Sunday, January 25, 2009

Draft of back to work legislation.

David Doorey has the draft of the bill here. Some points I found interesting.

The legislation has very little in terms of teeth. These are pretty minor fines. They accumulate by the day, so they could get more significant, but note that each offence -- because it is a seperate offence -- would have to be determined to be an offence by a court.

The mediator must be decided upon within five days of the Act receiving Royal Assent; the mediator then has 30 days to get going, and 90 days to reach a final decision. However, those periods can be expanded by agreement of the employer and the union. This means that it could be up to 3 months before CUPE 3903 workers have a new collective agreement. Which would mean they'd have been without a contract for almost a year.

The provisions in the bill governing what the mediator must specifically take into account (although other features can be dealt with) are outrageous:
1. The employer's ability to pay in light of its fiscal situation.

2. The extent to which services may have to be reduced, in light of the award, if current funding and taxation levels are not increased.

3. The economic situation in Ontario and in the Greater Toronto Area.

4. A comparison, as between the employees and comparable employees in the public and private sectors, of the nature of the work performed and of the terms and conditions of employment.

5. The employer's ability to attract and retain qualified employees.

6. The purposes of the Public Sector Dispute Resolution Act, 1997.
Except for the last one, these are pretty blatant indications that the province wants the contract rolled back. Since the York contract is good in comparison to the rest of the sector -- it's still shit, but that's because the sector as a whole is vastly undercompensated -- there's really no way in which this doesn't roll the contract back. Also note the second point, which disavows any governmental responsibility for the underfunding of Ontario universities.

The third point is interesting, though, as CUPE 3903 could make the argument that cost of living is a relevant piece of information about the economic situation in Ontario and the GTA.

It's also worth noting that, as far as I can tell, there's nothing here which dictates the length of the collective agreement.

So, overall, the process that the Premier is proposing is pretty clearly biased in favour of the administration. Which suggests to me that the Board of Governors successfully worked its Liberal Party connections. The question now is whether the NDP can negotiate for sufficient concessions to apply some sort of penalty to York for stonewalling the process for the past three months. Right now, the bill suggests that university administrations can do that -- and get away with it, with government providing cover.

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