Representatives of the Board of Governors of the University of Lethbridge and the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) attended a hearing with the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) in Calgary on Monday, Feb. 12.
The topic of the hearing was ULFA’s request for a ruling on the number of bargaining units and collective agreements between ULFA and the University. ULFA’s position is that there is a single collective agreement that governs the entire Academic Staff at the University and that these academic staff form a single bargaining unit represented by ULFA. The University argues that there are two collective agreements and bargaining units in this designated category: one governing Sessional Lecturers, and a second governing all other members of the academic staff. The issues at stake and the progress of this hearing have been covered extensively, see here, here, here, here, and here.
The hearing was held before a Labour Relations Board.
ULFA was represented at the hearing by its legal counsel, and ULFA representatives included President Andrea Amelincx, Executive Director Annabree Fairweather, Professional Officer Derrick Antson, and Bargaining Team Members Paul Hayes and Dan O’Donnell.
The University of Lethbridge was represented by its legal counsel, and University representatives included University Librarian Chris Nicol and Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts Ed Jurkowski. Deans Nicol and Jurkowski are also co-chairs of the University’s negotiating team.
There were three intervenors in this case: the Association of Academic Staff of the University of Alberta (AASUA) and the Faculty Associations of Mount Royal University (MRUFA) and Athabasca University (AUFA).
The parties had agreed to split the case into two parts: one focussing on the underlying legal principles at work; and a second (if necessary) focussing on the historical details of the relationship between the University and ULFA with relation to their bargaining history.
For this first part, the hearing focussed on the basic legal principle at stake in the hearing:
Does the [Labour Relations] Code allow for or preclude the possibility of more than one bargaining unit for the academic staff and/or more than one collective agreement for the academic staff?
The hearing began at approximately 10am with some discussion of process and evidence. The lawyers then presented their cases: ULFA went first, then the three intervenors (Faculty Associations from the University of Alberta, Mount Royal University, and Athabasca University), and finally the University of Lethbridge as respondent. After a brief break, ULFA was given an opportunity to respond briefly to the case made by the University. The hearing ended about 5pm.
Expedited ruling expected
At the conclusion of the hearing, the ALRB Chair indicated that the parties could expect an expedited ruling, but did not give a firm timeline. We will provide an update when we have more information to share.
This post has been written in order to keep the membership of ULFA informed about the status of this important case. While it attempts to provide an accurate account of the case for a non-specialist audience, it has not been written by lawyers and is without prejudice. Any divergence in this post from the position represented in documents filed with the ALRB is accidental and does not represent the official position of the Association.