Preparations for Bargaining in 2020

Post-secondary institutions in Alberta have been operating under the Labour Relations Code only since May 4, 2017 when the Alberta Government passed Bill 7. Under this new environment, if our Collective Agreement expires and we are unable to come to terms, ULFA has the right to strike, and the university has the right to lock us out. For more information about the new labour environment, see these blog posts: Negotiating in a Strike/Lockout Environment; CAFA 2017 Meeting Following Bill 7; Letter from ULFA President David Kaminski in 2017 on Right to Strike.

Since the ultimate arbiter of a labour dispute is now job action, the strength of ULFA’s bargaining position during negotiations depends upon the extent to which our members support the mandate the bargaining team is bringing to the table.

Developing a Mandate: what we’ve been up to
ULFA’s Bargaining Resource Committee has been working hard this Fall with the goal of preparing a strong mandate for our bargaining team, with the next round of negotiations set to begin early in 2020. Having a strong bargaining mandate is particularly critical because the new provincial government has signaled that it will be sending our Board a secret directive that will dictate their negotiating mandate.
With the support and help of other members, Bargaining Resource Committee members have completed semi-structured interviews with approximately 100 ULFA members across all of the faculties to listen to the priorities that our members have for the upcoming negotiations. Based upon what we heard we conducted two Town Hall meetings to discuss the issues that seem to be on the minds of most members.

Major Themes
Some of the issues that have arisen broadly and repeatedly through these forums have been:

  • Cost of Living Adjustments: a significant number of members are very upset about low adjustments in recent years. More are extremely concerned about the possibility of a roll-back that is facing other public sector unions in the province who had wage re-openers in their Collective Agreements (for example, the nurses and teachers) and are adamant that any roll-back would be unacceptable.
  • Merit: many of our members believe that the current system of merit increments is broken. However, their ideas on how to fix it are very divergent and not always compatible.
  • Collegial Governance: increasing member representation on bodies such as the Board of Governors, the General Faculties Council, the Budget Advisory Committee, and search committees for senior academic administrators has been a recurring theme in our discussions.
  • Equity and Diversity: members have many ideas for improving the limited equity and diversity provisions that appear in the Collective Agreement. Some of these involve general changes around issues such as service that tend to have a greater impact on members of equity-seeking groups; others involve specifically targeted language.
  • Improvements for Sessional Lecturers: many members have pointed out ways in which conditions for sessional lecturers and term academic staff remain poor, despite significant improvements in the last round of negotiations, and would like to see additional improvements in this area.
  • Places not to Make Concessions: recognising that bargaining involves negotiations, members have also been alerting us to places that they would not want to see ULFA make any concessions in bargaining. These include wages, career progress increments, benefits, and workload.
  • Collaborate with Students: Given changes in the provincial budget that affect students’ finances (including raises to the tuition cap, changes to the student loan program, etc.), many members want ULFA to work closely with students and avoid any perception that any improvement to our working conditions could come at their expense.

Financial Context
There is a lot of important context that should go into any consideration of the financial aspects of negotiations. A separate blog entry will be posted shortly, in which we will provide the charts that were discussed at the Town Hall meetings. These include information about recent salary adjustments, comparisons to salaries at other universities, and impacts from the provincial budget on university operating grants and also to students’ finances. We will include any relevant new information that may be presented at the university’s Town Hall meeting on the provincial budget.

Next Steps: survey coming!

Using the data from all of these interviews and meetings, as well as the Town Hall meeting on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, the Bargaining Resource Committee is working to create a survey that will be distributed to all members soon. Please keep an eye out for this survey, and complete it to the best of your ability. The more information ULFA has about the priorities of all of our members, the stronger the mandate we will be able to build for the bargaining team.

3 ULFA Town Halls on Collective Bargaining

Mark your calendars and make your voices heard!

ULFA is hosting three town halls as part of building a mandate for the next round of collective bargaining in 2020.

Two of the town halls will be about the AB 2019 Budget. The purpose of these town halls will be to organize our response in the face of cutbacks and government imposed mandates to roll back salaries.

The other town hall is regarding the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Report released by ULFA.

Light refreshments will be provided at each town hall.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Town Hall
Tuesday, November 5th
10 A.M—11:30 A.M in W646

Budget & Bargaining ULFA Town Hall #1
Tuesday, November 5th
2 P.M.—4 P.M. in TH 204

Budget & Bargaining  ULFA Town Hall #2
Friday, November 8th
10 A.M.—12P.M. in E690

Essential Services Agreement Negotiations Ongoing

Negotiations to establish an Essential Services Agreement resumed Tuesday 18 June. The Board’s team (Chris Hosgood, Scott Harling, Carolin Cattoi-Demkiw) presented to ULFA’s team (Kelly Williams-Witt, Aaron Chubb, Rob Sutherland) its response to ULFA’s 13 February ESA proposal. There is good progress on key points; only a couple of issues remain unresolved. We are optimistic that an agreement will be in place in a timely manner.

ULFA membership ratifies 2018-2020 Collective Agreement

In a strong expression of support for its executive and bargaining team, the membership of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association voted to ratify the 2018-2020 Collective Agreement between the Association and Board of Governors.

The electronic ballot opened with a special general meeting on June 11 and closed at midnight on June 18. 249 members, or approximately 55% of the Association Membership, participated in the election. 223 ballots (90.8%) were cast in favour of the executive’s motion to approve the agreement. 23 ballots (9.2%) opposed. Since the Board of Governors voted to approve the agreement on June 14, this vote of support in the executive by the ULFA membership means that the Agreement is now ratified.

“This was a difficult negotiation and a tough settlement for our members,” Chief Spokesperson Daniel Paul O’Donnell said. “While we made important gains in job security and conditions of employment, the lack of across the board financial increases will affect our competitiveness as an institution for years to come.”

“We are grateful for this vote of support,” he added. “This demonstration of solidarity can only help us as we prepare almost immediately for the next round of negotiations.”

ULFA President Jon Doan congratulated Association volunteers on the conclusion of the ratification. “I would like to extend another thanks to the thorough and thoughtful members of our bargaining team and our bargaining resource committee,” Doan said. “We will update our communication blog in the next couple of days with information on what this ratification means for Member salary and benefits  starting July 1 2019.”

Final copy will be posted to the University website after a technical review.

Board of Governors ratify Proposed ULFA/University of Lethbridge 2018-2020 Collective Agreement

On Friday afternoon, Vice President (FInance and Administration) Nancy Walker informed the ULFA executive that the Board of Governors has voted to ratify the proposed ULFA/University of Lethbridge 2018-2020 collective agreement.

ULFA are currently voting electronically on ratification of this same agreement. The ballot closes June 18. All current members of ULFA should have received an invitation to vote. Please contact Aaron Chubb ( if you have not received a notification of the ballot.

You can read more about the details of the proposed agreement here. A marked up draft showing the proposed changes is available here. An unofficial HTML version of the final version of the proposed agreement is available here.

Electronic Voting on 2018-2020 Academic Staff Collective Agreement Open to June 18th

Electronic Voting on the 2018-2020 Academic Staff Collective Agreement is open until June 18th

An electronic ballot has been sent to all active ULFA Member Uleth email accounts.

You can read more about the details of the proposed agreement here. A marked up draft showing the proposed changes is available here. An unofficial HTML version of the final version of the proposed agreement is available here.