Comparing notes on bargaining at the Fall CAFA Meeting

on Tuesday, 19 September 2017.

The Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (CAFA) held its first council meeting of the year this past Friday, September 15 in Edmonton. The meeting followed the annual CAFA awards banquet on Thursday evening.

CAFA is an association of the Faculty Associations of Alberta’s four Comprehensive Academic and Research Institutions (CARIs): Athabasca University, the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge.

The meeting was a general business meeting, meaning that a full range of Faculty Association business was discussed, from the annual CAFA prizes through Grievance and Labour Board matters, though there was a heavy focus on, of course, the changing bargaining environment.

Lethbridge sent its President, Andrea Amelinckx, and three other delegates from the Executive: Past President David Kaminski, Handbooks Chair/member of the ULFA bargaining team, Daniel O’Donnell, and Executive Director, Annabree Fairweather.

From a bargaining perspective, the most important thing was the opportunity to see how other Associations and Boards are approaching the new environment. Topics discussed included the timing and nature of the new Essential Services Agreement (ESA) required by the Labour Relations Code between Associations and Boards in the Post-Secondary sector, changes to the Post-Secondary Learning Act, and the state of ongoing negotiations and preparation. In addition, participants heard from experts who have experience with the Labour Relations Code in other sectors and from representatives of Faculty Associations in other provinces.

The day before the annual meeting, several Executive Directors and members of Association bargaining teams met in a special workshop focussing on the Essential Services Agreement (ESA), which is a new element our sector must negotiate prior to the start of normal collective bargaining. An ESA addresses essential services during the event of a lockout or a strike, the withdrawal of which would otherwise endanger human life or health.

The awards banquet on Thursday evening was attended by the Minister of Advanced Education, Marlin Schmidt, the Deputy Minister, representatives from the Administrations of various Alberta Universities, members of the Executives of all four CARI Faculty Associations, and the CAFA staff.

Additional information about the CAFA awards programme is available from the CAFA site. A layperson’s guide to the Labour Relations Code is available from the Provincial Government.

The 2017-2018 Economic Benefits Committee

on Thursday, 14 September 2017.

The 2017-2018 Economic Benefits Committee held its first meeting of the year on Tuesday 12 September. The Committee has a number of new and returning members; its chair is Paul Hayes (Chemistry), a former ULFA treasurer. The membership of the 2017-2018 Committee is:

  • Paul Hayes, Chemistry (chair)
  • Andrea Amelinckx, Management (ex officio)
  • James Byrne, Geography
  • Paul Hazendonk, Chemistry & Biochemistry
  • Chad Povey, Physics & Astronomy
  • Olu Awosoga, Health Sciences
  • Vishaal Baulkaran, Management
  • Rumi Graham, Library
  • Annabree Fairweather, Executive Director

ULFA EBC 2017 1ULFA EBC 2017 2
*Photo 1 (L-R): P. Hazendonk, V. Baulkaran, A. Fairweather, P. Hayes, O. Awosoga
**Photo 2 (L-R): C. Povey, D. O'Donnell, R. Graham, O. Awosoga

Introducing the 2017-2018 Handbooks Committee

on Friday, 08 September 2017.

The 2017-2018 Handbooks Committee held its first meeting of the year on Sept. 8. The meeting was devoted to planning for the upcoming year (our first negotiating year under the provisions of the Labour Relations Code).

The Committee looked at the changes introduced into our negotiating process through the introduction of Bill 7 last year, reviewed outstanding issues, and discussed overall approach to preparation and negotiations. In the next few weeks, we will narrow down the list of topics we intend to propose to the Board for discussion and begin preparing initial positions.

About the Handbooks Committee

The Handbooks Committee is responsible for preparing and recommending bargaining positions on all aspects of our contract with the Board, except for Schedules A and B (i.e. everything except primarily economic matters of pay and other economic benefits). This involves a wide range of terms and conditions including things like the annual Professional Activities Report, processes for tenure and promotion, academic freedom and responsibility, and so on.

Because of its scope, this committee benefits especially from a wide range of viewpoints and life-experiences. The terms and conditions of our employment are where our position as employees intersects with our external responsibilities--as members of families, members of disciplinary communities, citizens of the broader community.

Preparations for 2017-2018 Negotiations

on Monday, 21 August 2017.

The ULFA executive met August 15 and 16 to prepare for 2017-2018 academic year, our first under the Labour Relations Code. Among the participants were the chairs of the Economic Benefits and Handbook committees, Paul Hayes and Dan O'Donnell. They are responsible for preparing the Faculty Association's positions in the upcoming negotiations.

The executive devoted a large chunk of both days to preparing for negotiations within the new legal framework brought on by the Supreme Court's 2015 Saskatchewan Federation of Labour decision and subsequent changes introduced to the Alberta Post Secondary Learning Act (PSLA) as a result.

The headline news from these changes, of course, is the introduction of the possibility of a Lockout/Strike into our labour negotiations. But Bill 7 (the act that brought the PSLA in line with the Supreme Court ruling) also brought with it a large number of changes in basic processes: by moving labour relations between the Faculty Association and the Board into the Labour Relations Code, for example, the Act also introduced new timelines and statutory requirements that affect how we conduct our negotiations and settle any differences that may arise.

Over the two-day retreat, the ULFA executive heard from experts with experience in University-Association labour relations under similar regimes. We also discussed governance under the new rules with Lori Morinville from the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations.

With the beginning of the new Academic Year, the Handbooks and Economic Benefits committees will put the final touches on the Faculty Association positions for this year's negotiations. We look forward to meeting with the Board's representatives soon to discuss our negotiations under the new legislation.

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Welcome to the bargaining team blog

on Wednesday, 26 April 2017.

Welcome to the new Bargaining Team blog.

With the passage of Alberta Bill 7 An Act to Enhance Post-secondary Academic Bargaining on May 4, labour relations in the University sector in the province of Alberta has entered a new era. 

The headline changes, of course, involve the introduction of reciprocal rights to Lockout (management) and Strike (faculty), as required by Supreme Court's 2015 Saskatchewan Federation of Labour vs. Saskatchewan decision.

But the impact of Bill 7 goes far beyond this: the bill moves the rules that govern labour relations in the University sector out of the Post-Secondary Learning Act and into the Labour Relations Code (LRC)—the law that governs labour relations in most other industries in the province. This gives Faculty and Management access to the Labour Relations Board (LRB), which affects how we resolve disputes. It also requires us to adjust several of the rules and processes we have traditionally used to guide our bargaining, including scheduling and mechanisms (like Final Offer Selection in the case of Economic Benefits and Status Quo Ante in the case of the Handbook) that we have used previously to resolve impasse.

In this new world, communication is crucial. In the 2015-2016 academic year, we held townhalls to discuss the risks and opportunities that followed from the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour decision and explain the then pressing need for us to begin building a fund to support our membership in the event of a lockout or strike.

This blog is an extension of that same approach to communication. We expect to use it as a channel for keeping members informed about the activities of our Handbooks and Economic Benefits Committees as we prepare for negotiations under the new rules in 2017-2018. While we are still working out the precise approach we will be taking, we anticipate using it to inform members about our broad goals, provide general reports concerning committee meetings, discuss general issues affecting Faculty in this new approach to labour relations, and and provide links to resources we are using to help understand the issues before us.

Because the blog is intended primarily for our members, public commenting is turned off. We encourage members to contact the faculty association directly with comments, suggestions, and questions as the year progresses.