Musings around Collective Bargaining

How is it that an employer is ever able to complain about what is in the Collective agreement? Have the employers and their agents not dedicated hundreds or even thousands of hours to the process; the end result being a mutually agreeable set of rules?

I am just staggered when I hear a supervisor state that members are ‘unreasonably’ protected by the Agreement. It would seem to me that the members are being very reasonably protected. In the absence of the Agreement, petty personal conflicts around philosophies of education and class-room management might dominate.

We need Collective agreements to ensure a fair and reasonable application of the expectations around our jobs. We need to know our rights, but we also need to know what is expected of us.

How do we ensure that our rights are protected, while we do our best to meet our obligations to the employer, and ultimately to the students?

We need to make every effort to learn what is in the contracts, whether Provincial or Local. More importantly, we have to be prepared to stand fast on the rights that we have negotiated. Too often, I’ve spoken to members reluctant to apply language that has already been negotiated AND has already been signed off by both the Union and the Employer.

A supervisor who ignores or bends the agreement for their personal benefit needs to be called on this. In effect, they are ignoring the agreement that THEIR supervisors have approved. They are acting in an insubordinate manner. Are they doing this as the result of a wanton maliciousness, a general ignorance of the rules, or a complete misinterpretation of what they heard at that particular meeting? Regardless, as a Union, we have to do all that we can to assist members in asserting their hard-won rights.

We have bargained and we have agreed. We now have to ensure the fair application of the various agreements. We have to stand fast on the intent of each clause as it was negotiated. None of this is easy, but it is necessary.