Update on union certification discussions
Meetings are ongoing between the university, the bargaining agents who have applied for union certification, and the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) with regard to union representation for two different Queen’s employee groups. A bargaining agent has been certified for a third group of Queen’s employees.
The three groups are general staff; academic assistants, senior tutors, tutors and markers; and teaching assistants (TA) and teaching fellows (TF)
A March vote for the United Steel Workers (USW) to represent general staff in bargaining is still undecided. The union and the university have not reached agreement on the description of the bargaining unit that defines which staff are members and therefore eligible to vote.
At an OLRB meeting on April 28 the USW and representatives from the university agreed that neither would make an application for an OLRB hearing in the immediate future. Instead, the USW and the university agreed to try and resolve at least some of the issues between themselves. If after three months, the union and the university have not reached agreement on the appropriate bargaining unit description or on which employees are entitled to have their votes counted then the OLRB will schedule a hearing. It would likely be at least the fall before a hearing could be held and later for a final decision. In the meantime, the university is providing the USW with data for each of the 700 employees whose ballots were segregated at the time of the vote.
Academic assistants, senior tutors, tutors and markers
At the April 16 vote for the USW to represent academic assistants, senior tutors, tutors and markers, PSAC challenged all the votes to ensure that students would not be represented in this bargaining unit.
At an OLRB meeting earlier this month the PSAC concern was satisfied and it now appears that no students will be included. USW and the university moved close to agreement on the bargaining unit description at that meeting, but one outstanding issue will be discussed at an OLRB hearing on June 7 and 8 if agreement is not reached in the meantime. Once agreement on the bargaining unit description is reached, the eligible votes will be counted to determine whether or not USW has been certified to represent this group of Queen’s employees.
TAs and TFs
On April 13 the Ontario Labour Relations Board certified the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) as the bargaining agent for graduate Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows. The timelines for notice to bargain and the commencement of bargaining for negotiating a first collective agreement are spelled out in the Ontario Labour Relations Act.