Bargaining Bulletins

October 27, 2017

The following memo is Bargaining Bulletin #3 for the current round of bargaining.

We are approximately half way through the fall 2017 semester and I am overdue in sending out this update on the status of bargaining on terms and conditions of employment (including salaries and benefits) between the Association and the Board of Governors.  In this update I intend to provide a brief history of where we are now (and how we arrived here), and some comments on how we are proceeding from here.

Bargaining began in late February 2017, when Eileen Lohka was the Association’s Principal Negotiator, with the Association sending its opening set of proposals to the Board of Governors.  The Board of Governors responded in mid-March with its own set of proposals, following which the two bargaining teams began to meet to negotiate a new agreement.  On 6th April the bargaining environment was dramatically altered when the NDP Government introduced Bill 7, including provisions that immediately removed the Association’s right to submit any bargaining impasse to arbitration without the agreement of the Board of Governors.  The two bargaining teams continued to meet, but were unable to reach an agreement.  The Association has repeatedly expressed its willingness to pursue reaching an agreement through voluntary arbitration but this offer has been refused by the Board of Governors.

With Eileen Lohka retiring, the Association’s Board of Directors has appointed me as Principal Negotiator for the current academic year.  The Association’s bargaining team now comprises me (I am from Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering), Tavis Campbell (from Psychology in the Faculty of Arts), and Sheila Miller (Association Executive Director).  This team is supported by resource persons from the Association staff including Don Kozak (Associate Executive Director) and other Association professional staff.  The Board of Governors’ team is unchanged and comprises Deputy-Provost Kevin McQuillan as Principal Negotiator, Valerie Rendell (Director, Academic Relations), and Firoz Talakshi (Board of Governors member), supported by Jackie Sieppert (Dean of Social Work) and Devon Gillis (Advisor, Academic Relations).

Your newly-constituted bargaining team has begun to meet with the Board of Governors’ team, and both sides have stated a strong desire to reach an agreement at the table.  You must understand that this is a very challenging bargaining environment with the Governors seeking no across-the-board salary increase, and the NDP Government changing the rules in the middle of bargaining to prevent the Association taking an impasse to arbitration.  Notwithstanding this, the Association is aware that academic staff at the other research-intensive institutions in Alberta, who were not in the middle of bargaining when the government changed the rules, received across-the-board increases as of July 1st (1.5% at the University of Alberta, 2.8% at the University of Lethbridge, and 2.0% at Athabasca University), and we are determined that any new agreement include elements of significant value for Association members.

While the previous agreement ended on 30th June, it remains in effect while negotiations continue.  I will update you again as developments warrant.

Paul Rogers
Principal Negotiator


May 10, 2017

This will be a short bargaining bulletin to keep you informed of the latest developments on the bargaining front.

Several members contacted the Faculty Association soon after the details of Bill 7 were revealed; the Bill is now law. This means that we have become a “trade union” and will be working on new items such as an essential services agreement, and creating a strike fund.

Throughout the consultation period the Minister had assured us there would be a transition period before the strike/lockout processes would be applied. We are shocked that the new legislation has no such transition period but instead has been applied retroactively to April 6th. This means that we can no longer choose to submit any impasse to arbitration without the Board of Governors’ agreement. We have asked the Governors if they would be willing to go to arbitration in the event of an impasse at bargaining; they have refused.

As reported to you before, the Governors’ position is there is no across the board salary increase for two years. More recently we have heard (many) rumours that the New Democrat government is insisting there be a zero across the board in all public sector bargaining.  As you can imagine, this makes things very difficult at the bargaining table as the rules have changed in the middle of bargaining. I would note that the U of A is not currently in bargaining and will be receiving a 1.5% increase, across the board, on July 1, 2017.

Despite this, the Faculty Association bargaining team is continuing to negotiate to find the best deal possible in this difficult situation. The reassuring news is the Governors appear equally committed to trying to find a resolution at the table.  The Governors’ bargaining team has informed us that they have no plans to look at lockout provisions while we are bargaining.

We are actively bargaining and cannot say whether we will have any proposal to bring to the membership before the summer. We will keep you apprised as negotiations progress but I thought it would be important for the membership to know that the conditions in which we bargain have greatly changed in the middle of bargaining.

As an aside, we are making considerable progress at the assessment bargaining table.  I will be getting back to you very soon on this matter.

Thank you, as always, for your support.

Eileen Lohka
Principal Negotiator

April 5, 2017

The following memo is Bargaining Bulletin #1 for this round of bargaining.

You may be aware that we have come to this time of the cycle again when the Faculty Association has to bargain the terms and conditions of employment for the academic staff of the University of Calgary. The present agreement is set to end on June 30, 2017 although it will still be in effect if negotiations are not completed or if a new agreement has not been ratified by that date.

The bargaining team for the Faculty Association consists of me, Eileen Lohka, a Professor in the School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures (Principal Negotiator), Paul Rogers, from Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and Sheila Miller, Executive Director of the Faculty Association. Don Kozak, Associate Executive Director and Marisa Miller, Research Assistant, of the Faculty Association, are our resource persons at the table.

As you know, the Government of Alberta has been reviewing the Post-Secondary Learning Act with a view to either include the right to strike within the act or, alternatively, to transfer the university faculty associations, with the right to strike, under the Labour Act. We are expecting to find out more about these changes very soon. We are therefore starting bargaining in an uncertain climate, as we are unsure as to what mechanisms we will be able to use to get a resolution if we are unable to reach a settlement.

Our proposal consists of the following components briefly summarized thus:

A. Compensation, including but not limited to
– An across the board salary increase, including for sessionals. Our starting position is 5% – which I will explain further later on
– PER increases, with unused PER to go to a conference travel fund for sessionals
– Increase payment in lieu of benefits and vacation to 5% for sessionals
– Ceilings and floors to be adjusted accordingly
– Increase in a wide variety of benefits
B. Collective Agreement Language, including but not limited to
– Create a conversion process into ongoing appointments for long-time sessionals
– Complement: Establish a minimum/percentage of academic staff members who shall be tenure-track
– Designate categories of academic staff or recognize existing staff doing academic work (Postdoctoral fellows, researchers in institutes etc.)
– Allow for terminal sabbaticals at any time on academic staff member’s request
– Update tenure and promotion rules, including Emeritus/Emerita status
– Establish fairness provisions for investigations and time limits for discipline

We will concentrate on remuneration because academic staff members at the University of Calgary continue to lose ground, especially with respect to the University of Alberta (who have already negotiated a 1.5% increase for 2017-18). It is in this context that the 5% number was reasonably reached, as an attempt to close some of the substantial gap between UA and UC. I must point out that this should not be an expectation but be considered as a starting position for bargaining purposes.

The Board of Governors’ Team consists of Deputy-Provost Kevin McQuillan as Principal Negotiator, Valerie Rendell, Director of Faculty Relations, and Firoz Talakshi from the Board of Governors. Jackie Sieppert, Dean of Social Work, and Devon Gillis of HR act as resource persons. Highlights of their proposal, which again constitute their starting position, are as follows:

– A 0% across the board increase for the first two years. An indeterminate amount in the 3rd year of a three-year or four-year agreement.
– Reduction of some increments and increase of others
– Removal of several leaves, including assisted study leaves and career stop out leaves
– Elimination of the RSL travel funds
– Prior approval requirement for any OPA, including minor OPA
– Changes in RSL provisions

We have had one initial meeting and have simply gone through both proposals at this stage, but I thought it important to let you know what is transpiring. I will keep you posted as much as I can as we move along.

Thank you very much,

Eileen Lohka
Principal Negotiator

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