January 24th statement by Premier McGuinty:
The strike is also at the point where the academic year is in jeopardy for York students. In challenging economic times, when we need all our people at their best, we simply cannot afford to delay the education of 45,000 of our best and brightest young people. [Link]
Toronto Star: McGuinty to recall the Ontario legislature for 1 pm, Sunday January 25th, 2008 to introduce back-to-work legislation (BTWL)
Earlier today I was advised by Mr. Pearson that there is no reasonable prospect of a negotiated settlement between York University and CUPE Local 3903,” McGuinty said. “The sides are in a clear deadlock, and despite our best efforts to bring the sides together, that has not changed. [Link]
CBC News: Backgrounder on back-to-work legislation
Back-to-work legislation is generally used to end a strike – or lockout – in an industry that the government decides is essential to the operating of the economy. It can also be used to end an illegal strike, either by a group that is deemed essential and is therefore prevented by law from going on strike, or workers who have gone out in violation of an existing contract.[Link]
When will classes begin?
Update, 11:30am, Sunday: Toronto Star: Feb 2nd return date.
York officials said that means classes could not begin until Feb. 2, extending the school year until June 2, and costing students one of the four months they have to work or study in summer. [Link]
Update, 2:50 pm, Saturday:Toronto Star: NDP will delay BTWL; Thursday is the earliest return to class.
Hampton said CUPE’s willingness to continue talking â€” despite York’s refusal to budge â€” proves that bargaining should continue. That’s why the NDP is opposing the back-to-work bill. [Link]
Update, 2:15 pm, Saturday: Reading unconfirmed reports (blog comments right now, so caveat emptor) that the NDP will not be supporting the BTWL. If this hold true, then BTWL will take somewhere in the range of a week to pass all the readings. In addition, the union executive, flying squad and strike committee are meeting this afternoon. I’m expecting to hear something from them later in the day.
11:15 pm, Saturday: NDP & BTWL. This time it will be political: The NDP passed the TTC BTWL without holding it up. Will this hold true for the York BTWL? Not necessarily so: because there is a leadership contest and 25% of the leadership vote comes from affiliated unions. Andrew Steele, writing for his Globe and Mail blog, suggests that this means:
As a result, each of the four leadership candidates will compete to be the most against back-to-work legislation.
Not only will that mean failure for the government to secure the unanimous consent of the Legislature to dispense with debate of the legislation, but a potential filibuster that could extend the debate far beyond a few days. [Link]
Coleman on Campus: Conjecture from early January as to why McGuinty would not introduce BTWL & how long it would take to return to class:
It will take a minimum of 24 hours to recall the legislature and will take the better part of a week (if not longer) of sitting in the house to pass back-to-work legislation, which will also face opposition from the NDP. [Link]
What is the union’s reaction to this?
10:00 am, Sunday: In a posting last night, CUPE 3903’s Bargaining Team and ExecutiveÂ released a statement within which they write that they are rejecting binding arbitration:
We are convinced that by rejecting binding arbitration, we are keeping membersâ€™ best interests in mind. We lose very little by refusing binding arbitration. We have rejected binding arbitration since bargaining began, and it would be inappropriate to accept it now. We considered carefully the larger political implications of our decision. We want to continue to bargain on our own terms. We refuse to undermine the dignity of our members by accepting an offer that our members already rejected. [Link]
I’m not quite sure how, once BTWL is passed, they’re going to do this beyond a symbolic gesture. They could decide to defy the BTWL, but the union’s spokesperson has said they wouldn’t be doing that:
Tyler Shipley, spokesperson for the striking CUPE employees, said the union will instruct its members to return to their jobs despite the possibility of challenging the law in court. “We’re certainly not going to encourage our members to do anything illegal,” he said. [Link]
According to today’s CUPE 3903 Strike News, picket lines will be up this week, 7am – 5pm.
CUPE 3903 is organizing a grievance and work-to-rule campaign (WTRC) when classes resume. The details of what this will look like are very loose at this time. 3903 WTRC in the past , like all WTRC, have involved following the contract to the letter. This has meant, for example, that TAs would not answer student email as it is not required by the contract. What I’m hearing is that this WTRC will try to be more disruptive than WTRC in the past. How this will affect students, if it is enacted, is difficult to say for two reasons: the first is that no details have been given. The second is that, in my experience, implentation by individual union members will be uneven.
2:15 pm, Saturday: There is a 3903 protest planned for 1pm 12pm tomorrow (at Queens Park, I would expect) in front of Queens Park. So, this will get a lot noisier…
Could the BTWL be challenged in court?
Update Saturday, 12:30 pm: Supreme Court decision (Health Services and Support â€“ Facilities Subsector Bargaining Assn. v. British Columbia) that was touted as the reason why BTWL wasn’t an option. Now it is suggested that the exception of a “clear deadlock” has been met, which is why the BTWL is a reality.
Even where a s. 2(d) violation is established, that is not the end of the matter; limitations of s. 2(d) may be justified under s. 1 of the Charter, as reasonable limits demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.Â This may permit interference with the collective bargaining process on an exceptional and typically temporary basis, in situations, for example, involving essential services, vital state administration, clear deadlocks and national crisis. [Link] via Torontoist
Doorey’s Workplace Blog: Legal analysis as to why any BTWL could be challenged by CUPE
So there is little doubt that, if McGuinty ordered a legislated end to the York strike, the government would face a new complaint before the ILO, which it would no doubt lose. Â This hasnâ€™t frightened governments in the past, because the ILOâ€™s only power is public embarrassment, and our governments have not cared about that. Â But now the stakes are raised, because in addition to the ILO complaint, the McGuinty government could also find itself facing a Charter challenge. Â Were the government to lose that argument, and the Court find that Section 2(d) protects a right to strike, governments across Canada could then find themselves unable to use back to work legislation in other casesâ€“garbage strikes, transit strikes, etc. [Link]