Dear Premier Wynne,

Dear Premier Wynne,

(Cc:  Advanced Education Minister, Deb Matthews)

On November 16th, I was elated with the overwhelming 86% rejection vote on the College Employer Council’s (CEC) forced Final Offer, and I was further encouraged when you stated on CBC radio’s Ontario Today with Rita Celli that the reason you are in public life is because you believe in Public Education and that you think it is the most important thing we do as a society. As I danced home from my picket line shift, your further words that you also believe in the collective bargaining process resonated as I picked up my pen to write a letter to the CEC to encourage them to see that their approach to bargaining has failed and to meet us back at the bargaining table (I previously penned a Letter to Ontario College Students, outlining the facts, issues, and reasons for the lack of progress in this important labour dispute – which I also sent to you. Here it is again: ). With naïve optimism, I thought that the CEC would finally begin bargaining in good faith, or that you would insist they do so. BUT before the ink was dry on my letter, your government announced an impasse and introduced back to work legislation – hence my letter is now addressed to you.

Transparency – Who is the CEC anyway?

During this labour dispute, I have become very curious about who the CEC is, but can find little information on their website. Simply identified as the bargaining agent for Ontario’s 24 colleges, there is no information about who the Council is comprised of, how they are hired, elected or appointed, how their competency or suitability is determined, how they are funded, how they are compensated, what is their budget, or who is on their “advisory” committee? It took many google searches to try to find names of some Council members, and even more to find out which expensive Consulting firm they hired as their spin doctors. I searched the Sunshine list to ascertain Council members’ salaries, but they are not listed for CEC. Are they not paid with public money? As a taxpaying citizen of Ontario, I demand transparency and full disclosure on this private club you are running for the “most important thing we do as a society”.

Proven incompetency – Disband the CEC!

In recent days, Deb Matthews has promised to look at the flaws in the bargaining process that lead to this labour disruption. This, combined with comments you have also made in the media about respecting the bargaining process, gives me a sneaking suspicion that your government recognizes the incompetence of the CEC. Simply put, the OPSEU college faculty bargaining team have engaged in good faith bargaining from the beginning and have always been at the table – the CEC has not.

As a full time faculty member, I am offering my educational skills to assist you in understanding the flaws in the bargaining process by assessing both the CEC performance and that of OPSEU’s bargaining team using a Collective Bargaining grading Rubric. You will see below that the CEC has earned a failing grade. An “F” for fairness, competence, and integrity.

Collective Bargaining Rubric:
Learning Outcome

Criteria (0 à 20)
Apply the principles of good faith bargaining to reach a collective agreement and prevent a labour disruption
Tabled one concession-laden offer and refused to negotiate all summer  à  to bargained in good faith to have a collective agreement at semester start
Exemplify professionalism, fairness and honesty in communications with the public during the bargaining process
Hired an expensive consulting firm as spin doctor to spread deceptions/mistruths and provided embarrassing inarticulate media interviews without a clear goal  à  to professionally articulated and prepared fair, informative & balanced press communications with very clear goals and principles
Comprehend and reply constructively to Strike Mandate vote and Strike Deadline date
Continued to refuse to negotiate in good faith for a fair resolution thereby prompting the strike à to responsibly acted on the clear message that the bargaining unit was serious & worked hard for a fair negotiated settlement 
Prioritize and respond to Strike onset with vigor and appointed responsibility to settle the dispute
Refused to negotiate for first 2 weeks of the strike, then walked away from gains being made at the negotiating table, implemented a concession-laden forced “Final Offer” vote another 10 days later, thereby significantly prolonging the strike à to consistently being at the table and making many concessions to reach a settlement and offering to continue to negotiate while awaiting the forced vote
Demonstrate commitment to negotiating a fair settlement when called upon by the Provincial government to resolve the dispute immediately
Despite an overwhelming 86% rejection of the forced “Final Offer” vote, still refused to negotiate and would not remove the very concessions that are the basis of the dispute, prompting back to work legislation  à  to willingness to seriously engage in the collective bargaining process to reach a fair deal and avoid  back to work legislation




As a taxpaying citizen of Ontario who funds the CEC’s salaries, I am calling on you to disband, dismantle, or otherwise procure the resignations of this clearly incompetent council. And do it now – please don’t make us continue to deal with this bunch at the bargaining table as we head into legislated mediation-arbitration. In addition to the failing grade earned for collective bargaining, I will help you further understand their clear incompetence:

  • Despite the CEC receiving exorbitant publicly-funded salaries for their specific paid duties as the colleges bargaining agent, are they are so inept that they had to spend even more of tax payers’ money by hiring an expensive Consulting firm to do all of their print materials and help them develop their oppressive corporate-style strategies? Really – taxpayers are funding this while students and faculty have been left in limbo?

  • And you must have repeatedly cringed with embarrassment whenever the CEC CEO Don Sinclair gave a media interview – completely unable to articulate (without his consultant spin doctor holding his hand) any reasonable statements or clear goals. Like when he stumbled over his words – umm, ah, so umm, well, umm – could not understand or respond in any clear way to questions put forward by Matt Galloway on CBC’s Metro Morning on October 31st. As a college professor, I also couldn’t help but notice the horrendous grammar too! Have a listen:
  • Or, the time he was on CBC radio’s Ontario Today on Nov 14th when the CEC forced offer was put to the vote and he said “First of all, I don’t like the word forced vote” (by the way, that is two words) – when Rita Celli immediately shut down this ridiculous rhetoric and said in her many years of covering labour disputes, this is an attempt to bypass or snub the union. Have a listen:
  • And this is your CEO front man for college education in Ontario? Ouch! Premier Wynne…I feel your palpable embarrassment, especially when you hear the eloquent, articulate, intelligent, respectful, fair, and informative statements made by the OPSEU college faculty representatives in these same media interviews. We have been at the table, with respect and integrity, from the beginning in July and consistently since then to reach a fair settlement. And we continue to embrace the principles of collective bargaining.
  • The CEC single-handedly prolonged the strike by refusing to come to the table for the first 2 weeks, and later (on Nov 14th Ontario Today) casually calling it a “cooling off period.” Are you kidding - at the expense of students and faculty? Then also on Nov 14th Ontario Today said that a reject vote on the CEC’s forced Final Offer “would send a message to us.” Hello? Is anybody home? Message clearly sent repeatedly (strike vote, reject vote), loud and clear. This would be laughable if it weren’t so serious.

  • And the CEC smugly thought they were saving millions of dollars each week in faculty salaries (while they still collected their own) as they delayed the strike, only to have Deb Matthews announce that this money will go to students in need. I am happy that our lost salaries will be going to students – are you happy with the CEC’s failed strategies and your need to keep cleaning up after them?
  • To add insult to injury, the CEC has even actively attempted to undermine your Bill 148 fair work legislation by imposing oppressive corporate-style contract language to continue precarious employment practices, with unequal pay for equal work. Wow – nice to see your own appointed and handsomely paid public employees working against your progressive initiatives. Right?

College is PUBLIC EDUCATION, not a profit-mongering private corporation. I urge you to immediately appoint more competent people to work with us for a fair collective agreement in what has become the longest strike in the history of Ontario colleges. Heck, a team that barely scrapes by to earn a grade of 50% (“D”) on the Collective Bargaining Rubric would be a welcome improvement!
Silver lining?

The benefits of this strike (if there is such a thing) and the incompetency demonstrated by the CEC is that college faculty, librarians, and counsellors across Ontario are now fully united and informed! I guess I have to thank the failures of the CEC for giving us the opportunity on the picket lines to connect, to collaborate, to create new initiatives in education, to learn about each other and our experiences with academic management, to become better informed, passionate and committed to social and economic justice in public education (evidenced by the 86% rejection vote on the forced Final Offer) – all of which will enhance quality education for our students and inspire them to push back against oppressive employment practices. A+ granted for this unintended consequence of CEC incompetence!

Now being legislated back to work, I have A LOT of (unpaid) work to do to support students in successfully completing their semester. And, I can only hope that the CEC’s twisted rhetoric won’t result in my experiencing the brunt of their failure when I return to educating my beloved students next week. I will respond to and fully educate them on this situation – I promise (and I keep my promises – just ask my students).

Enough said,

Deborah Megens
Sheridan College