Bargaining Update June 10, 2021

On June 10, representatives of the Board and ULFA held their ninth bargaining session since the exchange of full proposals on January 18, 2021. 

The Board team presented their initial positions for Articles 24 (Discipline) and 25 (Financial Emergency), and Schedule A (Salaries and Stipends). 

The ULFA negotiating team presented a portion of their initial proposal on Article 33 (Leaves).

There was also a discussion of topics for consideration at the June 17th negotiation session.

Board proposal on Article 24 (Supervision and Discipline)

The Board proposal for Article 24 includes several changes surrounding a distinction between supervision and “corrective action,” with the proposed article name changed to “Supervision, Corrective Action, and Discipline” reflecting this change. Many, but not all, instances of supervision in the current article are replaced with corrective action in the Board proposal. One proposed addition to the article would permit non-disciplinary suspension of a member with pay to allow for investigation. Another proposed addition would give Deans the right to disallow Member accompaniment by an ULFA representative at meetings about matters outside of ‘corrective action’ or discipline. ULFA asserted that Members have the right to accompaniment in all meetings with administrators. There was some discussion as to whether or not Article 24 is intended to cover supervisory meetings that do not relate to correction (for example, meetings about duties).

Board proposal on Article 25 (Financial Emergency)

The Board’s Article 25 proposal involves a significant change in scope, which is reflected in the proposed article name change from `Termination of Appointment for Financial Emergency or Due to Program Redundancy . . .’ to `Termination of Appointment for Financial Disruption or Restraint or Due to Program Redundancy . . .’. The current Collective Agreement defines a state of Financial Emergency to be one in which the University faces a ‘substantial and potentially chronic financial deficit’ that: 

  1. Threatens the continued functioning of the University as a whole, AND 
  2. Cannot be alleviated without reduction in salary and benefits to more than one employee group. 

The article then provides detailed steps to openly and transparently determine if an emergency exists, the extent of the emergency, and how it can be resolved.The Board proposes to define ‘Financial Disruption or Restraint’ (rather than Financial Emergency) as:

  1. a condition `significantly affecting the University’s operating revenue.’ 

While the steps to follow are similar (the term ‘emergency’ being replaced with ‘disruption or restraint’ being the substantive change), the threshold requirement of demonstrating a disruption is categorically different than that of an emergency. This represents a fundamental change to the scope and function of this Article within the Collective Agreement.

During their presentation of this article, the Board team expressed the view that the proposed changes would make this article  ‘more accessible,’ and that the current Article 25 is currently not very useful in situations such as the current one created by the provincial government’s deep cuts to post-secondary operating grants. ULFA asserted its position that the remedies allowed under this Article (such as layoffs) should be associated with a very high bar. 

Board proposal on Schedule A (Salaries and Stipends)

Prior to their Schedule A presentation during this negotiating session, the Board had presented portions of Schedule A within earlier proposal presentations on limited term and sessional appointments (March 22nd, see here) and the Career Progress, Merit, and Increment systems for Instructors and Faculty Members/Librarians (May 20th, see here and here). Financial context and relevant comparisons for both team’s proposals had been discussed in the Fall of 2020.

The Board’s Schedule A presentation at the June 10 negotiation meeting mainly focused on salary changes and bridging conditions following the termination of the Collective Agreement under negotiation. 

The current Collective Agreement includes a provision for the distribution of career progress and merit increments to members on 1 July 2020 and 1 July 2021 agreed to in the previous round of bargaining because the evaluation periods in which increments are earned fall within the time period covered by the collective agreement. The Board’s proposed Schedule A revisions removes these provisions, which means no Career Progress, or Merit Increments would be awarded after the new Collective Agreement expires. The proposal also introduces the term Salary Scale Adjustment (SSA) to represent any across-the-board salary adjustments and remove the expectation that salary will increase commensurate with annual changes in the cost of living, or that salary adjustments in any given year are likely to be positive rather than negative.

Significantly, as presented, the proposal includes a retroactive 4% salary roll-back, taking effect in July 2020, followed by three years of 0% COLA. During discussion of the 4% salary rollback, the ULFA team repeatedly sought clarification regarding the retroactivity to 1 July 2020, and the mechanism envisioned to accomplish recovery of Members’ already paid (and taxed) salaries. The retroactive start date of 1 July 2020 for the proposed salary reduction remains the current offer on the negotiation table. The Board team said an ongoing financial savings from the cost of administering the collective agreement was needed, equivalent to a 4% reduction in compensation/benefits (approximately $2 million), and that the means to achieve this level of cost savings may change as negotiations proceed. The Board team also indicated that they would expect to include details such as any method of paying salaries back in the final Memorandum of Settlement, which would be subject to further negotiation. The ULFA team indicated that they feel this to be a substantive component of the salary package proposed, and that full information around the Board proposal for such details would make it much easier for ULFA to respond. 

ULFA proposal on Article 33 (Leaves)

The ULFA team’s presentation of Article 33 was the first presentation of the Article in this round of negotiations. Due to time constraints, only the first sections of the Article up to the end of 33.03 were presented. ULFA’s Article 33 proposal organizes leaves into two main categories, involuntary leaves and voluntary leaves. Organizing the proposed changes in this way was informed by the practical consideration that from the perspective of a Member, leaves are either planned or emergent.  Both involuntary and voluntary leaves have paid and unpaid subcategories depending on the nature of the leave. 

For involuntary leaves, it is recognized that these are often unplanned and some flexibility may be required in terms of notification and approval. The proposal prioritizes members’ health, wellbeing, and safety over reporting requirements and also allows for proxy reporting where appropriate. The length of Medical leave was extended to bring it within parity of other U of L employee groups, as well as with comparator institutions. Some existing leave categories placed within this section are expanded upon (e.g., personal leave, compassionate care leave, and political leave). Three new types of leave are proposed within involuntary leave: sexual violence leave, jury and court leave, and other involuntary leave. 

The remainder of ULFA’s Article 33 proposal dealing with Voluntary Leave will be presented at the next negotiation session. 

Future Negotiation Sessions

The next negotiation session will be held on June 17th. Another negotiation session will be held on August 9th. Outside of that, the teams have been unable to find mutually agreeable times to meet over the summer. 

You can follow the status of all Articles opened during this round of negotiations here.