ULFA Newsletters – Archives

Essential Service Agreement (ESA) Negotiations to begin

ULFA and the Board have agreed to negotiate a new ESA in the lead up to the resumption of negotiations over the Collective Agreement. An ESA is required by law in the case of job action or lock-out. This agreement determines which (if any) union members can and must continue to work during any job action or lock-out, and which tasks they should continue to perform. ESAs and associated job action protocols are important because they ensure that neither the University nor relations between Faculty and Administration are permanently damaged in the case of job action.

ULFA has been consulting with Members around their experiences with the pandemic shut-down, and is trying to incorporate lessons learned from that experience into its new ESA proposal. Members who wish to contribute to this process are encouraged to contact any member of ULFA’s ESA negotiating team.

The Board will be represented in ESA negotiations by Carolin Cattoi-Demkiw (Manager, Safety Services); Jennifer Copeland (Associate Dean, Arts and Science); and Scott Harling (Team Lead, University Legal Counsel Office). ULFA will be represented by Rob Sutherland (Chair), Rumi Graham, Locke Spencer, Olu Awosoga, and Dawn McBride, with Aaron Chubb joining as staff support.

A first meeting for these negotiations has been set for December 8.

Bargaining update November 27, 2020

Over the past month, the ULFA and Board of Governors negotiating teams exchanged several letters in search of a path forward that effectively addresses the concerns noted by ULFA in our October 23, 2020 bargaining update. 

A mutually agreed path is now in place, which is based on a proposal made by ULFA in early November. The key elements of the plan, accepted by both teams, are that:

  1. Bargaining on the Collective Agreement is suspended until January 18, 2021;
  2. On January 18, 2021, the ULFA and Board negotiating teams will exchange proposals constituting a complete initial offer on all items to be changed in the Collective Agreement, including monetary issues and terms; and that
  3. The parties will resume collective bargaining no later than January 22, 2021, unless there is some unavoidable delay (for example, relating to the pandemic).

The Board team accepted the ULFA team’s proposal that in the interim, negotiations commence on a new Essential Services Agreement (ESA). More about the latter will be shared in a separate blog post. 

In the meantime, other Faculty Associations in the province are reporting on offers made by their respective administrations. We hope to say more about the current bargaining scene in a future post.

 

Arbitrators award raises to 1,700 staff at eight Alberta colleges after calls for cuts

Workers at eight Alberta colleges will get a pay raise after a board of arbitrators ruled in their favour and rejected employer calls for wage cuts

“These rulings back our argument that enough is enough, that public-service institutions should stop placing the burden of Jason Kenney’s budget cuts on the backs of hard-working Albertans,” says Bobby-Joe Borodey [AUPE VP- Calgary]. “It also shows that these institutions can no longer claim poverty to cut worker salaries and jobs while they have large surpluses and pay high salaries for executives and managers.”

https://calgaryherald.com/news/arbitrators-award-raises-to-1700-staff-at-eight-alberta-colleges-after-calls-for-cuts

UWO and Navitas – CAUT Bulletin Interview

Elizabeth MacDougall-Shackleton is a biology professor at the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and president of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA). The Association and its members are opposing the school’s proposed partnership with Navitas, a for-profit education provider for international students.

Read full post here.

Why do you oppose Navitas?
They would establish a for-profit college on our campus. The people they hire would not be members of UWOFA, so they wouldn’t have the protections that our members have under our collective agreement, meaning no academic freedom or the job security that contract faculty members have here. Navitas would admit students who do not meet our entrance standards. Also, we are concerned that there’s going to be lots of pressure on these teachers to relax their academic standards.

What would be the consequences?
It’s not fair to other students if there’s a “pay-to-play” scenario where some students can jump the queue simply because they can afford an exorbitant international commission, and it doesn’t serve the second and third year cohorts well after Navitas students are integrated into Western’s main campus. It does a disservice to international students as well. We question the ethics of recruiting people in this way.

Read full post here.

ULFA Members March in Support of AHS Workers Threatened by Kenney Government

On Tuesday, October 27, 2020 approximately 30 members of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association marched in support of Alberta Health Care workers whose jobs have been threatened by Kenney government cuts to publicly-funded healthcare during the COVID crisis.

AHS workers had walked off the job the day before in a wildcat strike. They were ordered to return to work by the Alberta Labour Relations Board Monday afternoon.

ULFA members gathered at the Chinook Regional Hospital for an hour long demonstration.

 

Navitas Update

There are a number of updates concerning the proposal that the U of L should contract with Navitas to establish a remedial college for international students in Calgary.

  1. Representatives of Navitas gave a presentation to various employee and governance groups on campus, including the draft proposal to establish the college in Calgary.
  2. Representatives of the ULFA working group met with the Provost and Vice Provost to review the current state of negotiations.
  3. ULFA, the Student Union, and the Graduate Student Association have agreed to form a joint working group to discuss and share research on the proposal.
  4. This joint Pathways working group co-hosted an online townhall for the University Community on the Navitas proposal and the issues it raises on October 28th, 2020 at 1 PM. 
  5. We have been collecting a bibliography on Navitas and Pathways programmes more generally. 

After a brief orientation to Navitas, the rest of this blog discusses these developments.

About Navitas

Navitas is a for-profit Australian company that offers recruitment, support, and other services for Australian, British, and (to a lesser extent) Canadian and American Universities. They recruit students from several countries around the world, but focus particularly on Asia. 

In Canada, Navitas currently offers controversial “Pathway” services to three universities: Simon Fraser University, the University of Manitoba, and Ryerson. “Pathways” services typically involve recruiting foreign students who would otherwise be ineligible for admission to the client universities due to their low GPA, poor English, or otherwise inappropriate credentials. Navitas then provides them with remedial instruction, acculturation and other student supports, and access to client-university-branded first year courses taught by Navitas instructors. 

According to Navitas, approximately 80% of the students they recruit have a GPA below that otherwise required for admission to the client university; approximately 10% have inadequate English language preparation; and 10% require some other kind of upgrading, such as additional credits or prerequisites. Some recruits have a combination of these needs.

An important selling point for Navitas’s colleges is the additional student support the company claims to provide. Since the students they attract are generally weaker than those recruited by the client universities themselves, there is a much greater need for services to provide cultural acclimatisation, instruction in Canadian university expectations, mental health support, etc. In their colleges, Navitas generally agrees to develop these services and support students recruited through these programmes both during their initial remedial and/or first year(s) and make them available on a continuing basis after students make the transition to regular classes at the client university. An important feature of the proposal for Lethbridge, however, is that these supports would be developed in Calgary, while students will presumably transfer to Lethbridge after they complete the Navitas programme.

The Navitas proposal

On October 14, representatives of Navitas met with various employee, governance, and union groups on the Lethbridge campus to discuss their proposal. A copy of the proposal is here.

The basic concept is to establish an “international college” (“Lethbridge International College”) in Calgary on the University of Lethbridge’s Bow Valley College campus. The purpose of this college would be to provide remedial and first-year instruction to students recruited by Navitas in the University of Lethbridge’s name. In addition to this instruction, students would be provided additional help to support their acculturation in Calgary. At the end of the two years, they would exit the programme and be eligible to enter our regular second year classes, which at the U of L are taught primarily in Lethbridge.

The “international college” would be wholly owned by Navitas and run under the direction of a Navitas-employed director (rather than a Dean). Students admitted to the College would be under a Navitas code of conduct rather than the U of L’s. First year courses at the college would be University-of-Lethbridge-branded and developed in collaboration with U of L faculty and departments. The plan appears to call for the intellectual property of the academic staff residing in these courses to be donated to the for-profit company.

The Navitas proposal corresponds to a template they have implemented at various universities over the years in most respects — a template that, as many have pointed out, is itself potentially quite problematic (see below for references and further reading).

In the specific case of the U of L, however, the fact that Navitas also proposes establishing the “college” in Calgary rather than Lethbridge creates additional problems:

  1. Navitas argues that their model improves the support for foreign students at the client university after they enter the mainstream classes in second year. But this will presumably not be true at the U of L: in our case, Navitas will establish its supports in Calgary — a city students will then have to leave in order to join the main cohort in Lethbridge.
  2. An important selling point of the Navitas model is that it acculturates and integrates students into the campus and city before they join the mainstream cohort at the client university. By locating the campus in Calgary, however, Navitas will negate this advantage: students will be integrated into life on a small campus in a big city, and then, after two years, be expected to uproot themselves from their new lives to move to a much bigger campus in a much smaller city. This seems particularly dangerous for the type of vulnerable student Navitas typically recruits.
  3. Because of the potential for disruption created by the move from Calgary to Lethbridge at the end of students’ remedial and first year programme, Lethbridge presumably can expect a much higher attrition rate than Navitas claims to be the case at other universities. Students recruited to Calgary by Navitas for the U of L will face a choice at the end of their second year: give up their apartment, community contacts, and lives in Calgary in order to move to a new campus in a new city… or transfer to Mount Royal or the U of C and avoid that same disruption to their personal lives. The Lethbridge college, in other words, may turn out to be a particularly lucrative (and free) recruiting pool of well-trained and acculturated foreign students for MRU and U of C rather than a major source of revenue to the U of L. The U of C rejected a recent proposal from Navitas after the Faculty Association filed a grievance: this may provide them with the same students without the associated risks.
  4. The Navitas proposal indicates that the client university is to provide space for their college free-of-charge. While at most universities, this would involve an in-kind donation, in the case of the U of L, the Navitas proposal as written would appear to require us to rent additional space for the company on our Calgary campus from Bow Valley College even while we have space freely available at the Lethbridge campus. We have been told, however, that the U of L will not agree to this in the final agreement.
  5. Navitas International Colleges normally help the local economy by bringing in additional students, who then require services, housing, and so on from local businesses and landlords. In this case, however, Lethbridge businesses will receive no benefit from the students brought to Canada in the U of L’s name for at least the first two years — or ever should large numbers of these students decide to transfer to MRU or U of C after they finish the Navitas programme.

As far as we can tell, this will be the first time that Navitas will establish a college of this type away from the client’s main campus. It will also be the first time, again, as far as we can tell, that they have contracted with a client whose main campus is found in a city of fewer than 200,000 or that contains a single university. All other other examples we know of are in larger urban areas and within a short drive of several other universities whose graduate students can serve as a source of precarious labour. 

By setting the college in Calgary (a city that fits their normal template) rather than Lethbridge (a city that doesn’t), in other words, Navitas is transferring main risk for this endeavour to the University of Lethbridge. Since Navitas generates its profit on the first two years, and they have a lot of previous experience in setting up such colleges in cities of 1,000,000+, they can presumably be reasonably sure that establishing a college in Calgary for Lethbridge will work for them. What is less known, however, is how the next stage will work for the U of L — when we are supposed to collect tuition from the students who transfer from the Navitas college to our main campus, 250 km away. When asked for projections for the U of L’s revenue at year three and year five of the proposed ten year agreement, Navitas representatives indicated that they had not made any models. 

Although a number of companies operate similar programmes in Canada and elsewhere, the University of Lethbridge did not put out a tender for this service. The proposal came about instead via conversations between the U of L’s President and a former colleague from the U of A, a former University president who now works for Navitas. Indeed President-to-President marketing appears to be a focus of Navitas. The CEO of Navitas Canada and its Senior Academic advisor are both former University Presidents. The current Navitas CEO was also Provost at the University of Manitoba when Navitas contracted with it to establish its international college in Winnipeg, while the COO is a former director of the same Navitas-run college.

ULFA meeting with Provost and Vice Provost

On October 20th, representatives from ULFA held our second monthly meeting with the Provost and Vice Provost regarding Navitas. This provided an opportunity to follow-up on the October 15th presentation and discuss the results of our own research into Navitas and their business model.

In the course of a frank and far-ranging discussion, the Provost’s office indicated that

  • Informal discussions with Navitas had begun between the President and the CEO of Navitas before the COVID crisis, although only in the broadest terms.
  • While the Navitas presentation contained a number of very specific details — such as the fact that the University of Lethbridge would be required to provide space to Navitas on its Calgary Campus free of charge — these were written by Navitas and did not represent the result of formal negotiations between the two sides; in the specific case of paying rent, indeed, we were told that this would not be a feature of any final agreement.
  • Programme decisions would be presented to GFC for approval.

For its part, ULFA indicated that any Pathways college at the University of Lethbridge would be required to operate under the provisions of the Collective Agreement and the Post Secondary Learning Act. It also presented research suggesting that the Navitas proposal for the University of Lethbridge represents a particularly one-sided arrangement in terms of risk versus profitability, even when compared to what we can discover about similar agreements at other universities. Finally it indicated broader concerns about the Pathways model and about the lack of tendering involved this process.

Both sides agreed that they share a common interest in ensuring that any arrangement with a vendor such as Navitas should conform to the highest standards of transparency and good governance and that any agreement should protect the interests of the University, its students, and faculty.

ULFA, ULSU and GSA agree to form a joint Pathways Working Group

Representatives of University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA), the University of Lethbridge Student Union (ULSU), and the Graduate Student Association (GSA) have agreed to establish a joint committee for research and discussion of the Navitas proposal. In addition to ensuring that a variety of perspectives are represented at the table, this agreement will allow each organisation to draw on resources available to its partners, such as CAUT and the Canadian Federation of Students.

Townhall October 28th, 2020, 1pm

The first joint activity of the new Working Group was a townhall for members of the University community which was held on October 28th, 2020 from 1-3 PM.

Slides from that presentation are available here.

Find out more… with references!

A recurring theme in reports about Navitas’ strategies for securing partnerships is the secrecy and speed with which negotiations are carried out. The joint working group has been told explicitly that at the University of Lethbridge negotiations are at an early stage, that any agreement will go through GFC, and that no agreement is contemplated for this year. However, recent comments by members of the administration and the appearance of a relatively complete proposal document from Navitas may indicate preparations for a faster timeline.

A second theme involves claiming that criticism involves “hearsay” or “excitement” on social media rather than facts. In our case, however, a concrete proposal has been made and Navitas officials and members of the administration have made additional claims that can be tested and examined. In addition, there are a number of faculty members and students on campus who have direct experience with similar initiatives by this same company at other universities. The joint working group is in the process of collecting a range of materials to assist members in assessing this proposal, including published studies, mainstream media assessments, statements and research by other organisations, and assessments by organisations such as CAUT and The Canadian Federation of Students.  These suggest at the very least that any final partnership agreement needs to be subject to dedicated consultation and full bicameral approval.  

See the following for more information on Navitas and Pathways programmes more generally.

Bibliography

Information on Navitas

Falvo, Nick.  (2010).  The Pathways College Concept.  AcademicMatters.ca
Navitas website: What we do

Marketline profile for Navitas
Navitas Colleges in Canada:
Fraser International College

International College of Manitoba
Ryerson University International College

Peer Reviewed Analysis of Pathway Colleges (Recommended Reading)

McCartney, Dal M. and Amy Scott Metcalfe.  (2018).  Corporatization of higher education through internationalization: the emergence of pathway colleges in Canada.  Tertiary Education and Management 24(3):206-220  https://doi.org/10.1080/13583883.2018.1439997 

Selected Background Materials

Beck, K. (2012). Globalization/s: Reproduction and resistance in the internationalization of higher education. Canadian Journal of Education, 35(3), 133–148.

Brewer, A., & Zhao, J. (2010). The impact of a pathway college on reputation and brand awareness for its affiliated university in Sydney. International Journal of Educational Management, 24(1), 34–47.

Guo, Y., & Guo, S. (2017). Internationalization of Canadian higher education: Discrepancies between policies and international student experiences. Studies in Higher Education, 42(5), 851–868.

Kim, T. (2017). Academic mobility, transnational identity capital, and stratification under conditions of academic capitalism. Higher Education, 73(6), 981–997. 

Levin, J. S. (2017). Community colleges and new universities under neoliberal pressures. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.

Maschmann, E. (2018). At What Cost? A Study of Canada’s First Public-Private Post-Secondary Matriculation Pathways Partnership MA Thesis, University of British Columbia.

Newspaper Articles & Commentaries

Goveas, Ashley (Jan 28, 2020) “Western looking at risky for-profit teaching program” The Gazette  

Larsen, Leif.  (Dec 10, 2012)  “Private Manitoba college misleading students, some say”  CBC

MacKinnon, Mark and Rod Mickleburgh (Oct 15, 2010) “Chinese students pay dearly for Canadian ‘education’” The Globe and Mail.

McClure, Matt (Nov 10, 2013) “UofC Considers hiring private firm to recruit foreign students” The Calgary Herald.

Miller, Erin. (Feb 19, 2020) “The sneaky way universities are privatizing teaching: UWindsor rejects deal with for-profit company to teach international students; UManitoba criticized for similar program” MacLeans.

PerthNow (Dec 4, 2011) “Carleton University ends talks with Navitas” PerthNow

Richert, Quinn. (Jan 7, 2013) “Private college on UofM campus criticised by former students, faculty” The Manitoban.

Rivers, Heather. (Jan 30, 2020) “Western University in talks with private company to educate some would-be students from abroad” The London Free Press.

Van Brenk, Debora (Feb 19, 2020) “Senate queries Navitas potential partnership” Western News.

Yogesh, B., & Neatby, S. (Oct 12, 2017) “B.C. students allege overcharging, fraud by international recruiters.” The Vancouver Sun

Faculty Association & University Documents

Carlton University’s Provost Rejects Navitas (2011; pdf of powerpoints)

University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association (2017) “International students and International College of Manitoba (Navitas): The University of Manitoba Experience (scroll to page 4)

University of Western Ontario Faculty Association Statement (2020) “Why we oppose a Partnership with Navitas” 

University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (2020) Research on Pathway Colleges focusing on Navitas.

National and Sector Organizations

Canadian Association of University Teachers. (2019)  President’s message / Internationalization and academic freedom.

Canadian Association of University Teachers. (2010). Outsourcing deals face stiff opposition at Windsor, Dalhousie

Canadian Association of University Teachers. (2010). Probe questions international recruitment

Canadian Federation of Students, (2010) Motion from 57th Semi-Annual General Meeting:

 

2010/05:084 MOTION

Local 68/Local 93

Whereas Navitas is a private, for-profit Australian company that recruits and teaches international students who have not passed TOEFL exams and who often need more assistance in meeting entrance requirements of universities and colleges in Canada; and
Whereas Navitas currently operates at the University of Manitoba, where there have been problems of facility usage and in some cases has actually bumped University of Manitoba classes so that Navitas classes can use the best facilities; and
Whereas the faculty association at Dalhousie University was highly critical of a proposed partnership with Navitas at their school; and
Whereas a partnership at the University of Windsor’s business school with another international recruitment agency, Study Group International, was rejected in February; and
Whereas international companies that offer education to international students at public Canadian post-secondary institutions often set their own admissions criteria and offer direct admittance into a college or university, raising concerning ethical questions about the privatisation of post-secondary education; therefore
Be it resolved that the practice of private, for-profit education companies offering instruction through public post-secondary education institutions be condemned; and
Be it further resolved that the Government of Canada and provincial governments be called upon to prohibit the operation of these private education companies within public post-secondary institutions; and
Be it further resolved that member locals be encouraged to oppose partnerships that are presented on campus with for-profit international education recruiting and training companies such as Navitas, Kaplan and Study Group International. 

CARRIED

 

ULFA to Support AUPE Healthcare Workers

Tuesday, October 27th, 12PM, Chinook Regional Hospital-10th Ave

ULFA’s virtual ‘Water Cooler’ event this Tuesday at Noon will broadcast from outside of Lethbridge Regional Hospital in support of healthcare workers who walked off the job yesterday. The wildcat action came in response to news that 11 000 housekeeping, food service, laboratory and laundry jobs will be laid-off, their positions privatized by Alberta Health Services. ULFA stands in solidarity with these workers who provide such critical services, and were called heroes in the early days of the pandemic.

While the AB Labour Board has ordered these workers back to the job, ULFA Members are encouraged to show support and attend an informal rally, masked and physically distanced, outside of their scheduled duties. ULFA will have our flags and toques available for 12 PM Noon (Tuesday) at Chinook Regional Hospital on 10th Ave S. For those unable to physically join the picket line we will live broadcast through the Zoom room of the ULFA ‘Water Cooler’ event previously scheduled. 

Pathways (Navitas) Joint Town Hall

 

October 28, 1 PM on Zoom. Registration information below.

The University of Lethbridge Students’ Union (ULSU), the University of Lethbridge Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) and the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) are inviting all members to attend virtually a Joint Town Hall about a proposed private-public partnership between the UofL and Navitas, an Australian educational services company.

Navitas is a for-profit, multinational corporation that recruits foreign students for universities around the world, focusing particularly on students who require remedial support before they would be eligible for admission to the client university. A plan circulated by Navitas on campus last week proposes building a two year remedial college on the Calgary campus. After two years, students would then transfer to second year in Lethbridge.

Representatives from the ULSU, GSA and ULFA have formed a working group to explore this partnership, its potential problems, opportunities, and alternatives, as the UofL seeks to increase their recruitment of international students. The intent of this town hall is to share our findings to date and hear from our respective memberships as to what this partnership means to you.

Oct 28, 2020 01:00 PM on Zoom. Registration required.

Register in advance for this webinar:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_7U1LeAWjQnS1Pwoc6mxf_Q

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Bargaining update October 12, 2020

Representatives of ULFA and the Board of Governors met on October 12, 2020. The purpose of the meeting was to allow the Board of Governors team to clarify their presentation of the Articles they intended to open.

Prior to the meeting, representatives of the Board contacted the ULFA chief spokesperson in order to express reservations about an ULFA proposal to invite Members to observe bargaining. This is a continuation of a practice that was begun during the last round of negotiations and is intended to develop interest and familiarity in the bargaining process as a way of ensuring succession and diversity on future negotiating teams. 

The issue came up again at the beginning of the October 12 negotiating session. After some discussion it was decided that we would move on and that the Board would proceed to discuss the articles they wished to present.

In their presentation, the Board indicated that they are interested in achieving gains in what they described as areas of “financial sustainability” and “flexibility.” In several cases, these appeared to be opposed to items in the ULFA mandate, suggesting that this may be a difficult round of negotiations involving significant give-and-take on both sides.

At the end of the Board’s presentation, discussion turned to next steps. In light of the certainty that tradeoffs will be required, ULFA’s team indicated a desire to discuss “money” (i.e. salary and benefits) and “language” (i.e. terms and conditions) in parallel. This ensures that negotiations are meaningful, because both sides are able to understand the tradeoffs required in reaching agreement.

The Board indicated that they were not authorised to discuss financial matters at this point and, as a matter of “tradition” and principle, preferred to reserve their positions on financial matters, once they were authorised to discuss them, until after negotiations on language were completed.

In ULFA’s view, the Board’s position is compatible with neither tradition nor the obligation to bargain in good faith as required by the Alberta Labour Relations Code. Prior to the last round, negotiations were carried out in parallel at two tables under a completely different legal framework involving different resolution mechanisms. During the last round, “money” items were opened soon after negotiations began, approximately a year before negotiations concluded and most language was negotiated after monetary items were opened.

Likewise, under the code, both sides are obliged to appoint representatives who are authorised to bargain, and to present the articles they wish to discuss within two weeks of the first meeting after a notice to bargain has been issued. While ULFA has been willing to waive the specific time requirements of this latter deadline in recognition of the multiple stresses facing both sides during these exceptional times, meaningful negotiations do require both that both teams are empowered to negotiate money and language and that negotiations take place with an understanding of the full context of both parties’ positions.

After consulting with counsel, ULFA reiterated these concerns to the Board and asked for a meeting to discuss establishing an environment in which meaningful negotiations can occur.

CAFA DISTINGUISHED ACADEMIC AWARDS

Retrieved from CAFA

The purpose of the CAFA Distinguished Academic Awards is to recognize members of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association [ULFA], the Athabasca University Faculty Association [AUFA], Grant MacEwan University Faculty Association [GMUFA], Mount Royal Faculty Association [MRFA] and the Association of Academic Staff of the University of Alberta [AASUA], who through their research and/or other scholarly, creative or professional activities have made outstanding contributions to the community beyond the university.

PROFESSIONAL OFFICER – ULFA Job Posting

The University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) is seeking to hire a full-time, continuing position for a Professional Officer. The successful applicant will have duties related to supporting the ULFA membership in all labour relations matters arising from grievance and collective bargaining.

ULFA is the exclusive bargaining agent for 600 academic staff members at the University of Lethbridge. More information about ULFA can be found on the website at www.ulfa.ca.

Position Title: Professional Officer
Employment Definition: Permanent, full-time position (following 12 month probation)
Compensation: $62, 000 to $82, 000 FTE, based on experience, plus comprehensive benefits
package.

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities
1. Demonstrates a working knowledge of labour laws, grievance and collective bargaining
processes;
2. Demonstrates a good understanding of post-secondary labour relations environment;
3. Demonstrates strength and insight in dealing with constitutions, bylaws, and policies;
4. Supports the direction and initiatives of the elected body of ULFA;
5. Possesses an ability to work effectively with elected ULFA officers;
6. Is politically sensitive in dealing with the diverse membership of the Association, the
University delegates, and external contacts;
7. Possesses strong communication skills;
8. Possesses business acumen and solid organizational skills.

Summary of Responsibilities:
1. Responsible to the governing body of ULFA through the Executive Officer;
2. Meet with Members regarding all aspects of the Collective Agreement and related legislation;
3. Identify, track and ensure deadlines are met with all grievance related matters;
4. Identify areas in need of Member education and engagement
5. Responsible for processing, filing, and maintaining confidential records;
6. Provide staff support on committees and act as Executive officer as required

Qualifications:
1. Experience preferred in labour relations, legal environments, collective bargaining and grievance
handling, or related fields;
2. Professional training or adequate relevant experience working within a constitution and bylaws
framework;
3. Strong interpersonal skills, excellent oral and written communication skills, the ability to
exercise tact, judgement and diplomacy, and a high regard for confidentiality;
4. Excellent organizational, analytical, and planning skills;
5. Work independently with minimal supervision;
6. Minimum undergraduate degree required.

Application Deadline: November 13th, 2020 or until position is filled.
Start Date: Flexible upon availability of the successful candidate
To Apply: Please submit your application with resume and names of three references to:
Dr. Claudia Steinke
ULFA President
president@ulfa.ca

ULFA acknowledges that the land on which we typically gather is the traditional territory of the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot).
ULFA is committed to the principle of employment equity, is an equal opportunity employer, and welcomes diversity in the workplace.

*Date Change* New Member Welcome and Orientation

Please note the date change on our upcoming New Member Orientation from Oct 22 to Oct 21*

Join ULFA in welcoming new academic staff at our New Members Orientation. This is a chance to orient new members to the Association and Collective Agreement, address common questions, and meet colleagues outside of your department. All members are welcome to attend, learn about the supports available through ULFA and welcome those who have been hired over the past year.

October 21 at 3 – 4pm. 

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYrf-yvpjoqHdAn5VEy2oGorxfkF-_zai0Y

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

We look forward to seeing you there!

ULFA Events 2020/2021

ULFA New Member Orientation – TBD

ULFA Virtual Water Cooler Talks – Every last Tuesday of the month at 12pm
We’ve created this as an opportunity for members to come forward with questions/concerns and create connections. Check your email for zoom information.

ULFA FGM – December 10, 2020 time to be determined.

 

Invitation to ULFA Members to sit in on Collective Agreement negotiations

The ULFA negotiating team invites members who are interested in the process or current status of collective bargaining to sit in on one or more of our negotiating sessions.

Participation is as an observer rather than as a participant. But we welcome your observations, questions and comments both before and after each session as well as during any caucus breaks.

No experience is necessary and the team will provide you with everything you need to know to take part. 

If you are interested, please contact Eva Cool at admin@ulfa.ca to be put on a list and contacted about available dates.

ULFA and Administration meet to discuss Internationalization and Pathways

Background

The University of Lethbridge Administration have recently indicated that they have discussed the possibility of a partnership with Navitas, an Australian educational services company, to improve the recruitment and retention of international students at the University of Lethbridge. 

The University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) has created a working group to

    • research the issues involved in working with companies such as Navitas and provide this information to its membership, 
    • ensure that Members’ voices are heard both as individuals and through collegial governance organs such as GFC, Faculty, and Advisory Councils,
    • protect Members’ academic freedom and other rights under the collective agreement, and
    • ensure that any agreement, should one be concluded, is compatible with the University’s core budgetary values:
        • Our people define our University and are our greatest strength
        • High quality is central to all that we do
        • Access to our University is a foundational value

The rest of this post describes the company Navitas, how “pathways” programmes work, how they are playing out on other Canadian campuses, and some things to pay attention to this year in the event discussion with Navitas or similar companies continue.

About Navitas

Navitas has contracted with a number of Universities in Canada to provide similar services in recent years, including Ryerson, Simon Fraser, and the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba. Other universities, including UBC, and the University of Calgary are known to have considered working with the company before deciding not to. Universities currently in discussions with Navitas appear to include the University of Lethbridge, Memorial University, and Western.

The form these services take vary from country to country and university to university. In broad terms, however, Navitas offers what they describe as “Pathway” programmes:

Many students who study internationally are faced with the challenges of English as a second language, of adapting to a new culture, and a different education system. The pathway program works by recruiting students to our own colleges on university campuses. We provide the unique services that international students particularly need to succeed – small class sizes, support with English language, extra tuition time, personalised learning, assistance in settling in to a new country and culture, extensive student welfare, and sophisticated processes to identify and support at-risk learners.

A Navitas pathway program is the equivalent to the first year of a bachelor degree at one of our partner universities. Having completed a program with us, students typically enter mainstream studies at our partner university in their second year and complete their undergraduate or graduate degrees. We are extremely proud of the outcomes we achieve for our learners – 90% of Navitas students who complete the pathway program transition to the respective partner university.

Pathway programs are located on the partner university’s campus. Students use libraries, computer laboratories, recreation facilities, common areas and other general student services as well as having access to student clubs and societies. This enhances the student experience and aids retention as students integrate into campus life in that first year, making the move to second year much easier.

Problems with the Pathways approach

As the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) has pointed out, this approach can raises a number of concerns:

Pathway colleges like Navitas undermine [Western’s] core values because they

    • Privatize functions of the university
    • Rely on outsourced labour – precariously employed non-unionized instructors without academic freedom
    • Treat students as profit-generating commodities
    • Compromise admission requirements and academic standards

Discussing the specific details of the plan proposed at Western, they added

Such a partnership would constitute an outsourcing of Western’s obligations to support its international students. By so doing, it would privatize Public Sector Education. Furthermore, by hiring non-unionized instructors to teach first-year credit courses to Navitas students, it would breach UWOFA’s certificate to represent Western faculty.

    • Navitas makes money from the difference between the tuition paid by the students they recruit and the wages they pay to the instructors who teach those students
    • Navitas outsources the work of faculty. They employ contract, non-unionized staff with heavy workloads teaching on a course-by-course basis
    • Navitas instructors are not protected by faculty collective agreements; they can be paid less, have fewer or no benefits, and do not enjoy the rights of academic freedom (e.g. to teach their classes the way other academics with such collective rights do)
    • Jobs are also taken away from instructors teaching in ‘in-house’ English for Academic Purposes programs (e.g. Western English Language Centre)
    • The lack of rights and academic freedom of Navitas instructors undermines the integrity of academic work in higher education which affects us all.

And finally, on the basis of their research on Navitas, UWOFA mention three main international concerns about for-profit pathway programmes:

    • There are ongoing concerns about the quality of outsourced programs in the UK and elsewhere. Companies like Navitas rely on student fees for their profits and this creates an incentive to recruit as aggressively as possible. Staff working in private pathway colleges in the UK have reported being pressured to ensure that students pass their programs even if they have not fulfilled the program requirements.
    • Mary Anne Ansell, chair of the accreditation committee of the British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes underlined the concerns about private providers, concluding that “admissions criteria and the quality of courses being offered are severely compromised.”
    • The programs allow wealthy international students who normally would not be eligible for admission into an undergraduate program to “jump the queue” by entering the university or college through the private pathway program.

Implications for the U of L

These international issues are particularly concerning for the University of Lethbridge given that they would seem to contradict directly all three of the main budgetary values established by the U of L’s Board of Governors:

    • Our people define our University and are our greatest strength
    • High quality is central to all that we do
    • Access to our University is a foundational value

Having said this, however, it is important to note that ULFA’s ongoing research suggests that the pathways programme can take different forms at different universities. At Ryerson, for example, instructors in the recently established pathways programme appear to be unionised faculty members who are protected by the Ryerson collective agreement. At the U of L, we are told, no specific partnership proposal is on the table and no decisions have been made about the form such a partnership would take, so it is possible that a programme congruent with our values could be designed.

ULFA’s meetings with the Provost’s Office

As part of our work on this file, ULFA met with the Provost’s office twice in September on September 3rd and September 28th. 

At the first meeting, initiated by the Provost’s office, ULFA was told of the discussions, their purpose, and (very preliminary) status. After this meeting ULFA assembled a working group to collect information and research on Navitas, the experience of faculty at other Canadian and International universities with their programmes, and the advice of organisations such as CAUT and CAFA. 

The second meeting, held at the request of ULFA’s Working Group, confirmed that discussions remain in a very early stage with no decisions having been taken on the form of the proposed partnership, should it go ahead. At this meeting the Provost and Vice Provost also confirmed both that they intend to consult widely on campus as part of a transparent and comprehensive process and that individual Faculty Members, ULFA, and collegial governance organisations such as GFC, Faculty Councils and Departments will have a meaningful role to play in the development of any proposal. As a result of this second meeting, ULFA and the Provosts’ office have agreed to establish regular meetings — initially on a monthly basis, but with an option to meet more frequently if required — to discuss the status and development of any Pathway programme at the U of L.

Next steps

Foreign students are an important source of revenue for Universities in Canada and Canadian Universities appear to be attractive to foreign students. As Alex Usher has suggested, however, the attraction may reside primarily in the quality of instruction by our faculty, perhaps particularly in comparison to countries with poorer records such as Australia, the US, and the UK — places where Pathways programmes are better established. The experiences of other faculty associations across the country suggest that it is important that all ULFA Members at the U of L pay close attention to the development of any Pathways programme at the U of L and work to ensure that any such programme, should one be implemented at this university, fits our core values.

Interested?

If you are interested in this issue, please contact ULFA’s administrative officer, Eva Cool (admin@ulfa.ca). Potential avenues for working on the issue include

    • Joining our working group (research, communications, leadership on the issue)
    • Organising members and leading discussion within governance organisations (GFC, Faculty Councils, Departments, Chairs and Coordinators committees)
    • Participating in town halls, mailing lists, and other internal activities
    • Writing about issues involved in international education for the broader public.

 

Fall 2020 ULFA Newsletter

Message from the ULFA President

The ULFA Executive spent time this summer assessing the organizational structure of ULFA along with operational processes, and membership engagement. We’ve identified a number of areas where we need to make improvements (i.e. communication with the membership and local community, adding a third staff member to assist with grievances, etc.). We’ve met with three public relation (PR) firms to explore possibilities for developing a formal communications strategy. In addition, we are undertaking some longer-term strategic planning and working to solidify foundational elements that will help to guide the Association going forward. Some of the committees continued their work over the summer (e.g. Grievance Committee, Bargaining Resource Committee, etc.). Please refer to the specific Committee Reports provided in this newsletter. 

ULFA Fall 2020 Newsletter

Signed MOU in Response to COVID-19 – Updated

Signed MOU in Response to COVID – 19 initial notice

The Faculty Association has signed an MOU with the employer in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This MOU is particularly relevant to members who are currently on a probationary appointment, were awarded study leave commencing in the 2020-2021 Academic Year, or had travel funds allocated to them for the period of April 1st through August 31, 2020.

Update: 

The Parties hereby rescind Clause 6, Probationary Appointments, in the MOU between the Parties dated April 29, 2020. All other terms and clauses in that MOU remain in full effect.

Clause 6, Probationary Appointments, of the April 29, 2020 MOU between the Parties is replaced with the following terms and conditions pertaining to probationary appointments, owing to the significant impacts as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic (the “Pandemic”).

(1) A Member currently holding a probationary appointment, or accepting a probationary appointment at the University during the Pandemic, may request an extension of their maximum probationary period by one year.
(2) Extensions under Clause (1) above may be made to Members whose ability to execute their duties has been compromised by virtue of the Pandemic.
(3) A Member requesting an extension of their maximum probationary period must submit their request for such an extension, with a rationale, to the Provost and Vice-President (Academic):

(a) by October 15, 2020 in the case of Members subject to review by an STP Committee in
Spring, 2021 review cycle; and
(b) by September 15 in the year prior to the following Spring, in which their review by an
STP Committee is to be held, up to September 15, 2026 after which date this MOU
expires and is of no further effect.

(4) A request made by a Member under Clause (1) above shall not be unreasonably denied.

View updated, signed MOU here.

The MOU in its entirety is available here MOU COVID-19.

If you have any questions, please contact Aaron Chubb, officer@ulfa.ca

Collective Bargaining Update

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.  

ULFA Bargaining Town Halls- Recap

The recently completed round of ULFA bargaining town halls was well-attended, despite many competing demands as we begin a new school year in exceptional times. There was good attendance from all units and segments of the Bargaining Unit at  each of the three meetings, during which Members received an update on our bargaining environment and the current round of Collective Agreement negotiations.

ULFA Chief Bargaining Spokesperson Dan O’Donnell summarized key factors influencing collective bargaining in the province and reviewed the ULFA bargaining mandate. Job Action Committee Chair Ran Barley, spoke briefly about the importance of job action preparedness and encouraged members interested in learning more or participating in preparations for job action to join the Committee. The latter half of each town hall unfolded as an open Q & A session. Some members of the 2020 Negotiating Team and ULFA Executive, along with the Chief Bargaining Spokesperson, participated in the discussions. 

Examples of the wide range of Q & A topics that arose were the distinction between providing informed peer review assessments of academic work, and making managerial decisions about the outcomes of such assessments; workload issues; COVID’s inequitable impacts on academic women and gender-based analyses to help correct such imbalances; different ways of undertaking meaningful job action during a pandemic; and broad and deep concern about achieving equity on many fronts, many of which existed pre-COVID.

There was also a review of the 2019-2020 mandate as passed by members in the early spring, with a discussion of its continuing — and indeed increased — relevance as we begin the 2020-2021 academic year.

Many thanks to all who participated in these town halls. For members who were unable to attend, as always, feel free to reach out to any member of the Bargaining Resource Team or Negotiation Team if you have questions or suggestions. Your interest, concerns raised, and support continue to sustain ULFA as a strong bargaining unit.

The ULFA Negotiating team has had two meetings with the Board team in the current round of bargaining (June 8, 2020 and July 24, 2020). The Negotiating team met on September 17 to discuss issues coming out of the Town Halls and prepare for the September 22 collective bargaining meeting with the employer.

STP Chairs and Committee Members

Upcoming workshop for STP Chairs and Committee Members.

Two online offerings, choose the date that works for you:

September 23rd 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Join Zoom Meeting
See your email for zoom information

October 1st 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
See your email for zoom information

Workshop Overview:

Part I: General Principles Governing Personnel Decisions

Part II: STP Procedures under our Collective Agreement

Part III: Chairing STP Committee under our Collective Agreement

Part IV: Criteria for STP Decisions

Part V: Appeals

Questions & Answers

Facilitators include:
Claudia Steinke, ULFA Presiden
Dan O’Donnell, ULFA Vice-President
Aaron Chubb, ULFA Executive Officer

We hope to see you there! 

ULFA Scholar Strike Statement

ULFA recently issued an anti-racism statement that expresses our support of our Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) and racialized faculty members, administrators, students, and staff, in response to a growing global awareness of the long road that remains towards justice. On September 9–10, academic staff across Canada are supporting the Scholar Strike (https://scholarstrikecanada.ca).

Many Canadian Faculty Associations, including CAUT (https://scholarstrikecanada34826019.files.wordpress.com/2020/09/caut-letter-of-support.pdf), are disseminating information about ways in which academic staff can participate in addressing social justice as classes get underway: for example, by participating in digital teach-ins (https://scholarstrikecanada.ca/schedule/) and by raising awareness through territorial acknowledgements.

While ULFA is not encouraging staff to engage in work stoppages or neglect the job responsibilities as covered by the Collective Agreement, we are supportive of engagement in larger social issues, and invite your awareness of these events, and your accommodation of students who intend to participate in them actively. 

In solidarity with the action on September 9th and 10th, ULFA would like to highlight ways that members can show solidarity with the #ScholarStrike under our Collective Agreement:

  • Limit teaching activities to the official calendar times (e.g. 9:00-9:50 a.m.), explaining to students why you have no additional availability during September 9th and 10th;
  • Share teach-in resources and the program schedule with students;
  • Volunteer and become politically/socially active;
  • Give personal capital (time, money, etc.) to worthwhile causes;
  • Yield the floor and use your platform to echo and centre essential voices (in this case the voices of BIPOC scholars);
  • Write to elected officials, expressing your opinion. Also, consider employment-related officials such as University Presidents, Union Presidents, and Student Union Presidents.

Bargaining Resource Committee Town Halls

ULFA’s Bargaining Resource Committee is organizing three town halls this September. These town halls are a chance to hear an update on the current round of collective bargaining, and will provide space to ask questions and provide feedback on the process thus far. All ULFA Members are welcome to attend one or all three of the scheduled town halls. The update for each town hall will be the same, but the conversation may differ.

Town Hall Dates:
Thursday September 3, 10 – 12
Friday September 11, 2 – 4
Tuesday September 15, 12 – 2

Please check your email for zoom details.

ULFA is back to the negotiating table September 22, 2020.

The Job Action Committee is Back at Work

The Job Action Committee (JAC) is back at work! As outlined in the ULFA Job Action Policy and Bylaws, we work during bargaining years to ensure ULFA members are prepared and organized should Job Action be required to ensure an equitable settlement.

We are committed to sharing information and building solidarity among ULFA members, and are excited to announce our 2020-2021 line-up: Chair Ran Barley (Chair, Biological Sciences), Kristine Alexander (History), Chad Povey (Physics), Aaron Taylor (Theatre & Drama), Sonya Von Heyking (Accounting), Mary Greenshields (Library), and Abigail McMeekin (Modern Languages & Linguistics). 

We are still looking for 3 additional committee members — from Education and the Calgary Campus — please get in touch if you want to join us! 

Over the coming months, our sub-committees – Communications, Finance, Materials & Supplies, and Picket Coordination – will be working together and with the Bargaining Resource Committee to ensure that we are fully prepared in case bargaining leads to a strike or lockout. 

It is difficult to think about these possibilities during the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are hopeful that the University of Lethbridge and ULFA will be able to negotiate a mutually acceptable collective agreement. At the same time, however, it is critically important that we be prepared in case a work stoppage is required.

For more information about job action and the work of the JAC, check out these Frequently Asked Questions about Job Action.

The University of Calgary Faculty Association Wins 1.7% Retroactive Wage Increase in Important Arbitration Decision

The University of Calgary Faculty Association (TUCFA) has just been awarded a 1.7% Across The Board (ATB) wage increase in an arbitration decision, retroactive to July 1, 2019. The decision contained a number of observations and conclusions that are relevant to the situation of the University of Lethbridge and its faculty as we enter negotiations under the current provincial government.

The first point had to do with the “provincial mandate.” In making the award, Arbitrator Andy Simms explicitly rejected the University of Calgary Administration’s position that a “provincial mandate” can be used to override the provisions of a collective agreement or that it should play any role in arbitration decisions. In his analysis of the administration’s argument, he writes: 

In seeking to justify its proposal’s departure from the range contracted for in the agreement to arbitrate, it [The University of Calgary Administration] argues:

The University recognizes that the Wage Re-Opener explicitly states that the outcome of the present interest arbitration shall be no less than a 0% ATB salary adjustment. However, the University did not contemplate the actions of the new Government of Alberta which tabled Bill 21: Ensuring Fiscal Sustainability Act, 2019 which introduced the Public Sector Employers Act. The University also did not anticipate the new mandate of -2% from the PBCO [Provincial Bargaining Coordination Office]. Given that the University is a publicly funded institution in Alberta, the University ignores the government’s direction on this issue at its peril.

The University was asked whether the legislation, which delayed arbitration and brought the PBCO and Ministerial directives into play in public sector bargaining, provided any authority to allow an arbitrator, under this wage reopener, to ignore the parameters set by the parties. It was unable to point to any such authority. I have examined that legislation and similarly can find no legal basis upon which I can alter the contractual mandate given me by the parties in their agreement….  

Having found nothing and been referred to nothing that changes my contractual mandate, I find I cannot lawfully entertain a proposal for a 2% roll-back. In any event, I would not be persuaded, on the evidence before me, that such a roll-back would be appropriate for this bargaining unit. I refer below to three subsequent arbitration awards, as well as the Saskatchewan teachers award, that came to a similar conclusion (6, 8).

As Simms went on to show, moreover, a “government mandate” that focussed on ATB wage cuts for teaching and research faculty in the post-secondary sector was out-of-keeping with the recommendations of the MacKinnon report — which the government is using to justify cuts to university funding in the first place:

The “Blue Ribbon panel” produced an influential report on Alberta’s spending position. It was left to others to evaluate and decide upon provincial taxation policy and other aspects of direct provincial revenue. It [sic] comments on Alberta’s spending on post-secondary education include the following at p. 41:

Alberta spends significantly more per student full-time equivalent (FTE) than the three comparator provinces. Alberta spends $36,500 per FTE while British Columbia spends $31,300 ($5,200 less), Ontario spends $21,500 ($15,000 less), and Quebec spends $25,800 ($10,700 less).

For Alberta, 77 cents of each dollar is used to deliver post-secondary programming. By comparison, British Columbia spends 87 cents, Ontario spends 77 cents and Quebec spends 67 cents on post-secondary programming. However, the big difference [sic] are in the amounts spent on administration. Alberta’s spending on administration at $8,372 per FTE is slightly lower than Quebec but significantly higher than British Columbia at $4,233 and Ontario at $4,910. (emphasis added [- Simms])

The MacKinnon Report, in several areas – particularly K-12 education and health care spending – found Alberta’s wage rates to be higher than elsewhere. No similar observations were made specifically with respect to post-secondary academic salaries [emphasis added – ULFA]….

I find this helpful because, if post-secondary institutions are to diversify their revenue sources they cannot simply do so through austerity and efficiencies. Much of the ability to attract research, government, and philanthropic grants depends directly on the quality of the faculty and the work they do. Much the same is true in attracting foreign students. The same is true of the University’s ability to capitalize on contributions and incentives that depend directly on the reputation (often the international reputation) of its faculty, individually or in teams (p. 9).

Indeed, Simms pointed out, an emphasis on performance-based funding, of necessity, results in a greater rather than a lesser emphasis on inter-institutional comparisons, including salaries. Since the institutions are being compared — meaning that they are believed to be comparable — in terms of their performance, Simms argued, the desirability of eliminating pay differentials through a comparison of wages also should be considered in arbitration awards:

The move to performance-based budgeting of necessity involves measurement and comparison. For the University of Calgary, the most direct comparisons will be to the University of Alberta. This makes it harder to justify an 8.8% or similar differential between the two institutions (pp. 21 and 31).

Finally, Simms also discussed the degree to which government expectations interact with market expectations in reaching wage settlements. Noting that government pressure undoubtedly affects the way a University responds to financial challenges, Simms nevertheless argues that  

[i]t is by no means obvious that salary reductions will be the option favoured by either side. This is particularly so if the result is salary levels that reduce Calgary below those institutions to which they have customarily compared themselves. There are other approaches, perhaps involving a reduction in staffing levels, or the elimination of programs, that will find more favour than salary reductions or restraint to the point where the academic staff member’s buying power is eaten up by ongoing inflation. Another approach, suggested by the MacKinnon panel, is a readjustment in the amount spent on administrative costs. I only note this, but I have no independent basis on which to suggest this should be a favoured option.

The academic salary component of the University’s budget is sufficiently large that it is easily seen as a target for reductions. However, academic salaries, whether under an arbitration regime or a free collective bargaining regime, still involve market factors and the comparisons that at least partially drive expectations.

Indeed, as Simms points out, despite similar “provincial mandates” calling for ATB wage rollbacks of -2% or -3% across the public sector, all arbitration decisions in the province since the election of the new government have resulted in either a wage increase (AUPE 1%, TUCFA 1.7%) or wages staying the same (UNA, ATA). There have been no examples of voluntary wage rollbacks — a fact pointed to, as Simms notes, in the UNA ruling, where the Arbitration Board explicitly 

rejected the Employer’s request for a roll-back and referred to the lack of any examples of such a result in free collective bargaining. It adopted the words of Arbitrator Peltz:

On this approach to replication, we observe that the government acting reasonably would accept the reality that it cannot, without unacceptable consequences, force public sector units to roll back wages at this time. Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation v. Saskatchewan School Boards Assn. (Renewal Collective Agreement Grievance) [2018] SLAA 9 at para. 73

In his conclusion, Simms returned to emphasise a number of points that are particularly relevant for the situation at the University of Lethbridge:

I find this increase is justified by a comparison to the salaries in place for similarly placed academic staff…. The justification of this comparison is increasing as the Province establishes a funding structure that will inevitably compare the institutions’ performance, the one to the other….

One of the unfortunate by-products of policy or pattern bargaining across public sector workforces, and across the Province, is that it tends to put at a relative disadvantage institutions and employees that have already worked to constrain expenditures…. It precludes consideration of the type of market forces that produce an equilibrium between institutions and allows little or no recognition of each institution’s history or current needs.

The U-15 survey comparisons are also supportive of this increase. The data establishes that the University of Calgary’s ranking in comparison to that group has declined. These comparisons represent the dominant market for academics in Canada. I agree… that this data shows a significant downward trajectory in comparison to similar institutions.

An increase is also supported on the basis of the projected cost-of-living changes…. Academic staff perform a whole range of important teaching and research functions. Academics gain little when the economy is booming in comparison to employees in other industries. It is not inappropriate for that reason that their salaries increase, for this year, to at least compensate them for their decreasing purchasing power.

This process (and others) was delayed to allow consideration of the MacKinnon Report. Its conclusions about public sector employment generally are not specifically directed at academic staff. Indeed it suggests the cause of higher per student costs primarily lies elsewhere. (34-35, emphasis added – ULFA).

ULFA Committee Member Vacancies

ULFA has several vacancies on the Job Action Committee and Bargaining Resource Committee. These roles involve bi-weekly meetings and other duties, as you are able.

Two vacancies for Bargaining Resource Committee
1) A representative from a professional faculty (Ed, DSB, HS) for a term ending June 30, 2021.
2) An instructor/academic assistant representative for a term ending June 30, 2022.

Three vacancies for the Job Action Committee
1) A representative for Humanities and Social Sciences (term ends June 30, 2022)
2) A representative for Health Sciences (term ends June 30, 2022)
3) A representative for the Calgary Campus (term ends June 30, 2022)

Terms of reference for these committees can be found in Appendix A of the ULFA Bylaws
https://www.ulfa.ca/bylaws/

Note that as per the Collective Agreement, in Article 5.03.1:

A Member’s service to the Association shall be deemed Service to the University and Society in evaluation of performance.

If you are interested in one of these positions, or have questions, please contact ULFA Executive Officer, Aaron Chubb, officer@ulfa.ca; and cc the appropriate committee chair.
Job Action Committee Chair: Ran Barley JACchair@ulfa.ca
Bargaining Resource Committee Chair: Rob Sutherland BRCchair@ulfa.ca

Best,

Aaron Chubb
ULFA Executive Officer

MUNFA Statement of Solidarity with Alberta Faculty Associations

This week, ULFA received a statement of solidarity from Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association. We are posting this to show we are not alone in the challenges facing academic workers and post-secondary education in this province.

“MUNFA extends our political support to Alberta’s academic staff associations and its wider union
movement. The harms you face are threats to us all.” 

Read the entire MUNFA letter to ULFA.

ULFA and Board Meet to Discuss Collective Agreement Extension; Revised Board Team

Negotiating teams representing ULFA and the Board met on Monday to discuss extending the 2018-2020 Collective Agreement for a period of between one and three years. The result of this meeting was an agreement to meet again in mid-September, at which point the teams will either attempt to finalise a contract extension or begin exchanging language as part of negotiations for a new collective agreement.

The prompt for the discussion was a draft Memorandum of Settlement prepared by ULFA. This was a proposal to extend all terms and conditions in the current Collective Agreement for an additional year. Under this proposal the new end date of the Collective Agreement would be June 30th, 2021 (instead of the current June 30th, 2020) and all other dates would be adjusted accordingly. All other terms and conditions would stay in effect without modification. The purpose of the proposed extension was to provide certainty to both management and the union during the unprecedented COVID crisis.

During their two hour videoconference, the two sides compared notes on the current national, provincial, and institutional situation, discussed various approaches to continuing bargaining, and explored different options for extending the current agreement for periods ranging from one to three or more years. 

The Board team indicated that it would bring the key points of Monday’s discussion to its larger team and, potentially, the Board of Governors, before getting back to the ULFA team.

Prior to this meeting, the Board had advised ULFA of revisions to its negotiating team due to changing positions in the university administration. The new Board negotiating team still includes Dr. Chris Nicol as Chief Negotiator and Ms. Linda Van der Velde from Human Resources. They are joined by new members Dr. Mary Ingraham and Dr. Kelly Williams-Whitt.

Alberta 2030 Review’s Excessive Cost and Lack of Consultation

“Recent budget cuts have started a series of internal reviews and restructurings at Alberta
universities,” said Dr. Kevin Kane, president of CAFA and Professor of Medical Microbiology &
Immunology at the University of Alberta. “By proposing an external review, the UCP is setting up
our institutions to go through two rounds of restructuring within a single calendar year.”

Read the full CAFA news release here.

ULFA STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY WITH ANTI-RACISM MOVEMENTS

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, and related anti-racism protests, remind us of the long path still ahead towards the achievement of equity and dignity for all. ULFA stands in solidarity with this cause and affirms its continued commitment to contribute to a fairer institution and society. Racist and intersectional discriminatory practices are experienced by our Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) members, often recurrently, including on campus. In the face of the recent events and their aftermath, ULFA reiterates its commitment to support the right of every member to “a safe workplace free from unfair discrimination, harassment, or abuse of authority” (U of L Academic Staff Collective Agreement, Article 11.02.2) and to the realization of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action. It is time that we all learn from the experiences of those around us and give our time and energy to the fulfillment of changes, big and small, to create an institution and society free from racism and colonialism.

ULFA Award Application

This award is for students who are the spouse, common-law partner, child or step-child of ULFA members and
are enrolled full-time at a post-secondary institution.

INCOMPLETE APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED. Applicants are responsible to ensure all
requirements are met as Scholarships and Student Finance will not verify if submitted applications meet all
requirements prior to the deadline.

Value:
• Variable, minimum equivalent to tuition for one 3.0-credit University of Lethbridge course
• Available funds will be divided equally among qualifying students
• Children whose parents are both ULFA members can receive this award twice (via one application)

Eligibility:
• Students who are the spouse, common-law partner, child, or step-child of dues-paying statutory
member(s) of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA)
• Students must be enrolled full-time at a post-secondary institution (university, college or technical
institution)

Criteria:
Applicants must have completed ONE of the following:
• 10 semester courses (or equivalent) of baccalaureate program with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.70
(or equivalent)
• 20 semester courses in a program that began at a college and transferred to a baccalaureate program
with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.70 (or equivalent)
• First year of any trade apprenticeship. Must provide proof of final exam grade from Alberta and Industry
Training, which must be no less than 83%
• No student may receive this award more than twice

Application Requirements:
□ Signed and dated application form (by applicant only)
□ Official Transcripts. Students studying outside the University of Lethbridge must supply Official
Transcripts in order for their application to be considered complete. Transcripts are considered official
when they bear the seal of the issuing institution’s Registrar and are issued directly from the Registrar
in a sealed envelope. Official transcripts may be appended to an application or sent directly from the
issuing institution’s Registrar to:Attn: Scholarships and Student Finance
4401 University Drive
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
T1K 3M4
□ Current enrolment confirmation. Students studying outside the University of Lethbridge must also
supply confirmation of current enrolment. If not indicated on Official Transcripts, a copy of current
course registration/schedule is acceptable.

Click here for full details and Application – ULFA Award Application 2020

COVID-19 and Equity

There has been one underlying and recurrent theme to the coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic: it is ultimately all about equity. Everything—from the demographics associated with rates of infection, treatment outcomes, occupational setting and outbreaks, front lines, job losses, domestic violence, power grabs, the profits of crisis capitalism—is a massive resurfacing of the inadequacy of social structures to absorb, or fairly distribute, the direct and indirect damage caused by a virus that is far from acting as the ‘great equalizer’ that some hypothesized at first. Where the effects have been devastating, the greatest damage has, in fact, been inflicted by the social structures themselves, which have enabled rather than mitigated a biological ‘agent’ that should have been more vulnerable than it has been to the might of fully informed and politically willed humans. The pandemic, instead, moves around the world as if it were an X-ray machine, scanning and exposing the inner fragility of social structures and political commitment. Progress on many equity issues is set to be reversed (appalling evidence around us is the disparity in child well-being and schooling during the lockdown, to name just one instance). Clearly, even in places relatively spared the ravages of political neglect, the fabric of equity is not yet solid enough.

Equity work has never been more relevant. If there used to be times when some thought that on the one hand you had ‘central’ issues and on the other hand you had equity, this crisis should make it clear and transparent that there are no such things as ‘central’ issues that are not ultimately, and in more than one way, about equity. In university contexts, most adjustments to the pandemic and its economic consequences (in addition to the budgetary crisis) are about equity, because there cannot be a fair conversation about jobs, salaries, workload, etc. without an equity perspective in mind. To the extent that we are not all on equal ground (and we currently are not) equity considerations must be integral to all and any responses to the COVID-19 and budgetary crises as an institution.

Thanks to all of you that support and help inform the work of the GEDC. Currently we are busy (during a time of the year that the committee usually slows down) doing work towards the formulation of equity-related bargaining items that members overwhelmingly voted to include in ULFA’s bargaining mandate.  These include salary equity, bias training, appropriate parameters for the evaluation of the work of Indigenous faculty, and a place for student evaluations of teaching that concurs with best practice at Canadian institutions today. Work was completed earlier in the year towards formulating a proposal for having service recognized in the STP process. The list of work needed is much longer, but these are meaningful steps. Of note, we are formulating this as a package; because inequities are systemic, the solution ought to be approached systemically as well. No isolated equity measure can be expected to stand by itself successfully.

Here we include a few selected, equity-related resources that may serve members to think about issues emerging from the current circumstances, which are particularly relevant to faculty members:

Airtime and equity in zoom meetings:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/us/zoom-meetings-gender.html

Gender and research during the pandemic:
https://theconversation.com/women-are-getting-less-research-done-than-men-during-this-coronavirus-pandemic-138073

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/04/21/early-journal-submission-data-suggest-covid-19-tanking-womens-research-productivity

The widening gap between tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty:
https://www.chronicle.com/article/Covid-19-Crisis-Widens-Divide/248276

https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2020/04/30/covid-19-shows-how-precarious-positions-contingent-faculty-actually-are-opinion

Teaching evaluations during the pandemic:
https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2020/04/08/many-colleges-are-abandoning-or-downgrading-student-evaluations

https://academeblog.org/2020/04/17/suspend-student-evaluations-during-pandemic/

Women suffer greater job losses and at risk of becoming invisible in the workplace:
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-women-out-of-the-work-place-cant-become-the-new-normal/

On the need of government responses that are informed by equity:
https://canadianwomen.org/blog/gender-lens-on-covid-19/

These and other issues of immediate consequence for members, such as consideration given to caregivers in PAR evaluations for the upcoming cycle(s), are on ULFA’s radar and have been raised in various contexts already. Please bring to us any other concerns, questions, and suggestions for future work. Thanks again!

ULFA’s Gender, Equity and Diversity Committee

Andrea Cuéllar, Beth Gerwin, Michelle Hogue, Jeffrey MacCormick, Jennifer Mather, Gülden Özcan, Conor Snoek and Michael Stingl.

ULFA and Board hold first Negotiating Meeting

Background

On June 4, ULFA’s Negotiating Team met with the University of Lethbridge Board of Governors’ Negotiating Team. The meeting was conducted virtually using the Zoom platform. With our Collective Agreement set to expire on June 30, 2020, ULFA had issued a Notice to Bargain on April 16. The Alberta Labour Relations Code calls for an initial meeting to be held within 30 days, but the difficulty of coordinating schedules under the COVID crisis resulted in delays to the timing of this meeting.

ULFA’s Negotiating Team consists of Dan O’Donnell (Chief Spokesperson), Olu Awosoga, Rumi Graham, Adam Letourneau, Joy Morris, and Rob Sutherland, with Aaron Chubb as a resource person. Mary Kavanagh and Claudia Steinke also joined this meeting as observers, and Eva Cool joined as an additional resource person to help with technological issues.

The Board’s Negotiating Team consists of Chris Nicol (Chair), Robert Wood (Vice-chair), Michelle Helstein and Linda van der Velde. Dr. Wood and Dr. Helstein were unable to attend this meeting.

The intent of this first meeting is to establish protocols and introduce negotiations. According to the Labour Code, the parties must exchange their first proposals at a subsequent meeting, to be held within 15 days, unless they mutually agree otherwise.

What Happened

The meeting was very cordial in tone. Both sides acknowledged the challenges and uncertainties we are currently facing on many fronts.

The Board advised ULFA that due to a series of new appointments recently announced in senior administration (in particular the appointment of Dr. Wood as Acting VP Research and the appointment of Dr. Helstein as Acting Vice-Provost), there may be changes forthcoming to the composition of their Negotiating Team. They will advise us when any decisions are made.

In response to a request by the Board, ULFA clarified that in its proposal (from the Notice to Bargain) to extend the end date of our Collective Agreement, we had a one-year formal extension of the Collective Agreement in mind. While we are prepared to begin negotiations otherwise, as required by the Code, a formal extension would recognise and accommodate the unique situation we are in.

The sides mutually agreed to extend the 15-day deadline for the next meeting, with a goal of meeting again in three to four weeks. In the meantime, ULFA will prepare a draft Memorandum of Understanding formally extending the end date of our Collective Agreement for consideration.

CAFA: PIA Letter

Dear Minister Nicolaides:

We, the undersigned, are writing to you to emphasize the critical contributions being made by Alberta post-secondary institutions in this time of crisis. While our schools have suffered under these extraordinary circumstances, our faculty, staff, and students have come together to give back to the community in managing the pandemic. There is no doubt to the crucial contributions post-secondary institutions are making for Albertans today.

Read Letter Here

Signed MOU in Response to COVID-19

The Faculty Association has signed an MOU with the employer in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This MOU is particularly relevant to members who are currently on a probationary appointment, were awarded study leave commencing in the 2020-2021 Academic Year, or had travel funds allocated to them for the period of April 1st through August 31, 2020.

The MOU remains in place up to October 31st, 2020 with an option for a six month extension.

Study Leave
Any Member who was awarded study leave commencing in 2020-2021 can make a request to the Dean for a postponement or modification of that study leave. This request must be made on or before May 11th, 2020. Your request to the Dean will outline parts of your study leave plan that are no longer safe or possible as a result of the Pandemic. And propose a new timeframe for when the study leave would commence and end.
ULFA has explicitly discussed with the Administration the degree to which it may prove difficult for Members to predict accurately the time frame for their delayed study-leave, due to issues such as uncertainty around travel restrictions, immigration rules and requirements, or requirements for visiting researchers at the proposed host institution, etc. In such cases, faculty are to give their best estimate at this time. Deans have been instructed to be flexible in dealing with such uncertainty and ULFA can assist should problems arise.

Probationary Appointments
Members who are currently on a probationary appointment (i.e. pre-tenure) may extend their probationary period by one year if they believe that the Pandemic has compromised their performance. You must notify the interim Provost and Vice President (Academic), Erasmus Okine, on or before June 30, 2020 in order to exercise this right.

Travel Fund
Monies that were allocated from April 1 2020 to August 31, 2020 for the Travel Fund in Article 29.01 of the Collective Agreement will be returned to the Board, since no travel should have been incurred or anticipated in this time. Expenses incurred for travel booked prior to the March 14th, 2020 Travel Advisory can still be reimbursed. ULFA and the Board believe that no Members will be out of pocket as a result of this agreement. Please let us know if you are adversely affected.

Summary
The following table summarises the changes and deadlines introduced as a result of this MoU. Please see the relevant sections above for important details and requirements in each case.

Member affected Change implemented in MoU Relevant dates/deadlines
Members awarded study leave commencing in the 2020-2021 academic year Members may request a postponement of that study leave. Request must be made before May 11, 2020
Members on a probationary appointment Members may request a one-year extension. Request must be made on or before June 30, 2020
Members allocated funds from the University of Lethbridge Travel Fund for Spring and Summer 2020 Only travel booked prior to the March 14th Government Travel Advisory is eligible for reimbursement. Travel must have been booked before March 14, 2020.

 

The MOU in its entirety is available here MOU COVID-19

If you have any questions, please contact Aaron Chubb, officer@ulfa.ca

Sincerely,
David Kaminski
ULFA President

ULFA serves notice to commence bargaining on Board of Governors

On April 16, the ULFA Negotiating Team and Executive served its notice to commence bargaining on the University of Lethbridge Board of Governors.

Important rules governing the serving of such notices and their impact on negotiations and the effect of the Collective Agreement are found in Division 10 and section 130(1) of the Alberta Labour Relations Code.

In light of the COVID-19 emergency, ULFA proposed extending the end date of the Collective Agreement as part of its Notice. Such pauses in negotiations during these uncertain times are quite common in the University and other sectors across Canada, and are recommended by various trade and labour associations. It is ULFA’s belief that delaying the start of negotiations in this way would be beneficial to both parties in light of the great uncertainty, change, and opportunities affecting the sector.

The Board of Governors Negotiating Team has indicated that they expect to respond to our Notice shortly.

COVID-19 Resources

In the near future, you will be receiving a telephone call from a fellow ULFA member asking how you’re faring in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, along with pointers to information that can help you cope in these trying times. A number of those resources are provided below. Please email officer@ulfa.ca with additional resources you would like to share with our members.

The call will ask you a number of questions, and your answers will be used to inform ULFA of your concerns. In providing answers, you can expect a reasonable amount of confidentiality; but, your responses may be shared in the legitimate conduct of union business.

Having said that, I do hope you elect to engage with the fellow ULFA member calling you as part of our efforts to reach out.

Please keep yourself well,
David Kaminski

 

COVID-19 Resources

Employee and Family Assistance Program:
https://www.uleth.ca/hr/pension-and-benefits/employee-and-family-assistance-program-efap

UofL COVID-19 Employee FAQ
https://www.uleth.ca/covid-19/employee-faqs

Alberta Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
https://www.alberta.ca/refuse-dangerous-work.aspx

WCB Fact Sheet on COVID-19
https://www.uleth.ca/risk-and-safety-services/sites/risk-and-safety-services/files/WFS_COVID-19.pdf

AB Family Violence Info Line
(403) 310-1818

Lethbridge Victim Services 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline: Crisis Line 24/7
403-393-8107

Lethbridge Legal Aid
https://www.lethbridgelegalguidance.ca/programs-services/dial-a-law/legal-aid/

Facebook – Lethbridge Support Circle
https://www.facebook.com/groups/lethbridgesupportcircle/

Chinook Sexual Assault Centre
https://csacleth.ca/#1

ULFA Membership Approve Bargaining Mandate with 94% Support

After a good discussion at the Annual General Meeting, held on April 6, the ULFA membership approved a bargaining mandate for the ULFA negotiating team with 94% of the membership in favour. 

The bargaining mandate was prepared by ULFA’s Bargaining Resource Committee following extensive consultation, including approximately 100 one-on-one member interviews, several town halls, and a survey completed by roughly ¾ of the membership. Aspects of the draft mandate were discussed with members of the Gender Equity and Diversity Committee. The draft mandate was then provided for comment to the Negotiating Team, which will carry out the actual negotiations, before being finalised, approved by the Executive Committee, and presented to the membership for a vote at the Annual General Meeting.

The complete Bargaining Mandate is included below, the highlights include:

Demands to address salary and benefit erosion that has occurred over the past several years. 

As Bob Barnetson has noted in his blog, Alberta public servants of all kinds, including ULFA members, have seen no cost of living increases since 2017, resulting in an erosion of spending power relative to inflation of at least 3.7%. ULFA members have also lost relative to their colleagues at peer institutions. Uniquely among the faculty of the province’s Comprehensive Academic and Research Universities (CARUs), U of L faculty took a 1% wage rollback to assist the University during the last Conservative government budget cutbacks in 2013. The U of L consistently underperforms its main comparators in terms of faculty compensation at all ranks.

Difference in mean salary by rank

The five comparator institutions, agreed upon with the employer, are UofA, UofC, Trent University, UofR, and UofS. 

Demands to address deficiencies in benefits

There has been little progress in addressing problems with our benefits over successive rounds of negotiation. The members have consistently noted the shortcomings of our vision care and dental care benefits. There is also a clear inequity where benefits are reduced when two parents are Members of ULFA. Finally, professional development funds should be restored for tem instructors and created for sessional lecturers for each course they teach. 

Demands to address workload

After much discussion, the Membership has determined to maintain current workload and to achieve equitable workload assignments for all Members. To support this demand, ULFA must receive clear data on workload levels across all units and faculties.

Demands for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Key elements of this part of the mandate include: creating a  joint ULFA-Board committee to evaluate and address salary inequities related to diversity; implementing bias training for personnel committees and for Academic Administrators, Chairs, and Directors; ensuring that student evaluations are not used summatively to measure teaching effectiveness (rather, that they are used formatively by Members for improving instruction and as an indicator of the student experience); eliminating binary language from the Collective Agreement; and improving language concerning the evaluation of service and research conducted by Indigenous Members and Members who work with Indigenous peoples.

Demands for improvements in Collegial Governance

It has been repeatedly noted that the effectiveness and breadth of Members’ roles in collegial governance has been eroded over many years. This has led to a demand to increase Member representation in decision-making processes throughout the University.

Demands for an Instructor path to the Professoriate

Many Instructors establish themselves in a leadership role in teaching and teaching research. A path to a multiple-rank teaching Professoriate should be defined for those Members.


In light of uncertainties concerning funding levels, enrolment rates, and novel instructional demands, these are challenging times for negotiations with the Board. It is significant that during such times, the Membership has so clearly expressed its goals with such strong support and has publicly charged the Negotiating Team with achieving improvements in those areas that matter to them.



Complete Bargaining Mandate

Schedule A: Salary Schedule and Stipends

Address the erosion of salary and stipends in relation to the cost of living over previous years, and address the difference in salary and stipends relative to comparator institutions. Merit and career progress for Members on reduced load calculated in a more equitable way.

Schedule B Benefits
Address problems with benefits, particularly with vision care and dental care. Address inequities to benefits when both parents are Members. Restore professional development funds for term instructors. Create a professional development fund for sessional lecturers on a per course basis.

Workload
Maintain current level of work and seek equity in workload assignment. 

Negotiate ULFA receiving clear data about the factors at the department/program/area level that influence workload.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Strike a joint ULFA-Board committee to evaluate and address salary inequities related to diversity.

Implement bias training for senior academic administrators, Chairs and directors, STP members, and search committee members.

Ensure that student evaluations of teaching are not used summatively or to measure teaching effectiveness but can be used formatively or for feedback on the student experience.

Implement appropriate parameters for fairly evaluating the specific nature and demands of research, service, and public duties for Indigenous Faculty Members.

Implement appropriate parameters for fairly evaluating the specific nature and demands of research, service, and public duties for those who conduct work with Indigenous people.

Change binary gendered language to more inclusive terminology throughout the Collective Agreement.


Collegial Governance

Improve ULFA representation on governance bodies including an appointed seat on the budgetary advisory committee; and increased decision making by Faculty Members on staffing priorities in academic areas.

 

Other STP Issues

Negotiate a salary increase tied to tenure and promotion.

Include service explicitly as a criterion for promotion and tenure.|

Negotiate promotion to associate professor as an automatic consequence of the award of tenure.

 

Information and Security for Union

Secure additional paid course releases and cash for ULFA.

Add @uleth email addresses to the data received in 6.03.1.e.

 

Article Defining Instructor Route to Professoriate

Create a category of teaching professoriate, with assistant, associate, and full teaching professor ranks, which is available only to instructors who show leadership in teaching and teaching research. 

 

Schedule S 

Rationalise and reorganize the Collective Agreement along the lines of Schedule S.



Negotiating Update: Further review of draft mandate

The ULFA Negotiating Team met today to review a draft of the proposed mandate for 2020 negotiations as prepared by the Bargaining Resource Committee (BRC). As a result of measures taken in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, the team met via the Faculty Association’s Zoom account.

With the exception of some additional clarifications surrounding protections for Indigenous research and researchers, the broad shape of the proposed mandate appears to be complete. Final tweaks will be made over the next two weeks by the Bargaining Resource Committee, before the entire package is presented to the Membership at the Spring AGM (April 6, to be held via Zoom).

6/7ths of the ULFA Negotiating Team… not behind a table, for a change.

ULFA Statement Regarding COVID-19

Dear ULFA Members,

As you are well aware, the University of Lethbridge has cancelled classes for Monday, March 16th and Tuesday, March 17th. Academic staff have been asked to use Monday and Tuesday as the transition days to prepare moving lessons to alternative models beginning on Wednesday, March 18th.

ULFA has concerns about such a hurried shift in how we deliver our courses, but appreciate that the health of our students, our colleagues and ourselves needs to be addressed. Compounding the problem is the closure of schools and daycares, which places those of us with dependents in especially difficult circumstances.

I spoke to President Mike Mahon and Interim VP Academic Erasmus Okine yesterday evening and raised our concerns, and they assured me that the transition to alternative instruction will allow for the broadest possible flexibility, even if what a faculty member does amounts to posting readings to course moodle pages. No standard directive for alternative delivery was mandated for faculty members, individually, or as members of academic units. They did state, however, that the method of evaluation promised in the course outline must still be respected, so that if a final exam was part of a course evaluation scheme, it could not be cancelled. They did acknowledge that they did not know how exams would go forward in the current environment, but did promise that another message to academic staff would be forthcoming on Tuesday.

ULFA notes that this move to alternative means of delivering courses is a response to a public health emergency and does not represent a precedent regarding online course offerings in the future. As well, the copyright for any content you create in producing an alternative manner of delivering a course still remains yours.

The extra efforts we make in accommodating teaching our students in this crisis should be noted on our PARs.

In closing this note, I do want to draw your attention to some articles of our collective agreement concerning health. Should you find yourself caring for gravely ill family members, Article 33.08.3 (Compassionate Care Leave) may be of particular interest. Should you fall ill yourself, Articles 33.02 and 34.04 (Medical Leave) will be applicable.

There is also a process in place for students and faculty who utilize the self-reporting Registry to report self-isolation or absence due to illness. Once an individual registers and identifies which Faculty/School they are associated with, a message gets sent to a contact person within the Faculty/School. Once received, a representative will reach out to the individual acknowledging awareness of the situation and offering support. All communications regarding the Registry and those using are strictly confidential and not to be shared or disseminated outside of those directly contacted.

Please keep yourselves well,

David Kaminski
President, University of Lethbridge Faculty Association

ULFA Office Closure

With the current COVID-19 pandemic ULFA is attempting to limit all non-essential interactions. The ULFA office is now closed indefinitely. However, ULFA staff remain working. Aaron Chubb, ULFA Administrative Officer can be reached at officer@ulfa.ca.

Job Protections for Probationary, Continuing, and Tenured Members

Some members of our bargaining unit have recently approached members of the ULFA executive to ask about job security for members of the Academic Staff. The following document discusses the provisions of our collective agreement that protect members against layoffs and termination.

Probationary, Continuing, and Tenured members of our bargaining unit are protected by the provisions of Article 25. This requires a declaration of a financial emergency or a program redundancy by the university before any such member may be terminated (i.e. laid off). In the unlikely event of a declaration of such an emergency or redundancy, moreover, probationary, continuing, and tenured members of the faculty are further protected by seniority, recall, and retaining rights.

The requirements for declaring a “financial emergency” or “program redundancy” are, appropriately enough, very onerous and do not lead to large or easy savings. They involve the mandatory involvement of the Association in what is a public decision-making process. There are also checks and balances in place to prevent the Board from repeating this process arbitrarily.

ULFA has at the moment no reason to believe that the Board is in a state to declare either a financial emergency or program redundancy. It will also defend the interests of its members to full extent of the Collective Agreement in this and all other eventualities.

Financial emergency 

The process by which a “Financial Emergency” is declared involves multiple steps including the formation of a required joint management-union committee and report to review the situation and the proposed remedies, including any layoffs or reassignments.

This section of the Collective Agreement was revised last round of bargaining. Some key points:

  1. Before a Financial Emergency can be declared, the Board of Governors and Faculty Association must create a joint Financial Emergency Commission (FEC) consisting of 2 Association Representatives and 2 Representatives from the Board of Governors, plus an independent chair, selected by mutual agreement or appointed by the director of mediation services for the province under the labour code.
  2. The FEC is required to verify
    1. Whether a financial emergency exists; and 
    2. That the Board of Governors have made a good faith effort to avoid the declaration through a number of common methods (redeployment, revenue enhancement, leaves of absences, early retirements, and so on.
  3. The FEC minutes are to be made available to members of the University community and may include oral evidence.
  4. The FEC is required to report within 35 working days of the President’s notice that an emergency may exist. This report shall indicate whether the FEC agrees a financial emergency exists, a recommendation of the amount of reduction required, and a recommendation of the amount, if any to be recovered through termination or layoff.
  5. After this report, the Board and the Association may renegotiate any relevant articles in the collective agreement or reach other mutually acceptable provisions in order to avoid a state of financial emergency.
  6. Only if the negotiations in 5 fail, may the Board of Governors finally decide whether a state of Financial Emergency exists that requires layoffs from the probationary, continuing, and tenured faculty.
  7. If the Board decides a financial emergency does not exist as a result of the preceding, it may not give notice for substantially the same reasons for a period of at least 12 months.

Program redundancy

Program redundancy is a process by which individual majors are declared redundant, resulting in one or more positions occupied by probationary, continuing, or tenured members being declared unnecessary.

In this case, the Board must first receive a recommendation from GFC and members of the academic unit(s) affected must be first given a chance to comment to GFC on the proposed redundancy.

In the event of a request from the president to make a program redundant, a Redundancy Committee must be struck including

  1. A Chair appointed by GFC, 
  2. 2 members + 1 alternate appointed by GFC;
  3. 1 member appointed by the Provost;
  4. The dean of the Faculty;
  5. A non-voting member appointed by the Association.

Once again, hearings of the committee are to be released to the public. The report of the Committee must be considered by GFC. Only at this point may the Board consider a recommendation to declare a program redundant.

Career transition

In the event that a program is declared redundant, affected faculty must be offered a career transition incentive program after consultation with the Association and make reasonable efforts to provide reassignment of the affected employees. Reassignment may not affect rank or salary and any required retraining must be at the Board’s expense.

Seniority and recall

Finally, lay offs, should they occur, must occur in reverse order of seniority — in other words, the most junior (and hence usually lowest paid) faculty must be laid off before more senior members of the same unit, except that the Provost may designate a maximum of 12% of the faculty as excluded from layoff, based on previously approved academic plans.

Anybody who is laid off under the provisions of Article 25 shall have a right of first refusal for any position in their former department or faculty for two years and to be considered as an internal candidate for non-academic jobs for up to a year.

Voluntary retirement and termination

Members may request (or be offered) at any time a voluntary separation from the university, through retirement or voluntary resignation. The Articles governing this process are {{}}.

Although it is not required under these articles, members who accept voluntary termination or retirement are commonly compensated, often significantly, for this agreement. 

ULFA has considerable experience in this area and members are strongly advised both to consult with ULFA before and during any process under these articles and to request accompaniment in meetings with management as allowed under Article 11.02.6.

 

Negotiating Team Orientation and Mandate Meeting

The 2020 ULFA Negotiating Team met this past Tuesday, March 3rd for an orientation and initial discussion of the 2020 mandate as this has been developed over the last six months by the Bargaining Resource Committee. After the Negotiating Team has had a chance to comment on the draft mandate, it will be returned to the Bargaining Resource Committee for final drafting and, ultimately, presentation to the Executive and the Membership. The draft mandate will be a major agenda item for our Spring AGM on April 6.

The 2020 Negotiating Team has some new and returning faces. Returning for this round are Chief Spokesperson Daniel Paul O’Donnell (English), and team members Rumi Graham (Library), Joy Morris (Math and Computer Science), and Rob Sutherland (Neuroscience). The two new members are Olu Awosoga (Health Sciences) and Adam Letourneau (Dhillon School of Business). While Olu and Adam are new to the ULFA negotiating team, both have previous experience with negotiations. Olu participated as an observer in the 2018-2019 round and has been a member of ULFA bargaining resource committees. Adam is an experienced arbitrator, mediator, and employment and business law practitioner and educator.

After an orientation and discussion of roles and responsibilities, the Negotiating Team started its review of the draft mandate items prepared by the Bargaining Resource Committee based on its extensive consultation with the membership this past Winter and the recently-closed bargaining issue survey. While the details are still being finalised, avoiding further loss of income, improving substandard health benefits, ensuring meaningful collegial governance, and completing the rationalisation and reorganisation of the collective agreement begun last round appear to be top items of concern for the Membership.

The Negotiating Team and Bargaining Resource Committee have also seen and discussed communications from the Administration, in both public statements from the President’s office and in a letter to the ULFA executive from the Administration’s Faculty Collective Agreement Committee outlining some policy and other positions they are taking in the run up to negotiations. It is of course quite normal for the two sides in collective agreement negotiations to begin from different starting positions: negotiations are the means by which compromise between these two initial “mandates” is discovered.

Essential Services Agreement Negotiations Ongoing

Negotiations to establish an Essential Services Agreement resumed Tuesday 18 June. The Board’s team (Chris Hosgood, Scott Harling, Carolin Cattoi-Demkiw) presented to ULFA’s team (Kelly Williams-Witt, Aaron Chubb, Rob Sutherland) its response to ULFA’s 13 February ESA proposal. There is good progress on key points; only a couple of issues remain unresolved. We are optimistic that an agreement will be in place in a timely manner.

ULFA membership ratifies 2018-2020 Collective Agreement

In a strong expression of support for its executive and bargaining team, the membership of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association voted to ratify the 2018-2020 Collective Agreement between the Association and Board of Governors.

The electronic ballot opened with a special general meeting on June 11 and closed at midnight on June 18. 249 members, or approximately 55% of the Association Membership, participated in the election. 223 ballots (90.8%) were cast in favour of the executive’s motion to approve the agreement. 23 ballots (9.2%) opposed. Since the Board of Governors voted to approve the agreement on June 14, this vote of support in the executive by the ULFA membership means that the Agreement is now ratified.

“This was a difficult negotiation and a tough settlement for our members,” Chief Spokesperson Daniel Paul O’Donnell said. “While we made important gains in job security and conditions of employment, the lack of across the board financial increases will affect our competitiveness as an institution for years to come.”

“We are grateful for this vote of support,” he added. “This demonstration of solidarity can only help us as we prepare almost immediately for the next round of negotiations.”

ULFA President Jon Doan congratulated Association volunteers on the conclusion of the ratification. “I would like to extend another thanks to the thorough and thoughtful members of our bargaining team and our bargaining resource committee,” Doan said. “We will update our communication blog in the next couple of days with information on what this ratification means for Member salary and benefits  starting July 1 2019.”

Final copy will be posted to the University website after a technical review.

Board of Governors ratify Proposed ULFA/University of Lethbridge 2018-2020 Collective Agreement

On Friday afternoon, Vice President (FInance and Administration) Nancy Walker informed the ULFA executive that the Board of Governors has voted to ratify the proposed ULFA/University of Lethbridge 2018-2020 collective agreement.

ULFA are currently voting electronically on ratification of this same agreement. The ballot closes June 18. All current members of ULFA should have received an invitation to vote. Please contact Aaron Chubb (aaron.chubb@uleth.ca) if you have not received a notification of the ballot.


You can read more about the details of the proposed agreement here. A marked up draft showing the proposed changes is available here. An unofficial HTML version of the final version of the proposed agreement is available here.

Electronic Voting on 2018-2020 Academic Staff Collective Agreement Open to June 18th

Electronic Voting on the 2018-2020 Academic Staff Collective Agreement is open until June 18th

An electronic ballot has been sent to all active ULFA Member Uleth email accounts.


You can read more about the details of the proposed agreement here. A marked up draft showing the proposed changes is available here. An unofficial HTML version of the final version of the proposed agreement is available here.

Collective Agreement Town Halls and Ratification Meeting

A special meeting, required by our bylaws in order to put ratification of the proposed collective agreement to a vote, will be held on June 11 at 1pm in PE250 (Calgary members can join via video conference from room S6025 on the Calgary Campus; Members who are unable to join in person or on the Calgary campus should contact Aaron Chubb (aaron.chubb@uleth.ca) for access information).

To give Members an opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of the proposed Collective Agreement, members of the Bargaining Team also will be hosting four town hall style meetings in the next two weeks.


Town Halls

  • Tuesday, May 28 at 2pm in PE250
  • Friday, May 31 at 10am in E690
  • Monday, June 3 at 2pm in S6031 (Calgary Campus)
  • Friday, June 7 at 10am in PE250

Ratification Meeting
Tuesday, June 11 at 1pm in PE 250

Calgary Campus Members can join via video conference from our large board room in Bow Valley College, S6025. Members outside of Calgary and Lethbridge can email aaron.chubb@uleth.ca for access to the meeting via Web-X.

 

ULFA executive votes to recommend proposed agreement to membership for ratification

The ULFA executive has voted to recommend the proposed 2018-2020 Collective Agreement (CA) to its membership for ratification. We will be hosting a series of Town Halls for discussion of the CA culminating in a ratification meeting on June 11, 2019. Following the ratification meeting the CA will be voted on electronically by the ULFA Membership.

You can read a detailed summary of the proposed agreement here.

Town Halls

  • Tuesday, May 28 at 2pm in PE250
  • Friday, May 31 at 10am in E690
  • Monday, June 3 at 2pm in S6031 (Calgary Campus)
  • Friday, June 7 at 10am in PE250

Ratification Meeting
June 11 at 1pm in PE 250
Calgary Campus Members can join via video conference from our large board room in Bow Valley College, S6025. Members outside of Calgary and Lethbridge can email aaron.chubb@uleth.ca for access to the meeting via Web-X.

Voting
Electronic Voting will commence following the June 11 meeting and will be open until June 18.

Understanding the Proposed 2018-2020 ULFA/Board of Governors Collective Agreement

The ULFA executive has voted to recommend the proposed 2018-2020 Collective Agreement to its membership for ratification. This process will involve the convening of a Special Meeting of the Membership (June 11 @1pm in PE250) in order to put the agreement on the ballot for an electronic vote (June 11-18). This special meeting will be preceded by several town hall-style meetings on the Lethbridge and Calgary Campuses.


Town Halls

  • Tuesday, May 28 at 2pm in PE250
  • Friday, May 31 at 10am in E690
  • Monday, June 3 at 2pm in S6031 (Calgary Campus)
  • Friday, June 7 at 10am in PE250

Ratification Meeting
Tuesday, June 11 at 1pm in PE 250

Calgary Campus Members can join via video conference from our large board room in Bow Valley College, S6025. Members outside of Calgary and Lethbridge can email aaron.chubb@uleth.ca for access to the meeting via Web-X.

Voting
Electronic Voting will commence following the June 11 meeting and will be open until June 18.


This post explains some of the highlights of the proposed agreement. It also points out some of the shortcomings and places for future work. Finally, it ends with a detailed description of the changes in all Articles and Schedules.

A PDF of the signed off articles can be found here. The pdf version shows what was signed at the negotiating table and includes all deletions and additions made during negotiations from the base text of the 2015-2018 Sessional Lecturers and 2016-2018 Faculty Handbooks. 

An easy to navigate HTML version of the final agreed-in-principle text of this agreement (i.e. showing final copy only) can be found here. This version is not official and the text of the agreement is in-principle only until both sides ratify. Until ratification, our terms and conditions are as under the 2015-2018 Sessional Lecture and 2016-2018 Faculty Handbooks.

We encourage all Members to review this and to ask questions at the Special Meeting and any town halls we are able to organise.

Table of contents

Background

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The proposed agreement involves changes, additions, and deletions to 53 Articles and Schedules (the 2016-2018 Faculty Handbook had 32 Articles and 18 Schedules). Negotiations began in April 2018 and concluded on May 22, 2019. The Fall of 2017 and Spring of 2018 also saw extensive preparatory work including mandate development and several applications to the Labour Board.

As we have discussed previously, negotiations took place within an externally imposed government mandate, which significantly limited the scope for monetary gains by unions, while encouraging improvements in terms and conditions. While there initially was some doubt as to how strong this government mandate would prove, early settlements by the Nurses and Teachers unions according to this template helped establish the pattern across the public sector.

In the case of the Comprehensive Academic and Research Universities (CARUs), moreover, attempts to confront the mandate were hampered by their relatively recent unionisation: Bill 7 (which legislated their new status in response to the Supreme Court’s 2015 Saskatchewan Federation of Labour decision) was proclaimed in the Spring of 2017. While some Faculty Associations had begun developing job action funds before this date, even the best prepared (such as, indeed, ULFA), had relatively small amounts of money available at the beginning of the bargaining period to support job action. Since in the new labour environment, the ultimate arbitrator of impasse is job action, this placed the new Faculty Unions at a considerable disadvantage this round.

Highlights

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As at every other university in the province, negotiations at the University of Lethbridge followed the broad provincial model, with few gains in terms of compensation or benefits and but broader success in terms and conditions.

The following are some of the highlights of the proposed agreement:

    • Two year agreement (July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2020)
    • Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) set to 0% for both years of contract
    • Increases to salary floors for Faculty/LIbrarians and Instructors/Academic Assistants
    • Contractual payment of Merit and Career Progress for up-to two years post contract, should negotiations continue (similar to bridging under the Labour Code).
  • Union rights
      • Sessional Lecturer Handbook and Faculty Handbooks completely merged
      • ULFA receives new detailed information on Membership, including
        • Access to all appointment and change of appointment letters
        • Course assignments by rank and level
        • Disaggregated salary and other information.
      • Accompaniment no longer restricted to Members (can include staff and, in certain conditions, external parties)
      • ULFA assumes responsibility for internal payroll and process for dues and information remittance to CAFA and CAUT
      • Improved clarity around Grievance and Interpretation (including limits on use of interpretation)
      • Increased number of course releases available to ULFA for purchase, and no Board rules around how these can be allocated
  • Sessionals
      • New Right of First Refusal (ROFR) upon request and assuming no unsatisfactory evaluations
      • New two-rank system with $288/course increase in pay for new rank of Sessional Lecturer II
      • New 10% payment before start of classes with access to library and email at that point
      • New evaluation process (required for ROFR) involving chair with appeal to dean
      • New ban on uncompensated work (i.e. pre-contract syllabus, etc).
      • Sessionals now may be assigned more than one course in a semester (maximum of three in a year)
      • Automatic promotion to Sessional Lecturer II if assigned more than one course in semester
      • Sessionals who have previously been Faculty or Instructors/AAs at Uleth or elsewhere are automatically Sessional Lecturer II
      • Sessionals who teach 5 courses in three years are automatically promoted
      • Promotion to Sessional Lecturer II (for any reason) is permanent
  • Instructors/Academic Assistants
      • Removal of 15.09 which allowed the Board to declare individual positions (including continuing positions) redundant outside of financial emergency or programme redundancy
      • Research leave now allowed if directly related to teaching/position description and responsibilities (since “responsibilities” includes “professional development” this should make leave easier to obtain)
      • Instructors/Academic Assistants at the salary cap will now be eligible for cash bonus (not part of base salary) distributed proportionately according to Merit score from money remaining in merit pool/fund after merit is paid out (we believe this year this would have amounted to about 50% of what merit payment would be otherwise).
      • No longer a distinction among Instructors/Academic Assistants and Faculty Members/Librarians in terms of seniority rights in event of Financial Emergency or Programme Redundancy
  • Term appointees
      • New “look back clause” requiring payment in lieu of benefits if multiple contracts in a single academic year result in de facto 50%+ appointment
      • Term appointments now must be justified according to explicit criteria
  • Faculty/Librarians/Instructors/Academic Assistants
      • Improvements to criteria for evaluation of teaching, research and service, particularly for Faculty. Academic Assistants and Instructors (the Article on Professional Librarians was left for the next round):
        • Grant writing, refereeing explicitly listed as evaluation criteria under research
        • Research no longer has to be connected to teaching department
        • Service is broader
        • Teaching effectiveness can include work outside university
        • Student Questionnaires are no longer listed explicitly in the (non-exclusive) list of acceptable evidence; cannot be required
        • Should student questionnaires be presented, adjudicators will be given training and information on acceptable use
        • While training is being developed, MoU agrees that they will be given the Kaplan/Ryerson arbitration ruling (which contains detailed expert information on limitations)
      • Dental benefits now based on 2019 fee schedule (increase paid partially by Board, partially by Members)
      • New Domestic Violence Leave
      • Personal leave now explicitly paid for 5 days
      • New Compassionate Care (unpaid) leave of up to 27 weeks, can be taken concurrently by Members in the same family
      • Improved Maternity leave (extended Parental leave topped up to 100% of salary for 20 weeks if the Member has taken a Mat leave)
      • Change in nature of any disciplinary proceedings underway results in explicit reset of process (i.e. from Minor to Major)
      • Discipline in Personal files now can be removed after 2 (minor) and 5 (major) years
      • Material removed from Personal File now must be destroyed and cannot be reused
      • Unfair material now can be removed on request at any time
      • Processes for medical leave modernised
      • Board pays for medical certificate should they require a second opinion; Board can choose required specialisation of second opinion, but not the professionals themselves.
      • Payment of Career Progress and Merit guaranteed for two July 1sts past the end of Collective Agreement should negotiations continue (similar to bridging)
      • New right to not cross picket lines on campus, at cost of a day’s pay for any day this prevents carrying out scheduled duties
      • Members are expected to inform their Dean (or designate) with reasons when timetabled instructional time is cancelled
  • Senior Academic Administrators
    • Retained Collective Agreement rights for Academic Freedom, Promotion, and Tenure
    • This means that Administrators can be protected in teaching, service, and research even as they are being fired (i.e. avoids the “silence of the deans”)

Summary and next steps

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The proposed agreement can be said to represent a real success in terms of our terms and conditions of work and a real disappointment in terms of economic benefits.

On the positive side, we addressed some fundamental inequities within our contract and made gains that we have sought in some cases for over a decade: Sessional ranks and Right of First Refusal; improved job security for Instructors and Academic Assistants, and bonus payments for those at the cap; long-sought equity language and processes; improved maternity leave, discipline processes, rules surrounding personal files, accompaniment and union support. We are much stronger, know more about our members, and have addressed some long standing inequities and injustices as a result of this agreement.

On the negative side, however, we have been unable to address long-standing concerns about relative salaries, salary growth, and, with a few exceptions, benefits (including sick leave, which is the worst on campus and among the worst in our sector). While it might not have been easy for the Board to resist the government’s “template,” its acquiescence nonetheless makes these problems worse and ensures that the solution, when it comes, has the potential to be more dramatic and painful than would otherwise have been necessary. And in the meantime, we fall farther and farther behind our peers as an employer of choice in the province.

In the new labour environment, a key determinant of success at the negotiating table is the ability to initiate and/or sustain job action–either by initiating a strike or by resisting a lockout. If, as is currently anticipated, the government continues to interfere in collective bargaining, this will make it even more important for ULFA members to be vigilant and proactive in developing their job action fund and fostering unity among our colleagues. Only with such careful and deliberate planning will it prove possible to address the areas in which we have not been able to make the necessary advances during the current round of bargaining!

Detailed discussion of changes

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Below is a detailed discussion of changes found in the new agreement. These can be best read in conjunction with the marked-up document, a PDF of which is found here. In reading this PDF with these notes, please keep in mind the following:

  • The text of this document is subject to minor corrections;
  • Several different markup conventions were used during negotiations. In broad terms, however, the following is true in all versions:
    1. Strike through is used for text that is to be deleted from the previous (2016-2018) agreements.
    2. Underline is used for text that is to be added to the previous (2016-2018) agreements.
    3. Plain text is used for text that is to be carried over from the previous (2016-2018) agreements.
  • Colour differences were used during negotiations to indicate agreement and disagreement (green was used for text agreed upon in previous drafts; red, blue, and black for text that had not been agreed upon at the time of document preparation). These show up in the signed sheets, which represent the final proposal before agreement-in-principle was reached. Since the signed versions represent our agreement-in-principle, however, this use of colour is irrelevant at this point: except when there is a hand-correction, the printed text in this PDF reflects the final agreement-in-principle between the parties; all additions, deletions, and carried over text in these documents are now agreed-upon in principle and subject to ratification.

Macro changes

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The following are some large scale changes made throughout the document:

  • Reorganisation throughout to improve clarity (and agreement to continue in next round)
  • Removal of Article 23 (Mediation): this is a Management responsibility
  • Sessional Lecturers brought into the Faculty Handbook rather than simply added as a distinct (and separable) section
  • Article 1 (Interpretation) and 22 (Grievance) merged and integrated with each other, interpretation can no longer be used to intervene in issues that are being grieved

Changes to Individual Articles/Schedules

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The following is an account (largely in document order) of changes made during this round of negotiations.

Article 1 (Old “Preamble and Objectives”): Purpose and Objectives

  • Language has been deleted in recognition that Academic Freedom in general, including in Member service (and not just in teaching and research) is essential to the search for truth and its free expression.
  • Insertion to clarify that specifying terms and conditions of employment is an objective of the Collective Agreement.
  • Clarification that the Parties can mutually agree that a grievance doesn’t stay whatever procedures are otherwise underway.
  • The Parties can mutually agree to ignore anything in the Collective Agreement, deadlines aren’t special that way, so that language has been deleted.

Article 2: Definitions

  • Change to “Academic Career” definition describes the effect of ACY rather than just the number of years.
  • New definition of “Academic Position” is used in Article 4 to explain how inactive Members are covered by the Collective Agreement.
  • The terms “Academic Year” and “Contract Year” are used through the Collective Agreement but were not previously defined.
  • Definition of “Agreement”/“Collective Agreement” is to include a standing URL at which the University will maintain the Collective Agreement.
  • “Bargaining Year” definition has been moved from Article 5.
  • “Code” is defined as the Labour Relations Code.
  • “Dean” is inclusive of the University Librarian, and of Deans of Schools.
  • “Department Chair” is inclusive of Area Chairs.
  • “Faculty” is inclusive of Schools.
  • There is no need to define A/B where A and B are separately defined.
  • “Handbook” is retained in definitions as a historical term referring to previous agreements.
  • “Medical Certificate” is defined, to explain the documentation required for medical and maternity leaves as well as compassionate care leaves.
  • “Medical Leave” is defined for clarity, and includes leaves for medical consultation.
  • “Member” is inclusive of Sessional Lecturers.
  • “Personnel Committee” is defined.
  • The definition of “Procedural Fairness” is adjusted to include equity, being informed of the right to representation, and all other relevant principles of natural justice.
  • The VP (Finance and Admin) and Associate VP (Admin) are no longer Senior Academic Administrators (these are not academic positions).
  • “SUB Plan” is defined.
  • “Working Days” is defined to not include holidays or days when the University is closed.

Article 3: Amendments and Modification of the Collective Agreement

  • Timelines for bargaining are removed, since this is now covered by the Code.
  • Language allows for limited modification during the term of the Collective Agreement via MOUs.
  • New language around strikes and lockouts reflects that there shall be none while the Collective Agreement is in effect as required by the Code.
  • New language gives Members the right during a strike/lockout by other bargaining units at the University (there are some technical details around just what this means), to:
    • not be required to do their work;
    • not be subject to any new or additional duties, etc., beyond anything required for safety;
    • not cross their picket lines so long as this does not prevent the Member from carrying out any scheduled duties (no discipline, loss of pay, etc.);
    • not cross their picket lines even if this does prevent the Member from carrying out scheduled duties, so long as they advise their Dean and take a penalty of 1/252 of their pay for each Working Day for which they exercise this right. The President may waive this penalty.

Article 4: Applications and Exclusions

  • Clarifies who is an inactive Member and for how long, and that all other people who are Faculty Members, Professional Librarians, Instructors, Academic Assistants, or Sessional Lecturers are active Members.
  • States that the entire Collective Agreement applies to Board members who are Faculty Members, with respect to their Academic Position (not just when they are acting as members of the Academic Staff), and all except the salary increments, structure, and PAR form apply to Senior Academic Administrators with respect to their Academic Position.
  • Language on Retired Members is deleted. The important part is what their position is now if they are a member, not that they previously held a position from which they retired. If they have one of the job titles that our Members hold, then they are a Member.

Article 5: Recognition

  • ULFA is the exclusive bargaining agent for all Members, although for Senior Academic Admin there are limitations to ULFA’s representation, as noted in Article 4.
  • ULFA has specified facilities and services provided by the Board. Most of these are existing, but there is an added right to buy a departmental rover parking permit that would allow ULFA reps to park in Lot H facilities spots, one at a time, for up to 2 hours.
  • New language around Association Activity clarifies that service to ULFA is service for work; the Board won’t interfere with Members doing it (if it doesn’t unduly interfere with assigned duties); email relating to ULFA business is the property of the people involved in the communication; that Members have the right to attend open meetings of the Board, and that ULFA has the right to call in the provincial and national associations.
  • The Board will now remit all dues to ULFA, and ULFA will have to pass the CAFA and CAUT dues along, but the Board will give ULFA the breakdown. Dues will be remitted by the 15th day of each month (for the previous month).
  • The Board no longer has to provide CAFA or CAUT with info about Members, that is ULFA’s job.
  • (Bargaining Year definition was moved into Article 2.)
  • ULFA can allocate course releases as it sees fit, with no interference from the Board.
  • ULFA can purchase two additional course releases in any year, and three in a bargaining year, beyond what was already allowed.
  • Instead of paying 1/3 of the Assistant Prof floor plus 25% if ULFA wants to buy someone 2 course releases in a semester, ULFA has to pay 1/3 of the Associate Prof floor plus 25% if it wants to buy someone 2 course releases in a year. However, for that fee ULFA can buy out as many of their courses as it wants, and this only applies to course releases that ULFA buys.
  • Reduction in duties comparable to course release applies to Professional Librarians as well as to Instructors/Academic Assistants.
  • The Dean can’t refuse (reasonably or unreasonably) to grant a request for ULFA course releases. This is a president-to-president discussion if there is an issue.

Article 6: Communication and Information

  • The agreement is explicit that email is good enough for written notice, except in the case of grievance, supervision, and discipline.
    1. Notice involved in any of the latter has to be delivered during business hours, and permit acknowledgment of receipt.
    2. Email outside business hours is deemed to have arrived the next working day morning.
    3. Correspondence to the Association can only be used for Collective Agreement administration.
  • The Collective Agreement will be available at the URL listed in the definitions, and this URL will be included in all offers of appointment. Amendments to the Collective Agreement will also be posted at the same web site.
  • ULFA gets a ton of new information about Members, all with names attached (previously ULFA received much less and mostly in aggregated form), which will facilitate much better data analysis in preparation for bargaining and for equity issues and grievances:
    • read-only access to letters of appointment or change in appointment for 3 years.
    • lists of people who have been promoted etc. will now include continuing appointment, and will include the names of everyone whose applications for extension of probation, continuing appointment, tenure, or promotion was unsuccessful.
    • dates of birth
    • current home contact info (address and phone)
    • end date of appointment if term, probationary, or sessional
    • not campus (this is apparently not something they keep track of in HR)
    • FTE status
    • ACY (for Faculty Members/Professional Librarians)
    • how many years they’ve been on consecutive term appointments (where applicable)
    • the justification for making a term or Sessional appointment rather than a permanent position
    • salary
    • dues
    • benefits category (single or family).
  • In aggregate data, credit hours taught each semester will be broken down by
    • the level of the course (1000 etc, not just junior/senior);
    • by Faculty; and
    • by the job category of the person who taught it.
  • ULFA also gets information about inactive Members (i.e. Board Members and Senior Academic Administrators):
    • name;
    • when they started;
    • when their position is due to end; and
    • dues being paid for them.
  • There are some clarifications around the limitations that apply to how ULFA uses personal information provided by the Board. Both Parties commit to disclosing unauthorised access/disclosure of personal Member data, and to working to deal with such issues.
  • The piece that said the Board doesn’t need to provide any Article 6 information if it’s inconvenient was removed.
  • For extra information ULFA may request, a clarification was added that while the Board doesn’t need to compile it specially or if it’s confidential, they may if it’s required for administering the Collective Agreement.
  • Added language says ULFA can ask for a meeting to discuss anomalies and concerns that arise from this information.

Article 7: Quarterly Labour/Management Meetings

  • The Presidents will meet at least quarterly, rather than annually.

Article 8: Delegation

  • Only general changes around readability and consistency.

Article 9: Personal Files

  • For privacy etc. Personal Files are kept according to the University’s policies,
  • Personal files don’t contain information other than that related to employment or required for the Collective Agreement.
  • Material in Personal Files must be used in accordance with procedural fairness/natural justice.
  • When a Senior Academic Administrator seeks advice about information in a Personal File, they no longer have to insure that the Member’s identity is not revealed (for very specialised issues, this could prevent consultation entirely) but they are bound by FOIP etc. to ensure that confidentiality is maintained.
  • When copies are made of documents in a Personal File, they have to be treated like the originals for privacy etc.
  • CVs explicitly get updated and submitted with PAR reporting, or at the start of the contract period for Sessionals.
  • Electronic mail is considered signed if there is a valid digital signature (for purposes of when material is considered unsigned).
  • ULFA can request things to be removed from a Personal File on behalf of a Member if the things violate Article 9 or are unfair. Things that are removed in this way are also explicitly destroyed.
  • Supervisory and minor discipline records are removed and destroyed after 2 years upon request.
  • Major discipline records are removed and destroyed after 5 years upon request.
  • If a Dean doesn’t want to remove and destroy something under ay of the preceding points, they have to provide a rationale in writing to the Member and the Association (this part is existing language, but in some cases this went to interpretation; that has been deleted. The recourse is now grievance).

Article 10: Courses Taught in Addition to Assigned Duties, including Summer Session Courses (Excluding Sessional Lecturers)

  • Explicitly excludes Sessionals, for obvious reasons
  • If such a course is not 3 credit hours, the rate is subject to individual negotiation and the Dean has to remind the Member of their right to Participation and Accompaniment.

Article 11: Rights and Responsibilities

  • Academic Freedom includes the right to criticize governments or public figures, and to act according to the professional standards of the Member’s field.
  • Both Parties are committed to promoting and preserving good will among all members of the University community.
  • Prospective/former Members are not expected to perform duties related to Member work without remuneration. Compensation is based on their previous/prospective contract.
  • Discrimination language includes all protected categories, so won’t need updating as legislation changes.
  • The Board may do research about many things; singling out research on whether or not discrimination has occurred is not particularly effective.
  • ULFA has the right to be represented when a Member is going through disciplinary processes, whether or not the Member asks for representation, since these cases often lead to difficult legal issues and may have broader implications for the Collective Agreement. Either Party may bring lawyers to such meetings, with advance notice.
  • Staff members of ULFA are officially allowed to accompany Members to meetings, as is the Chair of the Grievance Committee (although the Grievance Chair is disallowed by ULFA policy).
  • If the Board is bringing a lawyer along to any Collective Agreement procedure, they are supposed to inform ULFA, and ULFA then has the option of sending a lawyer or some other representative who need no longer be a Member or staff person of ULFA.
  • Someone exercising their right to accompaniment must provide information in advance about who will be accompanying them.
  • Schedule L is incorporated into Article 11. No one really has “custody and control” of many of these documents. Documents that were previously listed as not in the custody or control of the Board, are now explicitly stated to belong to the Member. Rather than going to an arbitrator in the case of a dispute, the question goes to Interpretation (which may lead to arbitration).
  • The responsibility for Members to act fairly is extended to staff and Board members, and not restricted to actions as teachers, colleagues or administrators.
  • The responsibilities of Members as Teachers also extend to duties as supervisors of students (but not as supervisors of research staff who are not students).
  • Sessionals or Term Members who are asked to be available for grade appeal issues shall be compensated at an appropriate rate based on their contract.
  • Anyone cancelling actual timetabled instruction (things that are assigned, not deemed to have been assigned like supervision or independent studies) has an obligation to inform their Dean (or designate) with reasons.
  • The language around not exploiting evaluative/supervisory relationships with students has been changed around in an attempt to clarify that it doesn’t mean someone can’t hire one of their students for casual labour on the open market outside of their university connection, etc.
  • It has been agreed that it is not appropriate, under any circumstances to have both a supervisory/evaluative and a personal, intimate relationship with a student. This does not preclude a situation where your kid or spouse (for example) takes your course, but other arrangements have to be made for the evaluation.
  • Language about responsibilities as scholars has been modified to more clearly include creative activity alongside research, and to protect the welfare of any animal involved in such work, not just lab animals.
  • Sessional Lecturers are excluded from any responsibilities for administrative/committee work. All other Members are expected to be active members of their academic units etc.
  • ULFA gets copies of complaints about Members (around harassment etc.).
  • Such complaints only go into a Personal File if they’re found to have merit, and then only according to the procedures of Article 9. However, other actions such as discipline may be taken on the basis of such complaints, and if that happens, the complainant may be informed of the outcome if the University can bind them to confidentiality.

Article 12: Criteria for Extension of Probation, Tenure, Promotion and Salary Increments for Faculty Members

  • Contributions to teaching beyond the university count toward teaching effectiveness.
  • The Collective Agreement neither requires nor forbids the use of Student Questionnaires in the evaluation of teaching, and no longer says that they can’t be the main evidence.
    • We’ve added a long list of things that can be used as evidence and this list does not include such questionnaires (though it is a non-exclusive list).
    • When student appraisals are used, the data must be presented clearly and appropriately, and anyone doing the evaluation must be educated in the inherent biases of such tools, and take them into account.
    • We signed an MOU about how to implement this new language (see Schedule P below) which provides the Kaplan report as training material until new material can be developed
  • Members can now submit research/creative activity that relates to anything taught at the university, not just in their own department, without extra onus for justifying it.
  • Writing grant applications, and academic work of organising conferences (eg choosing the participants) are both explicitly listed as factors that can contribute to research evaluation, and editorial duties are separated from refereeing work.
  • Work on Library, Area, and Program committees etc. is explicitly listed as service, when this is outside one’s normal assigned duties (e.g. for Professional Librarians, Academic Assistants), as are working groups and task forces. Community service related to a Member’s appointment counts, even if it doesn’t involve community organizations.
  • Supplementary policies about what does/doesn’t count have to be readily available and their location made known to all affected Members (not currently happening). They are explicitly secondary to the Collective Agreement and can’t reduce or expand on what is set out in Article 12.

Article 13-14 (unchanged)

  • No changes this round; MoU describing changes to be negotiated for next

Article 15: Instructors and Academic Assistants

  • An incipient Instructor is no longer explicitly consulted in the creation of their Position Description, but must still be consulted about amendments and ULFA must receive copies of amendments.
  • Qualification for Instructor II is either a degree plus experience, or effectiveness as an Instructor I. Similarly for Instructor III. The minimum qualifications can be waived by the VP (Academic) for equivalent relevant experience (eg. for elders or industry specialists).
  • Probationary and continuing Instructor positions always need to be advertised through CAUT and the web site. Term positions should be advertised at least on the web site, where time permits.
  • The offer of appointment includes the position description, the rank, and the URL of the Collective Agreement.
  • If the Dean rejects a search committee recommendation the reasons go to the VPA rather than the President, but must also be communicated to the Association. Other parts of the appointment process are also explicitly delegated to the VPA.
  • It is not the case that Instructors are normally appointed at Instructor I. This language has been deleted.
  • Fine arts studio performance assignments are included in the list of Instructor duties. Language is adjusted to be more inclusive of arts classes.
  • Instructor Is should only have full responsibility for teaching courses on an exceptional basis.
  • Instructors are not expected to conduct research or scholarship unless it’s directly related to their teaching/Position Description duties *or responsibilities*. (The last 2 words are the new language.) Since professional development is a responsibility, we believe this opens the door wider to leaves for professional development as described elsewhere in the Article (the Instructor’s version of study leaves).
  • Instructors are full members of their departments etc.
  • Promotion requires satisfactory performance on annual reviews rather than the more ambiguous “successful performance”, and may come with increased relevant qualifications etc or proven ability to perform the appropriate duties, not necessarily the latter primarily.
  • Most changes for AAs parallel those for Instructors. The Board wanted to eliminate a lot of the AA language based on their reading of Schedule M, but it was agreed to leave it in and disagree about the implications.
  • Term appointments for Instructors/AAs require justifications just like Term appointments for Faculty Members/Professional Librarians. Likewise for renewals and extensions of Term appointments.
  • Term appointments for less than a year get salary based on the full-time rate if the duties are full-load equivalent. If short-term contracts accumulate to or exceed a .5 FTE load, financial compensation in lieu of benefits is made accordingly.
  • The STP Committee isn’t allowed to make recommendations other than those listed in the Collective Agreement at the end of the first probationary appointment.
  • Unfair Probationary Periods as described in Article 19 also apply to Instructors and AAs, and may extend timelines for probation.
  • A Term Appointment with Conversion can only convert if a Search Committee recommended that it do so.
  • No matter how the appointment gets converted, the probation is understood to have begun at the start of the appointment.
  • Someone is only eligible for a Continuing Appointment (for a Partial Year) if they hold a probationary appointment (not a term appointment).
  • Disciplinary meetings that follow an unsatisfactory evaluation don’t start until after the appeal process is completed (and the unsatisfactory evaluation is confirmed).
  • Promotion is explicitly included in the things that have evaluation criteria explained.
  • Teaching effectiveness language same as for Faculty Members above.
  • Re-assignment of duties for improving qualifications is now for professional development, tying it to a responsibility of Instructors & AAs.
  • Position Abolishment is no longer an option outside of Article 25 (Financial Emergency/Program Redundancy)

Article 16: Termination of Appointment

  • Resignation for people on term appointments (less than 3 years) or Sessional Lecturers requires only one month’s notice rather than 3. Members don’t need to provide notice “as early as possible” beyond that.
  • Similarly, Term and Sessionals aren’t expected to make their resignation effective June 30 or Dec 31.
  • Similarly, one year’s notice of retirement doesn’t apply to Term people or Sessionals.
  • Notice of retirement comes with a cool-down period of 20 Working Days during which it can be withdrawn.
  • All types of approved leave can be taken by someone who doesn’t have LTD before they’re expected to retire, and accommodations need to be offered within reason.
  • Death benefits are moved into Schedule B (Benefits).
  • Previous reference to position abolition now points to Article 25 and is about termination of appointment due to financial emergency or program redundancy.
  • Language about Voluntary Termination by Mutual Agreement more clearly hints that Members can ask for and expect an incentive for agreeing to such an arrangement.
  • The language saying there is no obligation on the Board to reappoint Sessionals is deleted, since there is now a Sessional Right of First Refusal.

Article 17-21 (unchanged)

  • No changes this round; MoU describing changes to be negotiated for next

Article 22: Grievance and Interpretation

  • This merges the old Articles 22 and 1. Some broad general language has been moved up front (it was previously later in the Article).
  • Interpretations and clarifications only enter the Collective Agreement by mutual consent of the Parties.
  • Issues of process and procedural fairness are now explicitly subject to grievance in general, whether or not the content of the decision is.
  • The agreement is now silent on whether or not matters not covered by the Collective Agreement are grievable. This leaves open the possibility that we can grieve Board policies that affect terms and conditions of employment for example (and their application).
  • It is explicitly mentioned that a grievance can be settled with or without mediation, without going through the full grievance process.
  • It is clarified that only ULFA or the Board can claim grievances; a Member has to go through ULFA.
  • The first step of an informal meeting is laid out in clear detail.
  • Similarly, formal notice is laid out clearly. At this stage, particulars rather than evidence is being provided; and a remedy is proposed. This is followed by an investigation by the other Party, that culminates in a written report and recommendation. If this doesn’t resolve it, there’s another meeting, and then it moves to arbitration. Arbitration requires written notice. The presidents have 10 Working Days (rather than 5) to agree on an arbitrator, or the provisions of the Code are used to appoint one. The Code governs the arbitration, except the arbitrator is explicitly allowed to assign costs (experts on both sides say this would never happen unless one side’s case were deemed frivolous). Beyond that, we no longer make any attempt to tie the arbitrator’s hands, which wouldn’t actually bind an arbitrator anyway.
  • There is a new explanation of what interpretation is and how it should be used, up front, as well as how it shouldn’t be used.
  • It is clarified that the request for an Interpretation Meeting should explain the issue so the other side can be prepared.
  • The “report” of the Interpretation Committee can be an agreement, or can be two separately-issued statements by the presidents. If it’s not an agreement, either president can take the issue to arbitration, which proceeds as above. Again, the arbitrator’s hands can’t be tied, so the agreement no longer tries to do so.

Deleted Article 23: Mediation

  • Deleted as this was a management responsibility and involved groups that were not bound by the Collective Agreement.

Article 23 (Previously 24): Appeals of Recommendations by STP Committees and Appeal Committees

  • Appeals apply to denial of continuing appointment.
  • All motions listed in the Collective Agreement are automatically before the Appeal Committee, and don’t require movers or seconders.
  • Hearing Committee appeals can explicitly be grieved for violations of procedural fairness or natural justice. Similarly for recommendations of the Appeal Committee about salary.
  • It no longer says that search committee decisions can’t be appealed. However, this would only affect candidates who are Members (eg term appointments with conversion), and no process is laid out.

Article 24 (Previously 25): Supervision and Discipline

  • Key principles are gathered and moved up to the front.
  • “penalty” is changed to “discipline” throughout.
  • Appropriate investigation is required before any discipline.
  • Signed letter delivered by email to uleth account suffices for notification.
  • Anytime there’s an Article 24 meeting with a Senior Academic Administrator, the Member has to be reminded about the right to accompaniment.
  • The Association receives copies of all letters the Member gets relating to discipline (but not necessarily supervisory letters).
  • The Dean as well as the VPA has the right to suspend or terminate an investigation if it begins to be investigated by the police etc.
  • Wherever it’s appropriate to the cause, Members may be given the right to seek treatment or counselling, not just for illness or substance abuse, and this cause is no longer referred to as “the problem”.
  • The VPA may mitigate, alter, reduce, or suspend discipline on considering the factors behind the behaviour; this is no longer contingent on participation in an active treatment program.
  • The Dean gets to decide the effective date for minor discipline.
  • Members always have the right to seek legal counsel at their own expense, it wasn’t necessary to say it explicitly. The agreement no longer requires written notice when a Member wants to bring their personal lawyer to something.
  • All of the exceptions to when Article 24 documents go into a Personal File are clearly cross-referenced.
  • Vague language about the right to request removal of documents from a Personal File has been removed as it’s superseded by new language in Article 9.
  • The sort of behaviour that can lead to discipline is spelled out more clearly: violation of University policies or Article 11 responsibilities.
  • Supervisory actions, minor discipline actions, and major discipline actions are clearly separated and examples of each are provided. There is a new type of minor discipline listed: a letter of warning.
  • There is no need to say that grievance is available specifically here, since it is always available.
  • Re-appointment is included in the list of things that have to be considered separately from discipline and supervision.
  • It is clarified that all timelines for assessments (eg extension of probation) are suspended if disciplinary investigations/procedures are underway, so this doesn’t cause someone to exceed max times.
  • The list of assessments that can’t be affected by supervision and discipline independent of the facts of the case is expanded.
  • Procedural Fairness is explicitly invoked around whether or not supervisory/discipline materials are appropriately brought before an STP committee.
  • It isn’t necessary to say that a verbal discussion isn’t discipline since the agreement is now clear about what is and isn’t discipline up above (similarly for letter of guidance).
  • The Dean’s opinion about improvement isn’t specifically part of the criteria for moving to discipline.
  • The Discipline section specifically excludes Sessionals, who are treated separately at the end of the Article. Their language is from the SLHB, which was a significantly different process.
  • When there is a disciplinary investigation, the Member gets a summary of the findings.
  • In the minor discipline meeting, or as a result of investigation, the Dean may decide that the issue is more serious and major discipline is warranted. However, if that happens, the major discipline process must be started from scratch with its own independent investigation.
  • The Parties agreed to delete the discipline appeal committee. This was apparently never used, and only applied to minor discipline. Grievance still applies.
  • The nature of the complaint and the right to accompaniment are explicitly included in the VPA’s initial letter to the Member about the possibility of major discipline.
  • Professional Librarians and Instructors are eligible to serve on Investigation Committees, as are external investigators (but the Association must still agree in writing to anyone named).
  • Senior Academic Administrators from other Alberta universities can’t be on Investigation Committees. The length of time such people and ULFA Executive members are banned from serving on Investigation Committees after their term of office is shortened from 3 years to 2, but any restrictions can be waived by mutual agreement.
  • The agreement is less prescriptive about how the investigation is conducted, instead saying simply that it must be thorough and fair.
  • The Investigation Committee shall make no inferences based on someone’s willingness to meet with them or write to them.
  • The report of the Investigation Committee will recommend resolutions, rather than addressing the appropriateness of disciplinary penalties.
  • If there are minority reports from the Investigation Committee, these go to all members of the Investigation Committee.
  • If the VPA wants further investigation or information, they have to provide a rationale to the Member (and the Dean), and all the same procedures apply around responses to that information.
  • It is reiterated that discipline should be commensurate to the offense.
  • Non-performance of duties and breach of responsibilities as well as persistent neglect of both are grounds for dismissal for cause.
  • Clarification is provided that resolutions are not limited to the disciplines listed in Article 24, as long as both sides agree.
  • Mediation under alternative measures should be confidential and professional.
  • Arbitration is rewritten somewhat to clarify that the Association holds sole carriage rights for any grievances; a Member can’t pursue this without the Association.
  • The arbitrator is appointed through provisions in the Labour Relations Code if the Presidents can’t agree, and all other aspects of arbitration are exactly as in Article 22.
  • It is stated that for Sessional Lecturers also, discipline is commensurate to the offence. Supervisory matters and what goes into a Personal File all apply to Sessionals so don’t need to be repeated here.

Article 25 (Previously 26): Termination of Appointment for Financial Emergency or Due to Program Redundancy, Not Applicable to Members Holding Term Appointments or Sessional Lecturer Appointments

  • Throughout, this is rewritten to include Instructors and AAs with probationary or continuing appointments. Since they are now included throughout, the few places where there had been special provisions for taking them into account and treating them fairly in the context of all that was being done to protect Faculty Members/Professional Librarians have been removed.
  • In the definition of a financial emergency, threatening the continued function of the University encompasses extending for more than one year and turning into a deficit cash flow situation. The new definition requires that the situation need to include reductions from more than one employee group, not just reductions of our Members.
  • Information passes to the Association at various points.
  • The Board must consult with ULFA before announcing the terms of any Career Transition Incentive Program. This applies to the Career Transition program for program redundancy also.
  • Failing agreement, the chair of the Financial Emergency Commission gets appointed by the provincial Director of Mediation Services.
  • Clarification is provided that the Financial Emergency Commission looks at whether or not a wide variety of options other than layoffs have been considered.
  • Since the work of the Financial Emergency Commission could be blocked by non-cooperation from Board representatives and the Board is empowered to act unilaterally if the Commission fails to report, it has been added that in the absence of a consensus report, members of the Commission can write their own reports and all of these together are considered the report of the Commission. A similar provision is made around the report of the Program Redundancy Committee, later in this Article.
  • The President is no longer precluded from declaring a second financial emergency within 12 months if the first one doesn’t hold water (for example, if sudden unexpected provincial budget cuts come down), but is still precluded from doing so for the same or substantially similar reasons.
  • The recommendations from GFC that lead to changing/restructuring don’t need to recommend that the university make major changes in its priorities.
  • It requires 3 years rather than 2 of low enrolment to justify considering a declaration of program redundancy.
  • The redundancy committee is already dominated by Board/GFC reps; the Board non-voting members are now eliminated and the ULFA reps are reduced from two to one.
  • The redundancy committee doesn’t have the right to close its meetings to members of the university community.
  • Quorum for the redundancy committee is all voting members, and efforts will be made to accommodate the schedule of the ULFA rep also.
  • It is agreed to eliminate retraining provisions, which were largely unrealistic for highly-specialised employees. The agreement does still allow for someone to transfer to a position for which they can acquire the skills in a reasonable period.
  • ULFA gets copies of notifications of vacant academic positions, along with Members who have been affected by program redundancy.
  • Seniority is explicitly accumulated during leaves of absence with pay, and leaves covered by an SUB plan.
  • Seniority is no longer limited by an Academic Career.
  • The 12% of Members the VPA can choose to protect from layoffs is calculated only from active Members; the effect is that a lower number can be singled out in this way for inequitable treatment.
  • ULFA gets copies of the cases made for retaining individuals, and of all written layoff notices.
  • Members who have attained their “Academic Career” are no longer cut back from 12 months of severance pay to 4 in the event of layoffs.
  • Faculty Members and Professional Librarians no longer have a separate right of first refusal for Instructor/AA positions that open up; all Members have equal ROFR for any academic position that opens up, except that there is a higher right for positions within the same academic unit.
  • People who are recalled have one month instead of two to decide, but have at least six months instead of a reasonable period of not more than 12 months, to take up the position.

Article 26 (Previously 27): Holidays

  • Holiday names are updated. Municipal holidays aren’t observed by the university.
  • Added language says that Members will ensure that the instructional time listed per academic course will be adhered to, unless trumped by other provisions in the Collective Agreement or legislation.

Article 27 (Previously 28): Vacations

  • Members don’t need to be accountable to the university when on vacation, specifically for the performance of duties.
  • Payment in lieu of vacation is an option, to accommodate Sessionals and Members holding less than 0.5 FTE appointments.

Article 28 (Previously 29): Intellectual Property

  • No changes (largely duplicate schedule removed except for form)

Article 29 (Previously 30): Travel Fund and Expenses for Board-Assigned Travel

  • When someone makes use of the travel fund, they are expected to arrange for their classes to be covered or reschedule them, with no extraordinary expense to the Board or to students.
  • Travel expenses apply to travel that has been assigned by the Board; such expenses do not come out of the Travel Fund.

Article 30 (Previously 31): Research Fund

  • Explicitly includes creative activities.

Article 31 (Previously 32): Salary Schedules, Career Progress Increments, Merit Increments and Economic Benefits

  • No changes except housekeeping

Article 32 (Previously 33): Gradual Retirement & Reduced Load Status for Members other than Sessional Lecturers

  • Members must be reminded of their rights to participation and accompaniment before signing a Gradual Retirement or Reduced Load agreement.
  • There is a 20-day cooling-off period before any gradual retirement agreement becomes final.
  • All Gradual Retirement Plans are copied to the Association; if it is shortened, that agreement is also copied to the Association.
  • Reduced Load Status isn’t available under the Collective Agreement until the Member holds a probationary, tenured, or continuing appointment.
  • All Reduced Load Status agreements are also copied to the Association.
  • Members on Gradual Retirement or Reduced Load Status get a very thorough salary letter explaining all aspects to any adjustments they receive (this actually applies to all Members through a recent MOU that has been added as a Schedule).
  • Benefits are as in Schedule B, which pro-rates Professional Supplement and the Spouse/Dependent Tuition Benefit. Reference to Relocation Allowance has been eliminated since these are existing Members.

Article 33 (Previously 34): Leaves of Absence, excluding Sessional Lecturers

  • Time spent on leaves that have any pay/benefits count towards seniority. Leaves without pay interrupt the accumulation of seniority but don’t reset it.
  • Unpaid leave also doesn’t count for ACY or toward probation, tenure, etc.
  • Language is changed throughout to refer to medical leaves, medical conditions, and medical certificates.
  • When going on medical leave, the supervisor should be informed before duties are affected if that is practicable.
  • If Management has reason to doubt the medical capacity of the Member, they may require another examination and specify the type of professional required (but not the person); this examination and a Medical Certificate will be at the cost of the Board, who receive the Medical Certificate.
  • A Member is not moved to the LTD application process until 50 working days of medical leave (rather than 10).
  • When someone applies for LTD, the Wellness Department helps them and provides updates to them and the Association during the processing of the application.
  • The Dean is explicitly involved in coordinating the return to work of a Member who has been on LTD.
  • A Member going on parental/mat leave needs to supply evidence that they are eligible for EI, not that they are already getting it.
  • In language around adoption, “receipt” is replaced by “placement”.
  • The Dean doesn’t have to go to the President for a mat/parental leave as long as eligibility is met.
  • Agreement to alter the dates of a mat/parental leave shall not be unreasonably withheld.
  • Maternity and Parental Leaves are adjusted to take into account changes to EI:
    • there is a one-week waiting period rather than 2 weeks, so the total period of mat leave is shortened from 17 weeks to 16 weeks;
    • the available SUB Plan paid parental leave following a mat leave is increased from 3 weeks to 4 weeks, to keep the total period available at 20 weeks;
    • extended parental leaves allow Members to take up to 18 months (roughly speaking) rather than a year of parental leave, with lower weekly payments from EI;
    • Mothers who take extended mat leave will receive 100% of salary for full 20 weeks (followed by reduced EI payments thereafter)
    • Parents who are not birth mothers who take extended parental leave will receive their regular salary minus $225 for 20 weeks and EI at the reduced extended rate thereafter.
    • an extra 8 weeks is available on an extended parental leave if the second parent takes at least 8 weeks, and an extra 5 weeks for a standard parental leave.
  • Added language to reflect that for someone not eligible for a regular maternity/parental leave who gets a leave at 50% pay, that 50% pay plus their EI benefits can’t exceed 100% of their usual salary (this is to accord with EI regulations).
  • A lot of language was moved around.
  • Agreed to several new categories of leaves, similar to leaves available under the Employment Standards Code. (ULFA reads the Code as applying to Members, but the Board says that the government has issued a guide for employers saying that it doesn’t.)
  • Personal Leave (which did exist already) is up to 5 Working Days (but may be extended by an “Other Leave”), and is now explicitly paid leave.
  • Compassionate Care Leave is unpaid, and lasts up to 27 weeks. It must be taken to support a family member expected to die within 26 weeks. 2 weeks notice should be provided where practicable. More than one Member can apply to their Deans for concurrent Compassionate Care leave for the same relative.
  • Domestic Violence Leave includes up to 5 Working Days paid, and another up to 5 unpaid. The Member has to have been employed here for 90 days, and an incident of domestic violence has to have occurred, as defined in the Code. “Reasonable” notice is to be given (they explicitly said verbally that this could be same morning).
  • Language in political leave is moved around but not really changed.
  • In Secondment/Exchange leave, the Board may specify responsibilities during the leave, but there should not be any duties as it’s an unpaid leave.
  • During any of the unpaid leaves except secondment/exchange, Members retain rank and tenure/continuing status, but otherwise none of the Collective Agreement applies to them. They are responsible for all premiums for benefits, although they may opt out of some.
  • For all of the other leaves, the Collective Agreement applies fully.

Article 34 (New article based in part on SLHB Article 9): Sessional Lecturers

  • Tenure-track positions are also included as a way of meeting continuing academic staffing needs.
  • “other” communities are mentioned to allow for appointment of elders, for example.
  • There will be a general list of opportunities for Sessionals listed on the HR Careers page every July 1, to include disciplinary areas and levels of instruction (not just “we’ll be hiring Sessionals”).
  • Evaluation at another university counts for demonstrating teaching effectiveness.
  • Sessionals may be hired to teach up to 3 courses in a year, which could mean more than one in a semester. If they are teaching more than one in a semester, they become Sessional IIs for all such courses.
  • Summer Sessions can be included in Sessional contracts that cover multiple terms.
  • A Dean has to recommend the appointment.
  • The URL of the Collective Agreement goes into the appointment letter. Also included are rank, the courses and any special requirements, and info about the cancellation fee. Sessional lecturer appointments will now specify a start date (eg Aug 1 for Fall appointments) early enough that the Sessional can access library and email for prep. 10% of the stipend (the part that would be forfeited for cancellation) will be paid for that prep work, in advance of the start of classes.
  • To ensure right of first refusal, a Sessional has to write to the dean and include evidence that they have not been evaluated as unsatisfactory previously (e.g. via evaluations or, until this process is fully in place, by evidence that they were rehired). The Sessional who has done this, and taught the same or similar course most often in the past 3 years, has the right of first refusal. In the case of a tie, the Dean can choose among those tied. If no one has a right of first refusal, or everyone with one has declined, the Dean can choose a candidate. The right of first refusal is also contingent on not having received an unsatisfactory evaluation for teaching from the university within the past 3 years.
  • There are 2 ranks available for Sessional Lecturers. The default rank is Sessional I, but Sessional II applies if the person has not had an unsatisfactory evaluation in the past 3 years (from the university) and at least one of:
    • they’ve taught at least 5 courses here in those 3 years;
    • they’ve been a Sessional II before;
    • they’ve had any other academic appointment here before (Faculty Member/Prof Librarian/Instructor/AA); OR
    • they are teaching more than one course in a semester.
  • Same language for teaching effectiveness as was agreed to in Articles 12 and 15. They have to submit evidence within 20 Working Days of the end of their appointment in order to qualify for the right of first refusal. The Dean assigns someone to provide a written evaluation based on this evidence. If that is less than satisfactory, they have 5 days to appeal (in writing, with reasons) to the Dean. The Dean’s decision is final.
  • As in other evaluation processes, personal/social compatibility are not criteria.
  • As with other Members, they need to inform their supervisor of the need for a medical leave before it affects their duties if practicable.
  • Leave for special circumstances is no longer a subcategory of medical leave.

Schedule A: Salary Schedules and Stipends

  • Floors for Faculty Members/Professional Librarians increase by $2500 each of the two years. Floors for Instructors/AAs increase by $1500 each year. This is the most the Board could give without increasing existing salary mass (which was their biggest red line) and is roughly equivalent as a percentage.
  • The new Sessional II rank has a minimum stipend just under $300 higher than the Sessional I stipend.
  • Sessional language is imported from the SLHB.
  • Since the Board contributes full amounts into the merit pools and fund for people on reduced load/gradual retirement, but only actually pays them a reduced value (because their salaries are pro-rated), money is left in these pools and fund. This money is to be distributed as (non-base-pay) bonuses to Instructors/AAs who are at the cap, in proportion to the merit they earn (effective this July).
  • The COLA formula has been deleted. COLA remains a concept in the agreement, but is set to 0% for July 1 2018 and July 1 2019.
  • The fee paid to Sessional Lecturers when a course is cancelled does not depend on the reason for the cancellation, or on who made the decision.
  • Career Progress and Merit Increments will continue to be paid for two 1 Julys after the agreement expires even if a new agreement has not yet been ratified (through July 1 of 2021, in recognition that those increments are based on work that has been completed within the period of this contract (the 2019-20 PAR)); this is a process similar to, but distinct from, bridging, in that it is explicitly contracted. COLA does not bridge (it would be 0 anyway).

Schedule B: Economic Benefits

  • It’s effective for the life of the contract, and only a few of the provisions apply to Sessionals.
  • Increased the dental coverage from the 2016 fee guide to the 2019 fee guide. This will use up any unspent part of the Board’s contributions as listed in B.03.1, and result in most members paying a small monthly fee for these benefits (about $5 we believe).
  • Both the per-year allocation and the cap on professional supplement are prorated for people on reduced load etc. This had been the Board’s practice. Additional language around the pro-ration agrees with material in the Reduced Load article and sees everyone whose load is less than full time treated the same.
  • Unused balance of professional supplement for Members who leave is reduced by prorating the final year’s payment proportional to the time they are here.
  • The spouse and dependent tuition benefit is prorated for Members on reduced load, more clearly.
  • An out-of-date URL is deleted.
  • The EI rebate agreement is moved from Schedule N to here, since it is an economic benefit.
  • We agree that in the event of a strike or lockout, the Board continues benefits coverage but the Association undertakes to reimburse the costs that are incurred during the job action. (Waiving such repayment could be part of the negotiations.)
  • Death benefits are moved into Schedule B, from Article 16 and the SLHB respectively.

Deleted Schedule C: Negotiation and Impasse – Resolving Procedures

  • This is now covered by the Labour Relations Code. Agreed to delete it.

Schedule C (Previously D): MOU Grandfathering Clause for Probationary Appointments

  • No one was sure whether or not any Members are still impacted by this, so agreed to keep it for now.

Schedule D (Previously E): Copyright

  • The form remains. All of the other useful language had already been incorporated into the old Article 29 (now Article 28) so is deleted.

Schedule E (Previously F): Professional Activities Report

  • Unchanged

Deleted Schedule G: Equity Working Group

  • This work is complete. We are deleting the MOU.

Deleted Schedule H: Code of Conduct for BoG Faculty Reps

  • Agreed that how Board Members interact with Board policies and the university community is a Board concern, not a Collective Agreement issue. Agreed to delete.

Schedule F (Previously I): ACY implementation

  • Unchanged

Schedule G (Previously J): Daycare

  • Unchanged

Schedule H (Previously K): Maternity/Parental Leave Examples

  • Updated to reflect changes to EI and changes negotiated in Article 34 (now 33).

Deleted Schedule L: Categories of Documents

  • Useful material has been incorporated into Article 11. Agreed to delete.

Schedule I (Previously M): Implementation of Academic Assistant/Instructor Language

  • Unchanged

Schedule J (Previously Q): Conflict of Interest and/or Conflict of Commitment Declaration

  • Preamble deleted (not useful); form retained.

Deleted Schedule N: EI Premium Rebate

  • Moved into Schedule B and deleted.

Deleted Schedule O: Lecturers Grievance

  • Has been dealt with. Agreed to delete

Deleted Schedule P: Deleting Lecturers

  • Has been dealt with. Agreed to delete

Schedule K (New): Student Evaluations of Teaching

  • A working group (2 Board Reps, 2 ULFA reps) is established to consider how to implement the new language on student evaluations of teaching from Articles 12, 15, and 34. They are to report back within a year.
  • In the interim, assessors will be provided with a copy of arbitrator Kaplan’s ruling from Ryerson about the use of student evaluations of teaching, and their inherent biases.

Schedule L (New): Harassment and Discrimination Policy

  • Grievance resolution

Schedule M (New): Agreement Re. Hiring ULFA Employees as Sessional Lecturers MOU

  • Grievance resolution

Schedule N (New): Grieving Administrative Suspensions

  • Grievance resolution

Schedule O (New): Evidence for appeals

  • Grievance resolution

Schedule N (New): Academic Career Years (ACY) Resolution

  • Grievance resolution (redacted to remove personal details)

Schedule O (New): Merit Pool/Fund Contributions

  • Grievance resolution

Schedule Q (New): MOU on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

  • The Parties agree on overarching goals and principles about promoting these ideals and getting rid of things that hinder them, in the context of Academic Staff. A Joint Equity Committee (2 Board reps, 2 ULFA reps, co-chairs chosen from these 4 people one from each side) is established to investigate equity issues in the context of academic staff, and to report annually to ULFA and the Board. Basic principles of accommodation are listed: what it is, what needs to be done to accommodate Members as needed.

Schedule R: Conclusion of Bargaining (Replaces previous iteration)

  • The Parties commit to ratification before the end of October. The agreement is July 1 2018-June 30 2020. All of the Articles and Schedules that have been modified in this round of bargaining are listed (there are 47 of them, counting the Schedules that are being carried forward unmodified, of which there are 6).
  • The Parties agree to add the 7 new MOUs mentioned above (6 signed between negotiations, plus the student evaluations of teaching one). (The Equity one is listed among the 47 things being modified.)
  • The Parties agree to delete the SLHB, now covered by the Collective Agreement.
  • The Parties agree to a set of 10 housekeeping changes that will be carried out through all the Articles (these have been largely carried out in the negotiated Articles).
  • The Parties agree to a restructuring template for the next round: section applying to all Members, section applying to everyone but Sessionals, and individual job category Articles. The following principles for restructuring are agreed to:
    • language shall be written to apply as broadly as possible, and shall appear only once (where possible);
    • there will be a new Article about Evaluation, including material from Articles 12, 13, 14, 15, and 21.
    • there will be a new Article about STP procedures, based on a genericised version of 20.03.
    • material from Articles 14 and 15 will be merged into Articles 13, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 so they apply to everyone but Sessionals (and to Sessionals as well for 18).
    • Articles 21 and 32 (now 31) will be reorganised so 21 is about increments and 32 is about everything else.
  • The Parties agree that to start the re-structuring, the relevant proposals from ULFA will be considered re-tabled for the next round of bargaining, with language updated based on things that have been agreed to since they were tabled.
  • The Parties agree that any ambiguities in Articles that were carried forward because of the way they interact with articles that were changed will be dealt with through interpretation.
  • Finally, the Board agrees to pay Career Progress and Merit Increments upon ratification by ULFA, or on July 1, 2019, whichever comes later, whether or not they’ve ratified the Collective Agreement yet.

 

Bargaining update May 21, 2018. Agreement in principle

Negotiating teams from ULFA and the Board of Governors met yesterday to conclude negotiations of the 2018-2020 Collective Agreement.

In an extended session, the two teams finalised the remaining articles and schedules: Article 2 (Definitions) and Schedule R (Conclusion of bargaining).

Both sides will now present the agreement-in-principle to their principals for recommendation and ratification.

In the case of ULFA, the agreement will be presented to the Executive at its next meeting, at which point the Executive will decide whether it will recommend the agreement to the membership for ratification. Ratification will require a special meeting of the Membership followed by an electronic ballot.

The bargaining team is in the process of preparing versions of the agreement with an explanation of the proposed changes. We will publish further information about the proposed agreement once this is ready.

Bargaining update May 8, 9, 10, and 14

Representatives of the Board of Governors and ULFA met on May 8, 9, 10, and 14 to continue negotiations. The extended sessions saw the two sides reach agreements-in-principle on most remaining articles (As always, you can follow the progress of individual articles here):

May 8

12 Criteria for Extension of Probation, Tenure, Promotion and Salary Increments for Faculty Members

May 9

11 Rights and Responsibilities

26 Termination of Appointment for Financial Emergency or Due to Program Redundancy

May 10

25 Supervision and Discipline

May 14

MoU Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (NEW)

34 Leaves of Absence

Schedule K Maternity Leave Examples

At this point, the two sides have yet to reach formal agreement-in-principle on two articles and schedules: Article 2 (Definitions) and Schedule S (replacing the current Schedule R), in which the two sides conclude bargaining and commit themselves to recommending the concluded agreement for ratification. The two sides hope to reach final agreement on these items and the agreement as a whole on Tuesday May 21–slightly more than a year after negotiations began on April 24, 2018. The first exchanges of language took place on May 11, 2018.

The next step once agreement on all articles is reached is for the agreement-in-principle to be recommended by the bargaining teams to their principals for ratification. In the case of ULFA this process involves presenting the agreement-in-principle to the ULFA executive and, with the executive’s recommendation, to the ULFA membership for a ratification vote. Ratification will require a special meeting of the membership in order to move and second the motion for ratification by electronic ballot. More information about this special meeting will be communicated to the membership after final agreement-in-principle is reached. Members will also be provided with access to the proposed agreement, as well as detailed and summary accounts of the proposed changes.

Bargaining update May 2, 2019

Representatives of the Board of Governors and ULFA met on May 2nd to continue bargaining. This was to discuss issues remaining after a majority of the major mandate issues were settled in marathon sessions on April 17, 18, and 23.

Two articles were settled on May 2:

  • 22 (Grievance Procedure); and
  • 33 (Gradual Retirement and Reduced Load)

A third article, 11 (Rights and Responsibilities) saw two exchanges during the session. While the two sides are close on this article, some significant differences remain. You can follow the status of all articles here.

Finally, the two teams agreed on some extended times for negotiation on May 8-10. On each day the teams will meet in the morning and then return for a shorter session in the afternoon.

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.

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.

We Are Seeking an Executive Director

The University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) is seeking to hire a full-time, continuing position for an Executive Director. The application deadline is April 15th, 2019. Please see the attached Executive Director Job Ad – Mar 2019.

Bargaining update March 14

ULFA and representatives of the Board of Governors met on Thursday March 14. This was the third meeting since the two sides agreed to investigate an expedited approach to resolving negotiations by focussing on the core elements of each side’s mandate.

As agreed in our meeting on February 21, the first two meetings under this new approach involved presentations on Articles 4-6 (Applications and Exclusions; Recognition; and Communication and Information). This third meeting, on March 14, was to focus on Articles 15 (Instructors/Academic Assistants) and “35” (Sessional Lecturers). ULFA was also able to bring a response to the Board’s latest proposals on Articles 4-6. Finally, in conjunction with their proposals for 15 and 35, the Board of Governors offered new language on Schedules A and B. As always you can follow the progress of individual articles here.

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

In their proposals for these Articles, the Board of Governors addressed a number of elements in the two sides’ mandates. As is the case with Articles 4-6, the two sides appear to be narrowing the differences in a constructive and creative fashion. While there are still significant and serious areas of disagreement, the last three weeks have seen movement on both sides.

In addition to presenting language, the two sides also arranged a number of additional negotiating days, with meetings scheduled each week through the end of April.

ALRB rationale released

On Monday March 11, the ALRB released a detailed and technical rationale for its February 20th ruling in favour of the Board of Governors on Bridging. You can find the full decision here. You can follow the issues at stake in the ruling starting here and here. As noted in our February 21st blog, this decision means that the status quo continues, in which the Board of Governors didn’t pay COLA increases after the expiration of the previous contract pending any new arrangements in this round of negotiations.

Bargaining update March 1 and 4, 2019

Bargaining teams representing the Board of Governors and ULFA met on Friday March 1 and Monday March 4. These were additional dates provided on short notice by ULFA at the request of the Board of Governors’ representatives in order to explore expediting our work on the remaining unsettled articles.

On Friday, as agreed at our February 21 meeting, ULFA presented Articles 4, 5, 6, 22, and 26. The Board of Governors for its part presented a proposal for an Memorandum of Understanding to postpone further consideration of some proposals until the next round of negotiations. On Monday, the Board of Governors responded to ULFA’s presentations on Articles 4, 5, and 6.

ULFA Board of Governors
Article 4 Applications and Exclusions
Article 5 Recognition
Article 6 Communication and Information
Article 22 Grievance and Interpretation
Article 26 Financial Emergency
Memorandum of Understanding (draft)
Articles 4, 5, 6 (responses)

It is difficult to characterise the current state of negotiations. Since these were the first meetings under this new approach, it is too early to tell whether it will lead to the kind of expedited settlement the two sides envisioned in their February 21 meeting that would focus on the key “mandate” issues for each side. While there was some welcome movement on both sides, there were also some old sticking points and we have not reached an agreement in principle on any of these Articles.

ALRB hearing (February 6, 7 and 20) and Negotiating Updates: January 31 and February 21

ALRB hearing

Representatives from ULFA and the Board of Governors of the University of Lethbridge attended a hearing of the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) in Calgary on February 6 and 7. At the hearing, the ALRB agreed to provide a decision, with rationale to follow, on February 20th. You can find out more about the issues at stake in this hearing by reading backwards from here.

The ALRB issued its ruling (without rationale) as promised at the close of business yesterday (Wednesday February 20). In its brief statement the ALRB indicated that there is “not a violation of section 147(3) of the Labour Code” as alleged by ULFA.

The ALRB ruling was brief and raised a number of questions for which we will be seeking further clarification, either via our counsel or after the ALRB provides its rationale. In the meantime, however, it appears that the current status quo will prevail, in which the Board of Governors paid Professional Supplement, Career Progress, and Merit on June 30th, 2018 but not COLA. As we noted in our December 2nd Blog

The main risk to ULFA of the Labour Board hearing is essentially that a loss will make the status quo permanent. The Board of Governors has already withheld the July 1, 2018 COLA; if we lose at the Board, then our members will continue to receive the 0s they are already receiving. They will have lost the COLA adjustment we believe that they are owed. But nobody will be worse (or better) off after a loss than they have been since the Board of Governors began withholding that payment.

In other words, it now appears that Members will not receive retroactive COLA increases in 2018-2019 as a result of the bridging provisions of the Albert Labour Relations Code but rather that their salaries will continue as they now are.

We will add further information to this here and/or in our town halls as it becomes available to us.

Negotiating Updates

Representatives of ULFA and the Board of Governors also met in two negotiating sessions since our last blog: January 31 and February 21. As always, you can follow the progress of individual articles here.

January 31

On January 31st, ULFA presented the second installment of its response to the Board’s “Parts,” while the Board presented a response to ULFA’s last proposal on Article 33 Reduced Load and Gradual Retirement:

ULFA Board of Governors
14 Professional Librarians
20 Promotion
21 Increments
25 Supervision and discipline
32 Salary Schedules
33 Reduced Load

At the meeting, the two sides also began discussions of ways of bringing negotiations to conclusion.

February 21

The negotiations on February 21st picked up the discussion of ways to bring negotiations to a conclusion in a more detailed way. ULFA also presented more of its response to the Board of Governors’ “Parts” and the Board provided a response to ULFA’s last proposal on 34 Leaves.

ULFA Board of Governors
15 Instructors/Academic Assistants
“35” Sessionals
34 Leaves

As a result of the discussions about process, the two sides agreed to seek an increase in the number of meeting times and a preliminary approach to dividing up the remaining articles: articles that are key to the two sides’ mandates; articles that require revision due to the exigencies of the Labour Code; and articles involved in the proposed restructuring of the Handbook (i.e. the “Parts”).

If the two sides are able to find a common meeting time next week, this will be devoted to a broad discussion of goals for the remaining articles.

The week after that, ULFA will present material from some or all of Articles 4, 5, and 6 (Applications and Exclusions, Recognition, and Communication) while the Board will respond to ULFA’s proposals on Sessional and Instructors/Academic Assistants (15, 35, but also related parts of other articles including 21 and 32).

In the following meeting, the two sides have provisionally scheduled a response from the Board of Governors to Articles 4, 5, and 6 and, from ULFA, a new proposal on Schedules A and B that takes into account the Board work on Sessionals and Instructors. After that, the sides will endeavour to meet weekly as schedules allow until a final agreement is reached.

Update on Essential Services

Following up on the last post, representatives of ULFA (Kelly Williams-Whitt, Rob Sutherland and Annabree Fairweather) and the Board (Chris Hosgood, Lorna Selinger and Scott Harling) met with about a dozen of our Members, January 28 and 30 to collect detailed information about aspects of their duties as academic staff that might perform essential services. These were excellent conversations and our Members outlined duties involving dangerous chemicals and hazardous materials, supervision of therapies involving at risk clients and oversight of experimental treatments with potential for adverse participant outcomes. Our Members are on the frontline of protecting and enhancing public health and safety.

In a very productive follow-up meeting, February 13, ULFA provided a complete draft Essential Services Agreement that was discussed by representatives of both sides. Clearly there will be some modifications, but we are confident that we now have the foundations for our final agreement.

Bargaining Update (January 17). Response to Board “Parts”; Movement away from agreement on Article 6 (Communication); Negotiations resume on Article 22/1 (Grievance and Interpretation)

Bargaining teams from ULFA and the Board of Governors met to exchange proposals on Thursday January 17 (as always you can follow the progress of individual articles here).

ULFA Board of Governors
  • Outline of “Parts” response
  • Article XX (Common agreement): Evaluation
  • Article ZZ (Faculty/Librarians/Academic Assistants/Instructors): Standard STP Procedures
  • Article “34” (originally 12): Faculty Members
  • Article 6: Communication
  • Article 22 (includes Article 1): Grievance

These were important exchanges, particularly in the case of the “Parts” and Article 6.

Handbook Reorganisation (“Parts”)

ULFA began its presentation of a response to the Board of Governors’ “Parts” proposal. You can read more about different elements in the the Board of Governors’ proposal here, here, here, here, here, and here.

In the January 17th meeting, ULFA focussed on its proposal for the overall structure of the Collective Agreement and three sample articles that showed how the proposed reorganisation would

  1. make the collective agreement considerably easier for Members and Management to navigate;
  2. allow for quicker settlements in future rounds of negotiations by reducing the number of places in which potentially controversial language is located; and
  3. speed up the current round of negotiations by identifying and separating out potentially controversial articles (e.g. describing the specific processes to go through during discipline or STP appeals or financial elements) from relatively non-controversial material (e.g. the number and name of the faculty ranks).

The proposal built on the Board’s proposal to divide the Collective Agreement into two main “Parts”: a “common agreement” containing language applicable to all ULFA members (Academic Assistants, Faculty Members, Instructors, Librarians, and Sessionals), and a second set of “Parts,” containing specific conditions for each job category. ULFA’s major objection to the Board’s proposal was the amount of duplication it involved: each “part” would have its own Schedule A outlining economic benefits, its own structures and processes for Personnel Committees, and so on. In ULFA’s view, this would both make the Agreement difficult to oversee and needlessly complicate current and future rounds of negotiations in as much as similar language would need to be negotiated for several job categories in parallel.

ULFA’s proposal was to create a third type of article, organised by process and genericised so that it could be used for each relevant employee category.

To show how this would work, ULFA presented three articles: two new articles containing “genericised” processes (XX Evaluation and ZZ Standard STP processes for Faculty, Librarians, Academic Assistants, and Instructors), and a third showing what the individual employee “parts” would look like (Article 12 Faculty Members).

In the next weeks, ULFA will present the remainder of the employee parts and genericised processes.

Article 6: Communication

In the case of Article 6 (Communication), the Board presented its latest proposal. As you can see from our spreadsheet, Article 6 has been discussed 7 times since negotiations began in May. Since “Communication” in this case involves Management-Union relations and these have changed in fundamental ways with recent changes to the Post Secondary Learning Act and the Labour Relations Code, settling this article is a sine qua non of any final agreement. As a union under the Code, ULFA now has statutory duties that require access to information about its members sufficient to co-manage the Collective Agreement and represent its members under the Agreement and the Code itself.

While the two sides are generally close to agreement on this article, there now appear to be three main areas of disagreement:

  • On whether ULFA should be given copies of letters of appointment for new members and members who are changing position or being given modified duties;
  • On whether data protection and privacy language in the Collective Agreement should apply to ULFA alone, both ULFA and the Board, or be omitted;
  • On whether the Board is obliged to provide ULFA with contractually agreed upon information or whether this obligation extends only to information that is in a form they can easily collect or already do collect;

In the case of the first of these areas of disagreement, the two sides are now farther apart than they were last June: ULFA first proposed that letters of appointment be provided to the union in its proposal of June 8th; the Board of Governors then adopted ULFA’s language in their response of June 18 (also repeated in ULFA’s counter proposal on October 22nd).

In mid November, however, the Board retreated from this joint position, removing Letters of Appointment from the list of information to be provided to the union in the November 15th proposal. It then confirmed that this omission was deliberate and marked a change from their previous position during discussions of ULFA’s counter on December 20th. The current Board proposal once again omits these previously-agreed upon letters.

In the case of data protection and privacy language, ULFA has proposed language that would require the two sides to handle data with care and work together proactively in the event of a data or privacy breach. While both the Board and ULFA are subject to external legislation governing the protection of data (FOIP in the case of the Board, PIPA in the case of ULFA), ULFA’s position has been that including mutual and reciprocal language about data and privacy protection in the Collective Agreement has an important role to play in both educating members and line managers as to their obligations and ensuring quick and effective cooperation in the event of a privacy or data breach. Since such language reinforces but in no way detracts from the two parties’ external statutory obligations, ULFA believes that this is an easy, low risk, and high visibility way of establishing a policy of mutual, proactive collaboration in keeping member data safe.

The Board argues that it should not be governed by the collective agreement in this area. Its position is that FOIP provides members with sufficient protection in the event of a Board of Governors’ breach and that language covering data protection in the Collective Agreement should apply to ULFA alone, and apply only to information collected by the Board and then provided to ULFA.

The last point of disagreement concerns whether the Board can be required to provide the information it agrees to supply under the Collective Agreement. ULFA’s position is that information the Board agrees to share under the Collective Agreement must in fact be provided by the Board in accordance with that same agreement. The Board’s position is that it should be able to refuse to supply information it has previously agreed to provide under the Collective Agreement should it currently not collect that information in the required format or should it determine unilaterally that the information is difficult to collect.

It seems apparent that the two sides will not be able to come to agreement on this article unless there is significant movement on all three of the remaining areas of disagreement. Since these involve fundamental issues of union rights and privacy, it is also possible that this will end up being one of the last articles to be settled in this round.

Grievance/Interpretation (Article 22)

The Board also presented its third proposal for language in Article 22/1 (Grievance and Interpretation). This is a large and complex article and ULFA is currently examining how this latest proposal related to  previous exchanges. At first glance, however, the two sides appear to be less far apart in this case than on Article 6.

Athabasca Collective Agreement Bargaining Reaches Impasse

The Athabasca University Faculty Association (AUFA) announced on January 23 that bargaining had officially reached impasse.

What is impasse and why is it happening at Athabasca?

Impasse occurs when one or both sides conclude that no further progress in negotiations is possible at the bargaining table. You can read more about this in the case of AUFA here.

The threat of impasse at Athabasca University (AU) has been looming for several months (you can follow the progress of bargaining at AU here; Bob Barnetson’s Labour and Employment in Alberta Blog is also a useful source of current information). The norm in public settlements during this round of bargaining in Alberta has involved tradeoffs between “language”  and “money”: that is to say unions have generally been willing to accept lower wage increases in exchange for improvements in job conditions, job security, and other working conditions and benefits. While some large provincial unions have accepted “0s” on the monetary side in exchange for significant management concessions on language, it is important to realise that there is no formula. The City of Lethbridge, for example, recently settled with its employees for modest pay increases with “give and take” on language.

The administration at Athabasca University has been much more aggressive than the provincial norm in its approach in this round of bargaining by seeking significant concessions on both language and money. In common with many (but not all) public sector employers, they have been offering no across-the-board salary increase. But in contrast to most provincial public sector employers, they have also been seeking significant concessions on language, focussing particularly on achieving gains in “management rights” with regard to issues like sick leave, discipline, and so on.

In addition to being an outlier in its demands at the table, the Athabasca University administration has also been an outlier in its approach to the bargaining process. It has pursued a “hard bargaining” or highly positional approach which leaves little room for seeking creative compromise. While hard bargaining can be effective for single issue negotiations and when there is a large disparity in power between the two sides at a bargaining table (see for example, this study of EU financial negotiations), studies suggest that it is less effective when there are multiple issues on the table or when it causes parties to adopt entrenched positions. It is also less effective when the “hard” side is in vulnerable to job action by a well-prepared union, which may be the case across the Comprehensive Academic and Research Universities, including Athabasca, Alberta, Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge (for an interesting study of how a vulnerable party can engage in counter-productive hard-bargaining, see this study of Britain’s negotiating stance in Brexit negotiations). Regardless of its short-term effectiveness, hard bargaining also has a negative impact in the long term on future labour relations as it tends to create ill will.

What are the next steps?

The AUFA addressed the possibility of impasse in a December 4th blog. It has since called attention to some of the more unreasonable demands presented by the AU administration, such as language requiring employees to be seen by a Board-selected doctor as part of the basic sick leave process. This type of blanket approach to sick leave has been consistently rejected in arbitral jurisprudence, and represents a considerable and unnecessary invasion of employee privacy. In recent blogs, The AUFA work stoppage committee has begun preparing for job action–arranging supplies, preparing protocols, and making signs. The next steps now that an impasse has been declared involve:

  • finalising an Essential Services Agreement (required before the sides can engage in job action or enter into formal mediation);
  • beginning formal mediation;
  • conducting strike and/or lockout votes
  • beginning job action (lockout or strike)

During this process the two sides may also (and usually do) return to the table to seek ways of breaking the impasse. Indeed in the Canadian post-secondary sector, strike votes more often lead to negotiated settlements than they do to work stoppage. In 2018, for example, eight members of the CAUT defense fund held strike votes; all eight contracts were subsequently settled at the table without job action.

In such cases, a strike vote demonstrates that the union’s membership stands behind its negotiating team and is prepared to support it by job action if necessary. Especially when employers engage in hard bargaining as at AU, it can be necessary to demonstrate this support before the employer will engage in the kind of creative consensus-building negotiations that are required to reach a successful agreement. Of course unions should never bluff when it comes to job action. Members who vote for a strike must also be prepared to go on strike should a resolution prove impossible to find at the table.

ULFA supports AUFA’s members as they face these difficult decisions.

Progress on an Essential Services Agreement

According the Alberta Labour Code, ULFA and the Board of Governors must establish an Essential Services Agreement (ESA). The terms of this agreement specify which academic staff activities must be continued in the case of a job action in order to protect public health and safety. Background on this required bargaining process can be found in an earlier post here and here. ULFA and the Board have met several times already to discuss the parameters of this bargaining and discussion is ongoing.

Initially the Board stated that no academic staff covered by our collective agreement provide any services that would be considered essential under the legislation. At the table we agreed to conduct a survey of our Members to cast a broad net to ensure that Members who might be providing essential services were not overlooked. Both sides examined the resulting survey responses and agreed that a next step would be to interview our Members, focusing on those who indicated that their duties may require coverage in the event of job action.

The ESA bargaining process is separate from the Handbook negotiations, and requires a different approach. The objective for ULFA is to ensure the health and safety of the University community is protected in the event of job action (strike or lockout), but also to have as few people as possible be put in the position of having to cross picket lines. We believe this approach aligns with the Board of Governor’s objectives as well, which opens the door to more creative problem-solving at the ESA bargaining table.

Representatives of both sides (Kelly Williams-Whitt and Rob Sutherland for ULFA) will participate in interviews of more than a dozen of our members next week (January 28 and 30) to collect more detailed information for establishing an ESA.

Bargaining update (December 20); ALRB Resolution Conference (January 8); Town Halls (Jan 9 and 10)

December 20

ULFA and representatives of the Board of Governors met on December 20th. The sides discussed four articles (as always, you can follow the progress of negotiations here):

ULFA Board of Governors
6 Communication and Information
11 Rights and Responsibilities
16 Termination of Appointment
32 Salary Schedules, Career Progress Increments, Merit Increments, and Economic Benefits

The main item of discussion was Article 6 (Communication and Information). Although the two sides have agreed to a lot of language in this article in five exchanges over the past few months, the previous version presented by the Board of Governors on November 15 moved away from some of these originally common positions. In this sixth exchange of the Article, ULFA hoped to reintroduce some areas of previous agreement and bring things nearer to a close.

In a detailed discussion lasting approximately half the available time, the two sides discussed various practical and philosophical issues with regard to the article: the degree to which specific types of information are truly necessary for co-management of the Collective Agreement (now statutorily required under the Labour Code); how easy or difficult it is to collect certain kinds of information; and broader questions of management rights and the contractual function of letters of appointment. The Board of Governors will use this discussion to inform their next response on this article.

Articles 11 and 32 were also fully presented with discussion. Article 11 deals with several aspects of Academic Freedom and responsibility, including duties towards students and colleagues. Article 32 discusses various aspects of the way salary, increments, and other economic benefits are determined. This was a first response by the Board of Governors to this article, which ULFA had initially presented in June. The Board presented their response in this meeting at the request of ULFA, who want to include this material in their broader response to the Board’s “parts” (a thorough-going reorganisation of the Collective Agreement proposed by the Board of Governors in various stages from June through November 2018). Finally at the end of the session, the Board of Governors handed over a response to Article 16 (Termination of Appointment). Since there was little time to discuss this article, the two sides agreed to reserve further discussion until the next meeting (January 17).

The two sides have a long-standing agreement that ULFA will begin its presentation of a response to the “Parts” beginning on January 17. The presentation of the full response should require three meetings and as a result is expected to conclude in February.

ALRB Resolution Conference

The two sides met at the ALRB on January 8th for a Resolution Conference regarding the payment of COLA which, in ULFA’s view, is required by the Labour Code. The purpose of a Resolution Conference is to determine whether there is scope for the two sides to come to agreement before a full hearing.

The Resolution Conference took the form of a mediation session. The two sides met separately with a Labour Board representative (in this case, Commissioner Gwen Gray). Ms Gray began with ULFA, discussing its understanding of the issues and devoting particular attention to the details of the “Expedited Package” it presented last December. She then went to discuss the case with the Board of Governors representatives.

After a brief return for clarification with ULFA, Ms Grey indicated that no resolution seemed possible. The two sides then met for a case management meeting in which legal counsel for both sides explored positions, and discussed the documentation and witnesses they intend to call at the hearing.

Town Halls

On January 9 and 10 representatives from ULFA’s bargaining team met with Instructors and Academic Assistants. The goal of these town halls was to

  • seek input on some language ULFA was considering adding to the Instructor/Academic Assistant article (Article 15);
  • discuss the current state of negotiations and game out responses to various possible bargaining outcomes.

The bargaining team would like to thank all Members who attended the town halls for their insights and contributions to some very helpful discussions.

ULFA will be holding a number of town halls over the course of the semester with different employee groups to continue this discussion. Although some town halls may be aimed at specific employee groups, all Members are welcome to attend any of the town hall meetings.

Bargaining Committee and Job Action Committee–Slides from the December 6 FGM

Here are the slides from the Bargaining Committee and Job Action Committee from the December 6 ULFA Fall General Meeting.

Newsletter – 2019 – January

Bargaining update: December 4

Bargaining teams for the Board of Governors and ULFA met as scheduled on Tuesday December 4.

ULFA brought proposals to the meeting for Article 6 (Communication), 11 (Rights and Responsibilities), and 26 (Financial Emergency and Redundancy). The Board of Governors’ team brought a proposal for Article 9 (Personal Files).

The meeting ended up focussed entirely on Article 9. The Board of Governors’ team made its presentation and then asked the ULFA team to take a caucus to consider whether it would be able to agree the proposed language in principle. After a brief review that uncovered a number of relevant discrepancies between this proposal and ULFA’s previous language for this article, we re-convened to discuss how to use the remainder of our meeting, and engaged in a short but productive discussion of the differences we had observed. ULFA then indicated that it could either take Article 9 and return with a new proposal next meeting or take a longer caucus to revise the Board’s current language during this meeting. The Board side asked ULFA to take a longer caucus to prepare a counter-proposal for presentation in the same meeting.

After about 75 minutes, the two sides met again and ULFA presented its counter-proposal. With a few additional edits, the two sides were able to come to agreement. This also coincided with the end of the three-hour session. You can follow the status of all articles in this round of negotiations here.

This is the first time we have taken this approach in negotiations. In all, the two sides spent between 45 and 60 minutes in face-to-face discussions and almost two hours in caucus. While it is not unusual for teams to work like this on a single article towards the end of contract negotiations, it is somewhat less common to see it with so much still on the table, and in relation to a relatively technical article like Article 9.

Both sides agreed to bring proposals to the next scheduled bargaining session on December 20, and that for ULFA this means bringing our proposals for Articles 6, 11, and 26 since they were not presented on December 4.

November 27 Bargaining Update

Board of governors rejects ULFA’s proposal for expedited bargaining

The two parties met on Tuesday November 27th so that the Board of Governors’ representatives could present their response to ULFA’s proposed expedited package for negotiations. You can read more about the history of this proposal here, here, and here.

The Board of Governors’ team did not bring any language to the meeting. They indicated instead that they believed that the two sides were too far apart to complete the expedited process within the agreed-upon time-frame and, as a result, said that they were not willing to continue bargaining within the proposed expedited framework.

Under the ground rules to which the two sides agreed before ULFA presented its package, the Board of Governors’ decision brought the expedited process to an end. As previously agreed, the two sides now return to positions they presented on or before November 15, the last day of regular negotiations (you can see the progress of regular and expedited negotiations here).

Why did the expedited package fail?

The failure of the expedited package was always considered a possibility by both sides. Because it is an example of the very different type of bargaining possible with a single table, we believe it is important for our membership to understand how the process worked and some of the possible reasons why the Board of Governors rejected the expedited package at this time.

ULFA presented the offer after the Board of Governors’ representatives asked what it would take for ULFA to suspend its “bridging” complaint to the Labour Board.  The complaint is in regards to the Governors’ failure to pay a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) on July 1, 2018 as the Association asserts is required by its Collective Agreement and the Labour Code.  (You can read more about the issues at stake and background here. The history of our discussion and the involvement of the Labour Relations Board can be followed here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

ULFA’s proposal for expedited bargaining answered this question by creating a way to mitigate the risk of either side losing at the Labour Board.

The main risk to ULFA of the Labour Board hearing is essentially that a loss will make the status quo permanent. The Board of Governors has already withheld the July 1, 2018 COLA; if we lose at the Board, then our members will continue to receive the 0s they are already receiving. They will have lost the COLA adjustment we believe that they are owed. But nobody will be worse (or better) off after a loss than they have been since the Board of Governors began withholding that payment.  

The risk to the Board of Governors at the Labour Board hearing is the possibility of a decision requiring them to pay 2.2% in COLA backdated to July 1, 2018 and continuing forward until negotiations conclude. ULFA believes that this will cost the Board approximately $1.2 million in 2018-2019 with an additional similarly sized increase compounding this loss on July 1, 2019 should negotiations still be in progress.  

Beyond this, both sides will incur potentially substantial legal fees if we cannot settle before the scheduled Labour Board hearing date in February.

In addition to offering cost certainty for the parties, ULFA’s proposal offered the Board of Governors an opportunity to save a significant proportion of their potential loss in 2018-2019 (with additional saving in future years and a saving in legal fees) in exchange for an expedited settlement on terms, conditions, and benefits that are important to ULFA’s membership. This would mean that ULFA members would have given up a portion of the money we believe they are entitled to otherwise in exchange for settlement on important language and benefits. A major emphasis of the ULFA package included terms that would bring protections for our most vulnerable members up to the standard of our comparator institutions.

ULFA’s proposed approach only makes sense if the Board of Governors considered their chances of losing at the Labour Board sufficiently high to be worth the cost of mitigation. The Board of Governors representatives indicated at the table, however, that they are very confident in their position and do not expect to lose. If their assumption is correct, then their rejection of ULFA’s proposed compromise probably makes good tactical sense. Since ULFA’s members are facing potential gains in the bridging case compared to the Board of Governors’ current refusal to pay COLA but no potential loss, the choice facing ULFA’s bargaining team was far less high-stakes a gamble.

Next steps

ULFA will now resume its work on a response to the Board’s “Parts”– shorthand for its proposal to reorganise many articles in the Handbook by employee category (you can read more about this here, here, here, here, here, and here). ULFA had previously accepted in principle the idea of organising information so that it is easy to use by Members in each job category, though it had expressed fundamental reservations about the details of the approach taken by the Board in its initial proposal. It will now present an alternative that streamlines the Board’s proposal and addresses ULFA’s concerns. ULFA indicated that it should be able to present an outline of this proposal with some initial examples three meetings from now.

In the meantime, the two parties have positions for which they are awaiting responses from the other side. In ULFA’s case, it must prepare responses (in addition to articles caught up in the “Parts”) to previously presented Board positions on Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 11, 26, 29, and Schedules A and B. In the Board’s case, ULFA is awaiting responses on Articles 9, 16, 22, 25, 32, 33, and “36” (a proposed new article on equity language) as well as most of the Schedules other than A and B. In addition, the Board previously presented a partial response to ULFA’s proposal for a new typology of leaves (Article 34), promising a more complete counter-proposal at a later date.

The Board side also indicated at this meeting that it intends to establish a website for publishing information about the progress of bargaining. They have since informed us that updates will be posted to the following URL (requires a uleth username and password): https://uleth.sharepoint.com/sites/BargainingUpdates. They indicate that no updates pertaining to the negotiations with ULFA have been posted to date.

Job Action Committee Update

On November 30, the ULFA Job Action Committee (JAC) had a productive meeting with its new members to the committee as well as with members of the ULFA Bargaining Team. The Bargaining Team provided an update on recent bargaining developments, which were very informative and will help direct the committee in its organization.

The Committee is looking forward to working together with the bargaining team and with our members during the course of negotiations.

Please join us at the ULFA Fall General Meeting (12 pm, 6 December 2018, PE 275) when JAC Co-Chairs Kristine Alexander & Rob Kossuth will discuss the work of the committee. In addition to Kristine and Rob, the committee has grown in recent weeks to include Andrea Amelinckx, Chad Povey, Ying Zheng, Heather Ladd, Chris Churchill, and Robbin Derry.

November 22 Bargaining Update: ULFA presents package for “expedited bargaining”

On Thursday November 22nd, representatives of the Board of Governors and ULFA met to discuss the details of ULFA’s proposal for an “expedited” round of bargaining. According to this proposal, ULFA would agree to suspend and ultimately withdraw its ongoing complaint at the Labour Board regarding the Board of Governors’ failure to apply COLA on July 1 as required by the Labour Code in exchange for agreement by the Board before the end of the year on a package of articles and schedules focussed on issues that are key to the ULFA membership (You can read more about the issues at stake and background to the bridging dispute here. The history of our discussion and the involvement of the Labour Relations Board can be followed here, herehereherehere, and here).

You can see the articles and schedules involved in the package and follow the progress of negotiations here. The red tab (first sheet) presents details of the status of the “expedited” bargaining process; the green tab (second sheet) presents the status of the regular negotiations which have been temporarily suspended to pursue this expedited process. Should the expedited process fail, the sides will resume negotiations where they left off on November 15.

The Board of Governors will present their response on November 27th. Because the expedited process involves tradeoffs among salary, benefits, and language, it will be necessary to understand the position each side holds with respect to all elements of the package before article-by-article level exchanges can take place.

Updates: ULFA proposes new approach to bargaining; Five articles settled November 15; Town halls to be rescheduled; AUPE information picket update

Proposal for “expedited” bargaining

Over the last few weeks, ULFA and the University administration have been discussing a proposal by ULFA to streamline negotiations, focussing on a few key issues while reverting to the status quo on less central issues where the two sides remain far apart. As part of these negotiations, the two sides are also exploring whether our current case before the Labour Board on “bridging” could be settled at the bargaining table within this expedited proposal.

Under the proposal, ULFA is preparing a package of positions it would be prepared to accept in exchange for agreeing to reach a Memorandum of Understanding on the effect of bridging during the current round of negotiations. If the two sides are able to come to an agreement on ULFA’s package before the end of the year, ULFA would suspend its case before the Board until the agreement was ratified on both sides, at which point the union would withdraw its application. If the two sides were not able to reach an agreement on ULFA’s proposals before the end of the year, or if such an agreement were not ratified, the “bridging” case would proceed to the Labour Board as currently scheduled and the broader negotiations on all outstanding topics would resume. All positions presented by ULFA during this expedited process would be contingent on agreement being reached by the end of the year as part of the expedited process and would be otherwise subject to withdrawal or revision.

November 15 Bargaining update

The Board side agreed to pursue this expedited approach last week. As part of this agreement, the two sides also agreed that the Board would present written proposals on Article 10, 16, and 24 by November 8 and that the two sides would meet on November 15 to attempt to settle articles outside of the core package where agreement seemed close.

The Board sent its written proposals on November 7 as agreed. On November 15th, ULFA presented language on six articles, one of which was scheduled to be included in the package for expedited bargaining were agreement not reached on the 15th. The Board side presented three articles on the 15th, two of which are to be included in the proposal for expedited bargaining.

ULFA Board
November 15 (in person)
10 Courses taught in addition to assigned duties
16 Termination of appointment
24 Appeals of recommendations by STP committees
27 Holidays
30 Travel fund and expenses
31 Research fund
November 7 (written only)
10 Courses taught in addition to assigned duties
16 Termination of appointment
24 Appeals of recommendations by STP committees
November 15 (in person)
5 Recognition
6 Communication and Information
29 Intellectual Property

These are all articles on which the two sides have exchanged language a number of times (as always, you can follow the progress of negotiations here).

As always, the negotiations were cordial and constructive. In the case of ULFA’s proposals, we were able to reach agreement on new language for Articles 10, 24, 27, 30, and 31. This brings to 12 the number of agreed-upon articles.

We were unable to reach agreement on Article 16, which, under the agreed-upon proposal for expedited bargaining, will now be included as part of ULFA’s “package” on November 22nd.

In the case of the Board’s presentation, Articles 5 and 6 are part of the agreed-upon proposal for expedited bargaining. The Board side therefore used its presentation to clarify its understanding of the issues involved in each case and to suggest language that ULFA might consider for use in its “expedited” proposal next week.

Article 29 has been back and forth across the table several times. Unfortunately, there was still sufficient distance between the two sides to prevent agreement being reached on the 15th.

Town halls to be rescheduled

ULFA had originally planned to hold two Town halls next week to supplement the bargaining blog in bringing its members up-to-date on the current status of negotiations.

The Board’s agreement to pursue ULFA’s proposal for expedited bargaining, however, has greatly increased the amount of preparation the Bargaining team will be required to do in advance of next week’s bargaining session. We will therefore attempt to reschedule the Town halls for later in the semester. As always you can stay abreast of developments in negotiations by following this blog.

AUPE Information picket

ULFA had good representation at the November 7 AUPE information picket. Approximately 30-35 members of the Faculty attended some or all of the event, which also received positive media attention. The picket gave us a chance to try out our new banner, stand with our AUPE colleagues, and learn some techniques from pros.

On Tuesday November 13, the Board published a position statement on some of the issues raised by AUPE. You can read their statement here.

Fall General Meeting Notice: December 6, 2018 at 12pm

You are cordially invited to the ULFA Fall General Meeting on Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 12pm in room PE275. The provisional agenda for our meeting can be found on the ULFA website here. Lunch and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) will be provided.

For those of you who are unable to attend the meeting in person, WebEx videoconferencing will be available, but please make arrangements with me (antson@uleth.ca or 403-329-2578) before December 4, 2018 and I will ensure you receive the meeting invite.

Newsletter – 2018 – November

Updates: Bargaining (October 22 and 25, November 1)

ULFA and representatives of the Board of Governors met for three negotiating sessions over the last two weeks: Monday October 22nd, Thursday October 25th, and November 1. As always, you can follow the exchange of articles here.

October 22

In the October 22nd session, the two sides exchanged 6 articles, in keeping with our September discussions.

ULFA Board
3 Amendments
5 Recognition
6 Communication and Information
3 Amendments
4 Applications and exclusions
Schedule A (Sessionals only)
Schedule B

This was an exciting and active session with lots of give and take.

In the case of Article 3, the two sides were able to settle on agreeable language after several rounds of at-the-table bargaining. Article 3 covers largely technical matters regarding amendments to the Collective Agreement. Under the new Labour Code regulations, however, it also governs the conditions under which job action (lockout or strike) may and may not take place. In the last few rounds, the discussion centred on the conditions under which Members of the Faculty Association may refuse to carry out scheduled duties in support of picket lines established on campus by other unions.

Article 5 deals with the conditions under which the Association can carry out its business. We are gradually beginning to identify the main areas of agreement in this article.

Article 6 deals with information required by the Association to carry out its business. Once again the two sides are beginning to identify the main areas of agreement.

The Board of Governors presented Schedules A (Sessionals only) and B as part of their proposed organization of the handbook.

Finally, the Board presented a new version of Article 4 (Applications and Exclusions). This article deals with the bargaining unit and who is, or is not, protected by the Collective Agreement. The Board of Governors expanded on their previous proposal to entirely remove Senior Administrators (Associate Deans and above) and Faculty Members serving on the Board of Governors from the protections of the Collective Agreement. Senior Academic Administrators normally hold concurrent academic appointments (i.e. as an Instructor, Academic Assistant, Professional Librarian, or Member of the Professoriate).

Currently, Senior Academic Administrators are protected by the Collective Agreement when teaching or engaging in research. This means their tenure, rank, and Academic Freedom are provided the same protections given to all other Members. Under the Board proposal, this protection would be replaced by an as-yet-unpublished Board policy governing Academic Freedom for Senior Administrators.

ULFA’s position is that a Board policy that can be rescinded unilaterally does not provide adequate protection for academic work, which is a concern for all faculty. If the Board rescinded their policy, Senior Administrators could conceivably be censured, disciplined, or fired for academic activities that would otherwise be protected by Academic Freedom provisions in the handbook.

ULFA has undertaken to research this issue further before presenting a response to the Board’s proposal.

October 25

Board ULFA
Final versions of all “Parts” 24 Appeals of Recommendations by STP Committee and Appeal Committees
29 Intellectual Property

On October 25, ULFA presented Articles 24 and 29, while the Board presented the final version of its “Parts.”

In the case of 24, the two sides seem to be very close to agreement. The ULFA proposal clarified a few places where the current language did not seem to reflect the agreement at the table. The Board side agreed to review these to ensure accuracy.

In the case of Article 29, ULFA presented a significant reorganisation to bring it more closely in line with current legislation on intellectual property, and correcting various terminological issues. Other than the reorganization, there were relatively few changes in language from that presented by the Board on June 9. In broad terms, the two sides appear to be relatively close in this article.

Over the last several months, the Board has presented a comprehensive reorganisation of the Collective Agreement by job category (i.e. Sessional Lecturer, Instructor/Academic Assistant, Professional Librarian, Professoriate). This means that a large number of Articles from the current handbook have been “tied up” in the different proposed “parts.” In some cases, the complexity of the proposal has required the Board to revise material already presented.  ULFA has been waiting for the final presentation on the proposed Parts before preparing a response. ULFA has agreed to present a counter-proposal by the end of November.

November 1

On November 1, the two sides met for a third time. Although both sides were prepared to present articles, the discussion shifted to a possible new approach to increase focus and efficiency in bargaining. Bargaining was adjourned to consider this approach and the two sides hope to reach an agreement early this week on the best way to tackle bargaining for the remainder of the Fall semester.

AUPE Information Picket

AUPE will be holding an information picket at noon on November 7th by the Northern entrance to the University (i.e. at the University and Columbia/Valley Road entrance). You can read more about the issues involved in their negotiations here. ULFA is facing a similar set of arguments in its negotiations with the Board of Governors.

We encourage all members to show their support for AUPE by attending the picket.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Originally the post contained an incorrect date. This post has been updated to show the correct date of Wednesday, November 7th.

ALRB “Bridging”

Since last January, ULFA and the Board of Governors have been involved in a discussion regarding the application of the “Bridging” provisions of the Labour Relations Code to the payment of Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) due under the current collective agreement. (You can read more about the issues at stake and background here. The history of our discussion and the involvement of the Labour Relations Board can be followed here, here, here, here, and here).

In late September, the Alberta Labour Relations Board dismissed the Board of Governors’ argument that the issue was a matter of the interpretation of the Collective Agreement. The next steps in the process were a case management meeting (scheduled for November 28) and a two day hearing (Dec. 18 and 19).

The Board of Governors has recently hired an external law firm to represent it in this case. Due to a personal emergency affecting one of the potential participants, the December hearing has now been rescheduled for February 2019. The rescheduling does not affect Members’ rights or any back-pay for the withheld COLA should ULFA’s position prove successful.

Fair Employment Week

ULFA on Campus
– We’ll bring the coffee. You bring the ideas. –

Join us as we discuss Fair Employment Week & Contract Academic Staff working at UofL and what ULFA is doing about it.

When: October 24, 2018
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Location: TH241

Job Action Committee Update

The Job Action Committee, newly established under ULFA’s Job Action Policy, held its first meeting on Monday, October 1. This Committee includes Dr. Kristine Alexander, Ms Andrea Amelinckx, Dr. Robert Kossuth, and resource person Aaron Chubb.

The Job Action Committee is responsible for planning logistics and other processes and rules in the unlikely event of a lockout or strike. The likelihood of job action is very small and cannot take place until after a series of prescribed steps have been followed as set out in the Alberta Labour Relations Code. The Committee is tasked, however, with preparing for such an eventuality, and with ensuring that the ULFA membership has the tools and information in hand that it would require in such an event.

The committee discussed ULFA’s Job Action Policy, questions that are likely to arise through this work, and the logistics that might need to be prepared.

Does having a Job Action Committee mean we are going to have job action?

No. The likelihood of job action is very small and cannot take place until after a series of prescribed steps have been followed as set out in the Alberta Labour Relations Code. One such requirement is that ULFA and the Board of Governors must have an Essential Services Agreement in place prior to any job action and while the negotiating teams have met, there is no such agreement in place at this time. Additionally, the ULFA collective bargaining team has regularly reported on the positive progress to date of bargaining on the Faculty and Sessional Lecturer Handbooks.

What is “job action” and why does it need a committee?

Job Action means a work stoppage caused by a lockout (by an employer) or a strike (by employees). The committee is created under ULFA’s Job Action Policy and its primary responsibility is to make logistical preparations that would be used in the event of job action. This committee is intended to work in tandem with the collective bargaining team and the Essential Services Agreement (ESA) bargaining team so that in the event of job action, ULFA members will be prepared and ready in advance of a lockout or a strike. Members can follow regular updates on bargaining at ulfa.ca/bargaining.

 If there’s no job action, then what does this committee do?

The Job Action Committee is needed up until the point that a new collective agreement is ratified. There’s a lot of work to do behind-the-scenes to prepare in the unlikely event of job action. We have made some preparations already toward the new reality under which job action has become the final resort, by joining the CAUT Defence Fund and implementing a local preparedness fund.  At this early stage we are focused on assessing the logistics of job action and building educational outreach with the membership about what’s involved.

ULFA members hold the ultimate authority to mandate a strike and we know that our members are well-informed and thoughtful about collective bargaining.

We need to prepare more carefully for the possibility of a lockout initiated by the Board of Governors because that situation can occur under timelines and circumstances that are not fully within our control. The best way to protect against a lockout is to be prepared and this committee is tasked with doing the preparation.

How can I get involved?

The Job Action Policy has many parts that need to be fleshed out and the Committee is in the incipient stages of organizing itself and making plans. There’s room for help and your participation would be welcome. Currently, there is room for people to get involved who have experience from ULFA’s standing committees (the Executive, Handbooks and Economic Benefits Committees, and Gender, Equity and Diversity Committee). Even if you don’t have any experience with ULFA, this is a great committee to be a part of and could use a diversity of representation across faculties, ranks, and campuses.

I have more questions!

We have put together a list of job action frequently asked questions that might help answer some of your questions. We are exploring opportunities for a town hall to discuss some of these issues and will keep you informed about developments from our meetings.

You are also welcome to contact the Job Action Committee members:

                                           kristine.alexander@uleth.ca

                                           andrea.amelinckx@uleth.ca

                                           robert.kossuth@uleth.ca

Job Action Protocol Frequently Asked Questions

ULFA has created a Job Action Protocol to help inform our members about what to expect in the unlikely event of a lockout or a strike. Since this is the first time the Faculty Association and its membership have had to consider what job action means for us, we anticipate a lot of questions from our Members. We have put together a list of frequently asked questions on the topic of job action below. If you have other questions, you are welcome to contact the Faculty Association office via admin@ulfa.ca.

Job Action: Frequently Asked Questions

ULFA has created a Job Action Protocol to help inform our members about what to expect in the unlikely event of a lockout or a strike. Since this is the first time the Faculty Association and its membership have had to consider what job action means for us, we anticipate a lot of questions from our Members. We have put together a list of frequently asked questions on the topic of job action below. If you have other questions, you are welcome to contact the Faculty Association office via admin@ulfa.ca.

Cessation of Employment Duties

Q:        What does ‘job action’ actually mean in the context of a university?

A:        ‘Job action’ is a term that refers to both a lockout (when the employer locks out employees) and a strike (when the union withdraws labour from the employer). During job action in the form of a strike, we withdraw our labour and participate in job action duties (such as participating in pickets, volunteering in the headquarters, coordinating volunteers and resources, etc.). During job action, we don’t perform employment-related duties, including but not limited to the following:

  • Teaching (both on or off campus), supervising, and advising students;
  • Emailing students to answer questions related to course material;
  • Library work;
  • Updating granting agencies regarding employment related tasks;
  • Service;
  • Liaising with community partners for university-related work;
  • Directing theatre or musical performances;
  • Performing administrative duties.

 

Q:        Do I have to participate in job action or is it optional?

A:        All academic staff are required to participate in job action, unless you qualify as an exemption in the Essential Services Agreement or the ULFA Job Action Policy/Protocol. Contact the Job Action Committee for clarification. If you do not participate in the job action, you may face consequences, such as the loss of job action pay, fines, or other appropriate penalties.

 

Q:        How do I know if I’m exempt from job action?

A:        The majority of Members will be identified as having a job action status. There may be some Members, however, who will be considered exemptions and, thus, will continue as regular employees of the University, complete with salary and benefits in tact. These individuals will be identified in the Essential Services Agreement and the ULFA Job Action Policy/Protocol and including the following:

  • Inactive Members as defined in Article 4.05 and 4.06 of the Faculty Handbook (including Senior Academic Administrators and faculty reps to the Board of Governors) and perform managerial decisions and conduct the business affairs for the University;
  • Members who are off campus due to study leave, sick leave, long-term disability, political leave, maternity/parental leave, compassionate leave, or other leaves as approved by ULFA and the Board of Governors prior to the start of job action;
  • Other cases may be agreed to between ULFA and the Board of Governors as they arise.

 

Q:        Should I continue my research during job action?

A:        As ULFA Members we are withholding teaching and administrative duties. Members with research activities underway that have time constraints or laboratory responsibilities will be provided with passes to cross the picket line in order to maintain the viability of laboratories, care of animals, or carry out other duties necessary to prevent the loss of data and assure the resumption of normal research activities after job action.

 

Q:        What if there is an emergency during the job action that requires me to work?

A:        The Association is committed to ensuring life-threatening emergencies are dealt with in a timely and effective manner and without jeopardizing the job action principles. Any emergencies that arise will be addressed and if you are required to perform university-related work, then the Association and the Board will negotiate the terms of the work.

 

Q:        How do I balance the cessation of work during job action and my external commitments to granting agencies, funders, and partners?

A:        If you have external commitments to granting agencies, funders, and partners that are not directly university-related work that’s assigned by the Dean, you may continue this work. Keep in mind, though, that minimizing your external commitments contributes to the success of the job action. For this reason, the Association recommends withdrawing as much of your service contributions as possible

 

Q:        Can I communicate with my students during job action?

A:        You are expected to withdraw from all your teaching-related duties, including supervising students in alternate modes of study. You may communicate with students for the purpose of updating them about job action. The Association will also have updated information on its website, social media and at our headquarters.

 

Q:        I’m on study leave (or another leave) when the job action started and I am scheduled to return to work during the job action. What do I do?

A:        You are not considered to be on strike while you’re on leave and you will continue to be paid by the University during that time. Once you are scheduled to return to work, however, your status will change to that of a locked-out or striking employee. You will be expected to cease all your duties as an employee and participate in the job action. You will also receive job action pay upon returning from leave.

 

Q:        Can I do my regular duties if I wanted to, even though I won’t receive my regular University pay?

A:        For the duration of the job action, you are expected to withhold your labour entirely from university-related work. If you think there is essential or critical work that you need to perform, then contact the Association for permission. Without permission from the Association, you may risk being identified as a strike-breaker and facing penalties (such as losing job action pay or receiving fines or having your image posted on social media, etc.).

 

Q:        Can I access my University office during job action?

A:        No. During a lockout, the employer will not permit you to enter the premises.
During a strike, you are not permitted to cross the picket line onto the employer’s premises without prior permission from the Association. You may face consequences as a result of crossing the picket line. You are strongly encouraged to remove any critical items from your office and back up your computer files on an external device prior to the start of any job action.

 

Q:        I am an exempted Member, may I join the job action if I wish?

A:        If you are identified as an exempted Member, you may participate in job action in a number of ways:

  • You can support the picket line by walking in solidarity with picketers prior to and after crossing the picket line for your regular duties;

You can resign your position as an exempted Member for the duration of the job action and become a Member on lockout or strike. Contact the Job Action Committee for any assistance.

The Picket Line & Job Action Duties

Q:        Do I have to participate in picket line duties?

A:        Yes. Picket lines are one of the most effective symbols during job action and one of the ways in which all affected employees can work together in an effort to minimize the duration of the job action. The majority of the assigned duties during job action will be to support the picket line, although there may be other required duties that do not include picket line duties as assigned by the Job Action Committee.

 

Q:        What are the consequences of not fulfilling assigned job action duties?

A:        You will receive job action pay for completing assigned duties. If you do not check in for job action duties or if you do not perform the duties and have not arranged prior permission with the Job Action Committee, you will risk losing your job action pay or even receiving fines or other appropriate consequences.

 

Q:        Can I request alternate assigned duties to perform other than picketing?

A:        While it may be possible to request assigned alternate duties other than picketing, requests for such alternate assignments will be granted on a limited basis to ensure that the primary participation will be in picketing activity. Requests will be granted to you if you have a bona fide duty to accommodate matters (such as mobility and access issues) or if you are a primary caregiver or parent who is unable to meet the demands of the duty due to caregiver or family status. Requests for alternate assigned duties will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Job Action Committee. Requests will not be unreasonably denied. Alternate assignment of duties may include: managing phone and email communications with external groups, coordinating headquarters administration duties, coordinating volunteers, coordinating goods and services for volunteers, photocopying material for picket lines, or supporting financial administration.

 

Q:        Can I appeal a decision if my request was denied for alternate assigned duties other than picketing?

A:        Yes. The ULFA Executive will ultimately decide on any disputes over requests for alternate assigned duties.

 

Q:        How long are picket line shifts?

A:        A picket line shift is normally four hours in duration. There will be two shifts per day, a morning shift (8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.) and an afternoon shift (12:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.). Please arrive before your scheduled start time and check in with the picket captain. Dress appropriately for weather conditions.

 

Q:        What do I do if I want to participate in the picket line, but can’t stand/walk for a four-hour shift?

A:        You are welcome to bring a chair or other support device with you to the picket line. You should also let the Job Action Committee and picket captain know of any supports you may need so they can make arrangements if possible.

 

Q:        Will my photo be taken while participating in ULFA activities and/or job action related activities?

A:        Yes, a picket line will take place in a public venue and your photo may be taken. There will be media coverage of job action and ULFA will be providing regular updates on its website and social media accounts.

 

Q:        What do I do if I notice something bad happening on the picket line?

A:        Your safety and the safety of others is paramount so you should never be in a situation in which you have to engage with aggressive individuals. If you notice an altercation or someone crossing the picket line, you are encouraged to speak to them in a calm and clear voice if it is safe to do so. You may use your cell phone or other recording device to capture the interaction or to provide evidence of the situation. Report to the picket captain as soon as possible.

 

Q:        Can I bring my children with me to the picket line?

A:        You may be able to bring children with you to the picket line during your off-duty hours but during assigned work hours, you will be expected to participate fully in the assigned work of any picket line duties. The Job Action Committee may be able to coordinate child-friendly activities for you and your child to engage in during picket line attendance. It is also important for you to consider any safety concerns that may arise on the picket line. While violence is explicitly not condoned, emotions can run high during job action and heated disputes may erupt in unpredictable ways.

Q:        Is there a map showing the picket line location and the related amenities?

A:        Yes. A map will be available on the ULFA website, at the job action headquarters, and on any material distributed to volunteers.

 

Q:        Where is job action headquarters located?

A:        TBA

 

Q:        Where is parking for the picket line? Is there a cost for parking?

A:        TBA

 

Q:        Are there carpooling options to get to the picket line?

A:        TBA

 

Q:        What bus routes will get me to the picket line?

A:        TBA

 

Q:        Is there bicycle parking at the picket line?

A:        TBA

 

Q:        Where are the first aid stations located on the picket line?

A:        TBA

 

Q:        Where are the washrooms located on the picket line?

A:        TBA

Relating to Job Action Pay

Q:        Who is eligible to receive job action pay?

A:        Members who were dues-paying members in good standing prior to the start of the job action and who participate in job action duties as assigned by the Job Action Committee are eligible to receive job action pay. Exempted members are not eligible for job action pay and will continue as regular employees of the University.

 

Q:        How much is job action pay?

A:        As members of the CAUT Defence Fund, all Members will receive $80 per calendar day ($80 x 7 days), regardless of if they are continuing, tenured, term, sessional, or on less than full time equivalencies. Job action pay is non-taxable and will be distributed to those who perform job action duties (such as picket duty or other equivalent work as assigned).

 

Q:        How often will I receive job action pay?

A:        Job action pay will be distributed by cheque every two weeks to those who are eligible.

 

Q:        How many hours of job action duties are required in order to receive job action pay?

A:        A shift will be an amount of time determined by the Job Action Committee and may depend on the assigned duties. Shifts will normally not last more than four (4) hours per day and five days per week, though exceptional circumstances may arise.

 

Q:        What if I can’t make a shift, will I lose job action pay?

A:        All attempts to accommodate schedule changes will be addressed by the Job Action Committee. Disputes will be addressed by the Executive. If you are unable to make up a missed shift, but you have made every effort to minimize your absence, you may be eligible to receive full job action pay; otherwise, you risk having your job action pay prorated.

 

Q:        What job action duties will be assigned to me to receive job action pay?

A:        The majority of assigned duties will comprise picketing and picket line support. Alternate assignment of duties may be requested and include: managing phone and email communications with external groups, coordinating headquarters administration duties, coordinating volunteers, coordinating goods and services for volunteers, photocopying material for picket lines, supporting financial administration.

 

Q:        I am approved for a study leave but it is scheduled to start during job action. What does this mean?

A:        Normally, members on study leave are not considered to be on job action. Your status as a Member may change such that you are no longer considered locked out or on strike and you may resume regular employment with the University, complete with pay and benefits. This status must be negotiated between the Association and the Board of Governors.

 

Q:        I’m on a term contract. What happens to my job action pay if my contract ends during job action?

A:        In the eyes of the Association, you may continue to receive job action pay as though your contract hadn’t terminated so long as you continue to perform assigned job action duties. Alternatively, you may withdraw from your job action duties upon the termination of your contract. Please communicate your intentions to the Job Action Committee.

Relating to Benefits of Employment:

Q:        Can I access auxiliary services provided through the University of Lethbridge during job action?

A:        In the event of job action, ULFA encourages all members not to support the University’s resources to maximally impact the withdrawal of your labour. If members absolutely must access the services provided by the university, they are able to do so outside of any work time assigned by the Job Action Committee.

 

Recreation

ULFA considers recreational services to be services that a Member would engage in during times of leisure, such as the Fitness Centre, University Library, University Theatre productions, University Orchestra and music productions, Pronghorn athletic games, the campus Bookstore, programing provided through CASA, guest talks and lectures sponsored or provided by the University, the Lux Hotel, and the Zoo. ULFA encourages all members to withdraw their presence from these facilities during times of job actions.

 

Health and Wellbeing

ULFA considers health and wellbeing services to be services that a Member would access in order to maintain their personal health, such as the extended health benefits, dental care benefits, vision care benefits, Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), and Basic Life Insurance. During any job action, these benefits will continue without interruption. ULFA encourages all Members to maintain their use of these programs, and to contact the Association should they experience any difficulties accessing these programs.

 

Auxiliary Resources

ULFA considers auxiliary benefits to be programs provided by the University that are not related to a Member’s employment benefits, such as printing services, public services for health and wellness (such as physiotherapy, massage, etc.), parking, etc. ULFA encourages Members to withdraw the support for all University provided resources for the duration of the job action.

 

Q:        What happens to my health benefits during job action?

A:        All Members will continue to receive health benefits, whether the Association and the Board of Governors negotiate the continuation of these benefits or the Association covers the cost of the employer contributions to health benefits.

 

Q:        What happens to my pension during job action?

A:        Due to the cost-prohibitive reality of UAPP pension contributions, the Association is unable to cover the employer and employee portions of the pension contribution. Pension contributions will cease during job action. As part of the return-to-work protocol that is negotiated at the conclusion of job action, there may be an option for Members to buy back the foregone contributions or to simply resume contributions from the time the job action ends.

 

Q:        What happens to automatic payroll deductions during job action, such as fitness centre memberships, donations to Save-Our-Students, or Lux Bucks?

A:        Automatic payroll deductions cease. The Board of Governors and the Association will negotiate some aspects of this in a return-to-work protocol after job action ceases, which may include an option to automatically resume contributions to these services or may have an option to buy back any missed time if the Member so chooses.

 

Q:        Is my spouse and dependents eligible to receive the tuition benefit during job action?

A:        These tuition benefit programs are provided by the Faculty Handbook and as a result of job action, all rights and benefits will cease for the duration of the job action.

 

Q:        Is my spouse and dependents eligible to receive the ULFA Academic Scholarship during job action?

A:        The ULFA Academic Scholarship is a benefit provided exclusively by ULFA to its Members. This benefit will continue during any job action.

 

Q:        Can I access my professional supplement during job action?

A:        Your professional supplement is a benefit provided by the Faculty Handbook and as a result of job action, this benefit will cease for the duration of the job action. As part of the return-to-work protocol negotiated between the Board of Governors and ULFA, there may be an ability to submit expense claims for costs incurred during job action once regular work resumes.

 

Q:                    Am I still able to access provisions under the Faculty Handbook relating to Salary, Tenure, and Promotion processes, appeal processes, and accompaniment during job action?

A:        All rights and privileges under the Faculty Handbook will cease for the duration of the job action.

 

Q:        Will I be charged library fines that accrued during job action?

A:        As part of the return-to-work protocol negotiated between the Board of Governors and ULFA, there may be agreement for waiving library fines incurred during job action.

 

Q:        Will my place in the parking pass wait list be maintained while there is job action?

A:        Parking is a service provided exclusively by the University and outside the Faculty Handbook. Unless parking waitlists are negotiated as part of a return-to-work protocol, the answer to this question is unknown at this time.

ULFA & Administration meet to briefly plan future negotiations

Representatives of the ULFA and Administration bargaining teams met briefly on September 24 to plan future negotiations.

The meeting was cordial and constructive and both sides emerged with a stronger sense of the current state of the various articles still under discussion. There remains much work to do, in part due to the large number of articles under discussion and the fact that we are now beginning to deal with articles where the two sides have more divergent approaches.

Next negotiations are scheduled for October 22. Given the current pace, the two sides agreed to schedule meeting dates for December.

Alberta Labour Relations Board rules in ULFA’s favour

The Alberta Labour Relations Board ruled in ULFA’s favour on Friday in the first stage of an Unfair Labour Practice complaint against the University of Lethbridge’s Board of Governors  (You can read more about the key issues at stake and the history of this complaint by following the links from this post). This ruling allows the process to continue to a hearing on the substantive issues raised in ULFA’s original complaint.

The core issue in this complaint involves the continuation of terms and conditions beyond the expiration of the collective agreement on June 30, which is known as “bridging” under the provisions of the Labour Relations Code (Section 130), and the changing of terms and conditions of employment after notice to bargain has been given, which is known as a “statutory freeze” (Section 147). Specifically, ULFA argues that both sections apply to the continued payment of benefits such as COLA as it is written in the current Collective Agreement and that the failure to do so represents an unfair labour practice.

The Governors argued that the question of whether COLA should be subject to bridging was a question of how of the current Handbook(s) should be interpreted, rather than a disagreement over the application of the Code. As a result, they argued, the question was more appropriately dealt with under the Interpretation processes described in Article 1 of the current Handbook. Under Article 1, the question would be referred for resolution to a committee consisting of the ULFA and University Presidents. Should this committee fail to reach agreement, the two sides would then prepare final positions which would be referred to an Arbitrator for selection. The Arbitrator would not be allowed to mediate the dispute and Members could, conceivably, lose newly acquired rights under Bill 7.

In Friday’s ruling, the Labour Board rejected the Board of Governors’ argument.

In doing so, the Labour Board relied heavily on the tests used in U.N.A., Local 75 v. WestView Regional Health Authority, [2000] Alta. L.R.B.R. LD-031 (“WestView”), which was cited by both ULFA and the Board of Governors in their written submissions:

12 In exercising its discretion to defer to arbitration, the Board balances two public interests. The first is the public interest in having employers and unions address their day to day disputes about the workplace through their own dispute resolution process. The second is the interest in having a single tribunal oversee access to and the broad rules of collective bargaining. The primary factor is whether the application raises an issue of “statutory proportions”. See: Electrical Contractors Association of Alberta 85-016.

13 There is no easy test of when a matter raises an issue of statutory proportions. Some of the questions used by the Board to assess whether the matter is one of statutory proportions are:

  • Does the issue affect only the parties to the agreement or will it affect the labour relations community?
  • Does the collective agreement enable the arbitrator to adequately remedy the issue?
  • Is the matter primarily a statutory right or obligation, or a collective agreement right or obligation?
  • Does the issue go beyond the collective agreement to the collective bargaining relationship?
  • Is the statutory issue the main issue in the proceeding or an ancillary issue?
  • Do issues demand the labour relations expertise of the Board more than the contract interpretations expertise of an arbitrator?

On the basis of these tests, the Labour Relations Board found that “the matter raised in ULFA’s complaint is a matter of statutory proportion,” noting:

The parties are bargaining under a different statutory regime than existed when they entered into the two previous collective agreements. They are now subject to the collective bargaining provisions set out in the Code. The application of the bridging provision in section 130 of the Code must be considered and applied in the context of this dispute, as well as the freeze provisions contained in section 147(3) of the Code. The University also averted to provisions contained in the Post-secondary Learning Act in effect when the agreements were negotiated. While the Board may be required to interpret provisions in the collective agreements, this task is not an unusual one for the Board to undertake in complaints of this nature.

Indeed, the Board concluded,

The interplay of these statutory and contractual provisions raise questions unique to the post-secondary education sector which have not been addressed by the Board in previous decisions and it is possible the outcome of the decision will affect other parties in the sector.

The next steps in the Labour Board process are a case management meeting (currently scheduled for November 28) and a two day hearing (Dec. 18 and 19) all of which will take place in Calgary.

AUPE Applies for Mediation in contract negotiations with Board of Governors

The Bargaining Team for the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) Local 53 announced on September 14 that it has applied for mediation in its negotiations for the renewal of its (expired) Collective Agreement with the University (see also their Sept. 12 announcement).

The request came after negotiations broke down on Sept. 7, AUPE reports, “when the university submitted a number of unsatisfactory proposals.” This followed what the union describes as a “year of intense bargaining” and the presentation of a “comprehensive package” by AUPE to the administration on August 20 and 21.

The primary issues at stake include

  • Adjusting maternity wage top-ups to accommodate new legislation,
  • Age discrimination in the application of sick leave for AUPE members over the age of 65,
  • Lack of significant movement on medical benefits,
  • Lack of movement on pay.

AUPE stated that “The University indicated that they had no interest in dealing with other Union monetary proposals such as vacation improvements.”

The AUPE bargaining team argues that this lack of progress on monetary issues in light of the surplus represents “an insult to the hard working front line staff as the University was able to allocate funds to improve the working terms for its Administrative Professional Officers.”

“This is unacceptable,” the union continued. “You deserve a collective agreement that reflects the importance of the work you do.”

This impasse was reached, AUPE reported to its members, despite the fact that the University administration has accumulated a surplus of $206 million. “Our research shows the University certainly has the ability compensate you fairly, and your bargaining team is committed to making sure that happens.”

About mediation

AUPE applied for mediation under Section 20 of the Public Sector Employee Relations Acts (PSERA), which draws on Divisions 11-13 of the Labour Relations Code (PSERA applies to public employees not covered by the Post Secondary Learning Act, include Staff at the U of L). Under the Code as incorporated into PSERA, informal mediation may be requested by either party at any time (Section 64). Under Section 65, either party may also request formal mediation in an attempt to resolve impasse before either party resorts to job action. Mediation under Section 65 is required before a vote can be held on lockout/strike.

Under Section 65, the mediator has 14 days from the date of his/her appointment to hear representations, mediate the dispute, and encourage the parties to reach settlement. At the end of the 14 days, the mediator may propose terms of settlement for the parties to accept or reject, or indicate that no proposal is being made. A 14 day cooling off period is required after mediation before any further action can be taken.

We will continue to work with our friends and colleagues in the AUPE bargaining unit and show solidarity as they progress through a difficult bargaining year.

Essential Services Bargaining Update: September 18

ULFA and the Board’s negotiating teams met to discuss an Essential Services Agreement for the second time on Tuesday, September 18. As agreed in our first meeting, ULFA presented a draft questionnaire that provides some background information on Alberta’s Essential Services legislation and provides a simple poll on whether through their employment at the University ULFA members may be providing essential services (activities which if they were interrupted by lockout/strike might endanger health or safety of members of the public). If ULFA members provide essential services then ULFA and the Board must have an Essential Services Agreement prior to any legal lockout/strike.

It was agreed that, after some final editing, the questionnaire will be sent out to all ULFA members via a link to a web-based survey. It is expected that this will occur within the next few weeks. It is important that all of our members watch for the email and respond promptly. The survey information will be viewed by both teams to serve as a basis for further bargaining.

For background information on the Essential Services Agreement and its negotiation to date, find more information hereherehere, and here.

ULFA’s negotiating team for Essential Services includes Rob Sutherland (Chair), Kelly Williams-Whitt, Locke Spencer, and Dawn McBride, with Annabree Fairweather serving as resource person. The Board’s negotiating team changed for the second meeting and included Chris Hosgood (Chair) and Carolin Cattoi-Demkiw, with Scott Harling serving as resource person. The next meeting is scheduled for early in October.

Bargaining Update: Sept 11, 2018

Bargaining teams for the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association and Board of Governors met to exchange language on September 11.

Presented by ULFA Presented by the Board
Article 1 (Purpose and Objectives)
Article 3 (Amendments and Modification of the Collective Agreement)
Article 4 (Applications and Exclusions)
Article 25 (Supervision and Discipline)
Article 34 (Medical Leave)
“Part II” Professional Librarians

 

Articles 1, 3, and 4 have been the subject of several exchanges. Article 25 was ULFA’s first response to the Board’s initial proposal for this article (presented on June 4th). Article 34 was a partial response to ULFA’s original proposal from May 14 for a major modernisation of our leave provisions. “Part II” introduced the final part of the Board’s proposal to reorganise major sections of the current Agreement by employee category.

In addition to these articles, the Board side also provided a document outlining its understanding of the economic context for our current negotiations. As the Board team noted, this presentation largely reprised their similar outline from June 4, with some additional details focussing on Sessional Lecturers.

Also, ULFA had included a number of increased health benefits in its Schedule B proposal but is not able to get quotes from Blue Cross about the expected costs implications to our current plan. The Board obtained this costing information from Blue Cross and shared it with ULFA so that negotiations in this area can proceed with both sides fully informed as to the financial implications of each possible change.

Results

Agreement-in-Principle was reached on Article 1. This is a renumbered and amended version of the previously unnumbered “Purpose” and “Objectives” Preambles in the 2016 Collective Agreement.

We also may be getting close to agreement on Article 3 (“Applications and Exclusions”). In this case, the remaining point to be resolved involves a specific part of a new “Solidarity clause” governing the conditions and circumstances under which members may observe the picket lines of other unions.

In the case of Articles 4, 25, 34, and Part II, there is more work to be done.

In the case of Article 4, we are discussing the question of who falls under the Collective Agreement. The main areas of current discussion involve what defines someone as being a member of the Academic Staff, and the degree to which so-called “Inactive Members” are subject to (and entitled to protection by) the Collective Agreement, including the protection of Academic Freedom. “Inactive Members” are members of the Academic Staff who hold appointments to the Board of Governors or in the Senior Administration (i.e.  Associate Deans, Deans, Associate Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, and the President).

In the case of Article 25, we are still in very early stages of discussion. ULFA’s presentation on the 11th focussed on the organisation of the Article and the order in which supervisory and disciplinary processes take place. This was only the second time language has been exchanged on this article in this round of bargaining.

In the case of Article 34, the Board of Governors’ team provided a partial response (focussing on Medical leaves only) to ULFA’s earlier proposal for a major revision of paid and unpaid leaves. In their presentation, the Board indicated that other types of leaves will be addressed in a different article to be presented at a later date. Given the partial nature of the Board’s current response, it is at this point difficult to know how close or far apart the two sides are on this article. While very little of ULFA’s original proposal for this article was reflected in “article 34,” it is entirely possible that the second part will find more common ground. In addition, the Board side indicated that it may propose removing some sections from the language it presented on the 11th, as they are duplicated in one of more of their proposed new “Parts.”

“Part II” concluded the Board’s initial presentation of its “Parts”–i.e. a proposal to reorganise large sections of the current Collective Agreement into discrete sections dealing with individual employment categories (Faculty Members, Librarians, Instructors/Academic Assistants, and Sessional Instructors). The Board’s presentation of these “Parts” over the last four months suggests that they are currently very much a work-in-progress: the Board has indicated that they intend to make additional retroactive changes to the parts already presented. Although ULFA has indicated some broad concerns about the proposal on the basis of these texts, the lack of a definitive text has prevented us from preparing a specific response to date.

Change in Negotiators

The Board provided official notification of a change to their negotiating team, due to the forthcoming departure of Ed Jurkowski (Dean of Fine Arts) who will be taking up a position at the University of Manitoba. Robert Wood (Dean of Graduate Studies) has joined the Board negotiating team as an observer effective immediately, and will become an official member of the team when Dr. Jurkowski departs at the end of October. Dr. Wood’s previous experience includes the recent successful completion of negotiations under Bill 7 with the Graduate Students and Post Docs.

Future Plans

To ensure that negotiations continue at a reasonable pace, the two sides have agreed to meet for a “case management” meeting on Sept 24, at which point they will discuss additional meeting times and the exchange of articles.

On the whole, negotiations have been proceeding with dispatch. In most cases, the two sides have been able to respond in a timely and efficient manner, with several articles exchanged on a near weekly basis during the spring and summer. This should serve us well as we now begin the slower process of reviewing articles on which we have more substantively different perspectives. Many of the remaining articles are also quite lengthy. We should expect this to slow the rate at which proposals involving substantive changes can be developed, considered, and responded to, despite the hard work of everyone involved.

The current status of negotiations can be seen here.

Bargaining to resume Sept 11

With the exception of an initial meeting on the Essential Service Agreement, there were no bargaining sessions in August. The Board of Governors and ULFA negotiating teams are next scheduled to meet to discuss our Collective Agreement on Sept. 11.

At this point there are roughly 38 articles and schedules under discussion (it is impossible to give a precise count, as some proposals involve combining, adding, or eliminating various articles and schedules). The current status of all articles under discussion can be found here.

Newsletter – 2018 – September

Bargaining Update: Essential Services Agreement

ULFA and the Board’s negotiating teams met to discuss an Essential Services Agreement for the first time on Friday, August 24. There was a productive discussion on the new legislation and the requirements on both parties to establish an agreement that protects the health and safety of members of the public in the event of a lockout or strike of academic staff. It was agreed that a joint questionnaire would be created to collect information on the types of research/services by ULFA members that may involve health and safety.

For background information on the Essential Services Agreement and its negotiation to date, find more information hereherehere, and here.

ULFA’s negotiating team for Essential Services includes Rob Sutherland (Chair), Kelly Williams-Whitt, Locke Spenser, and Dawn McBride, with Annabree Fairweather serving as resource person. The Board’s negotiating team includes Chris Hosgood (Chair), Nancy Pastoor, and Lorna Selinger, with Scott Harling serving as resource person. The next meeting is scheduled for later in September.

ULFA’s Member Gala

You are cordially invited to attend ULFA’s Member Gala on Friday, September 28, 2018 from 1:30-4:30pm in the Markin Hall Atrium. This is a great opportunity to meet new and returning colleagues from around campus and take a break from a busy semester.

When: Friday, September 28, 2018
Time: 1:30 – 4:30pm
Where: Markin Hall Atrium

Snacks and drinks will be provided, free of charge, to those who attend.

Introductions of ULFA’s new members will take place at 2:00pm. Music and conversation will take place throughout.

Please mark your calendars and make sure your colleagues plan to attend.

ULFA’s STP Workshop for Chairs & Committee Members

Hello Faculty Association members,

ULFA cordially invites you and/or your Chair & STP committee members to ULFA’s STP Workshops where attendees will be provided with a variety of tips and information on the STP process.

The presentation will cover the STP process as well as provide advice on chairing a STP Committee under our Handbook and how the STP Procedures relate to the Handbook. There will also be time for a questions and answer period.

Choose one of the following workshops that works best for your schedule:

  • Workshop #1: Wednesday, September 19, 10:00 – 12:00 p.m., room: TH241.
  • Workshop #2: Thursday, September 20, 10:00 – 12:00 p.m., Room: D620.

Presenters:

  • Jon Doan, ULFA President
  • Annabree Fairweather, Executive Director of ULFA

To RSVP your attendance to Derrick (ext. 2578;antson@uleth.ca).

Bargaining update for July 25: ESA, Collective Agreement bargaining, Labour Board applications, and changes in the bargaining team

Here are some updates on various aspects of the 2018 negotiations.

Collective Bargaining to resume in September after July 25th meeting

The Collective Bargaining teams for the Board of Governors and ULFA met on July 25th for the last bargaining session of the Summer (holiday schedules made it impossible to find time in August).

During the session, the two sides exchanged the following articles (you can follow the progress of negotiated articles here):

ULFA Administration
9 (Personal Files)
33 (Gradual Retirement and Reduced Load Status)
1 (Preamble and Objectives)
3 (Amendments)
24 (Appeals of Recommendations by STP Committees)
“Part I” and “Part IV” (Faculty Members and Sessional Instructors)

At this point in the negotiations, most of the “low hanging fruit” has been dealt with and the two sides are now beginning to deal with more difficult issues. Resolving such questions requires considerable discussion and creativity as negotiators attempt to find ways of reaching agreement starting from disparate opening positions.

Wednesday’s negotiations were characteristic of this: while the sides seem close on Articles 1, 9, and 24, they have discovered areas of potentially more substantive disagreement in 3 and 33. In each case, considerable attention was devoted to probing the areas of difference and attempting to understand the core issues on each side.

“Part I” and “Part IV” are part of a new proposal from the Board to consolidate all information regarding personnel processes (e.g. hiring, promotion, PARs, etc.) for different categories of employees. “Part I” is the consolidation for members of the Professoriate, “Part IV” the consolidation for Sessionals. The Administration has previously presented a “Part III” for Academic Assistants/Lecturers. These parts represent a considerable reorganisation of the Handbook and will require careful study when negotiations resume in September.

As in previous sessions, the two sides worked productively together and negotiations continue to progress well.

“Bridging” Labour Board application

The Board of Governors and ULFA are currently involved in a case before the Labour Board regarding the applicability of “bridging” provisions in the Labour Relations Code to Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increases. You can read more about this here,  here, here, and here.

Under the “bridging” provisions of Section 130(1) of the Code, all articles of the collective agreement that were in effect when notice to bargain was given remain in effect until (1) negotiations are concluded; (2) negotiations are interrupted by job action; or (3) two years have passed without ratification of a new contract. A more detailed discussion of the background to this issue can be found here.

ULFA’s position is that bridging provisions apply to the application of COLA on July 1st (Schedule A.02). The Board of Governors has taken the position that bridging does not apply to COLA. In response, ULFA has filed an Unfair Labour Practice complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board. In response, the Board of Governors asked the Labour Relations Board to dismiss ULFA’s complaint, arguing that the question is a matter of interpretation of the Handbook rather than the applicability of the Code to the Handbook. In the Board of Governors view, the correct avenue for resolving this dispute is via the provisions of Article 1 (Interpretation) in the Faculty Handbook). ULFA disagrees with this position, arguing that the question is one of the applicability of the Code to the Handbook rather than the interpretation of the Handbook. ULFA also argues that Article 1 processes are an inappropriate mechanism for resolving this dispute.

On July 4th, the parties agreed to argue the Board of Governors application via written submissions. The Board of Governors submitted their request on July 18th. ULFA was given one week to reply, and submitted its response on July 25th. The Board of Governors now has until August 1st to respond to ULFA’s submission, at which point the Labour Relations Board will consider the case and reach a determination. If the Labour Relations Board decides in favour of the University, resolution of this case likely will be deferred to the processes outlined in Article 1 of the 2016 Handbook; if it decides in ULFA’s favour, the next step likely will be a hearing on the merits of ULFA’s case before the Board. This hearing will be scheduled sometime in September.

Essential Services Agreement (ESA) negotiations and Labour Board Application

Essential Services Agreements (ESAs) cover the provision of Essential Services in the event of job action (i.e. a lockout or strike). Under the Labour Relations Code, management and unions in the Post Secondary sector are required to negotiate an ESA unless an exemption is requested and granted by the Commissioner. Exemptions may be requested on the ground either that no essential services are performed by the employees in question or that all essential services can be performed by other employees in the event of job action. Under the Code, an Essential Service is a service that is required to preserve human health and safety or the maintenance of law and order. We have discussed ESAs several times over the last year, including here, here, here, here, and here.

On June 26th, the Board of Governors submitted a unilateral request for exemption from the ESA requirement with the Labour Relations Board on the grounds that members of the Academic Staff perform no essential services. This claim conflicts with ULFA’s research on the matter, which suggests that several classes of employees within the Academic Staff perform such services on a periodic or emergent basis.

The Commissioner for Essential Services met with management and the union on July 16 for a case management call. At that call the two sides were encouraged to begin negotiations and the Board agreed to temporarily pause further action on the request for exemption while the two sides attempted to find dates for negotiation. A second case management call was scheduled for July 26th but has since been canceled due to the fact that the parties are coming back to the table to bargain the ESA. The request for exemption has been paused so that the parties can work toward agreement at the table.

The two sides are in the process of scheduling dates for ESA negotiations to start by end of August.

Changes in the ULFA bargaining team

Finally, there has also been a change in the ULFA bargaining team. Dr. Paul Hayes has led the Economic Benefits side of our bargaining since 2017. He leaves for Japan on a teaching exchange and is stepping down from negotiations as a result. Dr. Rumi Graham has been appointed to the bargaining team as Dr. Haye’s replacement. She is a welcome addition to the team in this official capacity, though she has been involved as an observer in this round of negotiations and has participated on the negotiating team for many years.

In addition, Dr. Rob Sutherland has joined the team as an observer. He has recently commenced a two year term as chair of the Economic Benefits Committee.

The bargaining team now includes Dr. Dan O’Donnell (chief spokesperson), Dr. Rumi Graham, and Mr. Terry Sway. Observers on the bargaining team are Dr. Joy Morris, Dr. Rob Sutherland, and Dr. Kelly Williams-Whitt. Which is a lot of doctors.

Board of Governors to Pay Career Progress, Merit, & Professional Supplement

ULFA and the Board of Governors are currently involved in a dispute before the Labour Relations Board regarding the applicability of bridging provisions to pay increases and other benefits that ULFA believes were payable as of Member’s July pay cheques. The expected increases include Career Progress Increments, Merit Increments, Professional Supplements, and Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA).

In recent years, in the absence of regulations to the contrary, the Board of Governors’ practice was often to withhold such increases until a new contract was settled. ULFA argues that based on the wording of our 2016 agreement and in the absence of a new agreement, such increases are required now that labour relations are conducted under the Labour Relations Code, rather than the PSLA. After the Board of Governors indicated that it would not pay some or all of these increases as ULFA believes is required, ULFA filed an Unfair Labour Practice complaint with the Labour Relations Board.

Board of Governors Agrees to pay Career Progress, Merit, & Professional Supplement

In its response to ULFA’s complaint, the Board of Governors has indicated that it will distribute Professional Supplement funds, and pay Career Progress and merit increments, though it still intends to withhold COLA barring a ruling to the contrary from the Labour Relations Board or an Arbitrator appointed under Article 1 of the current faculty Handbook (ULFA dispute the applicability of Article 1 in this case).

This agreement to pay the increments is a welcome improvement over the Board of Governors’ practice in previous years when they withheld some or all of these payments. Most members are, as a result, likely to see a salary increase on their forthcoming July pay (and in their salary letters). Eligible members may also submit claims against their 2018-2019 Professional Supplement Allowance.

No Agreement on COLA

Although it will pay Career Progress, Merit, and Professional Supplement, the Board of Governors has not agreed to pay COLA as ULFA believes is required. ULFA’s Unfair Labour Practice complaint on this matter is currently before the Labour Relations Board and, if successful, may result in a retroactive payment for COLA from July 1 onwards.

To get caught up on this ongoing discussion, we have previously provided updates here, here, and here. A background discussion of the issue can be found here.

Bargaining update for July 16: one article agreed-in-principle and some structural discussions

Negotiators for the Faculty Association and Board met yesterday for a further bargaining session.

The session was very productive, with one agreement-in-principle, several articles making significant steps towards provisional agreement, and the introduction by the Board team of a possible new way of organising parts of the Collective Agreement.

The Articles under discussion

The articles exchanged were:

ULFA Board
1 (Preamble and objectives),
3 (Amendments),
23 (Mediation),
24 (Appeals of Recommendations by STP Committee and Appeal Committees)
17 (Personnel Committees),
“Part III” (see below),
30 (Travel Fund),
31 (Research Fund),
Schedule A “Parts I through III”

You can follow the current status of all articles under negotiations here.

Article 23 (Mediation)

The two sides came to an agreement-in-principle to delete Article 23 (Mediation). The current Article 23 overlaps with several other articles including 9 (Personal Files), 11 (Rights and Responsibilities), 22 (Grievance), and 25 (Discipline) as well as several policies and traditional management responsibilities to maintain a safe workplace. The previous language could also be read as attempting to constrain students and members of other bargaining units over whom this agreement has no jurisdiction. This was the fourth iteration of discussions on this article.

Articles 1 (Preamble), 3 (Amendments), 24 (STP appeals), 30 (Travel Fund) and 31 (Research Fund)

The two sides came closer to reaching agreement on all of these articles. These articles have been exchanged multiple times and in most cases the language that remains outstanding focuses on a single conceptual issue that is reflected in just a small number of the clauses in that article. Discussion at today’s meeting revealed possible ways forward on several of these outstanding issues.

Articles 17 (Personnel Committees), “Part III,” and Schedule A “Parts I, II, III”

Article 17, “Part III,” and Schedule A (“Parts I, II, III”) represent the first iteration of the University’s proposal to collect and group together material that is distinct for each employee category in separate sections or “Parts.” This proposal involves a major reorganisation of the Handbook including the movement of large amounts of material from previously disparate Articles.

In today’s presentation, the University provided its initial example of how this grouping might affect individual employee categories, with a section on Academic Assistants and Instructors (“Part III”) and versions of Schedule A (economic benefits) for three out of the four proposed employee groups: Faculty, Professional Librarians, and Instructors/Academic Assistants. In the case of Article 17, the University provided a first look at how the “source” articles might look after material that is arguably specific to each group has been removed.

This was the first presentation of examples of this approach, which involves some fairly substantial changes in organisation and is at the moment still incomplete. We can expect several iterations of these articles (and the corresponding articles in the Collective Agreement’s “Common” section) before a final agreement will be reached.

Future Negotiations

The University and ULFA have a negotiating session scheduled for July 25. Since it has been impossible to find common times for negotiations in August, the parties agreed to meet again in September, and are attempting to schedule potential negotiating dates from the beginning of September through to the end of December. The two sides also discussed the pace of negotiations in the fall and other administrative issues.

Bargaining Team Membership Update

Today, ULFA also informed the Board that effective July 26, Rumi Graham will be taking over from Paul Hayes as an official member of the ULFA bargaining team. This change has been planned for some time, due to Paul’s forthcoming semester in Japan at Hokkai Gakuen University. Rumi has been an observer throughout negotiations, so is well-informed and prepared for this role.

Essential Services Case Management Meeting

On July 12, ULFA and the University had a case management meeting with Essential Services Commissioner Gwen Gray to discuss the University’s application for exemption on Essential Services.

The meeting was very productive and the Board has agreed to temporarily pause further action on the request for exemption. In the meantime, the parties have agreed to meet and begin bargaining the Essential Services Agreement without prejudice to the Commissioner’s decision on the exemption.

The parties looked for dates to negotiate in July but due to availability issues, are seeking dates to start in mid-August. A second case management has been schedule for July 26 at which point we will discuss our progress.

 

Bargaining Updates: Essential Service Agreement and Bridging

Here is the latest news on two ongoing aspects of the 2018 negotiations.

Essential Services Agreement

An Essential Services Agreement (ESA) is an agreement between an employer and a union regarding the provision of essential services in the event of job action. ESAs were introduced for the Post-Secondary sector when labour relations were moved into the Labour Code by Bill 7.

Under the Code, an Essential Service is an activity whose interruption would “endanger the life, personal safety or health of the public,” or that is “necessary to the maintenance and administration of the rule of law or public security” (Division 15.1 Section 95). Faculty Associations and Universities are required have an ESA in place (or request an exemption if no essential services are carried out) before any job action (e.g. Lockout or Strike) or formal mediation can take place. We have discussed ESAs several times over the last year, including here, here, here, here, and here.

University files for an exemption

On June 26, the University of Lethbridge filed a unilateral application for an exemption to this requirement for an ESA. Under Section 95(21).2 of the Code, the Commissioner of Essential Services may grant an exemption if the “the employees in the bargaining unit represented by the bargaining agent do not perform essential services,” or the services they do provide “can be maintained during a strike or lockout by other capable and qualified persons who are not employees in the bargaining unit” and who have not been hired specifically to provide this service during the job action (i.e. strike breakers).

In its application, the University argued that no ULFA Member carries out any essential service. This position was determined by the University without formal discussion with ULFA. It is also at odds with evidence collected by the Faculty Association that suggests there are a small number of members who carry out tasks on a regular or emergent basis that cannot be interrupted without endangering the life, personal safety or health of the public.

Next Steps

A call with the Commissioner for Essential Services to discuss the University’s application for an exemption has been scheduled for July 12. We will provide additional updates as they become available.

Unfair Labour Practice Complaint: Bridging

The University and ULFA have both submitted positions to the Labour Relations Board with regard to the application of the “bridging” provisions of the Code (esp. section 138(1)), particularly with regard to the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of Schedule A.02 in the Faculty Handbook.

ULFA’s position is that Section 138(1) requires COLA to be paid to its members on July 1, 2018 as part of these bridging positions and that a failure to honour this requirement is an Unfair Labour Practice. The University argues that the question of whether COLA is subject to bridging is a question for “Interpretation” under Article 1 of the Faculty and Sessional Handbooks and therefore not subject to a ruling from the Labour Board. You can read more about this issue here, here, and here. A background discussion of the issue can be found here.

University and ULFA agree to argue request for deferral through written submissions

On July 4, the Labour Board accepted a proposal from the University and ULFA to address the University’s request for a deferral of the case using written submissions only. According to this agreement, the University will have until July 18th to make its submission. ULFA will be given until July 25 to respond to the University’s submission. The University will then have until August 1 to make a response to ULFA’s response.

Next steps

If the University wins a deferral, the matter will be referred to the Interpretation Committee under Article 1 of the Faculty Handbook for a decision. In the event the Interpretation Committee cannot reach an agreement, the matter will then be referred to an arbitrator for mediation or, if mediation is unsuccessful, a decision by Final Offer Selection (Article 1.07).

If the University loses its request for a deferral, the Labour Board will consider ULFA’s application for a ruling on the applicability of the bridging provisions to the 2016-2018 Collective Agreement. In that case, a hearing will likely be scheduled for the matter in the early fall.

Again, we will keep Members updated as events progress.

Board files responses to Labour Board application

On June 15, ULFA filed an application to the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) under section 16(3) of the Labour Relations Code regarding an alleged unfair labour practice. You can read more about the background to ULFA’s application here and  here.

The fundamental issue at question was whether the “bridging” provisions of the Code apply to various economic benefits in the current Collective Agreement, particularly the calculation and application of a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and other increases called for by the collective agreement (e.g. Career Progress Increments, Merit Increments, Professional Supplement). Bridging is the process by which the terms of a collective agreement are deemed to continue to apply to the parties, notwithstanding any termination date in the agreement, after notice to bargain has been served.

The University filed a response to ULFA’s application on June 26. In its response, the University argued

  1. That ULFA’s application was premature in as much as the Collective Agreement had yet to expire at the time of application;
  2. That the dispute relates only to the payment of COLA and not Career Progress or Merit Increments or the Professional Supplement. In contrast to its practice during the 2014, 2013, and 2004 negotiations (during which some or all of these payments were withheld and paid retroactively after settlement), the University indicated that it intends to pay Career Progress, Merit, and Professional supplement beginning with the July pay period;
  3. It does not intend to pay COLA barring a ruling to the contrary from the Labour Board or arbitration under Article 1 of the Collective Agreement;
  4. That the dispute is primarily a matter of interpretation of the Handbook rather than the application of the Code to the Handbook, and hence should be handled under the provisions of Handbook Article 1 rather than by application to the ALRB.

In addition, the University echoed ULFA’s opinion that negotiations are progressing constructively and cordially.

Point (2) from this list important, because this means that Members who are eligible should a) have immediate access to their 2018 Professional Supplement; and b) have career progress and merit apply to their July 2018 pay cheque. Only the question of the application of the COLA remains in dispute. All members who have earned Career Progress and/or Merit Increments in 2017-2018 should see these amounts applied in their July pay cheques; all members who have access to Professional Supplement funds should have access currently to their 2018-2019 funds.

Next steps

On June 28, the University followed up on point (4) with an application to the Labour Relations Board asking it to decline to act on ULFA’s request for a ruling and provide instead “declaratory relief” that the question should be handled using the provisions for binding arbitration under Article 1 of the Handbook. Depending on how an arbitrator ruled, this could prevent ULFA from accessing its statutory rights under the Code and Bill 7. ULFA’s position remains that the question of whether bridging applies to the 2016-2018 Handbook is clearly a question of the application of the Code, rather than the interpretation of the Handbook.

Currently, the two sides are discussing with the Labour Board the best means of dealing with their competing applications. Meanwhile, bargaining continues, with the next two negotiating sessions set for July 16 and 25.

We will provide more details as they become available.

Bargaining update June 18-20: Eighteen Articles and Schedules and some more discussion of economic benefits over three days of negotiations

Bargaining teams for the Faculty Association and University met for three sessions this week, on June 18, 19, and 20. Over the course of the three days, they discussed eighteen articles and returned to the question of economic benefits. The sides reached agreement in principle on one article (28 Vacations) and one schedule (E [Old numbering] Copyright).

Having presented a large number of articles and schedules in the first few sessions, ULFA is now largely responding to counter proposals from the Board side.

At this point, only Article 12 (Criteria for extension of probation, tenure, promotion, and salary increments) remains to be presented. While ULFA has some proposals for this article, it has agreed to let the Board side make the first presentation as part of a larger proposed revision of articles referring to different employee groups (i.e. Sessional Lecturers, Instructors/Academic Assistants, Faculty, and Professional Librarians).

As has been the case thus far, the discussions over these three days were constructive and efficient. The two sides have been able to identify large areas of agreement in most articles under discussion and, just as importantly, more sharply delineate the areas where more work is required. As the gradually slowing pace of the exchanges demonstrate, we also are now beginning to isolate the areas where the most work must occur. As negotiations continue, we can expect there to be fewer articles exchanged and longer discussions of individual words and phrases.

Both sides have indicated that they are currently satisfied with the tenor and progress of negotiations.

The next (and only currently booked) negotiations are scheduled for July 16 and 25. Both sides agreed to investigate the possibility of scheduling additional sessions in July or August.

Below is a more detailed account of the articles discussed. A spreadsheet listing the current state of negotiations on each article can be found here.

Monday June 18

In a four hour session, the two sides discussed 11 articles and schedules:

Board ULFA
6 Communication and Information

9 Personal Files

10 Courses taught in addition to assigned duties

27 Holidays

28 Vacations

33 Gradual Retirement and Reduced Load

22 Grievance

30 Travel fund

31 Research fund

32 Salary Schedules

E Copyright form (agreed to in principle)

Of these, only 32 (Salary Schedules) was new. In the case of Schedule E (to be renumbered Schedule C), ULFA accepted in principle the Board’s proposal from June 8.

Tuesday June 19

In a three hour session, the two sides discussed 7 articles:

Board ULFA
1 Objectives

3 Amendments

4 Applications and exclusions

5 Recognition

10 Courses taught in addition to assigned duties

16 Termination

28 Vacations (agreed to in principle)

There were no new articles in this session. In the case of Article 28, ULFA was able to accept in principal the Board’s proposal from the day before with only minor typographic changes.

Wednesday June 19

The two sides met briefly to recap and expand upon previous discussions on economic benefits.

Essential Services Agreement (ESA) Teams Announced

ULFA and the Board have identified teams to discuss the content of an Essential Services Agreement (ESA).

ULFA will be represented by Rob Sutherland, Dawn McBride, and Locke Spencer. The Board will be represented by Chris Hosgood, Nancy Pastoor, Mary Kay, and Carolin Cattoi Demkiw.

The ESA is a requirement of the new legislation governing negotiations in the Post Secondary Sector under the Alberta Labour Code. The agreement identifies employees whose work is essential to human health and safety or the maintenance of law and order. We have given some background on ESAs in two earlier posts.

ULFA has taken part in a number of training sessions on ESAs, including several meetings with Essential Services Commissioner Gwen Gray and Director of Mediation Services Don Mitchell. In the course of these discussions, it was able to identify a number of specific groups of faculty members who it believes are essential to the preservation of human health and safety. We were able to further confirm the nature of these duties with the affected Members during our “meet and greet” sessions this past academic year.

The two teams will take up contact soon. You can learn more about ESAs and ULFA’s preparation in this area here, here, here, and here.