Comparing notes on bargaining at the Fall CAFA Meeting

The Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (CAFA) held its first council meeting of the year this past Friday, September 15 in Edmonton. The meeting followed the annual CAFA awards banquet on Thursday evening.

CAFA is an association of the Faculty Associations of Alberta’s four Comprehensive Academic and Research Institutions (CARIs): Athabasca University, the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge.

The meeting was a general business meeting, meaning that a full range of Faculty Association business was discussed, from the annual CAFA prizes through Grievance and Labour Board matters, though there was a heavy focus on, of course, the changing bargaining environment.

Lethbridge sent its President, Andrea Amelinckx, and three other delegates from the Executive: Past President David Kaminski, Handbooks Chair/member of the ULFA bargaining team, Daniel O’Donnell, and Executive Director, Annabree Fairweather.

From a bargaining perspective, the most important thing was the opportunity to see how other Associations and Boards are approaching the new environment. Topics discussed included the timing and nature of the new Essential Services Agreement (ESA) required by the Labour Relations Code between Associations and Boards in the Post-Secondary sector, changes to the Post-Secondary Learning Act, and the state of ongoing negotiations and preparation. In addition, participants heard from experts who have experience with the Labour Relations Code in other sectors and from representatives of Faculty Associations in other provinces.

The day before the annual meeting, several Executive Directors and members of Association bargaining teams met in a special workshop focussing on the Essential Services Agreement (ESA), which is a new element our sector must negotiate prior to the start of normal collective bargaining. An ESA addresses essential services during the event of a lockout or a strike, the withdrawal of which would otherwise endanger human life or health.

The awards banquet on Thursday evening was attended by the Minister of Advanced Education, Marlin Schmidt, the Deputy Minister, representatives from the Administrations of various Alberta Universities, members of the Executives of all four CARI Faculty Associations, and the CAFA staff.

Additional information about the CAFA awards programme is available from the CAFA site. A layperson’s guide to the Labour Relations Code is available from the Provincial Government.