Bargaining teams from ULFA and the Board of Governors met to exchange proposals on Thursday January 17 (as always you can follow the progress of individual articles here).
|ULFA||Board of Governors|
These were important exchanges, particularly in the case of the “Parts” and Article 6.
Handbook Reorganisation (“Parts”)
ULFA began its presentation of a response to the Board of Governors’ “Parts” proposal. You can read more about different elements in the the Board of Governors’ proposal here, here, here, here, here, and here.
In the January 17th meeting, ULFA focussed on its proposal for the overall structure of the Collective Agreement and three sample articles that showed how the proposed reorganisation would
- make the collective agreement considerably easier for Members and Management to navigate;
- allow for quicker settlements in future rounds of negotiations by reducing the number of places in which potentially controversial language is located; and
- speed up the current round of negotiations by identifying and separating out potentially controversial articles (e.g. describing the specific processes to go through during discipline or STP appeals or financial elements) from relatively non-controversial material (e.g. the number and name of the faculty ranks).
The proposal built on the Board’s proposal to divide the Collective Agreement into two main “Parts”: a “common agreement” containing language applicable to all ULFA members (Academic Assistants, Faculty Members, Instructors, Librarians, and Sessionals), and a second set of “Parts,” containing specific conditions for each job category. ULFA’s major objection to the Board’s proposal was the amount of duplication it involved: each “part” would have its own Schedule A outlining economic benefits, its own structures and processes for Personnel Committees, and so on. In ULFA’s view, this would both make the Agreement difficult to oversee and needlessly complicate current and future rounds of negotiations in as much as similar language would need to be negotiated for several job categories in parallel.
ULFA’s proposal was to create a third type of article, organised by process and genericised so that it could be used for each relevant employee category.
To show how this would work, ULFA presented three articles: two new articles containing “genericised” processes (XX Evaluation and ZZ Standard STP processes for Faculty, Librarians, Academic Assistants, and Instructors), and a third showing what the individual employee “parts” would look like (Article 12 Faculty Members).
In the next weeks, ULFA will present the remainder of the employee parts and genericised processes.
Article 6: Communication
In the case of Article 6 (Communication), the Board presented its latest proposal. As you can see from our spreadsheet, Article 6 has been discussed 7 times since negotiations began in May. Since “Communication” in this case involves Management-Union relations and these have changed in fundamental ways with recent changes to the Post Secondary Learning Act and the Labour Relations Code, settling this article is a sine qua non of any final agreement. As a union under the Code, ULFA now has statutory duties that require access to information about its members sufficient to co-manage the Collective Agreement and represent its members under the Agreement and the Code itself.
While the two sides are generally close to agreement on this article, there now appear to be three main areas of disagreement:
- On whether ULFA should be given copies of letters of appointment for new members and members who are changing position or being given modified duties;
- On whether data protection and privacy language in the Collective Agreement should apply to ULFA alone, both ULFA and the Board, or be omitted;
- On whether the Board is obliged to provide ULFA with contractually agreed upon information or whether this obligation extends only to information that is in a form they can easily collect or already do collect;
In the case of the first of these areas of disagreement, the two sides are now farther apart than they were last June: ULFA first proposed that letters of appointment be provided to the union in its proposal of June 8th; the Board of Governors then adopted ULFA’s language in their response of June 18 (also repeated in ULFA’s counter proposal on October 22nd).
In mid November, however, the Board retreated from this joint position, removing Letters of Appointment from the list of information to be provided to the union in the November 15th proposal. It then confirmed that this omission was deliberate and marked a change from their previous position during discussions of ULFA’s counter on December 20th. The current Board proposal once again omits these previously-agreed upon letters.
In the case of data protection and privacy language, ULFA has proposed language that would require the two sides to handle data with care and work together proactively in the event of a data or privacy breach. While both the Board and ULFA are subject to external legislation governing the protection of data (FOIP in the case of the Board, PIPA in the case of ULFA), ULFA’s position has been that including mutual and reciprocal language about data and privacy protection in the Collective Agreement has an important role to play in both educating members and line managers as to their obligations and ensuring quick and effective cooperation in the event of a privacy or data breach. Since such language reinforces but in no way detracts from the two parties’ external statutory obligations, ULFA believes that this is an easy, low risk, and high visibility way of establishing a policy of mutual, proactive collaboration in keeping member data safe.
The Board argues that it should not be governed by the collective agreement in this area. Its position is that FOIP provides members with sufficient protection in the event of a Board of Governors’ breach and that language covering data protection in the Collective Agreement should apply to ULFA alone, and apply only to information collected by the Board and then provided to ULFA.
The last point of disagreement concerns whether the Board can be required to provide the information it agrees to supply under the Collective Agreement. ULFA’s position is that information the Board agrees to share under the Collective Agreement must in fact be provided by the Board in accordance with that same agreement. The Board’s position is that it should be able to refuse to supply information it has previously agreed to provide under the Collective Agreement should it currently not collect that information in the required format or should it determine unilaterally that the information is difficult to collect.
It seems apparent that the two sides will not be able to come to agreement on this article unless there is significant movement on all three of the remaining areas of disagreement. Since these involve fundamental issues of union rights and privacy, it is also possible that this will end up being one of the last articles to be settled in this round.
Grievance/Interpretation (Article 22)
The Board also presented its third proposal for language in Article 22/1 (Grievance and Interpretation). This is a large and complex article and ULFA is currently examining how this latest proposal related to previous exchanges. At first glance, however, the two sides appear to be less far apart in this case than on Article 6.