Dear Minister Nicolaides:
We, the undersigned, are writing to you to emphasize the critical contributions being made by Alberta post-secondary institutions in this time of crisis. While our schools have suffered under these extraordinary circumstances, our faculty, staff, and students have come together to give back to the community in managing the pandemic. There is no doubt to the crucial contributions post-secondary institutions are making for Albertans today.
The Faculty Association has signed an MOU with the employer in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This MOU is particularly relevant to members who are currently on a probationary appointment, were awarded study leave commencing in the 2020-2021 Academic Year, or had travel funds allocated to them for the period of April 1st through August 31, 2020.
The MOU remains in place up to October 31st, 2020 with an option for a six month extension.
Any Member who was awarded study leave commencing in 2020-2021 can make a request to the Dean for a postponement or modification of that study leave. This request must be made on or before May 11th, 2020. Your request to the Dean will outline parts of your study leave plan that are no longer safe or possible as a result of the Pandemic. And propose a new timeframe for when the study leave would commence and end.
ULFA has explicitly discussed with the Administration the degree to which it may prove difficult for Members to predict accurately the time frame for their delayed study-leave, due to issues such as uncertainty around travel restrictions, immigration rules and requirements, or requirements for visiting researchers at the proposed host institution, etc. In such cases, faculty are to give their best estimate at this time. Deans have been instructed to be flexible in dealing with such uncertainty and ULFA can assist should problems arise.
Members who are currently on a probationary appointment (i.e. pre-tenure) may extend their probationary period by one year if they believe that the Pandemic has compromised their performance. You must notify the interim Provost and Vice President (Academic), Erasmus Okine, on or before June 30, 2020 in order to exercise this right.
Monies that were allocated from April 1 2020 to August 31, 2020 for the Travel Fund in Article 29.01 of the Collective Agreement will be returned to the Board, since no travel should have been incurred or anticipated in this time. Expenses incurred for travel booked prior to the March 14th, 2020 Travel Advisory can still be reimbursed. ULFA and the Board believe that no Members will be out of pocket as a result of this agreement. Please let us know if you are adversely affected.
The following table summarises the changes and deadlines introduced as a result of this MoU. Please see the relevant sections above for important details and requirements in each case.
|Member affected||Change implemented in MoU||Relevant dates/deadlines|
|Members awarded study leave commencing in the 2020-2021 academic year||Members may request a postponement of that study leave.||Request must be made before May 11, 2020|
|Members on a probationary appointment||Members may request a one-year extension.||Request must be made on or before June 30, 2020|
|Members allocated funds from the University of Lethbridge Travel Fund for Spring and Summer 2020||Only travel booked prior to the March 14th Government Travel Advisory is eligible for reimbursement.||Travel must have been booked before March 14, 2020.|
The MOU in its entirety is available here MOU COVID-19
If you have any questions, please contact Aaron Chubb, email@example.com
On April 16, the ULFA Negotiating Team and Executive served its notice to commence bargaining on the University of Lethbridge Board of Governors.
Important rules governing the serving of such notices and their impact on negotiations and the effect of the Collective Agreement are found in Division 10 and section 130(1) of the Alberta Labour Relations Code.
In light of the COVID-19 emergency, ULFA proposed extending the end date of the Collective Agreement as part of its Notice. Such pauses in negotiations during these uncertain times are quite common in the University and other sectors across Canada, and are recommended by various trade and labour associations. It is ULFA’s belief that delaying the start of negotiations in this way would be beneficial to both parties in light of the great uncertainty, change, and opportunities affecting the sector.
The Board of Governors Negotiating Team has indicated that they expect to respond to our Notice shortly.
In the near future, you will be receiving a telephone call from a fellow ULFA member asking how you’re faring in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, along with pointers to information that can help you cope in these trying times. A number of those resources are provided below. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with additional resources you would like to share with our members.
The call will ask you a number of questions, and your answers will be used to inform ULFA of your concerns. In providing answers, you can expect a reasonable amount of confidentiality; but, your responses may be shared in the legitimate conduct of union business.
Having said that, I do hope you elect to engage with the fellow ULFA member calling you as part of our efforts to reach out.
Please keep yourself well,
Employee and Family Assistance Program:
UofL COVID-19 Employee FAQ
Alberta Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
WCB Fact Sheet on COVID-19
AB Family Violence Info Line
Lethbridge Victim Services 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline: Crisis Line 24/7
Lethbridge Legal Aid
Facebook – Lethbridge Support Circle
Chinook Sexual Assault Centre
After a good discussion at the Annual General Meeting, held on April 6, the ULFA membership approved a bargaining mandate for the ULFA negotiating team with 94% of the membership in favour.
The bargaining mandate was prepared by ULFA’s Bargaining Resource Committee following extensive consultation, including approximately 100 one-on-one member interviews, several town halls, and a survey completed by roughly ¾ of the membership. Aspects of the draft mandate were discussed with members of the Gender Equity and Diversity Committee. The draft mandate was then provided for comment to the Negotiating Team, which will carry out the actual negotiations, before being finalised, approved by the Executive Committee, and presented to the membership for a vote at the Annual General Meeting.
The complete Bargaining Mandate is included below, the highlights include:
Demands to address salary and benefit erosion that has occurred over the past several years.
As Bob Barnetson has noted in his blog, Alberta public servants of all kinds, including ULFA members, have seen no cost of living increases since 2017, resulting in an erosion of spending power relative to inflation of at least 3.7%. ULFA members have also lost relative to their colleagues at peer institutions. Uniquely among the faculty of the province’s Comprehensive Academic and Research Universities (CARUs), U of L faculty took a 1% wage rollback to assist the University during the last Conservative government budget cutbacks in 2013. The U of L consistently underperforms its main comparators in terms of faculty compensation at all ranks.
Demands to address deficiencies in benefits
There has been little progress in addressing problems with our benefits over successive rounds of negotiation. The members have consistently noted the shortcomings of our vision care and dental care benefits. There is also a clear inequity where benefits are reduced when two parents are Members of ULFA. Finally, professional development funds should be restored for tem instructors and created for sessional lecturers for each course they teach.
Demands to address workload
After much discussion, the Membership has determined to maintain current workload and to achieve equitable workload assignments for all Members. To support this demand, ULFA must receive clear data on workload levels across all units and faculties.
Demands for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Key elements of this part of the mandate include: creating a joint ULFA-Board committee to evaluate and address salary inequities related to diversity; implementing bias training for personnel committees and for Academic Administrators, Chairs, and Directors; ensuring that student evaluations are not used summatively to measure teaching effectiveness (rather, that they are used formatively by Members for improving instruction and as an indicator of the student experience); eliminating binary language from the Collective Agreement; and improving language concerning the evaluation of service and research conducted by Indigenous Members and Members who work with Indigenous peoples.
Demands for improvements in Collegial Governance
It has been repeatedly noted that the effectiveness and breadth of Members’ roles in collegial governance has been eroded over many years. This has led to a demand to increase Member representation in decision-making processes throughout the University.
Demands for an Instructor path to the Professoriate
Many Instructors establish themselves in a leadership role in teaching and teaching research. A path to a multiple-rank teaching Professoriate should be defined for those Members.
In light of uncertainties concerning funding levels, enrolment rates, and novel instructional demands, these are challenging times for negotiations with the Board. It is significant that during such times, the Membership has so clearly expressed its goals with such strong support and has publicly charged the Negotiating Team with achieving improvements in those areas that matter to them.
Complete Bargaining Mandate
Schedule A: Salary Schedule and Stipends
Address the erosion of salary and stipends in relation to the cost of living over previous years, and address the difference in salary and stipends relative to comparator institutions. Merit and career progress for Members on reduced load calculated in a more equitable way.
Schedule B Benefits
Address problems with benefits, particularly with vision care and dental care. Address inequities to benefits when both parents are Members. Restore professional development funds for term instructors. Create a professional development fund for sessional lecturers on a per course basis.
Maintain current level of work and seek equity in workload assignment.
Negotiate ULFA receiving clear data about the factors at the department/program/area level that influence workload.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Strike a joint ULFA-Board committee to evaluate and address salary inequities related to diversity.
Implement bias training for senior academic administrators, Chairs and directors, STP members, and search committee members.
Ensure that student evaluations of teaching are not used summatively or to measure teaching effectiveness but can be used formatively or for feedback on the student experience.
Implement appropriate parameters for fairly evaluating the specific nature and demands of research, service, and public duties for Indigenous Faculty Members.
Implement appropriate parameters for fairly evaluating the specific nature and demands of research, service, and public duties for those who conduct work with Indigenous people.
Change binary gendered language to more inclusive terminology throughout the Collective Agreement.
Improve ULFA representation on governance bodies including an appointed seat on the budgetary advisory committee; and increased decision making by Faculty Members on staffing priorities in academic areas.
Other STP Issues
Negotiate a salary increase tied to tenure and promotion.
Include service explicitly as a criterion for promotion and tenure.|
Negotiate promotion to associate professor as an automatic consequence of the award of tenure.
Information and Security for Union
Secure additional paid course releases and cash for ULFA.
Add @uleth email addresses to the data received in 6.03.1.e.
Article Defining Instructor Route to Professoriate
Create a category of teaching professoriate, with assistant, associate, and full teaching professor ranks, which is available only to instructors who show leadership in teaching and teaching research.
Rationalise and reorganize the Collective Agreement along the lines of Schedule S.