After hours of negotiations with Trent University management proved fruitless, the bargaining committee for Unit 1 of CUPE 3908 (CUPE 3908-1) requested a ‘No Board’ report from the Ministry of Labour late Friday night.
“We cannot negotiate with ourselves,” said CUPE National Representative Grant Darling, speaking on behalf of CUPE 3908-1, which represents over 500 part-time instructors at Trent.
“We don’t believe the public or the students at Trent are aware of the precarious working conditions of the 537 members of CUPE 3908-1. We represent almost 70 per cent of the teachers, delivering the courses at Trent University and they are contract workers, laid off every 4 months and forced to re-apply. Despite being highly educated, experienced and professional educators, our members have no job security from semester to semester. We cannot allow this to continue any longer at Trent. Quality education at Trent is at serious risk of decline if a significant chunk of the teachers continue to slide in precarious, insecure working conditions,” he added.
The Union’s request for a ‘No Board’ report will set in motion a 17-day countdown from the date the Ministry issues the report, which is expected to happen today or on Tuesday. At the end of the 17 days, the employer can lock out the employees, or the Union can take strike action, meaning that a lockout or strike could take place on or around March 2.
Despite the fact that employment security provisions are commonplace at other universities, Trent has refused to negotiate meaningful employment security for their part-time instructors.
“We still believe that a negotiated settlement is possible, but there needs to be two parties at the table willing to negotiate,” said Darling.
He urged Dr. Leo Groarke, Trent’s President, to ensure the University’s negotiators have the flexibility to bargain a fair settlement that respects the needs of all parties, including part-time instructors.
“We cannot be expected to deliver the world-class education students expect and deserve while our members are forced to accept precarious work,” he added.
A provincially-appointed mediator will schedule another round of bargaining between the parties prior to the deadline.