July 3, 2020

Dear OCADFA Members

As you know we have been bargaining in good faith with Administration on a new contract since February 2020.  This afternoon Administration walked away from the bargaining table and referred us to mediation.

We had a challenging meeting with Administration this morning and it clearly became evident to both sides that we were intractably far apart on several key issues.  Most notably, Administration has refused to engage our proposals to address the indefensible precarity faced by the majority of OCADFA members. It was in fact these members, the ‘essential workers’ of our academy, who made it possible for OCAD U to continue delivering courses to students throughout the Spring/Summer terms.

We have managed to secure some wins at the table: in particular a recognition by Administration of the excessive workload carried by sessionals during the transition to remote delivery through compensation tied to an optional training program.  We have also worked with Administration to support a voluntary retirement offer for tenured faculty and agreements to increased diversity and equity at the university.

We have been down this path many times before; we are ready to engage productively in the mediation process. We remain dedicated to the mandate you gave us in October of last year and are confident that our reasonable, well researched and focused positions can be achieved with the support of a mediator.

Where do we go from here?  Our next steps are, as a committee, and in consultation with legal counsel and our advocacy groups, OCUFA and CAUT, to come to an agreement with Administration on a mediator.  We will then develop our mediation brief, the supporting documentation for our proposals. Much of this work has already been done by your committee in the development of those proposals but further research is required.

We are negotiating in a difficult environment of fiscal restraint and rapid change. It is not our view that this disruption of negotiations should prevent us from working with the Administration to address matters of immediate concern.  At this time, we are still engaged in the Pandemic Joint Committee as a venue for direct engagement on urgent matters as they arise.  We still have our Grievance process and our existing MOA remains enforceable. We have other venues as well to bring forward your concerns such as Joint Health and Safety Committee and Senate.

We look forward to updating you on the selection of a mediator as we move forward with the process. We believe, even during a pandemic and within times of austerity, labour rights, fair compensation, job security, academic freedom and collegial governance matter. 

In Solidarity,

Eric Steenbergen, OCADFA Negotiations Chair

Min Sook Lee, President, OCADFA