla Thorpe, associate director, compensation and industrial relations, in a statement.

“The next year will require patience on the part of workers and businesses. Workers cannot yet expect strong wage gains, and businesses have been slow to see improvements in corporate balance sheets.”

The highest increases in base pay are expected in Saskatchewan, up 3.6 per cent and Alberta, up 3.1 per cent.

While economic uncertainty means modest pay increases for Canadians fewer companies are planning to freeze pay.

Fewer than 3 per cent of the public sector employers that participated said they planned to freeze pay in 2011, compared to 6 per cent the same time last year.

Private sector employers are planning increases of 2.9 per cent, compared to a 2.3 per cent planned increase by public sector employers. Those figures marked the end of several years of the public sector outpacing the private sector in base-pay salary increases.

Positions in the public sector include public service, agencies and Crown corporations, municipalities, hospitals and schools.

The highest increases are expected in the oil and gas industry, with an increase of 3.6 per cent. Base pay in natural resources (excluding oil and gas) and construction are both expected to increase by 3.5 per cent, in 2011.

The lowest increases are expected in education and health, about 1.4 per cent.

Responses were gathered from 384 Canadian organizations between June 15 and September 1, 2010. Almost all of the respondents have an employee pension plan in place.

Posted on 10-22-2010 under Bargaining, General Discussion

Hi Folks

News item from this mornings business news if you are interested.

The bottom line here is that the  HST in Ont, has contributed to a year over year annual inflation rate of 2.9%

That means over 2 years with only a 0% wage increase, the “proposed” wage freeze will cost working people in Ontario 5.8% (projected forward into next year).

Inflation rate climbs but still tame

07:10 EST Friday, Oct 22, 2010
OTTAWA — Canada’s annual inflation rate rose two-tenths of a point to 1.9 per cent last month as the cost of energy and new cars jumped higher in September.

The increase in the annual rate, after a drop in August, had been expected given the recent run-up in oil prices.

Statistics Canada said without the energy component, which was 5.6 per cent higher last month, the annual inflation rate would have dipped to 1.5 per cent.

As well, the agency said it noticed a big pick-up in the price of passenger vehicles during the month — to five per cent from a 2.2 gain in August — as manufacturers shaved the level of incentives they were offering consumers.

On a month-to-month basis, overall prices rose 0.2 per cent from August.

Despite the increases, inflationary pressures remain subdued in Canada. The Bank of Canada’s core rate, which measures underlying price pressures by excluding volatile items such as energy, actually fell to 1.5 per cent in September from 1.6 per cent.

The current inflation rate is also absorbing the impact of the new harmonized sales tax in Ontario and British Columbia, which the central bank estimates is adding 0.7 percentage points to overall price levels.

Still, there was a general firming up of prices noticeable in September. The agency said prices rose in seven of the eight component groups it measures.

Aside from energy and automobiles, the main contributors to annual inflation were homeowner replacement costs, which rose 5.6 per cent; food, which advanced 2.1 per cent; transportation, up 3.1 per cent; and shelter costs, up 2.5 per cent.

Prices also rose on cigarettes (4.6 per cent), alcoholic beverages (2.4 per cent) and tuition (3.8 per cent).

The main contributors to lower inflation were shelter costs, which dipped 2.5 per cent, and clothing and footwear, which were 2.2 per cent less in September than last year.

Regionally, prices were higher in every province in Canada compared to last year, with Ontario’s 2.9 per cent rate still tops in the nation.

Posted on 09-02-2009 under Events, General Discussion

October 17 – 18

OPSEU Reigon 2 Educational

A two day event where you can learn the basics or improve your skills.Plan to attend both days.

Courses offered:

  • Stewardship A
  • Stewardship B
  • Organize! The nitty gritty of an organizing campaign
  • Advanced grievance handling
  • WSIB 2
  • Duty to Accommodate

The union pays for your accommodation, meals and travel. If you have kids, they also have childcare but you need to register in advance.

The hotel rooms are based on shared accommodation, but our local 245 will pick up the other 1/2 of the room so you can have a single accommodation, or bring somebody if you like.

What you need to do:

  1. Complete the necessary forms and return to the Owen Sound Regional Office:
    Before: FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 11, 2009
    Fax: 519-371-4967
    Mail: 1717 2nd Ave East, Suite 100
    Owen Sound, Ontario N4K 6V4
    Email: wwilliams@opseu.org
  2. Call/fax the hotel and book your room before September 11, 2009!!

Meadowvale Delta
South Studio 2
6750 MISSISSAUGA ROAD
MISSISSAUGA
Canada
L5N 2L3

Click here for a Google Map of the location.

Need a ride? Ask a steward. You can find contact information on the OPSEU245 Stewardspage.

Frederick Oliver, V P Communications Local 245

Posted on 09-15-2008 under Bargaining, General Discussion

Hi,

In the interest of promoting discussion and informing you the members, I am going to post the contents of two letters that are circulating. These letters express the personal opinions of individual members and are not to be considered the voice of Local 245. Read, consider and form your own opinion.

You can download a copy of the Memorandum of Settlement here.

Frederick Oliver, V P Communications Local 245

 

from Janice Hagan, Chief Steward, OPSEU Local 561

Please Vote “NO” on the Tentative Agreement

Disclaimer:  This is a personal message and is not intended to represent the views of the Local 561 Executive Committee, officers, or any other elected body under O.P.S.E.U.  This opinion is offered to stimulate rigorous debate, with deepest respect to the Bargaining Team and the difficult decisions they have made. 

Vote “NO” on the Tentative Agreement.  Do not allow “Initiatives / Opportunities” positions (Contract Positions) into our workplace (see page 21 of Agreement circulating).  I have represented our members in hundreds of grievances over the past 12 years, many of them fought to rid our workplace of exactly this kind of abuse.  This Agreement will propel us backward again.  The increase in our recognition pay will never make up for the job security and promotion opportunities lost.  I urge you to vote against this Tentative Agreement.

What is an Initiatives / Opportunities Position?

I refuse to call these new positions, “Initiatives / Opportunities” positions.  Management’s use of these loaded words should be enough to make you squirm.  Call these mutant jobs, “I/O Positions”, or better yet, what they really are:  In/Out Positions”.  They are also called “just-in-time”, “flexible”, “term-certain”, “temporary”, “contract” or “Mc” jobs.  They will eventually replace all good support staff jobs at our colleges, like they have in many other industries.  In/Out jobs are the equivalent of “contracting out” on a micro-scale: one job at a time. 

Under the proposed language, the legal definition of an In/Out job will be left completely up to management.  There is no definition of “initiative” or “opportunity”.  The new language only requires management to meet one condition:  in order to declare work “temporary”, they must know the end date of the job.  That will be easy because management has the legal right to set the end date of any job (Article 3.1).  So how can the Union ever prove that a position is NOT ending on a date (i.e. not temporary), if the boss says the work is ending on that date?   

Feeble Protection

The new language sounds like it will protect jobs.  There is a promise that these new In/Out jobs will not replace “existing full-time…positions”.  Don’t be fooled by slick but empty words.  This language is so weak, it is practically useless.  Currently, under articles 1.1 and 1.6, existing bargaining unit WORK cannot be assigned to temporary, full-time workers.  That is much stronger language.  Changing this protection from “work” to “positions” gives management absolute power to declare any work temporary, as long as it isn’t being done by anyone, right now.  Legally, a “position” only exists if there is an employee in it, or if management says it exists (Article 3.1).  In addition, management has the right to set a position’s duties, change those duties or even create a new position.  We can’t stop them.

If a position becomes vacant, management can post a slightly modified “In/Out” position, without violating the letter of understanding.  Management may even layoff full-time staff and replace them with a different configuration of evolving In/Out positions.  

Full time staff have been laid off and replaced by part-time staff many times.  This isn’t supposed to happen under the spirit of Article 1.2, which promises to “give preference” to full-time over part-time staffing.  Unfortunately, like this proposed In/Out language, Article 1.2 is very weak.  I know, because I have spent many days in arbitration hearings having obvious abuses explained to me from a very legal perspective.  It has been almost impossible for the union to enforce Article 1.2 through arbitration.  The length of time and legal costs of proving such a case is also prohibitive.  A new supervisor, new operational plan, new funding, “whoops, we goofed”: anything can be used, legally, by management, to justify changing the nature of positions in a department, or changing them back again.  By the time the manipulation becomes obvious, it is usually too late to grieve.

Finally, don’t read anything into management’s requirement to “notify” the Local, and to listen to any “representations” the Local might want to make for its members.  This is not the same as requiring the union’s agreement.  This is the same weak language that we have under shift changes and campus transfers.  Ask anyone who has been through a major shift change how weak that protection is.  Management notifies us (sends a memo).  They listen to our representations.  Then, they do what they wanted to do anyway.

A Little CAAT-S History

Ten years ago, many colleges had several temporary, full-time positions, because managers deliberately misused Article 1.6 (non-recurring positions).  Many new positions started out as contract positions.  Some were changed slightly after a year, so they could be called different non-recurring jobs. We found these abuses widely spread throughout IT, academic program areas, Recreation, Counselling and Executive functions like marketing and research. In addition, many jobs in programs where funding had to be renewed on an annual basis (ie. federal programs and Contract Training) were defined as “non-recurring”. That was a lot of jobs, and they were, more often than not, technologist and SSO jobs in the top pay bands. 

Many Locals argued through grievances for many years and finally shut the “contract” abuse down.  Most of the exploited, “temporary” workers were given full-time jobs, many of which still exist today.  Others lost their jobs in the fight.  Let us not forget their sacrifices.  Because of their grievances, there are now hundreds more, high paying, technical and student/client service positions in our bargaining unit, rather than outside of it.  These are jobs you can move into through competition, accommodation or bumping.  When we gave the Colleges an inch, they took a mile.  Why are we now offering them a mile?

Temporary Workers without Job Security are not Free to Enforce their Rights under the Collective Agreement.

Giving the new, In/Out workers full rights to everything in the Collective Agreement, except Article 15 (job security), is like giving a drowning man a shovel.  How many “temporary” workers will grieve an injustice or unfair wage rate when the union can’t protect them from losing their jobs in retaliation?  What benefit could possibly be worth more than job security? 

And why shouldn’t every worker be able to bump into a vacancy that they have the skills to fill?  Why shouldn’t they have the right to bump an employee with less seniority than they have?

You KNOW this will NOT Create PD Opportunities

Raise your hand if you think YOU will get one of these exciting new employment opportunities.  Posting of temporary positions is already a right and consideration of bargaining unit employees is a voluntary option for management.  Why aren’t you getting these opportunities, now?  How many managers are more likely to hire their sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, neighbours, friends, daughters of contractors, the guy who paved their driveway, etc., to quickly fill temporary vacancies?  The only difference with this language, is that traditional, nepotism hires will suddenly have the right to be considered internal candidates.

Allowing us to grieve temporary positions if they are unfairly denied is also useless.  Very few employees even grieve competitions now.  They don’t want to anger the boss and be denied future opportunities.  Furthermore, if a grievance over a temporary position has to go to arbitration, the In/Out job will be finished before the grievance can be resolved.

In fact, this new language will cut temporary positions available for “PD Opportunities” in half.  Our current language (art. 17.3.1) requires the College to also post the temporary vacancy AND the second vacancy created if a full-time employee wins the temporary assignment.  The new language requires the College to fill that secondary vacancy with an Appendix D worker from outside the bargaining unit.  That secondary opportunity is now lost to us. 

Conclusion

Why would any College train or upgrade its technologists when it will be easier to bring in some temporary, contract technologists, to implement new software or hardware?  Why send programmers to learn new platforms or languages when every new computer program required by a College is a new initiative, anyway.  Why would a College use long term staff in Contract Training, when they can replace them with temporary staff, on an annual basis, staff that can be changed at their whim, with each new “initiative” or funding “opportunity”?

Slowly, our technologists will become lab monitors and our SSO positions will be lost, as higher paid “consultants” are brought in to do our “project work”, one piece at a time.

What new initiatives or opportunities exist in your area of your College?  

There are three major threats to fairly paid, unionized jobs in our workplaces.  All of them involve the Colleges finding cheaper (not better) ways of doing our work: (1) contracting out; (2) the exploitation of part-timers; and now, if you ratify this Tentative Agreement, (3) the introduction of “In/Out” jobs or “contract” workers into our offices and labs. 

It is too late to fight contracting out.  We lost many jobs because we didn’t prepare ourselves for that future. We have taken our fight to prevent the exploitation of part-timers to the Supreme Court and United Nations.  We are so close to victory and a new law!  Why would we give the Colleges this new tool against full union membership, now, after all of that? 

Management has been asking for more “flexible employment” from support staff for as long as I can remember.   We have heard the word “flexibility” so often, and in such frightening contexts, that College union activists call it the “F-Word”.  When members of our provincial Executive and Bargaining Team met with the College Presidents, a few years back, to “mend our broken relationship”, one of the top things we told management was to stop using the F-Word.  So, now they are using “In/Out” instead.  [Insert your own punch line, here.]

Please do not let this letter into our Collective Agreement.  Vote NO on the Tentative Agreement.

 

Hello Brothers and Sisters:

 

Having been on several bargaining teams, I do know how difficult the process is and I have the utmost respect for our team.  I truly wish I could support the deal that they cut on our behalf.  However, I cannot.  In good conscious I cannot promote this to my members.  Nor should you.

 

The tentative settlement has some areas in it that do not sit well with me.  I am a strong unionist as you are all aware, and though  what is in this settlement certainly will not affect me personally, it may affect the membership in later years and that is what I am all about, I am not in this for my own gratification.  If you recall we received $400.00 service recognition pay in the last negotiations in addition to our increase.  This time, management is still only offering 3% and asking us to accept $425.00 without it being an increase to our base pay; it is to be provided to us in a “bonus” form, which I believe is dangerous because it could be negotiated away at a later time.  Pay increases I believe should be imbedded within one’s salary.  This way they are also pensionable.  If we had received 3.86% added to our salary base, then that would be compounded.  So doing the math (and I am not a math expert) based on a $50,000.00 per year salary, I calculate that we lose almost $1,000.00 over the three year period.

 

 But, aside from the money which is certainly not the be all and end all in bargaining, and much more importantly, the Term Certain employee structure is quite disturbing.  Firstly, I do not recall seeing “Term Certain Employees” in the June 12th offer.  But it is there now, and the bargaining team has presented it us to promote to our members.  I will not.

 

Management has been pushing for this clause for years.  We have fought back and have made them back off… until now.  What the heck happened.   For current members who have many years left before they retire, and our future members, this will eventually erode our full time bargaining unit structure as we know it.    We will then have two levels of employees, those with job security and those without.  Inevitably those without will increase in numbers weakening the union’s presence and undermining the interests of all bargaining unit employees.  

 

As local leaders, surely we can all see clearly that, this is wrong.  I believe this is generally a regressive agreement with “Term Certain Employees” included (regardless of how it is dressed up) that will continue to erode our interests in years to come. Collective Agreements should be progressive and not regressive.   I believe that the membership in their own best interest should be encouraged to reject it and seek a new agreement more consistent with union principles.

 

You now have my input.  I would like to hear yours.

 

In Solidarity

 

Betty Cree, President OPSEU Local 351 

Posted on 09-02-2008 under Bargaining, General Discussion

Here is quick point form notes on the tentative settlement between Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)  CAAT-S representing college support staff and theCollege Compensation and Appointment Council representing the 24 colleges in Ontario,.

  • Three year deal
  • Wage increase of 3, 3, 3
  • $425 Special Allowance introduced for anyone that has over 6 months service, paid the last cheque before December 1st this year, and then the last cheque before September 1st every year after
  • Special Allowance for those over 10 years service increase to $825 per year, paid on the last cheque before Sept.1.  This year the extra $425 will be paid on the last cheque before December 1st.
  • On average the introduction and the increase of the special allowance works out to a .86% increase, add that with the percentage increase and that equals an average 3.86% increase in the first year.  This increase is the highest increase that we have seen in pure wages (not using the wage grids) since 1990.
  • The Wages and Benefits Comparison letter is no longer in the offer.
  • The introduction of an Initiatives/Opportunities letter of Understanding, Fixed Term positions. The difference between the Fixed Term positions management wanted and what we agreed to is as follows: 
    1.  All of these positions must be brought to the Local before introduction, the College must tell us the rationale behind why such position is needed
    2. These positions cannot extend past 24 months unless extended by the Local
    3. These positions must be posted, and consideration must be given to internal applicants first (this provides for Professional development opportunities)
    4. An appendix D employee must fill any vacancy that has been created if a full time employee is the successful candidate
    5. Internal employees that have been selected for these positions will have the right to return back to their former position, once the term is over
    6. All employees under this will receive all rights and entitlements under the Collective Agreement except for bumping rights.
  • The introduction of Family Day
  • Increases to shift premiums
  • Increase in Dental  coverage
  • Increase in Spousal and Dependent Insurance
  • Increase in Vision Care
  • Increase in Safety Footwear
  • Renewal of the Contracting out letter
  • A commitment to look at Tuition Re-imbursement policies across all Colleges
  • The introduction of historical Bullying/Psychological Harassment language (the first of it’s kind in the public service in Ontario, and we believe it is the first of it’s kind in the province.)
Posted on 08-22-2008 under Events, General Discussion, Mobilization

Hi,

This week your Local 245 requested the use of college property to engage in a legitimate union activity. The request was made, as is usual, in conformance with our Collective Agreement.

After some delay Sheridan HR replied, “… the college is not prepared to allow the use of College property for this purpose.”

Jay Jackson, your OPSEU Local 245 President was quite surprised by the college’s response saying “This is the first time ever that the employer has denied OPSEU space on college property to hold union activities.”

We received no explanation and dare not speculate as to why this request was denied. I’ll leave it to you, the membership, to draw your own conclusions.

Rest assured the event will be held regardless. Stay tuned.

Frederick Oliver VP Communications OPSEU Local 245

Posted on 07-08-2008 under General Discussion, Mobilization

“Let fury have the hour, anger can be power D’you know that you can use it?”

Clampdown – Joe Strummer

 

In it’s 2008 budget the Ontario Government announced that:

  • Under the Reaching Higher Plan, the Ontario government is investing more than $6.2 billion in postsecondary education by 2009-10, improving quality, access and accountability
  • Grants for university and college operating costs increased by over 40 per cent between 2003-04 and 2007-08, supporting the hiring of new faculty, increasing student-faculty interaction, and improving student services and libraries

http://ontariobudget.ca/english/bk2.html

That sounds like welcome news for college support staff workers since we are in negotiations with the colleges as I type. You’d think that with the budget announcement the colleges could step up and do right by us by offering their support staff workers a fair and just wage increase. However, as those of you who have been keeping informed will know, the colleges have offed us only 3% a year for 2 years. Fair and just? You can be sure the colleges will put forth a compelling argument drafted by lawyer types with references to other recent labour agreements, the Consumer Price Index and contradictory statements about the government’s financial situation.

 

I did a little research and came up with some interesting results…

Loyalist College administrators were given wage increases between two and 22 per cent last year.

http://pioneerplus.ejournalism.ca/?q=node/2568

Of 241 persons employed at Ontario colleges with salaries reported to be over $100,000, from 2005 through 2007, 212 had increases in excess of 4%.  175 had increases of more than 10%. 97 had increases of more than 15%. 58 had increases of more than 20%. 32 had increases of more than 25%. There was even 1 who had an increase of more than 50%!

 

Compiled from Government of Ontario PUBLIC SECTOR SALARY DISCLOSURE http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/english/publications/salarydisclosure/

 

You can download the list I created using data obtained from the Ontario Government’s public web site. (If you notice any math errors let me know and I will gladly correct them.)

Personally I have no issue with the college executives earning six figure salaries. They deserve a fair and just compensation for their work. However, they manage to get double digit increases and expect me to say a humble thank you for a miserable 3%! Don’t we all work for the same colleges, in the same communities, under the same constraints? The president of the college where I work earns about five times what I do and that’s OK. They earn it. However last year they received a combined increase of about 16%. Hey times are tough and we’re all hurting. But if they are hurting enough to warrant a 16% increase imagine how I feel!

 

So take some time… Think about it… Are you angry yet?

 

Turn your anger into power! Reject the offer and give your CAAT bargaining team a strong strike vote!

 

F. Oliver VP Communications OPSEU Local 245

Posted on 05-13-2008 under General Discussion, Mobilization

Why bother… I’m not the union type… I wouldn’t know what to do… I don’t have time… They’re not doing things the way I think they should…

I’ve experienced all of the thoughts above at some time since I found myself a Local 245 member a little over seven years ago. I didn’t know I was joining a union when I accepted my job here and I didn’t think I needed one either. So why did I get involved?

I was introduced to the union because not long after starting my employment a situation developed that needed changing. Without going into the gory details it was with the help of the union and Local 245 members that the issue was resolved. Afterward I was grateful and thought it only right I give back a little support in return. It’s a nice story and likely not uncommon. But truthfully it’s not why I’m involved.

I can’t ask my boss for a raise. Or an increase in benefits. Or increased vacation. If I did I couldn’t expect to get it. Not the way I might in a non-union environment. The fact is that I have chosen to work in an environment bound by a collective agreement and employee/employer negotiation is not done on an individual basis (at least in theory, but that’s another discussion unto itself).

I have only one tool to use in my attempt to receive the value and respect I deserve so I want the strongest tool possible. Since OPSEU is that tool I want the strongest OPSEU possible. I want a strong, active union. And I want a strong active Local 245.

Despite all my objections I know that the best way for me to strengthen my union, my local and my chances of getting fair value and respect from my employer is by getting involved. I still don’t really know what to do but I’m learning. If I don’t like the way things are being done, I tell them. I only put in the time I want, when I can. I’m still not the union type… but someone has to do it.

I’m in it for me, but if we’re all in it for me then the union is in it for us.

Fred Oliver