Conciliation vs. Mediation

Dear members,

In our last Bargaining Update, we informed you that Central Administration had filed a request for the appointment of a Conciliation Officer. We also informed you that both parties had agreed to mediation. Here is a short summary of recent developments.

The APUO and the Central Administration have agreed to hire William Kaplan as a mediator. The parties will meet with the mediator on June 8 and 14.

A Conciliation Officer has been appointed by the Province. The Parties have agreed to delay the scheduling of conciliation sessions after mediation in the event that mediation fails.

Although both processes can function in parallel and aim at assisting the parties in reaching an agreement, they are different. Here are some of the main differences between mediation and conciliation.

Quick facts on conciliation

  • The conciliator is appointed by the Minister of Labour.
  • Conciliation is mandatory and will continue as long as both parties find it constructive and helpful.
  • If one or both parties conclude that conciliation is not working, they may request a No-Board report which shall be issued by the Minister. Once the No-Board has been issued, there is a period of 17 working days (during which negotiations are still possible) at the end of which: (1) the members may begin a strike action; (2) the Employer may impose a lock out; or (3) the Employer may unilaterally rewrite the Collective Agreement.
  • Conciliation does not inevitably lead to one of the three previous scenarios, but it would be irresponsible for APUO not to prepare for the prossibility of a stike, if only because a strike could prevent the Central Administration from unilaterally re-writing the Collective Agreement.

Quick facts on mediation 

  • The mediator is chosen by the parties
  • Mediation cannot be imposed by one party on the other party; it requires mutual consent of both parties;
  • There is no deadline to mediation
  • Mediation can proceed independently from conciliation

As many of you may have observed, job security and fair and equitable working conditions have been the target of postsecondary administrators who back austerity policies similar to those implemented by our Central Administration.

  • Last fall, our peers at the Association of Part-Time Professors at the University of Ottawa (APTPUO) had to obtain a strike mandate before reaching an agreement with the Central Administration at the eleventh hour.
  • College Faculty represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) were forced to return to work by way of back-to-work legislation after a 5-week long strike.
  • This winter, the administrative, technical and library staff at Carleton University, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees 2424 (CUPE 2424), held a 4-week long strike to protect their bargaining rights and retirement pension.
  • More recently, the Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA) got a strike mandate before reaching an agreement earlier this week.
  • Teaching Assistants, Contract Faculty and Graduate Assistants represented by CUPE 3903 at York University are currently in their thirteenth week of strike.
  • Professors at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) were locked-out of their workplace from May 2 to May 16 following disagreements at the bargaining table about workload, monetary offers, and their complement agreement. It’s worth noting that several key issues of this labour dispute are similar to the ones the APUO Negotiating Team is most concerned about during this round of collective bargaining.

These are just a few examples of work actions in the last year that highlight the challenging context in which the APUO finds itself, and underscore the importance to be prepared for all possible work-action scenarios.

Until we can report back on the progress of mediation and conciliation, we once again encourage you to participate in our Respect campaign by:

  • wearing the pin that you received a few weeks ago;
  • sticking the poster that you received on your office door;
  • expressing support for your Negotiating Team on social media by using the hashtags #Respect and #uOttawa together;
  • by email at the following address: apuoco@uottawa.ca

At this time, our best asset to ensure that we can negotiate a fair collective agreement is by showing our unity.

In solidarity,

The APUO Executive Committee