Faculty Association and Board to Negotiate an Essential Services Agreement and Discuss Negotiating Protocols under the Labour Relations Code

The University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) and the Board of Governors of the University of Lethbridge will meet later this Fall to negotiate an Essential Services Agreement (ESA) and discuss other protocols for negotiating under the Labour Relations Code (LRC). The dates for negotiation and discussion are in the process of being set.

Negotiation of an ESA is required by the LRC during each round of bargaining in the Post Secondary Sector. This requirement was introduced by the passage of Bill 7 this past spring, which moved negotiations and labour relations in the sector into the LRC. Previously, negotiations in the Post Secondary Sector were conducted under the Post Secondary Learning Act (PSLA).

Under the LRC, an essential service is defined as

those services

(a) the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the public, or

(b) that are necessary to the maintenance and administration of the rule of law or public security. 95 (1)

By creating an ESA, Management and Unions commit to the maintenance of such services in the event of a lockout or strike. Employees performing such services are allowed to enter the premises of an employer during a lockout and are permitted to cross picket lines without penalty in the event of a strike.

In addition to the ESA, the Board and ULFA will discuss protocols for negotiating under the LRC, which introduces timelines and other rules governing bargaining.

ULFA will be represented by negotiators Paul Hayes and Daniel O’Donnell, with support from resource persons Annabree Fairweather and Terry Sway. The Board will be represented by negotiators Ed Jurkowski and Chris Nicol (co-chairs), Elaine Carlson and Carrie Takeyasu. Scott Harling will act as a resource person for the Board, which has also indicated that it will likely appoint an additional resource person at a future date.

Comparing notes on bargaining at the Fall CAFA Meeting

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

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

In addition to the voting members of the Committee, the chair of the Handbooks Committee, Daniel O’Donnell, attended as an observer and resource.

The job of the Economic Benefits Committee is to research, prepare, and advise the Association executive on issues pertaining to the economic welfare of its members. This includes things like salary, benefits, premiums, Professional Supplement, the Tuition Benefit, and so on. These benefits are found in Schedule A and B of the Faculty Handbook. This work involves researching comparable settlements at other universities and in other sectors, discovering the needs of current faculty, and uncovering flaws and strengths in our current arrangements.

The first meeting of the Committee was largely devoted to a discussion of the new labour environment in the Alberta Post Secondary sector, focussing particularly on how this may affect our negotiating practice. Members also reviewed the ULFA code of conduct and familiarised themselves with the Committee’s terms of reference.

In the coming weeks, the Economic Benefits Committee will resume its work from last Spring and Summer: researching likely topics for investigation and reviewing last year’s faculty survey.

The Economic Benefits Committee has a vacancy for a member from the professional faculties. If you are interesting in participating in this capacity or as a (non-voting) volunteer or learing more about it for participation in future years, please contact the chair, Paul Hayes (p.hayes@uleth.ca).

Introducing the 2017-2018 Handbooks Committee

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.

The members of this year’s committee are:

  • Dan O’Donnell (Chair), English (A&S)
  • Andrea Amelinckx (ex officio, ULFA President), (Management) 
  • Chris Burton, History (A&S)
  • Ian McAdam, English (A&S)
  • Patrick Wilson, Anthropology & First Nations Transition (A&S)
  • YJ Bao, Management
  • Lance Chong, New Media (Fine Arts)
  • John Usher, Management
  • David Scott, Library
  • Annabree Fairweather (Executive Director)

ULFA HB 2017 1ULFA HB 2017 2ULFA HB 2017 3
*Photo 1 (L-R): D. Scott, I. McAdam, A. Fairweather, D. O’Donnell, J. Usher
**Photo 2 (L-R): J. Usher, P. Wilson, C. Burton, A. Amelinckx
***Photo 3 (L-R): D. Scott, I. McAdam, A. Fairweather, D. O’Donnell, C. Burton

This year’s committee has a broad range of experience with the negotiating process. There are some members with considerable previous experience and some members who are working closely with the Handbook for the first time.

At the same time, this year’s committee is less diverse than normal in terms of gender and discipline: the majority of its members are male, and most have a background in the Humanities or Social Sciences. The committee devoted some time in its first meeting to this topic and will be actively soliciting additional participants, over the next few weeks, particularly from demographics that are less well represented on the committee.

How do you join the Handbooks Committee?

Voting membership on ULFA committees is assigned on a constituency basis, meaning that different seats are reserved for Members from different faculties, ranks, and positions. Membership is determined by election each Spring at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). Nominations are proposed by the Nominating Committee each Spring and accepted from the floor at the AGM.

If a position is left unfilled after the elections, or if a member resigns their seat, the vacancies can be filled by appointment with the approval of the ULFA executive.

Members can also often participate on ULFA committees as non-voting observers. The Handbooks Committee is a committee that can benefit greatly from such participation and considers volunteer observers gladly!

We have some vacancies!

Currently, the Handbooks Committee has a vacancy for a voting member who is an instructor (any faculty).

This is a voting position that can be filled by appointment by the ULFA executive. If you are an instructor and are interested in participating as a voting member of this committee, please contact the Chair, Daniel Paul O’Donnell (daniel.odonnell@uleth.ca).

In addition to this vacancy for a voting member, the Handbooks Committee is also actively seeking non-voting observers (any faculty/position). Given the current membership of the Committee we are particularly interested in volunteers from any of the following demographics:

  • Members from the Natural Sciences or Professional Faculties
  • Sessional Lecturers
  • Members who identify as female
  • Members who identify as non-cisgender
  • Members with experience in Aboriginal communities
  • Members with experience as Immigrants or People of Colour

Preparations for 2017-2018 Negotiations

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.

 Preparations for 2017-2018 NegotiationsPreparations for 2017-2018 NegotiationsPreparations for 2017-2018 Negotiations

Welcome to the bargaining team blog

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.