ULFA AGM – Monday, April 6th, 2020

ULFA’s Annual General Meeting is on Monday, April 6th, 2020. It is a virtual meeting due to COVID-19. We have the online capacity for this large of a meeting and are encouraging all Members to attend. Information on accessing the meeting and a final agenda was emailed out to Members on the morning of Monday, April 6th. Please note that a password is now required. If you did not receive access codes to the online AGM, please check your spam folders first and then contact Aaron Chubb.

Negotiating Update: Further review of draft mandate

The ULFA Negotiating Team met today to review a draft of the proposed mandate for 2020 negotiations as prepared by the Bargaining Resource Committee (BRC). As a result of measures taken in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, the team met via the Faculty Association’s Zoom account.

With the exception of some additional clarifications surrounding protections for Indigenous research and researchers, the broad shape of the proposed mandate appears to be complete. Final tweaks will be made over the next two weeks by the Bargaining Resource Committee, before the entire package is presented to the Membership at the Spring AGM (April 6, to be held via Zoom).

6/7ths of the ULFA Negotiating Team… not behind a table, for a change.

Job Protections for Probationary, Continuing, and Tenured Members

Some members of our bargaining unit have recently approached members of the ULFA executive to ask about job security for members of the Academic Staff. The following document discusses the provisions of our collective agreement that protect members against layoffs and termination.

Probationary, Continuing, and Tenured members of our bargaining unit are protected by the provisions of Article 25. This requires a declaration of a financial emergency or a program redundancy by the university before any such member may be terminated (i.e. laid off). In the unlikely event of a declaration of such an emergency or redundancy, moreover, probationary, continuing, and tenured members of the faculty are further protected by seniority, recall, and retaining rights.

The requirements for declaring a “financial emergency” or “program redundancy” are, appropriately enough, very onerous and do not lead to large or easy savings. They involve the mandatory involvement of the Association in what is a public decision-making process. There are also checks and balances in place to prevent the Board from repeating this process arbitrarily.

ULFA has at the moment no reason to believe that the Board is in a state to declare either a financial emergency or program redundancy. It will also defend the interests of its members to full extent of the Collective Agreement in this and all other eventualities.

Financial emergency 

The process by which a “Financial Emergency” is declared involves multiple steps including the formation of a required joint management-union committee and report to review the situation and the proposed remedies, including any layoffs or reassignments.

This section of the Collective Agreement was revised last round of bargaining. Some key points:

  1. Before a Financial Emergency can be declared, the Board of Governors and Faculty Association must create a joint Financial Emergency Commission (FEC) consisting of 2 Association Representatives and 2 Representatives from the Board of Governors, plus an independent chair, selected by mutual agreement or appointed by the director of mediation services for the province under the labour code.
  2. The FEC is required to verify
    1. Whether a financial emergency exists; and 
    2. That the Board of Governors have made a good faith effort to avoid the declaration through a number of common methods (redeployment, revenue enhancement, leaves of absences, early retirements, and so on.
  3. The FEC minutes are to be made available to members of the University community and may include oral evidence.
  4. The FEC is required to report within 35 working days of the President’s notice that an emergency may exist. This report shall indicate whether the FEC agrees a financial emergency exists, a recommendation of the amount of reduction required, and a recommendation of the amount, if any to be recovered through termination or layoff.
  5. After this report, the Board and the Association may renegotiate any relevant articles in the collective agreement or reach other mutually acceptable provisions in order to avoid a state of financial emergency.
  6. Only if the negotiations in 5 fail, may the Board of Governors finally decide whether a state of Financial Emergency exists that requires layoffs from the probationary, continuing, and tenured faculty.
  7. If the Board decides a financial emergency does not exist as a result of the preceding, it may not give notice for substantially the same reasons for a period of at least 12 months.

Program redundancy

Program redundancy is a process by which individual majors are declared redundant, resulting in one or more positions occupied by probationary, continuing, or tenured members being declared unnecessary.

In this case, the Board must first receive a recommendation from GFC and members of the academic unit(s) affected must be first given a chance to comment to GFC on the proposed redundancy.

In the event of a request from the president to make a program redundant, a Redundancy Committee must be struck including

  1. A Chair appointed by GFC, 
  2. 2 members + 1 alternate appointed by GFC;
  3. 1 member appointed by the Provost;
  4. The dean of the Faculty;
  5. A non-voting member appointed by the Association.

Once again, hearings of the committee are to be released to the public. The report of the Committee must be considered by GFC. Only at this point may the Board consider a recommendation to declare a program redundant.

Career transition

In the event that a program is declared redundant, affected faculty must be offered a career transition incentive program after consultation with the Association and make reasonable efforts to provide reassignment of the affected employees. Reassignment may not affect rank or salary and any required retraining must be at the Board’s expense.

Seniority and recall

Finally, lay offs, should they occur, must occur in reverse order of seniority — in other words, the most junior (and hence usually lowest paid) faculty must be laid off before more senior members of the same unit, except that the Provost may designate a maximum of 12% of the faculty as excluded from layoff, based on previously approved academic plans.

Anybody who is laid off under the provisions of Article 25 shall have a right of first refusal for any position in their former department or faculty for two years and to be considered as an internal candidate for non-academic jobs for up to a year.

Voluntary retirement and termination

Members may request (or be offered) at any time a voluntary separation from the university, through retirement or voluntary resignation. The Articles governing this process are {{}}.

Although it is not required under these articles, members who accept voluntary termination or retirement are commonly compensated, often significantly, for this agreement. 

ULFA has considerable experience in this area and members are strongly advised both to consult with ULFA before and during any process under these articles and to request accompaniment in meetings with management as allowed under Article 11.02.6.

 

Negotiating Team Orientation and Mandate Meeting

The 2020 ULFA Negotiating Team met this past Tuesday, March 3rd for an orientation and initial discussion of the 2020 mandate as this has been developed over the last six months by the Bargaining Resource Committee. After the Negotiating Team has had a chance to comment on the draft mandate, it will be returned to the Bargaining Resource Committee for final drafting and, ultimately, presentation to the Executive and the Membership. The draft mandate will be a major agenda item for our Spring AGM on April 6.

The 2020 Negotiating Team has some new and returning faces. Returning for this round are Chief Spokesperson Daniel Paul O’Donnell (English), and team members Rumi Graham (Library), Joy Morris (Math and Computer Science), and Rob Sutherland (Neuroscience). The two new members are Olu Awosoga (Health Sciences) and Adam Letourneau (Dhillon School of Business). While Olu and Adam are new to the ULFA negotiating team, both have previous experience with negotiations. Olu participated as an observer in the 2018-2019 round and has been a member of ULFA bargaining resource committees. Adam is an experienced arbitrator, mediator, and employment and business law practitioner and educator.

After an orientation and discussion of roles and responsibilities, the Negotiating Team started its review of the draft mandate items prepared by the Bargaining Resource Committee based on its extensive consultation with the membership this past Winter and the recently-closed bargaining issue survey. While the details are still being finalised, avoiding further loss of income, improving substandard health benefits, ensuring meaningful collegial governance, and completing the rationalisation and reorganisation of the collective agreement begun last round appear to be top items of concern for the Membership.

The Negotiating Team and Bargaining Resource Committee have also seen and discussed communications from the Administration, in both public statements from the President’s office and in a letter to the ULFA executive from the Administration’s Faculty Collective Agreement Committee outlining some policy and other positions they are taking in the run up to negotiations. It is of course quite normal for the two sides in collective agreement negotiations to begin from different starting positions: negotiations are the means by which compromise between these two initial “mandates” is discovered.

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
PLEASE NOTE THE ROOM CHANGE to 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.