Bargaining Update October 19, 2021

On October 19, representatives of the Board and ULFA negotiation teams held their fourteenth bargaining session since the exchange of full proposals on January 18, 2021. The session consisted of a Board presentation on Article 28 (Intellectual Property), an ULFA presentation on Article 5 (Recognition), a discussion on accompaniment, a discussion clarifying which side of the negotiation table articles reside on, and a Board presentation on Article 9 (Personal Files). The ULFA and Board negotiation teams have reached agreement on Article 28.

Board presentation on Article 28 (Intellectual Property)

The Board team presented an Article 28 proposal, which was an alternative proposal to the one rejected by the ULFA team on October 14th. The ULFA team accepted the Board team’s alternative proposal, which adopted the language of the September 27th ULFA proposal as well as some minor language revisions that provide greater clarity to the article. Earlier Article 28 proposals were presented on September 20th and March 8th. Following very minor formatting clarifications, an agreement was reached on this article.

ULFA presentation on Article 5 (Recognition)

ULFA’s presentation of an Article 5 proposal represents the fourth time this article has been presented during negotiations (following May 20th (Board), March 22nd (ULFA), and March 8th (Board) presentations). The main areas of concern within this article are management rights, protection of academic work, Association use of and payment for University office space, Board-provided and Association-purchased course release for ULFA service, and collegial governance.

ULFA’s proposal provided a compromise on a new Management Rights section proposed by the Board team to clarify the interaction of the Collective Agreement with institutional administration. Another area of interest is the role of the Collective Agreement representing members on campus. The proposal includes a clause asserting that all academic work, and hence academic freedom and integrity, carried out under the auspices of the university should be protected by the collective agreement. 

Regarding association use of on-campus office space, and in response to the Board’s earlier proposal for ULFA to pay rent, the ULFA team stressed that other unionized groups do not pay for office space on campus, and that it is highly unusual across the country for other faculty associations to pay for on-campus office space. ULFA is heavily intertwined in the operations of the institution and it is mutually beneficial to the institution, ULFA members, and the administration to have this co-location. 

The ULFA proposal requested additional Board-provided and Association-purchased course releases, noting the additional association service workload to members in many areas including EDI-related initiatives and those associated with ULFA’s status as a labour union under the Alberta Labour Code. The proposal also relocated some text from the new Management Rights section to the section on Collegial Governance. ULFA’s proposal also continued to include provision for additional member participation and representation in areas of collegial governance including on the budget advisory committee, Senior Academic review and reappointment committees, creation of and representation on an academic staffing committee regarding growth and staffing priorities, and institutional/program advisory committees, and a provision included that member representation on existing bodies will not be proportionally reduced without Association consent.

Following the presentation there was some interesting discussion on the distinction of members of the Association and academic work. Even some non-academic offerings require careful attention with respect to the academic integrity and responsibility of programs under the University of Lethbridge name, while it is recognized that swimming lessons and children’s dance classes should not normally require instructor’s Membership in the academic staff union.

Discussion on Accompaniment 

The Board team requested some discussion of ULFA’s position on member accompaniment for meetings with administrators. ULFA’s position is that members should have the right to accompaniment in any situation involving or affecting activities they engage in that are covered by the Collective Agreement. There are also situations, such as in Article 24 discipline meetings, where the Association has the right to represent the Member or the Association’s interests. The discussion also probed ULFA’s position on a speculative scenario in which (at a group meeting) one member requested accompaniment and another member did not wish that accompaniment to proceed. While it is hard to come to a firm position about a situation that has never to our knowledge arisen, there are provisions in the Collective Agreement for Member’s rights not only to accompaniment, but also the right to Procedural Fairness, for example. ULFA represents all Members under the Collective Agreement, but the facts of a particular issue matter, and it can be difficult to respond to hypotheticals.

Discussion on Article Status 

The Board team requested some discussion on which side of the table some of the open articles reside, following a similar request made by the ULFA team during the September 20th negotiation session. Specifically, there was some ambiguity on whose turn it is to present on Articles 15 (Instructors and Academic Assistants), 21 (Increments), and 31 (Salary Schedules, Career Progress Increments, Merit), and Schedules P (Academic Career Years) and Q (Merit Pool Fund) next. Some of the confusion arose because some initial positions were presented as issues that spanned multiple Articles rather than as specific Article proposals. Additionally, in some cases initial positions were presented by both sides without either incorporating a response to the initial position presentation from the other side of the table. More communication on this piece will take place between negotiation sessions to ensure that there is clarity on this important aspect of negotiations.  

Board presentation on Article 9 (Personal Files)

Following up from proposal exchanges on June 17th and May 31st, the Board team presented a response on Article 9.  The new proposal revised language regarding the contents that are allowed and required to be in a member’s Personal file, particularly in relation to Article 24 (Supervision and Discipline) related content. The presentation also identified that there is some ambiguity with respect to where Limited Term members are included within the Collective Agreement.

Negotiation Session scheduling

Six further bargaining sessions have been scheduled for October through December. The next scheduled session will take place on October 28th.

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