CUASA Statement on Proposed Legislation Attacking Workers’ Rights to Fair Collective Bargaining

CUASA Statement on Proposed Legislation Attacking Workers’ Rights to Fair Collective Bargaining

We are appalled to learn the provincial government has introduced legislation that, if passed, will put a cap on broader public sector wage and compensation increases and greatly impact CUASA members’ right to fair bargaining.

Bill 124 (Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019), states “No collective agreement or arbitration award may provide for an increase in a salary rate applicable to a position or class of positions during the applicable moderation period that is greater than one per cent for each 12-month period of the moderation period, but they may provide for increases that are lower”.

Under the proposed legislation, the moderation period for collective agreements in operation on June 5, 2019, “begins on the day immediately following the day the collective agreement expires and ends on the day that is three years later”.

For CUASA, this means the three-year moderation period will commence on May 1, 2021, following the expiration of the 2017-2021 collective agreement, and will last until April 30, 2024.

This act further puts restrictions on the Ontario Labour Relations Board and on the jurisdiction of arbitrators to prevent the finding that a provision, regulation or order from this Act to be unconstitutional or in conflict with the Human Rights Code.

Finally, this legislation will give the Minister the power to make an order declaring that a collective agreement or an arbitration award is inconsistent with this act, powers that should be reserved solely for judicial authorities, and not government ministers.

We see this as a clear infringement on CUASA’s rights to collectively bargain on behalf of its members, particularly when the legislation also makes it clear that employers are being offered protections that seek to prevent causes of action as a result of this Act.

“This is not a ‘cost-saving’ plan to help the people of Ontario,” said CUASA President Root Gorelick. “This is an ambush on workers’ rights by inflicting a form of censure and control on universities. The government has been vilifying professors. Why? Because we work for society by researching and teaching knowledge. We won’t stand idly by.”

Universities in Ontario are not solely funded by the public sector. Only approximately 30% of university funding comes from the province, with a majority of university revenues coming directly from tuition and fees. University employees collectively bargain directly with the universities as their employer, not with the provincial government. If the province wants to have a say in how the broader public sector operates, then it should provide universities with the same level of funding that other areas of the sector receive. The province has no authority to interfere with the parties’ autonomy in this manner.

The Association will continue to do all it can to protect its members’ rights to free collective bargaining without unwarranted government interference.

We would like to remind CUASA members of the Day of Action happening this Friday, June 7, to protest the cuts the government is making in Ontario. More details can be found here.

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