ULFA Membership Approve Bargaining Mandate with 94% Support

After a good discussion at the Annual General Meeting, held on April 6, the ULFA membership approved a bargaining mandate for the ULFA negotiating team with 94% of the membership in favour. 

The bargaining mandate was prepared by ULFA’s Bargaining Resource Committee following extensive consultation, including approximately 100 one-on-one member interviews, several town halls, and a survey completed by roughly ¾ of the membership. Aspects of the draft mandate were discussed with members of the Gender Equity and Diversity Committee. The draft mandate was then provided for comment to the Negotiating Team, which will carry out the actual negotiations, before being finalised, approved by the Executive Committee, and presented to the membership for a vote at the Annual General Meeting.

The complete Bargaining Mandate is included below, the highlights include:

Demands to address salary and benefit erosion that has occurred over the past several years. 

As Bob Barnetson has noted in his blog, Alberta public servants of all kinds, including ULFA members, have seen no cost of living increases since 2017, resulting in an erosion of spending power relative to inflation of at least 3.7%. ULFA members have also lost relative to their colleagues at peer institutions. Uniquely among the faculty of the province’s Comprehensive Academic and Research Universities (CARUs), U of L faculty took a 1% wage rollback to assist the University during the last Conservative government budget cutbacks in 2013. The U of L consistently underperforms its main comparators in terms of faculty compensation at all ranks.

Difference in mean salary by rank

The five comparator institutions, agreed upon with the employer, are UofA, UofC, Trent University, UofR, and UofS. 

Demands to address deficiencies in benefits

There has been little progress in addressing problems with our benefits over successive rounds of negotiation. The members have consistently noted the shortcomings of our vision care and dental care benefits. There is also a clear inequity where benefits are reduced when two parents are Members of ULFA. Finally, professional development funds should be restored for tem instructors and created for sessional lecturers for each course they teach. 

Demands to address workload

After much discussion, the Membership has determined to maintain current workload and to achieve equitable workload assignments for all Members. To support this demand, ULFA must receive clear data on workload levels across all units and faculties.

Demands for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Key elements of this part of the mandate include: creating a  joint ULFA-Board committee to evaluate and address salary inequities related to diversity; implementing bias training for personnel committees and for Academic Administrators, Chairs, and Directors; ensuring that student evaluations are not used summatively to measure teaching effectiveness (rather, that they are used formatively by Members for improving instruction and as an indicator of the student experience); eliminating binary language from the Collective Agreement; and improving language concerning the evaluation of service and research conducted by Indigenous Members and Members who work with Indigenous peoples.

Demands for improvements in Collegial Governance

It has been repeatedly noted that the effectiveness and breadth of Members’ roles in collegial governance has been eroded over many years. This has led to a demand to increase Member representation in decision-making processes throughout the University.

Demands for an Instructor path to the Professoriate

Many Instructors establish themselves in a leadership role in teaching and teaching research. A path to a multiple-rank teaching Professoriate should be defined for those Members.


In light of uncertainties concerning funding levels, enrolment rates, and novel instructional demands, these are challenging times for negotiations with the Board. It is significant that during such times, the Membership has so clearly expressed its goals with such strong support and has publicly charged the Negotiating Team with achieving improvements in those areas that matter to them.



Complete Bargaining Mandate

Schedule A: Salary Schedule and Stipends

Address the erosion of salary and stipends in relation to the cost of living over previous years, and address the difference in salary and stipends relative to comparator institutions. Merit and career progress for Members on reduced load calculated in a more equitable way.

Schedule B Benefits
Address problems with benefits, particularly with vision care and dental care. Address inequities to benefits when both parents are Members. Restore professional development funds for term instructors. Create a professional development fund for sessional lecturers on a per course basis.

Workload
Maintain current level of work and seek equity in workload assignment. 

Negotiate ULFA receiving clear data about the factors at the department/program/area level that influence workload.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Strike a joint ULFA-Board committee to evaluate and address salary inequities related to diversity.

Implement bias training for senior academic administrators, Chairs and directors, STP members, and search committee members.

Ensure that student evaluations of teaching are not used summatively or to measure teaching effectiveness but can be used formatively or for feedback on the student experience.

Implement appropriate parameters for fairly evaluating the specific nature and demands of research, service, and public duties for Indigenous Faculty Members.

Implement appropriate parameters for fairly evaluating the specific nature and demands of research, service, and public duties for those who conduct work with Indigenous people.

Change binary gendered language to more inclusive terminology throughout the Collective Agreement.


Collegial Governance

Improve ULFA representation on governance bodies including an appointed seat on the budgetary advisory committee; and increased decision making by Faculty Members on staffing priorities in academic areas.

 

Other STP Issues

Negotiate a salary increase tied to tenure and promotion.

Include service explicitly as a criterion for promotion and tenure.|

Negotiate promotion to associate professor as an automatic consequence of the award of tenure.

 

Information and Security for Union

Secure additional paid course releases and cash for ULFA.

Add @uleth email addresses to the data received in 6.03.1.e.

 

Article Defining Instructor Route to Professoriate

Create a category of teaching professoriate, with assistant, associate, and full teaching professor ranks, which is available only to instructors who show leadership in teaching and teaching research. 

 

Schedule S 

Rationalise and reorganize the Collective Agreement along the lines of Schedule S.



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