After the Board requested informal mediation on October 26, only six days of mediation were held during 2021. On Tuesday December 21st, 2021, the status of our mediation through the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) was changed to “formal” as ULFA had requested from the beginning. Formal mediation sessions were held on Wednesday Jan. 12th, Thursday Jan. 13th, and Monday Jan. 17th.
During mediation, the parties maintained the provisional agreement that had been reached on one Article (28, Intellectual Property, see here) and three Schedules (see here). Furthermore, the parties attempted to reach an agreement by limiting the scope of negotiations within mediation from the remaining 38 Articles/Schedules that had been opened to about 10, with status quo language being the default on the others.
Within mediation the parties have agreed on one Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and one Article. The MOU, agreed on Dec. 16th, 2021, provides a mechanism for reorganization of the collective agreement outside of negotiations. This MOU replaces the restructuring proposed by the ULFA negotiation team as Article XX (see here). On Jan. 12th, 2022 the parties agreed on the fourteenth iteration of Article YY (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion – see here for the most recent update on this article prior to mediation). Further restrictions on the scope of mediation have also been proposed throughout the process, reverting to status quo language in these instances.
The Articles and Schedules that remain open within mediation incorporate language on areas including collegial governance, communication, workload, working conditions, salary, benefits, compensation, academic freedom, and job security. While both sides have presented language in these areas, as formal mediation has unfolded, minimal gains on key issues have been proposed to the ULFA negotiation team and it has been made clear that the two parties remain far apart on areas of ULFA bargaining mandate priorities. In light of this impasse, on Monday Jan. 17th the ULFA negotiating team asked the mediator to end formal mediation. In the Mediator’s letter, he has decided not to issue recommended terms of settlement for the parties to accept or reject.
A two-week “cooling off” period begins today, with the end of formal mediation. If no progress is made in negotiating significantly better terms than the Board’s current offer of settlement on meaningful items within ULFA’s bargaining mandate within these two weeks, the ULFA Negotiating Team will be recommending that the ULFA Executive call a strike vote.
You can follow the status of all Articles opened during this round of negotiations, including changes that have taken place within mediation, here (progress up to the start of mediation is available here).
The Negotiating Team will provide additional information and answer questions at two Town Hall meetings on Tuesday and Friday this week; ULFA Members should have received invitations to these meetings via email.