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.