Collective Bargaining Update

ULFA presents Bargaining Mandate; Board presents some preliminary considerations

Contract negotiations resumed on Zoom Tuesday 22 Sept 2020. Chris Nicol (Board’s Spokesperson, Library), Mary Ingraham (Fine Arts), Kelly Williams-Whitt (Dillon School of Business), and Linda van der Velde (Human Resources) represented the Board; Dan O’Donnell (Union’s Spokesperson, English), Joy Morris (Mathematics), Olu Awosoga (Health Sciences), Rumi Graham (Library), Rob Sutherland (Neuroscience), Eva Cool (ULFA), and Aaron Chubb (ULFA) represented the Union. Bargaining is taking place this semester entirely online and the beginning of the meeting contained a discussion of a protocol for online activities and exchange of documents and proposals.

Dan O’Donnell presented ULFA’s bargaining mandate by walking through all of the themes of the mandate, identifying rationales and goals for our Members. The presentation ended with a complete list of articles in the Collective Agreement that would be affected by the mandate items. While our modification of the entire Collective Agreement to avoid gendered language was not signed off on by the Board, there was agreement in principle that such a modification was desirable.

The Board opened with a discussion of their view of the economic context, including recent reductions in University employees, the Board’s view of likely future provincial budget reductions, changes in cost of living, and recent changes in faculty salary. In their presentation, they introduced Athabasca as a university salary comparator for UofL,  in addition to the five that have been previously agreed upon as appropriate comparators by both parties.

A second novel feature of the Board’s presentation was the description of Career Progress and Merit as a type of Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) rather than the more usual understanding of these as belonging to a career compensation structure. In their presentation, the Board indicated that their presentation focused entirely on salary growth and did not reflect the generally much lower starting salaries found at the U of L or take into account life-time earnings.

Finally, the Board also presented their intention to discuss several articles that have been involved in recent grievances. At the next meeting they indicated they will give a more detailed presentation of the issues involved in these.

The Board’s team indicated that they would take some weeks into the future to go over ULFA’s bargaining mandate with their extended bargaining team. Our bargaining mandate had been publicly discussed, amended, ratified, and published for many months; but this was the first time it was formally presented to the Board’s team.

The session lasted about 2.5 hours. We are waiting on the Board to confirm the next meeting date.  

ULFA Bargaining Town Halls- Recap

The recently completed round of ULFA bargaining town halls was well-attended, despite many competing demands as we begin a new school year in exceptional times. There was good attendance from all units and segments of the Bargaining Unit at  each of the three meetings, during which Members received an update on our bargaining environment and the current round of Collective Agreement negotiations.

ULFA Chief Bargaining Spokesperson Dan O’Donnell summarized key factors influencing collective bargaining in the province and reviewed the ULFA bargaining mandate. Job Action Committee Chair Ran Barley, spoke briefly about the importance of job action preparedness and encouraged members interested in learning more or participating in preparations for job action to join the Committee. The latter half of each town hall unfolded as an open Q & A session. Some members of the 2020 Negotiating Team and ULFA Executive, along with the Chief Bargaining Spokesperson, participated in the discussions. 

Examples of the wide range of Q & A topics that arose were the distinction between providing informed peer review assessments of academic work, and making managerial decisions about the outcomes of such assessments; workload issues; COVID’s inequitable impacts on academic women and gender-based analyses to help correct such imbalances; different ways of undertaking meaningful job action during a pandemic; and broad and deep concern about achieving equity on many fronts, many of which existed pre-COVID.

There was also a review of the 2019-2020 mandate as passed by members in the early spring, with a discussion of its continuing — and indeed increased — relevance as we begin the 2020-2021 academic year.

Many thanks to all who participated in these town halls. For members who were unable to attend, as always, feel free to reach out to any member of the Bargaining Resource Team or Negotiation Team if you have questions or suggestions. Your interest, concerns raised, and support continue to sustain ULFA as a strong bargaining unit.

The ULFA Negotiating team has had two meetings with the Board team in the current round of bargaining (June 8, 2020 and July 24, 2020). The Negotiating team met on September 17 to discuss issues coming out of the Town Halls and prepare for the September 22 collective bargaining meeting with the employer.

STP Chairs and Committee Members

Upcoming workshop for STP Chairs and Committee Members.

Two online offerings, choose the date that works for you:

September 23rd 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Join Zoom Meeting
See your email for zoom information

October 1st 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
See your email for zoom information

Workshop Overview:

Part I: General Principles Governing Personnel Decisions

Part II: STP Procedures under our Collective Agreement

Part III: Chairing STP Committee under our Collective Agreement

Part IV: Criteria for STP Decisions

Part V: Appeals

Questions & Answers

Facilitators include:
Claudia Steinke, ULFA Presiden
Dan O’Donnell, ULFA Vice-President
Aaron Chubb, ULFA Executive Officer

We hope to see you there! 

ULFA Scholar Strike Statement

ULFA recently issued an anti-racism statement that expresses our support of our Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) and racialized faculty members, administrators, students, and staff, in response to a growing global awareness of the long road that remains towards justice. On September 9–10, academic staff across Canada are supporting the Scholar Strike (https://scholarstrikecanada.ca).

Many Canadian Faculty Associations, including CAUT (https://scholarstrikecanada34826019.files.wordpress.com/2020/09/caut-letter-of-support.pdf), are disseminating information about ways in which academic staff can participate in addressing social justice as classes get underway: for example, by participating in digital teach-ins (https://scholarstrikecanada.ca/schedule/) and by raising awareness through territorial acknowledgements.

While ULFA is not encouraging staff to engage in work stoppages or neglect the job responsibilities as covered by the Collective Agreement, we are supportive of engagement in larger social issues, and invite your awareness of these events, and your accommodation of students who intend to participate in them actively. 

In solidarity with the action on September 9th and 10th, ULFA would like to highlight ways that members can show solidarity with the #ScholarStrike under our Collective Agreement:

  • Limit teaching activities to the official calendar times (e.g. 9:00-9:50 a.m.), explaining to students why you have no additional availability during September 9th and 10th;
  • Share teach-in resources and the program schedule with students;
  • Volunteer and become politically/socially active;
  • Give personal capital (time, money, etc.) to worthwhile causes;
  • Yield the floor and use your platform to echo and centre essential voices (in this case the voices of BIPOC scholars);
  • Write to elected officials, expressing your opinion. Also, consider employment-related officials such as University Presidents, Union Presidents, and Student Union Presidents.

Bargaining Resource Committee Town Halls

ULFA’s Bargaining Resource Committee is organizing three town halls this September. These town halls are a chance to hear an update on the current round of collective bargaining, and will provide space to ask questions and provide feedback on the process thus far. All ULFA Members are welcome to attend one or all three of the scheduled town halls. The update for each town hall will be the same, but the conversation may differ.

Town Hall Dates:
Thursday September 3, 10 – 12
Friday September 11, 2 – 4
Tuesday September 15, 12 – 2

Please check your email for zoom details.

ULFA is back to the negotiating table September 22, 2020.

The Job Action Committee is Back at Work

The Job Action Committee (JAC) is back at work! As outlined in the ULFA Job Action Policy and Bylaws, we work during bargaining years to ensure ULFA members are prepared and organized should Job Action be required to ensure an equitable settlement.

We are committed to sharing information and building solidarity among ULFA members, and are excited to announce our 2020-2021 line-up: Chair Ran Barley (Chair, Biological Sciences), Kristine Alexander (History), Chad Povey (Physics), Aaron Taylor (Theatre & Drama), Sonya Von Heyking (Accounting), Mary Greenshields (Library), and Abigail McMeekin (Modern Languages & Linguistics). 

We are still looking for 3 additional committee members — from Education and the Calgary Campus — please get in touch if you want to join us! 

Over the coming months, our sub-committees – Communications, Finance, Materials & Supplies, and Picket Coordination – will be working together and with the Bargaining Resource Committee to ensure that we are fully prepared in case bargaining leads to a strike or lockout. 

It is difficult to think about these possibilities during the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are hopeful that the University of Lethbridge and ULFA will be able to negotiate a mutually acceptable collective agreement. At the same time, however, it is critically important that we be prepared in case a work stoppage is required.

For more information about job action and the work of the JAC, check out these Frequently Asked Questions about Job Action.