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NDP to Stall Back to Work Bill

The NDP is going to stall a rushed through back to work bill today.  That will no doubt delay the restart of classes at least until next week.  But so far the decision still appears to be that 5000 students, including those in the School of Administrative Studies at Atkinson and Schulich, will start this week, while everyone else will start some time later on.

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9 Responses to NDP to Stall Back to Work Bill

  1. Mike Reply

    January 25, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Hey Prof. Doorey,

    There is a really great question posed to you about the legal definition of “deadlock” which appears in yesterday’s post on the back to work legislation. I’d really like to hear what you have to say to it…

  2. Nurse 1 Reply

    January 25, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Dear Professor Doorey,

    I would point to one important factor that you did not mention in your above post. The expectation is that the goverment could afford to pay for the union’s demands. Unfortunately your post does not take into account the current economic climate.

  3. admin Reply

    January 25, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Nurse 1, I assume you meant my post on “ability to pay”. Again, my point is that, with public funding, it is always a question of where the government’s priorities are. For example, the government intends to do some spending to help get the province out of recession, or to cut taxes. These are policy choices a government makes. You or I might agree with the government putting money into infrastructure or tax cuts over university education. But regardless of what we think, the government is always making choices about where to put money. Even in a recession. The argument of opponents of ability to pay is why should public sector employees be used as a policy tool, for example to help fund corporate tax cuts. So I;d have to disagree with you if your argument is that the government “cannot afford” to give universities more money. They could, but they chose not to because they believe there are more important things to pay for right now. Its a choice, isn’t it?

  4. Mark Reply

    January 25, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Professor Doorey,

    If it is not too much trouble, do you think that you would be able to make a post going over what CUPE’s options are and how it would affect me (Fourth year pre law hopeful finishing up his BA)? More specifically, what will happen if CUPE challenges back to work legislation in court? Most of what I have heard has stats that, regardless of any legal recourse CUPE has, they will be back within two weeks. However, I honestly have no idea.

    Thank you very much,

    Mark

  5. admin Reply

    January 25, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Mark, here is my take on this, without having done any research on the question (if there are lawyers or law students who think differently, please write in). If the union or strikers defy the legislation and continue to strike and picket, they would be subject to daily fines (up to $2000 for individuals and $25000 for the union)–that is in Section 7 of the Bill. I’d be surprised if the union elects to defy the legislation, but I guess it is possible. The union could file a Charter challenge, but that would not in normal course suspend the legislation immediately. Rather, the legislation would remain effective until a court rules it is unconstitutional, which could take a while, certainly longer than the school year, I’d expect. However, the union could file a motion to get an injunction suspending the application of the legislation until the outcome of the court case, I think. There are tests for whether an injunction like that should be granted, one factor of which is known as “the balance of harm” test–would the union suffer more if the legislation remains in effect, or would the employer suffer more if the legislation is suspended pending the outcome of the Charter challenge. That would make for an interesting argument in this case. But I am not a Constitutional law expert. I may find someone who is and ask them to do a “Guest Blog”. Thanks for the question

  6. Alex Reply

    January 26, 2009 at 10:03 am

    A lot of undergrads are trying to neuter the NDP over this- but in reality, the NDP is doing the right thing. By forcing Back To Work Legislation, the Ontario government is essentially giving power to an arbitrator to finish the strike. This arbitor is going to consider many things, including York’s ability to pay and the compensation across the entire industry. Everyone knows that York is in dire financial straits. York’s finances are posted publically, only posting a $1.7 million profit last year, down $38 million from this time last year. Seriously, how do you lose $38 million in one year at a large Canadian university? CUPE 3903 is the highest paid in the industry. The contract CUPE is going to get will be lower than York’s final offer (Maybe 3%-4% a year. The NDP is delaying the vote to so CUPE has time to potentially ratify York’s final contract offer, which is the right thing to do. I’m interested to see if CUPE gets the 2 year deal they’ve wanted, or will they be forced into a 3 year deal.

  7. David Reply

    January 26, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Hi Professor Doorey,

    I love your blog and have been reading it throughout the strike. I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. If/when this goes to binding arbitration, how would an arbitrator determine if the contract will be for 2 or 3 years? This has been a huge sticking point in the negotiations and I’m wondering how this could be settled fairly given the clear winner and loser that would result.

  8. admin Reply

    January 26, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    The arbitrator will look at other agreements between these parties and in the ‘industry’ as a guide. He/she will also apply the “replication” theory, which means trying to assess what the parties would have agreed to had the strike been permitted to continue. In a case like this, where both parties took a position on the term early on and refused to budge, that will be a difficult test to apply, since it is difficult to know how that issue would have resolved itself in ‘free’ collective bargaining. So I’d expect the history of agreements between the parties and in the industry to be most important. Interest arbitration tends, by its nature, to be conservative though, and I’d bet an arbitrator would be weary of imposing a 2 year term in light of CUPE’s stated intention to try an align agreements across the province. But I certainly can’t say for sure what will happen. The entire package will be considered.

  9. Adam Reply

    January 27, 2009 at 3:38 am

    Professor Doorey,

    As an exhausted and sometimes confused rank-and-file member of CUPE 3903 I’d like to thank you for your posts related to the ongoing strike at York. They’ve helped me get my bearings these past few days. I’m quite curious about what would be required to get an injunction at this point. Is this a realistic possibility in your view? And is there any chance you could direct me to some of the pertinent cases?

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