‘March 2017’

Upcoming changes to the Post-Secondary Learning Act

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Upcoming changes to the Post-Secondary Learning Act | Filed in March 2017, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

In the Fall, I reported to you on the provincial government’s consultations regarding changes to the Post-Secondary Learning Act (PSLA), focusing on matters related to Faculty Associations and labour relations. The need for these changes had arisen because of the Supreme Court’s decision that freedom of association included the right to strike, and thus the right to strike is protected by the Charter. As a result, the provincial governments were required to amend any legislation where strikes had previously been prohibited. In Alberta, the Faculty Associations at colleges as well as graduate students’ associations have been prohibited from striking. The research university Faculty Associations (at Calgary, Alberta, Lethbridge, and Athabasca) are not prohibited from striking, but there is no clear mechanism for how strikes would occur. In order to resolve bargaining disputes in lieu of strikes, the research universities have provisions in their Collective Agreements for binding arbitration. These will now likely be eliminated by the government as they install strikes/lockouts as the preferred method of resolving disputes. Of course, with strikes also comes the possibility of lockout by the employer as their method to resolve disputes.

Rather than simply establish a strike mechanism and leave everything else intact (which they certainly could have done), the provincial government seems to have decided that they wanted to significantly change the nature of Faculty Associations. Most simply put, in my own personal reading of the situation, the New Democrats wanted to turn all Faculty Associations into trade unions established under the Labour Act. Initially there had been a government round-table in the Fall of 2015 at which the consensus view of all stakeholders (Faculty Associations and Administrations) was that Faculty Associations should remain under the Post-Secondary Learning Act. At that time, for the research universities, all of the Faculty Associations unanimously agreed that it would be preferable to stay under the PSLA. In spite of this strong consensus opinion, the government undertook a second round of consultations in the following year.

In the summer of 2016, the government introduced a new discussion paper, which we shared with you, along with a discussion paper of our own highlighting numerous concerns with the government’s direction. From those papers, we consulted with you and the Department Representatives before making a submission to the government. We sent this final submission to you in an email in October, and you can also find it on our website here. The government subsequently held a series of round-tables with stakeholder representatives. At the invitation of the government, I attended one such round-table together with our Executive Director, Sheila Miller. The key issues discussed at the round-table were: 1) the potential implications of Faculty Associations becoming unions under the Labour Act; and 2) how and by whom designation of academic staff should occur.

The government’s consultant and moderator of the round-tables, Andy Sims, stated he would consider all submissions and discussions at the various round-tables in formulating his recommendations to the Government, which he would present in early 2017, after which new legislation would be tabled in the Spring sitting of the Legislature (scheduled from March 2 – June 1).

No matter how the government decides to proceed, there will be a profound impact on Faculty Associations and the nature of bargaining. Until now, if there was an impasse at the bargaining table, either side could take the matter to arbitration. There was inherent risk to both sides in taking matters to an arbitrator, as it could backfire and one might get stuck with something worse than what could have been achieved at the bargaining table.  This meant there was a tendency at the bargaining table to judge proposals based on how an arbitrator might rule. Moving to strike and lockout, we will no longer judge issues based on what an arbitrator might rule, but rather on where our/their bottom line is, how far we/they are willing to push on an issue, and where the possible overlap exists. This is not necessarily a better or worse system, but it does change the way we (and the Board of Governors) will approach bargaining in the future.

There is also the question of whether there will be a ‘phase-in’ period or whether strike/lockout will be established when Royal Assent is given to the new legislation. While this was a point of discussion at the round-table, until the legislation is brought forward, we do not know how long, or even whether, there will be a transition phase. As a result, we are about to enter bargaining in a state of uncertainty (our current Collective Agreement expires June 30, 2017). We do not know when the legislation will be enacted and what effect it could potentially have on bargaining in progress, especially what dispute mechanism might be in effect if we are unable to come to agreement at the table.

Once the legislative rules are made clear, we will need to discuss ‘essential services’ with the Board of Governors – that is those parts of our work which would continue even in the event of a strike or lockout. As ‘essential services’ are generally only considered to be those aspects of work where health and safety might be at risk, it is likely that work considered to be ‘essential service’ will be relatively rare. However, there will be exceptions – especially in positions with an urgent clinical component or where researchers are dealing with dangerous materials which need monitoring.

The Association membership will also need to decide on whether to establish a strike fund. There are a number of possibilities, for which we have gathered the relevant information: We can join the CAUT Defense Fund, establish our own fund, do both, or do neither. Again, once the legislation is clear, the Board of Directors will be coming back to you with a proposal for your consideration.

At this time, we can make no concrete plans for how to move forward until we see what the provincial government decides to do. Until we see the new legislation, we are not sure whether all of our current members will continue to be part of the Faculty Association or whether new groups of members might become part of the Association. We could grow, shrink, or remain the same. We are not sure how our powers, organizational structure, or mandate might change. There are potential indirect effects on various university policies, member benefits, and the pension plan that could occur as a result of the coming legislative changes. It is no exaggeration to state that this is the most significant change to the Faculty Association since we were established as a bargaining unit in the early 1980’s. We will keep you informed as we find out more and we will seek your input as we begin to develop our plans for charting our course through the new legislative environment.



2017 CAFA Distinguished Academic Awards

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on 2017 CAFA Distinguished Academic Awards | Filed in March 2017

Nominations for CAFA Awards must be received by April 28, 2017.

The Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (CAFA) is a professional organization of faculty associations in Alberta universities. It is a federation of four associations: The Association of Academic Staff University of Alberta, Athabasca University Faculty Association, The Faculty Association of the University of Calgary and The University of Lethbridge Faculty Association. The objectives of the Confederation are to promote the quality of education in the province and to promote the well-being of Alberta universities and their academic staff.

CAFA is inviting nominations for the eleventh annual CAFA Distinguished Academic Awards. Once again, CAFA is offering two Awards:

2017 CAFA Distinguished Academic Award
Recognizing an academic staff member, or group of staff members, who through their research and/or other scholarly, creative or professional activities have made an outstanding contribution to the wider community beyond the university.

2017 CAFA Distinguished Academic Early Career Award
Recognizing an academic staff member at an early stage of his or her career, who through his or her research and/or other scholarly, creative or professional activity has made an outstanding contribution to the wider community beyond the university.

Each Award recipient will receive a cheque for $2,000 and an original piece of artwork.


Nominees must be current members of one of the academic staff associations within CAFA – the AASUA, AUFA, Calgary and ULFA.  For a group nomination, a majority of group members, including the primary researcher or group leader, must be current members of one of the CAFA academic staff associations.

Nominees for the CAFA Distinguished Academic Early Career Award must be no more than eight (8) years beyond the completion of a doctoral degree or equivalent qualification.

Eligible Contributions

Any type or form of research and/or other scholarly, creative or professional activity, which makes a contribution to the community beyond the university, is eligible for consideration by the Selection Committee.

In making its decision, the Selection Committee, at its discretion, may also take into account such factors as a nominee’s teaching and service record, as well as other aspects of his or her professional life.

Award recipients must be willing and able to attend the annual CAFA Distinguished Academic Awards dinner and to make a brief presentation on their research and/or other scholarly, creative or professional activity and its contribution to the wider community. Some contact with the media may also be required.

The 2017 CAFA Awards Dinner will take place in Edmonton on Thursday, September 14, 2017.

Nominations (a signed pdf copy of the package should be e-mailed to lori.morinville AT ualberta.ca)

Nominations for either Award must include the following:

1) A completed Nomination Form:

Link to Nomination Form

2) A Nomination Letter describing specifically how the research and/or other scholarly, creative or professional activity of the nominee(s) have made a contribution to the community beyond the university.  Nominations from any source are welcome.

[N.B. The work of the Selection Committee is dependent on the quality and completeness of the information it receives in the Nomination Letters.]

3) The current CV of the nominee(s).

4) Two (2) Letters of Reference.

[N.B. Letters of Reference should be from persons qualified to comment on the research and/or other scholarly, creative or professional activity of the nominee(s), and the contribution it has made to the community outside the university.]

Nominations for both CAFA Awards must be received by April 28, 2017.

Selection Process

The Selection Committee consists of the president of CAFA, as Chair, and the presidents of the four CAFA member associations – AASUA, AUFA, Calgary and ULFA, or their designates. (The Executive Director of CAFA, ex-officio, sits as a (non-voting) member of the Committee.)

The Selection Committee may deliberate, consult and arrive at its decisions, as it shall determine, subject to the Terms of Reference of the CAFA Distinguished Academic Awards. The decisions of the Selection Committee are final. Award recipients will be selected by May 17, 2017.


Travel and hotel expenses for Award recipients attending the Awards dinner will be paid by CAFA.

For more information, please visit the CAFA website at www.cafa-ab.ca

or contact John Nicholls, Executive Director, Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations, (780) 492-5630 or e-mail: john.nicholls AT ualberta.ca.

Faculty Association election

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Faculty Association election | Filed in Gazette, March 2017

The Faculty Association has received two nominations for President and Chair of the Board of Directors:

Sandra Hoenle (School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures) – current Association President

Paul Rogers (Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering) – current Association Past President

Therefore, all academic staff will have received an election package by campus mail which includes voting procedures, information from the candidates and a ballot. Ballots are to be returned to the Faculty Association (Education Tower 1402) no later than 4:30 p.m., Monday, March 20, 2017.

The following Faculty Association members were elected by acclamation to the Board of Directors with terms beginning July 1, 2017 (term lengths were determined by lot as per the Association bylaw, Article 7.7.3):

Tavis Campbell (Psychology) – 3 years
Kent Donlevy (Werklund School of Education) – 2 years
Marcia Epstein (Communication, Media and Film) – 3 years
Hamid Habibi (Biological Sciences) – 3 years
Francine Smith (Physiology and Pharmacology) – 3 years
Justine Wheeler (Libraries and Cultural Resources) – 3 years

Polly Knowlton Cockett (Werklund School of Education) was elected by acclamation to the designated sessional seat on the Board for a one-year term beginning July 1, 2017.

Sessional Travel Grants awarded

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Sessional Travel Grants awarded | Filed in Gazette, March 2017

The Faculty Association would like to congratulate Michael Czuba (Faculty of Arts, School of Creative and Performing Arts) and Awah Mfossi Sidjeck (Faculty of Arts, Department of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures), recipients of this year’s Sessional Travel Grants. These grants serve to support the academic goals of sessional members of the Faculty Association by providing funding for a portion of travel costs related to making scholarly presentations, attending conferences, or other scholarly activity in their field. The purpose of this grant is to provide these members an opportunity to profile their research, remain current in their fields, and thereby benefit the University with their enhanced expertise and profile. Although the Association is pleased to be able to provide these opportunities for sessionals, it also speaks to the lack of support available for these academic staff.



Mount Royal Faculty Association hosts advocacy event

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Mount Royal Faculty Association hosts advocacy event | Filed in March 2017

Panel Discussion: Who Should Pay for Higher Education

Representatives from different political parties and organizations will debate the question.

Tuesday, March 28th
5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
John Dutton Theatre, Calgary Public Library

This event is organized as part of the Mount Royal Faculty Association’s annual Advocacy Week. Contact the Mount Royal Faculty Association for more information: www.mrfa.net.


Dues are tax deductible

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Dues are tax deductible | Filed in Gazette, March 2017

As you prepare your taxes, remember that your Faculty Association dues (which include CAFA dues and your CAUT dues) are tax deductible. You can find these dues on your pay stub and in box 44 of your 2016 U of C T4.