|Message to University of Ottawa Support Employees|
Tuesday, March 13, 2007, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) heard the Professional Institute's application for certification to represent the information technology (IT) professionals of the University of Ottawa. The hearing was attended by representatives of the Institute, the employer and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF), to whom an intervener status had been granted.
The Institute's petition has remained unequivocal: it covered IT professionals only. However, the university (employer) adopted the position that, barring a few exceptions such as contract and part-time employees, the bargaining unit should also include all support employees. The employer also maintained the position that the vote held last February 2 addressed all the employees in the unit it was advocating.
In spite of our strong opposition and representations, in addition to those of the OSSTF representative, the OLRB has issued a first decision upholding management's contentions. According to the OLRB, the group of employees able to vote on February 2, 2007 included all the support employees other than the few aforementioned exceptions. Consequently, having won the vote on February 2, the Professional Institute may find itself certified for the entire group despite the fact that the Institute's petition never had this scope.
The OLRB must now decide whether, as argued by the Institute and the OSSTF, the IT professionals constitute an appropriate unit for collective bargaining purposes. If the answer is yes, only the IT Group would then be certified with the Institute. If the answer is no, it is our understanding that the Institute would be certified for the entire support group, including, needless to say, the ITs.
Should the latter scenario materialize, the Professional Institute wishes to reassure the affected employees that the Institute will assume its responsibilities fully and represent all the employees fairly irrespective of their job title. Besides IT professionals, the Institute represents groups composed of administrative personnel and a variety of professionals. It therefore already has the expertise necessary to promote and defend their interests.
If the employer's intent in forcing a "shot-gun wedding" between the ITs and the support personnel was to sow dissent in the group and thereby adversely affect the power relationship, we can assure you we will spare no effort in rallying everyone around a project that we hope will be both collective and unifying.