The University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) bargaining team has held six of the scheduled ten “Meet and Greet” sessions with academic staff Members from different units on campus. (You can see the schedule for the remaining sessions here. All Members are welcome at all sessions: you do not need to be a member of the targeted group to attend any session).
The sessions begin with a short talk from the bargaining team describing the context of this year’s bargaining, some of the issues involved, and the question of Lockout/Strike. The floor is then opened to questions and discussion. Since the Bargaining team is interested in hearing from Members, the questions go both ways: Members ask the bargaining team questions, and the bargaining team asks the Members.
Sessions have been generally well attended and discussion has tended to go beyond the hour scheduled for the meeting. Among the top issues raised by Members are
- Accounting for workload differences among different ranks and groups;
- The PAR process (weighting, appeal, expectations);
- Health benefits;
- Salary issues;
- Designation issues (designation refers to the question of who and what types of work are represented by ULFA);
- Essential Services.
The bargaining team has used these sessions to give a broad outline of our strategy and expectations for this round of negotiations.
We have benefited immensely from the contributions of Members in these discussions. We have learned of the broad variety of workload issues on campus, discovered a number of people who carry out what are arguably essential services as part of their self-assigned duties, and heard real issues people have had in accessing health benefits, among many other topics.
In some cases, these discussions will play directly into our negotiations for this year. In other cases, they point to issues we will need to address in future rounds of negotiations. We thank the participants thus far for their ideas and look forward to meeting with other Members at upcoming events.