– For Immediate Release –
Collective Bargaining Between ULFA and the U of L Reaches Impasse in Mediation – ULFA Media Release
The University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) and the Board of Governors of the University of Lethbridge have reached an impasse in collective bargaining. This follows nine days of mediation under the Alberta Labour Relations Code, held over a period of three months. Key items that remain unresolved are related to equity, parity, and respect.
Equity: Sessional lecturers are the University’s most poorly paid members. They have no job security and do not receive funds to cover professional expenses. The Board will not commit to anything beyond tweaks to existing language to address this inequity. In addition, the Board will not provide any health benefits to sessional lecturers, many of whom have been working in this precarious position for years.
Parity: There are five universities that ULFA and the Board have, for years, agreed on as comparators in collective bargaining. The U of L’s frontline teaching staff members are paid substantially less than colleagues at any of these institutions. The Board’s latest proposal will leave ULFA Members even further behind, posing challenges for both recruitment and retention of faculty. ULFA Negotiating Team member Joy Morris emphasizes, “The financial offers on the table will not even keep up with inflation and will certainly not result in salaries that are competitive enough to attract and retain high-quality researchers and educators. This is especially hard on our newest Members and our sessional lecturers.”
Respect: During the worst budget cutbacks of a generation and an aggressive restructuring plan, the Board has limited faculty and students’ ability to contribute to the University’s decision- making. The Board also refused to allow Members a say in how their own money will be spent on benefits like vision and dental care.
The ULFA Negotiating Team concluded an impasse had been reached after repeated attempts to improve these issues had failed. Both parties now enter a two week ‘cooling off’ period after which either party can hold a strike or lockout vote.
Despite the slow pace of negotiations, the ULFA Negotiating Team remains hopeful that a settlement can be reached. According to Locke Spencer, ULFA’s Chief Negotiator, “As we have seen at Concordia University of Edmonton and the University of Manitoba, we can reach an agreement. It just requires an employer prepared to bargain in good faith on these important issues.”