Bargaining update (December 20); ALRB Resolution Conference (January 8); Town Halls (Jan 9 and 10)

December 20

ULFA and representatives of the Board of Governors met on December 20th. The sides discussed four articles (as always, you can follow the progress of negotiations here):

ULFABoard of Governors
6 Communication and Information
11 Rights and Responsibilities
16 Termination of Appointment
32 Salary Schedules, Career Progress Increments, Merit Increments, and Economic Benefits

The main item of discussion was Article 6 (Communication and Information). Although the two sides have agreed to a lot of language in this article in five exchanges over the past few months, the previous version presented by the Board of Governors on November 15 moved away from some of these originally common positions. In this sixth exchange of the Article, ULFA hoped to reintroduce some areas of previous agreement and bring things nearer to a close.

In a detailed discussion lasting approximately half the available time, the two sides discussed various practical and philosophical issues with regard to the article: the degree to which specific types of information are truly necessary for co-management of the Collective Agreement (now statutorily required under the Labour Code); how easy or difficult it is to collect certain kinds of information; and broader questions of management rights and the contractual function of letters of appointment. The Board of Governors will use this discussion to inform their next response on this article.

Articles 11 and 32 were also fully presented with discussion. Article 11 deals with several aspects of Academic Freedom and responsibility, including duties towards students and colleagues. Article 32 discusses various aspects of the way salary, increments, and other economic benefits are determined. This was a first response by the Board of Governors to this article, which ULFA had initially presented in June. The Board presented their response in this meeting at the request of ULFA, who want to include this material in their broader response to the Board’s “parts” (a thorough-going reorganisation of the Collective Agreement proposed by the Board of Governors in various stages from June through November 2018). Finally at the end of the session, the Board of Governors handed over a response to Article 16 (Termination of Appointment). Since there was little time to discuss this article, the two sides agreed to reserve further discussion until the next meeting (January 17).

The two sides have a long-standing agreement that ULFA will begin its presentation of a response to the “Parts” beginning on January 17. The presentation of the full response should require three meetings and as a result is expected to conclude in February.

ALRB Resolution Conference

The two sides met at the ALRB on January 8th for a Resolution Conference regarding the payment of COLA which, in ULFA’s view, is required by the Labour Code. The purpose of a Resolution Conference is to determine whether there is scope for the two sides to come to agreement before a full hearing.

The Resolution Conference took the form of a mediation session. The two sides met separately with a Labour Board representative (in this case, Commissioner Gwen Gray). Ms Gray began with ULFA, discussing its understanding of the issues and devoting particular attention to the details of the “Expedited Package” it presented last December. She then went to discuss the case with the Board of Governors representatives.

After a brief return for clarification with ULFA, Ms Grey indicated that no resolution seemed possible. The two sides then met for a case management meeting in which legal counsel for both sides explored positions, and discussed the documentation and witnesses they intend to call at the hearing.

Town Halls

On January 9 and 10 representatives from ULFA’s bargaining team met with Instructors and Academic Assistants. The goal of these town halls was to

  • seek input on some language ULFA was considering adding to the Instructor/Academic Assistant article (Article 15);
  • discuss the current state of negotiations and game out responses to various possible bargaining outcomes.

The bargaining team would like to thank all Members who attended the town halls for their insights and contributions to some very helpful discussions.

ULFA will be holding a number of town halls over the course of the semester with different employee groups to continue this discussion. Although some town halls may be aimed at specific employee groups, all Members are welcome to attend any of the town hall meetings.