Bargaining update for April 11, 17-18, and 23

9 newly settled articles

The weeks of April 7 and 21 saw intense bargaining between ULFA and the Board of Governors. The two teams met for approximately 18 hours during this period and settled 9 articles and schedules, including most remaining articles relating to the “core mandates” on both sides:

  • 4 Applications and exclusions
  • 5 Recognition
  • 6 Communication
  • 15 Instructors and Academic Assistants
  • 16 Termination of Appointment
  • 35 Sessional Lecturers (new article adapted from the old Sessional Lecturer Handbook)
  • Schedule A Salaries and Stipends
  • Schedule B Economic Benefits
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Student Evaluations of Teaching

As we have mentioned previously, negotiations since February 21 have taken place on an expedited basis following the “provincial template,” which encourages limited financial awards and improvements in job security language and terms and conditions. The provisionally settled articles reflect this, with a 0% across the board Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for the life of the contract and improvements in terms and conditions, including new ranks and a right of first refusal for sessionals, improvements in job security and working conditions for Instructors and Academic Assistants, important improvements in information provided to the union about employment conditions, and improvements to performance evaluation for all employee categories. Similar agreements have been reached by other public sector unions in the province, including Nurses, Teachers, and the Association of Academic Staff at the University of Alberta.

Since there are still a number of articles under negotiation (you can see the status of all articles here), it is not possible at this point to give a full accounting of the exchanges involved in the current round of negotiations. Members will have an opportunity to review the new agreement in detail should a final settlement be reached and the proposed collective agreement is recommended for ratification by the ULFA executive. Final ratification will require a positive vote by the membership.

Proposal for future reorganisation

In addition to the provisionally settled articles, the two sides also provisionally have agreed that ULFA’s proposal for the reorganisation of the Handbook will form the basis for the next round of negotiations. While the language of the MoU has yet to be finalised, this will almost certainly involve the following articles:

  • 13 Assignment of duties
  • 14 Professional librarians
  • “XX” (new article) Evaluation
  • 17 Personnel Committees
  • 18 Appointment of Faculty Members
  • 19 Probation and tenure of Faculty Members
  • 20 Promotion of Faculty Members
  • “ZZ” (new article) STP Procedures
  • 21 Increments for Faculty Members/Professional Librarians
  • 29 Intellectual Property
  • 32 Salary Schedules, Career Progress INcrements, Merit Increments, and Economic Benefits.

These articles will be substantially reorganised in the next round of negotiations. In this round, they will retain their current language except for housekeeping changes (typos, corrections, and changes required or implied by other changes in negotiated articles). Article 12 (Criteria for Extension of Probation, Tenure, Promotion and Salary Increments for Faculty Members) will also be involved in this reorganisation, but unlike the others is nonetheless undergoing some revisions in the current negotiations.

Remaining articles

This leaves 9 articles still under negotiation (the old Article 1 Interpretation and 22 Grievance have now been combined), as well as some remaining discussion about the deletion and retention of various schedules, several of which refer to the previous legal environment (e.g. Schedule C Negotiation and Impasse) or processes that are now complete (e.g. Schedule D Grandfathering clause for probationary appointments):

  • 1 Interpretation (now included in 22 Grievance)
  • 2 Definitions
  • 11 Rights and responsibilities
  • 12 Criteria for extension of probation, etc.
  • 22 Grievance procedure
  • 25 Supervision and discipline
  • 26 Termination of appointment for financial emergency or program redundancy
  • 33 Gradual retirement and reduced load
  • 34 Leaves of absence
  • 36 Employment equity and accommodation (new article)

A few of these involve core mandate issues (e.g. 12 Criteria for extension of probation, etc., which is one of the places where the use of student evaluations of teaching is discussed, and 36 Employment equity and accommodation). In most cases, including many of the remaining mandate issues, however, only a few areas of disagreement remain and the two sides appear close to resolution. The teams are currently settling on negotiating dates for the next two weeks during which they hope to resolve all outstanding issues.

Next steps

Should the negotiating teams reach a complete provisional agreement, the text goes to the ULFA executive, who will decide whether to recommend ratification. If the executive recommends ratification, the agreement is presented to the membership for approval.

Bargaining update April 4

Negotiating teams from ULFA and the Board of Governors met on Thursday April 4 to continue bargaining.

ULFA presented 5 Articles and Schedules and the Board presented 1. As always, you can follow the status of individual articles here.

ULFA Board
12 Criteria for Extension of Probation (etc)
15 Academic Assistants/Instructors
35 Sessional Lecturers
Schedule A: Salaries and Stipends
Schedule B: Economic Benefits
11 Rights and Responsibilities

Negotiations for the last several weeks have been held under an informal agreement from February 21 between the two sides to focus on core mandate issues.

At the February meeting, the Board of Governors indicated that they wanted to explore ways of moving negotiations forward in an expedited fashion through March and April. ULFA agreed provisionally as a result to provide weekly meeting dates and indicated our willingness to explore ways of expediting negotiations to meet the Board’s proposed deadline. In doing so, ULFA also contingently agreed to explore accepting reduced compensation in exchange for improved job security and other terms and conditions (the “Provincial Template”). It also agreed to suspend a provision in its mandate for the reorganisation of several articles on a similarly contingent basis tied also to a proposed MoU governing the starting point for our next round of negotiations.

Unfortunately, after some rapid initial progress, negotiations appear at this point to have slowed down considerably and bargaining is increasingly bogged down in discussions of side issues.

ULFA raised some of these concerns at the table directly with representatives of the Board of Governors, who have indicated that they have a more optimistic view of the current state of negotiations.

As a sign of good faith, ULFA has agreed to meet again on April 11. If we are able to resume progress at this meeting, ULFA has found several possible dates for full-day sessions in April which might assist in reaching agreement if the focus can be maintained on core issues. If not, we have three morning sessions including April 11 scheduled through the end of April as part of our commitment to the expedited process.

Either way, this current attempt at reaching an expedited agreement on the terms proposed by the Board in February comes to a conclusion at the end of April. If this expedited process fails, negotiating will return to a more sustainable pace for the rest of the summer and ULFA will turn its focus to concluding negotiations on the Essential Services Agreement (ESA), a key requirement that must be in place before formal mediation, job action, and other techniques for bringing difficult negotiations to a close can begin.

CAFA Report on AB Election Platforms for Post-Secondary

The Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (CAFA) has compiled a useful report on party platforms regarding post-secondary education for the 2019 Alberta General Election.
The report can be found here.
2019 Alberta Election Party Platform Summary[1]

At this point, the Alberta NDP and Alberta Liberals are the only parties that have responded directly to CAFA’s questions. Their responses can be found here:
2019 Alberta Election CAFA Q’s NDP response
2019 Alberta Election CAFA Q’s Liberal Party response

If other parties provide responses to CAFA’s questions we will post them here as they become available.

Bargaining update March 27

Negotiating teams from ULFA and the Board of Governors met on Wednesday March 27 to continue bargaining.

The session was very fluid. While some language was exchanged, considerable attention was also devoted to process. Although ULFA came prepared to sign off on the Board’s previous presentation of Article 4, for example, the Board of Governors’ side indicated they wished to treat Articles 4, 5, and 6 as a package. They also indicated they were unprepared to hear ULFA presentations on Articles 36 and 12, asking ULFA to present Article 12 in the upcoming session instead. As always, you can follow the status of individual articles here.

Board ULFA
15 Academic Assistants/Instructors
35 Sessional Lecturers
Schedule A
Schedule B (price quotes)
4 Applications and exclusions (accepting Board proposal of March 21)
5 Recognition
6 Communication
12 Criteria for Extension of Probation (etc) (to be presented April 4)
36 Equity (to be held back pending further discussion)

Negotiations for the last several weeks have been held under an informal agreement between the two sides to focus on core mandate issues. As noted in previous postings, this means exploring the degree to which the two sides may be able to settle according to a provincial template, whereby unions have been receiving smaller-than-otherwise-expected financial awards in exchange for significant improvements in job security and other terms and conditions. In addition to agreeing provisionally to exploring this template, ULFA’s negotiating team has also provisionally agreed to suspend further discussion of a significant reorganisation of the former Sessionals and Faculty Handbooks during the current round of bargaining, in exchange for concessions on terms and conditions and a Memorandum of Understanding that the proposed rearrangement will be the basis of negotiations in the next round.

This approach has resulted in considerable movement at the table on both sides on big issues. It has also made more apparent the areas where the two sides are going to have more difficulty reaching resolution.  The next few sessions are very important and will likely be strong indicators of whether this approach will lead to settlement or a reopening of broader negotiations.

ULFA Annual General Meeting April 8th, 2019

Members are cordially invited to the ULFA Annual General Meeting on Monday, April 8th, 2019 at 12pm in room PE275. Please refer to the AGM 2019 Agenda. Lunch and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) will be available.

For those of you who are unable to attend the meeting in person, WebEx videoconferencing will be available, but please make arrangements with Aaron Chubb or call 403-329-2578 before April 5th, 2019 and I will ensure you receive the meeting invite.


Bargaining Update March 21

Bargaining teams for ULFA and the Board of Governors met on Thursday March 21 to continue negotiations. This meeting was part of a series of weekly dates supplied by ULFA in response to a request from the Board of Governors on February 21.

During the meeting, ULFA presented its response to the Board’s most recent proposals on Articles 15 (Instructors/Academic Assistants), 35 (Sessional Lecturers), and Schedule A (Salary), while the Board of Governors responded to ULFA’s latest versions of Articles 4 (Applications and exclusions), 5 (Recognition), and 6 (Communication). As always, you can follow the progress of negotiations for individual articles here.

ULFA Board of Governors
15 Academic Assistants/Instructors
35 Sessional Lecturers
Schedule A
4 Applications and exclusions
5 Recognition
6 Communication

Negotiations during this session were conducted in keeping with a proposal from the February 21 meeting that the two sides would focus in the short term on core “mandate” issues in the hopes of reaching an expedited settlement. As part of this agreement, the two sides agreed to work on the basis of the “provincial template,” in which public sector unions in the province have considered lower-than-otherwise-expected economic proposals from management in exchange for advances in job security language and terms and conditions.

The resulting discussions have been largely positive, with considerable movement on both sides; if current progress continues, we may be close to reaching agreement in principle on  Articles 4, 5, 15, and 35. At the same time, the two sides appear to be finding less room to manoeuvre in the case of Article 6 (Communication). Here the particular sticking points involve transparency in the event of a breach of member data and the provision of letters of appointment (which constitute part of the contract between members and the university) to ULFA as Members’ exclusive bargaining agent.

The two sides are scheduled to meet again on Wednesday March 27, with weekly meeting continuing through to the end of April, if necessary.