Colleges Support (CAAT-S)
Ontario College Support Staff Newsletter
May 2012 - Issue 1
College Support workers gather for Divisional Meeting
Support workers from Ontario’s 24 colleges are gathering on May
5 and 6, 2012 for a Divisional Meeting. Focusing on discussion and resolution of
policy issues, approximately 100 OPSEU members from the College Support Division
are meeting at the Toronto Delta Chelsea hotel.
Our new Collective Agreement is remarkable as the first one
negotiated under the terms of the 2008 Colleges Collective Bargaining Act. This
put a whole new set of rules in place, however your bargaining team succeeded in
using the Act to our benefit, in spite of the challenges. A focus of the weekend
is feedback on the recent round of bargaining and the strike with a view to
improving processes. The members will also look to ways of strengthening locals
and educating to win grievances.
Over the next three years, our task will be to enforce our new
agreement. We are all going to have a part to play, from attending general
membership meetings and union events to assisting with campaigns. Engaging with
your union and standing in solidarity with all of our members is what makes us
What do your Division Committees do for you?
The following committee reports provide updates and insights
into what your union is doing to improve your daily experience on the job.
The Division Executive Committee
The Division Executive (Divex) is the leadership of the College
Support Division. Committee members liaise with our other provincial committees
and address issues that may have system wide implications. These include
workplace cutbacks, pension changes, legislative changes and organizing
The Divex does not address issues stemming from the collective
agreement, but rather they act as the political arm for the College Support
sector. The committee works on campaigns such as the part-time workers campaign,
meets with the Minister of Colleges, Training and Universities to discuss
matters that affect the membership and also liaises with other labour groups
such as the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), Canadian Labour Congress (CLC),
and National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).
Employee/Employer Relations Committee
The responsibility of the Employee/Employer Relations Committee
(EERC) includes matters arising out of the collective agreement during its term,
and other matters affecting the bargaining interests of the members. The role of
EERC is to make recommendations to the bargaining team about subjects of
system-wide importance, facilitate communication with management at the
provincial level, preclude and resolve common problems during the life of the
Collective Agreement and prepare the Bargaining Team to enter negotiations
through information gathering.
The Union brings topics to the table such as workplace wellness
and gathers research through surveys or canvassing local unions. The result
could be ground work for new language in the collective agreement such as that
for workplace bullying. The Union also looks at local agreements and tries to
achieve equality across the system, such as tuition for dependents and family
Grievance Scheduling Committee
It is the responsibility of the Grievance Scheduling Committee
to schedule your grievances. They meet on the first Friday of each month,
excluding July and August. Your grievances come to the committee once internal
steps have been exhausted and your grievance has been denied at step
2. Grievances are scheduled by date. Locals are sent the list of grievances
about a week before the meeting and asked to provide the priority for grievances
on the list, otherwise the committee schedules by date. Dismissals and layoff
grievances are the only grievances that are given first priority.
A few days after the meeting, a tentative arbitration schedule
is sent to the locals. Each party is only allowed to turn down a date two
times. This is called the three strike rule. College management usually turns
down two dates each time. This is one of the reasons why it takes so long for
your grievance to be heard. Once a scheduled arbitration date has been turned
down twice by one side, the grievance is then locked into the third date
scheduled by the committee.
The Bargaining Team
When we approach the expiry of our Collective Agreement, we hold
a pre-bargaining conference to discuss upcoming issues and themes for the round
of bargaining. This meeting is where the bargaining team is elected.
The team is responsible for collecting demands for the final
demand setting meeting. They make recommendations on the demands and present
them to provincial delegates to vote on. Demands passed by the provincial
delegates are then drafted into an exchange document which is presented to
management. This document forms our roadmap for bargaining.
Once the exchange document is presented, the bargaining team
meets and negotiates with management to discuss changes – both ours and
Joint Classification Committee
The job of the Joint Classification Committee (JCC) is to make
sure college support staff get the right pay for the work they do. The JCC deals
with province-wide job classification issues.
The work performed by committee members includes review and
summary of classification awards; review of the performance of arbitrators and
study of controversial decisions; clarification of the application of the job
evaluation system; communication with OPSEU members about classification issues;
development of training modules for arbitrators and stewards; identification of
problems in the classification system and development of strategies to fix them;
updates to the job evaluation manual and classification awards database.
If you believe your position is wrongly classified, speak to
your OPSEU local steward to identify the classification expert for your local.
Joint Insurance Committee
Union members on the Joint Insurance Committee (JIC) meet with
Sun Life, Council and college reps to monitor benefits plans, including costs
and claims patterns, legislative and industry changes and claims administration.
We also assist members with questions and resolve appeals when claims are denied
unfairly. If you wish to appeal a decision by Sun Life, contact either Kim
Macpherson at OPSEU, a committee member or your local steward for more
During 2011, we saw a 1.5% benefit increase negotiated for
members on LTD. All accounts are currently in surplus and premiums are stable.
Our green benefits books are currently being revised and we expect electronic
versions to be ready by summer. Sun Life plans to send “straight-forward” claims
to India for processing, and the Insurer insists this will not result in Ontario
job losses: OPSEU is lobbying to have that decision reversed.
Shirley McVittie retired in 2011 as Benefits Officer on the JIC.
Her compassion and contribution will not be forgotten. Please join us in wishing
Shirley a long and healthy retirement.
Members of the Pension Committee serve as Sponsor and Trustees
of the CAAT Pension Plan. They have a fiduciary responsibility to pension plan
members, beneficiaries and the Union to manage the plan’s assets and ensure the
funds are available to pay promised pensions.
The Board of Trustees is responsible for the administration of
the Plan. They ensure that the Plan’s trust funds are managed prudently and in
accordance with applicable legal standards. This requires a clear understanding
of the duties and standards of care required by legislation and other principles
that apply to pension plans. The trustees decide on how the assets are to be
managed and invested. They delegate the implementation process to plan staff.
They then review the fund activities and performance to determine how well the
system is functioning.
The Pension Sponsor approves changes to the Plan text as well as
changes and improvements to benefits. Trustees and Sponsors are currently
engaged in a Plan Equity Review to ensure that all members of the Plan receive
equitable pension benefits based on the amount of contributions made.
Visit the OPSEU website for the complete list of all committee
members together with the colleges they represent, meeting minutes and terms of
This newsletter is approved for distribution by:
OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas
And College Support Division Executive Committee Chair, Florry