Faculty at Oshawa’s Ontario Tech still in legal strike position as negotiations stall

By

Published February 7, 2022 at 9:30 am

ontariotechuniversity

The union representing 281 full-time faculty at Ontario Tech University have voted 80 per cent to reject the offer proposed by the Oshawa school.

“The offer put forward by Ontario Tech administration’s ran counter to the institution’s stated mission to offer high-quality education and produce innovative research,” said Kimberly Nugent, Interim President of the (University of) Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association (OITFA.) “They need to acknowledge the value of Faculty Member’s contributions to research, teaching and service and invest in the future of our university. We invite the administration back to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair Collective Agreement that addresses the issues identified by our members in a meaningful way that avoids a strike.”

The Faculty Association remains in a legal strike position but has not yet confirmed its decision to initiate one.

Throughout the pandemic, faculty at Ontario Tech have had to deal with one of the highest student-to-faculty ratios in Canada, “denying students the individual support that is so important to academic success,” the union said in a statement. “This is unacceptable.”

“We are still hopeful that the Ontario Tech administration will acknowledge the struggles that faculty and students have faced during the pandemic and make the investments needed to improve education quality at our university,” said Nugent.

The university, however, says the narrative around student-faculty ratios and class sizes is “deliberately one-sided” and pointed out that the proportion of class sizes of 100-plus students compared to total number of classes remains consistent with 2016 and that since then the proportion of permanent faculty hires has exceeded the overall increase in student enrolment.

But OITFA believes Ontario Tech can afford to make investments in these areas. “They have seen almost a decade of budget surpluses. It is time to show respect for faculty and students and invest this money in areas that will improve education quality, innovation and research, and equity initiatives at the university.”

UOITFA said it welcomes the Ontario Tech Administration back to the bargaining table, but the university said the union is not playing fair.

“The university respects the process by which the majority interests of voting members within the Faculty Association bargaining unit are represented,” the statement read. “However, the university was stunned last week with the Faculty Association bargaining team’s decision to suspend negotiations without concluding an agreement which could be recommended to their membership. The reasons for this decision remain unclear. Instead of continuing negotiations until a tentative settlement was reached that both parties would recommend to their respective principals, the Faculty Association bargaining team took the unusual step of asking its membership to decide whether the university’s last offer was acceptable.”

The school’s offer to its full-time faculty was presented to the public:

  • Increases to salary, stipends, and overload payments (the maximum increases allowed by legislation).
  • Increases to professional development funds.
  • An agreed-upon pathway to complete all work related to salary anomalies and to implement financial adjustments.
  • Enhancements to benefits for all faculty members (the maximum increases allowed by legislation).
  • Maintaining current workload assignment provisions for all faculty members.
  • Expanded commitments to equity and inclusion that include the continuation of a dedicated Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee of Faculty Association representatives.
  • An Early Retirement Incentive program for tenured and tenure-track and teaching faculty members.
  • Maintaining existing terms and conditions as they relate to intellectual property for faculty members.

There is no date at this time for when the two sides will return to the bargaining table.

indurham's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising