The University of Lethbridge and the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) recognize the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on employees of the University of Lethbridge. As a result of interest-based discussions between the parties to resolve concerns raised by ULFA arising from the effects of COVID, and in an effort to support sessional and term instructor members through this difficult time, the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association and the Board have reached agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will extend the University Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) to sessional and term instructor members who do not currently receive this benefit.
Instructions for access to EFAP for eligible members will be provided on April 1, 2021.
On March 22, ULFA and the Board held their fourth bargaining session since the January 18th exchange of full proposals. The meeting opened with a discussion on the feasibility of scheduling meeting times more frequently than once every two weeks. The Board team suggested lengthening the two scheduled April meetings as a short-term substitute for more frequent meetings, given that significant portions of the packages exchanged in January have yet to be formally presented. The ULFA team agreed to extend the April 8 and 22 bargaining meetings to five hours each, and the Board team indicated weekly meetings would be possible for them beginning in May. The teams also discussed the desirability of continuing to bargain over the summer, and agreed to follow up around questions of summer availability.
The Board team presented proposals on Schedule E (Professional Activities Report) and Article 13 (Duties of Members), both of which have gone back and forth already. There remain differences to resolve regarding Schedule E. A significant gap exists between the two sides’ perspectives on aspects of Article 13: for example, the Board asserted management rights as a reason for not accepting ULFA’s proposal to contain workload by defining an average work week as 37.5 hours. The Board did agree with ULFA’s position that the existing language on PARs does not belong in Article 13, although the parties have yet to agree on where it will end up.
The last item presented by the Board team was their “Proposal #15” on “limited term and sessional appointments.” “Proposal #15” involves opening a number of Articles in order to make changes:
- 2 (Definitions)
- 14 (Professional Librarians)
- 15 (Instructors/Academic Assistants)
- 16 (Termination)
- 18 (Appointments)
- 34 (Sessional Lecturers) and
- Schedule A (Salary Schedules/Stipends).
Proposal #15 would move all provisions for term appointments into Article 34 (Sessional Lecturers) and would treat term employees like Sessional Lecturers for most purposes. This would include introducing a limited Right of First Refusal for term appointees while removing any limitations on how many times they could be employed on a casual basis. Suggested changes to Schedule A.01.4 would reduce the minimum stipend for Sessional Lecturer I and II and introduce a new Sessional Lecturer III category with a minimum course stipend at the current Sessional Lecturer II stipend. The new Sessional Lecturer III rank would apply to Sessional Lecturers who have taught sufficiently frequently and have previously been appointed at the rank of Sessional Lecturer II.
The ULFA team presented the proposed deletion of four Schedules, which it suggested are no longer needed: C (Grandfathering for Probationary Appointments MOU), F (Academic Career Implementation), I (Implementation of Academic Assistants/Instructor Language), and K (Student Evaluations of Teaching MOU). The ULFA team also proposed a minor wording change in Schedule J (regarding when Members must declare uses of University facilities as a possible conflict of interest or commitment).
The ULFA team made initial presentations on their proposals for Articles 4 (Applications and Exclusions) and 6 (Communication and Information). The Article 4 proposal consists of a single change to omit current language specifying how ULFA should allocate its Association dues. The Board was receptive to this change. ULFA’s Article 6 proposal, which seeks additional, timely information on its membership, led to some very productive interest-based discussion on possible ways to meet ULFA’s information needs within the Board’s staffing and system capacities.
ULFA’s final presentation in this meeting was a response to the Board’s Article 5 proposal. By including language adapted from the U of A collective agreement, ULFA’s response addresses the Board’s desire to affirm management rights. This offer is contingent on the parties finding a mutually agreeable way (such as ULFA’s Article 13 proposal to limit the work week) to contain the amount of work expected of members. ULFA’s Article 5 response also proposes language prohibiting the Board from contracting out work (teaching, research, performance as a Professional Librarian, etc.) commonly performed by members of the academic staff. The proposal gives ULFA the right to participate in new Member orientations and increases existing course release provisions. The proposal also contains a new collegial governance section which provides ULFA representation in some University decision-making processes such as budgeting and determining hiring priorities.
The two sides agreed to the deletion of Schedules C and K. The Board team indicated it will take a closer look at the proposals to delete Schedule F and I.
Both sides agreed to end the meeting a bit early so team members could participate in the GFC Committee of the Whole meeting. As a consequence, ULFA did not present its response to the Board’s Article 11 (Rights and Responsibilities) proposal or its Article 32 proposal as originally planned. For the next meeting on April 8, ULFA tentatively offered to respond to the Board’s “Proposal #15” (described above) with ULFA’s proposals for Articles XX (Evaluation) and the numerous Articles and Schedules most implicated by Article XX. The extension to a 5-hour meeting makes presenting this collection of Articles feasible, and will enable ULFA to explain the interconnections. Both parties agreed to exchange a list of items that will be presented at the next meeting on April 8 via email correspondence.
You can track the progress of exchanged bargaining proposals in this spreadsheet.
Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario is the first public university to declare insolvency. Please take a moment to lend your voice by asking the federal government to step up. The federal government can assist through its support for Official Languages and Indigenous education, research and core operating funds. It can show leadership by working with the provinces to develop and fund a plan for post-secondary education as it has for childcare, housing and health care. Please take two minutes to sign this letter.
Another productive meeting of the ULFA and Board negotiating teams took place on March 8. The Board team began with an update on the status of the ULFA team’s request for costing information on desired improvements to certain Schedule B benefits. They noted the costing requests have been handed off to the benefits carriers with an expected turn-around time of 4 to 6 weeks.
The ULFA team responded to the Board team’s latest proposals on Schedule E (professional activities report) and Article 13 (assignment of duties). While there is considerable distance between the parties’ respective positions on Article 13, progress was made toward a shared understanding of workable improvements to Schedule E. The ULFA team also presented its Article 28 (intellectual property) proposal, which has four main goals: organizational clean-up for easier readability, updating and standardizing language in the copyright section to align with the federal statute; specifying a process for staffing the IP committee; and improving provisions of the patent section to promote innovation, the commercialization of inventions, and the University’s ability to realize ancillary benefits from joint ventures between researchers and industry.
The Board team presented a response to ULFA’s Article YY (EDI) proposal that included a suggestion to rename the Joint Equity Committee (JEC) as the Joint Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Committee. The Board team also presented proposals to clarify management rights in Articles 1, 5 and 11. You may recall that at the previous meeting on February 22, the Board team presented proposed changes to Article 11 dealing specifically with how service should be included among members’ responsibilities and in evaluation criteria. All of the Board team’s proposed changes to Article 11 have now been presented.
As the March 8 meeting was somewhat shorter than usual due to scheduling conflicts, the parties agreed to identify items for discussion via email in advance of the next meeting, which is scheduled for March 22. The Board team requested a presentation by ULFA on its Article 15 proposal in the near future. This will enable the Board team to continue working on a response to the ULFA team’s proposal to clarify the procedures for probation, tenure/continuing appointment, and promotion, so that the language covers all job categories explicitly (Articles 19, 20, and ZZ). These were presented to the Board team on February 8 and 22. ULFA’s proposal for Article 15 also includes the establishment of a Teaching Professoriate, which the sides discussed in broad terms on February 8. The Board team has expressed interest in considering the idea of a Teaching professoriate in some form, although the visions of this held by the two sides are initially far apart.
You can track the progress of exchanged bargaining proposals in this spreadsheet. Although progress is being made in getting all of the issues in these negotiations onto the table for at least an initial discussion, negotiations are still in the very early stages and there is a long way to go before we will be approaching anything like agreement on any of the major issues at stake.
With the Spring come many opportunities to celebrate the progress of equity across the world, and focus with determination on the paths that lie ahead.
- Today we celebrate International Women’s Day!
- February was Black History Month and 11 February was the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
- March is Womens’ History Month and includes the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March.
In gratitude for all who labour for equity amongst our faculty, on our (virtual) campus, and in the wider community!
ULFA and the Gender, Equity and Diversity Committee