Friday, November 28, 2008

Pressure, Strikes, and Coordinated Bargaining

(Promoting this from the comments)

Will there be a provincial strike in 2010? I'm referring here to CUPE's own planning document on coordinated bargaining:

The intent of coordinated bargaining is to negotiate directly with the province:
  • Page 1, "What are the most important gains we can achieve through coordination? Greater political clout ... a way to win provincial funding and better accountability ..."
  • Page 4, comments by Sid Ryan: "A CUPE school board bargaining team is currently in central talks with the Ontario government on major issues of concern for school board workers. 'It shows it can be done,' he said. 'And it all started when the Ontario government saw that at least 60 collective agreements in the sector were going to expire on the same date.'"
A provincial strike is part of the plan:
  • Page 5: "Implementation: All local unions in a strike position at the same time by negotiating the same expiry date"
  • Appendix C, Page 1: "Top 3 Priorities ... Plan: Coordinated Strike Position ... File no boards on common date" (A "no-board" is one of the last steps towards a legal strike date.)
Further, the province has already stated that they are unwilling to negotiate directly with the union:

Union officials have argued for a provincewide bargaining process similar to the one used with school boards, but the minister responsible for colleges and universities said that isn't going to happen. "I respect the autonomy of the institutions when it comes to our universities," said John Milloy. [CP]

So it is disingenuous to say that coordinated bargaining is only a pressure tactic: it is a pressure tactic because there is the threat of a strike behind it. CUPE has already explicitly planned for a coordinated strike, and "pressure" of some sort will be needed to force the province to the table. If CUPE gets its way, a strike at most Ontario universities is not only possible, it is likely.

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