Day 2 and 3 of Collective Bargaining

Following their initial meeting in April, the negotiating teams for the Board and ULFA met on May 21 and 22 for two half-day bargaining sessions toward a new Academic Staff Collective Agreement (ASCA). One or two ULFA members attended each session as observers. The ULFA team began the May 21 session by clarifying that it will not sign off on provisionally agreed new language in the absence of an exchange by both parties of complete proposal packages that include compensation. The Board team made a presentation on environmental factors and the Board’s bargaining objectives. The ULFA team followed with an overview of the housekeeping and substantive articles it intends to open.

Each team presented a set of proposals. The Board team proposed a four-year agreement that amends Articles 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 16, 18, 20, 25, 29, 32, 33, and 38 and deletes Schedules O, S, T, V, W, X, and Y. Prior to drafting additional proposals, the Board team requested interest-based discussions on processes covering grievances, performance evaluation and increments, and discipline. Representing a subset of its complete package of proposals, the ULFA team proposed updates to Articles 1, 6, 9, 20, 26, 36, and Schedule G to address housekeeping issues. The ULFA team also proposed deletion of Schedules I, K*, M*, N*, O*, S, U*, W, X, and Y, with deletion of starred* Schedules contingent on agreement to integrate language that remains relevant into appropriate Articles. A guide to ULFA’s colour coding for proposals can be found here.

Most of the May 22 session comprised interest-based discussions requested by the Board team. Regarding the performance evaluation process and Professional Activities Reports (PARs), the Board team indicated an interest in reducing complexity and effort and increasing fairness, transparency, consistency, and respect for stakeholder time and achievements. Ideas discussed included the potential creation of separate processes to award increments for career progress and merit; voluntary application for merit; inclusion of all continuing and tenure-stream academic staff; using a peer-evaluated process to award merit; capping the length of PARs; accounting for EDI considerations in the creation and evaluation of PARs; and the aim for changes to be cost-neutral and to promote a positive collegial ethos.

Regarding grievance procedures, the Board team expressed concern that current procedures do not always result in timely resolution and that actual practices are not fully aligned with the ASCA. Issues aired included whether the allowed time for initiating a grievance is overly long and concerns that shortening the window could result in less complete information and could add to possible workload concerns associated with initiating a grievance. The Board team also questioned the utility of the interpretation process. The ULFA team participated in this discussion but noted that a fully informed discussion would necessarily include its internal experts in matters of employer relations.

Regarding discipline procedures, the Board team suggested the mutual interest in a strong academic staff could be strengthened by refining the ASCA’s supervision and discipline processes. Issues discussed included concerns about choosing which stream to pursue before all facts of a case are known; a desire to avoid undertaking an investigation too early and risking having to redo the investigation as part of a later process; a desire for alternative measures to be available in response to any category of disciplinary action; and concerns about difficulties encountered in appointing an investigator. The ULFA team noted that a fulsome discussion of this topic, too, would require the participation of its internal experts in matters of employer relations.

Other matters addressed in the May 22 session included clarifying the May 21 proposals, future bargaining dates, and future proposal exchanges. On request, the ULFA team received clarification on some aspects of the Board’s May 21 proposals; the Board team indicated it had not yet reviewed ULFA’s May 21 proposals. Both teams agreed to investigate availability for June 27, 28 and July 23, 24, 25 and confirmed ASCA bargaining dates for July 29 and August 1, 6, 27 and 28. The teams agreed to begin exploring availability for bargaining dates in the fall term.

The Board team noted that it would shortly bring proposals for Schedule B and Articles and Schedules relating to the May 22 interest-based discussions, but reiterated that it is proposing no changes to Schedule A at this time. In response to the Board team’s inquiry, the ULFA team reiterated that it is prepared to present its substantive proposals upon a mutual exchange of complete proposal packages that include Schedule A.

A summary of the progress of articles opened in this round of bargaining is available here.