Bargaining FAQ

Bargaining FAQ


Salary increases and the protection of flexible work arrangements (FWA), including remote work, are the top priorities for our members. These top priorities emerged from more than 600 responses to the 2023 CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) 2424 membership bargaining survey.

Salary increases will depend on various factors. The Union’s negotiating team will be taking into consideration a complete monetary package, including other monetary gains (E.g. benefits), when determining what is, or is not, a fair wage deal that we think is worthy of ratification by the membership. The negotiating team is also looking at other negotiated settlements in similar bargaining units across the University sector.

We know our members are feeling the pinch when it comes to the cost of living. Accepting a lower salary increase will further exacerbate financial hardship for members right now as the cost of living continues to increase. Accepting lower salary increases now will also affect future increases and we will continue to fall further and further behind.

You have been working harder than ever and are experiencing the impact of widespread staffing, resource, and workload issues. Stagnating salary increases and the rise of inflation have effectively devalued your work, even as you are doing more work under more difficult circumstances.

Inflation started to jump in 2021, increasing by 3.4% from the year before, and then increasing further to a 40-year high of 6.8% in 2022. This means that salaries fell behind inflation by a whopping 8.2% over two years for 2424 members.

Carleton is in a much better financial position than other institutions in Ontario. This report, by the Fraser Institute, positions Carleton as one of the most financially stable, least indebted Universities in Ontario, pre-pandemic.

We believe Carleton is still well-positioned, even post-pandemic, to provide fair wage gains to support workers, particularly if recent recommendations are enacted to keep the postsecondary education sector financially stable.

We do not believe the University would need, or want, to lay off workers. Our understanding is that Carleton has placed tight controls on the creation of new, base-funded (i.e. Continuing) positions, but we have not had any indication that Carleton intends to lay off workers.

The Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the legislation is expected soon. Depending on the outcome of the court challenge, it may be possible to renegotiate salary increases retroactively for 2020–2023. In the meantime, we have already served our time under the 3-year “moderation period” and are no longer subject to this legislation in this round of bargaining.

UPDATE FROM 2024-02-12:

CUPE 2424 is pleased that the Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld the lower court’s decision that the Ford Government’s Bill 124, “Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act,” is unconstitutional.

Bill 124 was legislation enacted by the Ford government in 2019, restricting public sector wage and benefits increases to 1% per year for a three-year moderation period.

CUPE 2424 negotiated “re-opener” language in a Letter of Understanding with Carleton in 2020. This Letter of Understanding would allow the Union to renegotiate salary increases for 2020-2023 should the legislation be overturned in the courts. Renegotiation is conditional upon all possible appeals being exhausted.

We are currently seeking counsel with CUPE National regarding the next steps and will provide an update as soon as possible.

No! While FWA, including remote work, is a clear priority for the overwhelming majority of our members and we do have a responsibility to represent those interests in bargaining, we recognize that it does not apply to everyone. We see FWA and wage gains as two separate priorities, and we understand different people may prioritize them differently.

We know that wage gains are a huge priority for the entire membership, and we are very much keeping salary increases at top of mind as we proceed through bargaining. We are not prioritizing FWA over wage increases nor will either of these priorities come at the expense of the other.

We have heard many complaints and concerns from members since the introduction of the University’s flexible work policy. The scope of the issues became clear when we surveyed the membership about remote work in the Fall of 2023.

Notably, 33% of respondents reported that their most recent arrangements had been limited/altered from their previous arrangement, mainly because the number of remote days had been reduced. The Union and its members are concerned that we are already seeing the erosion of FWA in the very short time since the introduction of the University’s policy.

In some cases, Carleton has effectively ignored its own policy when it comes to approvals:

  • Only 40% of respondents to our survey who applied for FWA said they were free to submit their preferred request.
  • 82% of those respondents cited blanket restrictions on the number of eligible days before they even applied. These blanket restrictions are widespread and are in contravention of the University’s own policy.
  • Only 37% of those same survey respondents were given an operational reason for restrictions on remote work. The policy stipulates that FWA decisions must be based on an individual’s position and specific operational needs

The Union understands that remote work cannot be possible for everyone, but the survey results highlighted that many arrangements are being arbitrarily restricted or refused/revoked altogether without an operational basis.

It is for these reasons that the Union believes we need to safeguard flexible work arrangements in the collective agreement.

Unions are effective because workers have more bargaining power as a collective than as individuals. This means that we can make gains for our members that we could not achieve as individuals. However, because we do not all have the same needs and priorities, this sometimes means supporting priorities that do not directly benefit you right now, or maybe ever. Conversely, there will be times, and may have already been times, when the union has bargained to gain or protect things that were important to you, but that were not as important to other members.

Maintaining flexible/remote work is a key priority for many of our members, and it is also a benefit for workers and society more broadly. As a union, priorities that make life better and respects the autonomy of workers are important to us. Flexible/remote work can provide:

  • greater work-life balance
  • reduce the cost of living
  • reduce stress
  • improve employee’s feelings of well-being

These factors can help reduce sick leave and the impacts of stress in the workplace, providing greater stability across operations and therefore benefiting all employees.

Remote work can benefit the environment as well by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from commuting. Early research suggests that low hybrid arrangements (E.g. one remote day/week) has only nominal impact, while fully remote work can reduce carbon footprints by 58%. Meaningful environmental benefits can only be gained by continuing to expand flexible/remote work options, and we can ill afford to go backwards.

We have priorities that our members are not willing to ignore, and if the employer is not willing to meet us where we are then we will have no choice but to consider the next steps toward a strike. There are several steps that must occur, including the possibility of conciliation with a mediator appointed by the Ministry of Labour, and a strike vote. The decision to strike is in our members’ hands through a membership strike vote. In the event of a strike vote, you will have sufficient notice and more detailed information to inform your decision.

It is incredibly important right now for members to show solidarity with the Union’s negotiating team so that Carleton sees how strong we are together. Strong shows of solidarity – like signing our bargaining petition in the weeks ahead, attending info sessions and union events, and a strong strike mandate in the case of a strike vote – convey to the employer how serious we are about our priorities and how united we are in attaining them. Solidarity makes us stronger at the negotiating table and on the picket line if we must take that step in order to get what we absolutely need.