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.