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Arbitrator finalizes a new collective agreement for college faculty

An arbitrated agreement with Ontario's college faculty will see limited wage increases under Bill 124, but OPSEU says it still included "significant gains."
Confederation college summer
Confederation College in Thunder Bay is one of Ontario's 24 publicly-funded collegees

TORONTO — Both parties are expressing some satisfaction with an arbitrated collective agreement between Ontario college faculty and the province's 24 publicly-funded colleges.

The three-year agreement applies to full-time and partial-load faculty, instructors, librarians and counsellors.

After a stalemate developed in bargaining, the College Employer Council and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union's college faculty division agreed last March to enter unconditional interest arbitration to avoid a system-wide strike.

Following three days of meetings earlier this month, arbitrator William Kaplan's award was released Friday.

OPSEU says it includes significant improvements in the areas of equity and job security for contract faculty, and "significant gains beyond what the employer was offering during bargaining."

But under Bill 124, the wage and benefits increase is limited to one per cent.

"Despite the unconstitutional restraints of Bill 124, this may represent the most significant gains that any postsecondary faculty association has achieved in bargaining since the pandemic began," said OPSEU President JP Hornick.

"This puts us on a clear path to improving the working conditions," Hornick added.

The agreement acknowledges the need to update the colleges' 35-year-old formula for measuring faculty workload.

According to the College Employer Council, a new task force will be established to examine all aspects of workload from delivery to program type, and the data that comes out of the task force will be used to inform the next round of bargaining.

But in a statement, College Employer Council CEO Graham Lloyd said the colleges had maintained their position that many of OPSEU's demands violated Bill 124, "and the arbitration award supports it."

The CEC released a list of some of the changes in the new collective agreement:

  • commitment to supporting Indigenous faculty
  • commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion
  • update to the counsellor class definition
  • changes to priority for partial-load employees
  • inclusion of "chosen family" in bereavement leave
  • task force to study workload
  • wage and benefits increase of 1 per cent

The agreement expires on Sept. 30, 2024.