Bargaining teams for the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association and Board of Governors met to exchange language on September 11.
|Presented by ULFA||Presented by the Board|
|Article 1 (Purpose and Objectives)
Article 3 (Amendments and Modification of the Collective Agreement)
Article 4 (Applications and Exclusions)
Article 25 (Supervision and Discipline)
|Article 34 (Medical Leave)
“Part II” Professional Librarians
Articles 1, 3, and 4 have been the subject of several exchanges. Article 25 was ULFA’s first response to the Board’s initial proposal for this article (presented on June 4th). Article 34 was a partial response to ULFA’s original proposal from May 14 for a major modernisation of our leave provisions. “Part II” introduced the final part of the Board’s proposal to reorganise major sections of the current Agreement by employee category.
In addition to these articles, the Board side also provided a document outlining its understanding of the economic context for our current negotiations. As the Board team noted, this presentation largely reprised their similar outline from June 4, with some additional details focussing on Sessional Lecturers.
Also, ULFA had included a number of increased health benefits in its Schedule B proposal but is not able to get quotes from Blue Cross about the expected costs implications to our current plan. The Board obtained this costing information from Blue Cross and shared it with ULFA so that negotiations in this area can proceed with both sides fully informed as to the financial implications of each possible change.
Agreement-in-Principle was reached on Article 1. This is a renumbered and amended version of the previously unnumbered “Purpose” and “Objectives” Preambles in the 2016 Collective Agreement.
We also may be getting close to agreement on Article 3 (“Applications and Exclusions”). In this case, the remaining point to be resolved involves a specific part of a new “Solidarity clause” governing the conditions and circumstances under which members may observe the picket lines of other unions.
In the case of Articles 4, 25, 34, and Part II, there is more work to be done.
In the case of Article 4, we are discussing the question of who falls under the Collective Agreement. The main areas of current discussion involve what defines someone as being a member of the Academic Staff, and the degree to which so-called “Inactive Members” are subject to (and entitled to protection by) the Collective Agreement, including the protection of Academic Freedom. “Inactive Members” are members of the Academic Staff who hold appointments to the Board of Governors or in the Senior Administration (i.e. Associate Deans, Deans, Associate Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, and the President).
In the case of Article 25, we are still in very early stages of discussion. ULFA’s presentation on the 11th focussed on the organisation of the Article and the order in which supervisory and disciplinary processes take place. This was only the second time language has been exchanged on this article in this round of bargaining.
In the case of Article 34, the Board of Governors’ team provided a partial response (focussing on Medical leaves only) to ULFA’s earlier proposal for a major revision of paid and unpaid leaves. In their presentation, the Board indicated that other types of leaves will be addressed in a different article to be presented at a later date. Given the partial nature of the Board’s current response, it is at this point difficult to know how close or far apart the two sides are on this article. While very little of ULFA’s original proposal for this article was reflected in “article 34,” it is entirely possible that the second part will find more common ground. In addition, the Board side indicated that it may propose removing some sections from the language it presented on the 11th, as they are duplicated in one of more of their proposed new “Parts.”
“Part II” concluded the Board’s initial presentation of its “Parts”–i.e. a proposal to reorganise large sections of the current Collective Agreement into discrete sections dealing with individual employment categories (Faculty Members, Librarians, Instructors/Academic Assistants, and Sessional Instructors). The Board’s presentation of these “Parts” over the last four months suggests that they are currently very much a work-in-progress: the Board has indicated that they intend to make additional retroactive changes to the parts already presented. Although ULFA has indicated some broad concerns about the proposal on the basis of these texts, the lack of a definitive text has prevented us from preparing a specific response to date.
Change in Negotiators
The Board provided official notification of a change to their negotiating team, due to the forthcoming departure of Ed Jurkowski (Dean of Fine Arts) who will be taking up a position at the University of Manitoba. Robert Wood (Dean of Graduate Studies) has joined the Board negotiating team as an observer effective immediately, and will become an official member of the team when Dr. Jurkowski departs at the end of October. Dr. Wood’s previous experience includes the recent successful completion of negotiations under Bill 7 with the Graduate Students and Post Docs.
To ensure that negotiations continue at a reasonable pace, the two sides have agreed to meet for a “case management” meeting on Sept 24, at which point they will discuss additional meeting times and the exchange of articles.
On the whole, negotiations have been proceeding with dispatch. In most cases, the two sides have been able to respond in a timely and efficient manner, with several articles exchanged on a near weekly basis during the spring and summer. This should serve us well as we now begin the slower process of reviewing articles on which we have more substantively different perspectives. Many of the remaining articles are also quite lengthy. We should expect this to slow the rate at which proposals involving substantive changes can be developed, considered, and responded to, despite the hard work of everyone involved.
The current status of negotiations can be seen here.