Dec 9, 2019
It is becoming increasingly clear to the union that management is tone deaf to the union’s attempts to improve the dignity, respect, equity, and well-being of CUPE 4207 members. A short, tense bargaining meeting took place on Dec 9, 2019, where management basically stated that they were unwilling to contemplate any of the significant priorities that the union had brought to the table thus far. Members of the bargaining team presented their monetary proposals to management during this meeting. Management responded by stating that the Orwellian-named Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, recently passed by the Doug Ford provincial government, will limit any consideration management might give to 4207 monetary proposals. This provincial act, which would limit all public sector compensation to 1% a year, OR LESS, represents a pay CUT of around 1%, given that the current rate of inflation in Canada is around 2%. In other words, management has aligned itself with Doug Ford’s war on students, organized labour, and other groups. Furthermore, management has even refused to give any serious consideration to the union’s non-monetary proposals, repeatedly and disingenuously claiming that doing so would represent an unacceptable abdication of “management rights”.
This increasingly obvious refusal of management to engage in any serious attempts at bargaining is wholly unacceptable. If management wants to be in bed with a Doug Ford provincial government that is at war with, amongst other groups, students, workers, kids with autism, and so forth, there will be consequences for that choice. It is the union’s position that the draconian Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, which is currently being challenged in the courts for violating the constitution of Canada, will eventually be struck down by those court challenges, much in the same way that the Doug Ford government’s assault on student organizations was also struck down by Ontario’s Divisional Court.
Overall, it has become increasingly apparent that management considers 4207 members as second-class workers, and as such, management does not believe they are obliged to negotiate meaningfully with the union. This was underscored at a recent event where employees marking their tenth year of working at Brock were recognized and celebrated. Despite the fact that management creates and monitors the seniority list of CUPE 4207 workers at Brock, and would therefore know who among them were marking their tenth year of working at Brock, NONE of these CUPE 4207 members were invited to the celebration. The simple, unmistakeable message this episode sends is that, in the eyes of management, “we don’t count” as members of the Brock community. This example was brought up to management during multiple bargaining meetings, and management had very little to say about it. That management had so little to say says so much about their general attitude towards the members of CUPE 4207; that it is an attitude of condescension, non-inclusion, and denial of the valuable contributions that 4207 members make to the community that is Brock. This attitude is unacceptable to the union. We are not disposable. We are not to be trivialized, put down, and treated as second-class members of the Brock community. We will not accept such treatment. If management continues to avoid negotiating meaningfully with the union, this will make an already bad situation worse. It is not too late yet for management to reverse the approach they have shown so far in negotiations. We hope, very much, that management seriously reconsiders their approach, which, so far, appears to be based on avoiding meaningful negotiations. Refusing to negotiate meaningfully will not magically make the issues which the union has brought to the table go away. We have been clear from the beginning of negotiations that the status quo is unacceptable, and that we are committed to achieving change to better the lives of members, as well as the broader Brock community. It would be wise that our resolve towards this is not tested. It is up to management to step up and begin negotiating in a serious manner, instead of negotiating in the dismissive, paternalistic manner they have thus adopted so far.