The first phase of bargaining between UBC and UBCFA has ended. During this phase, the parties attempt to reach a final agreement on all matters, in which case the agreement is then put to the members for a ratification vote. However, if this phase ends with some matters unresolved, then “the matters in dispute shall be submitted to arbitration” (Part I, Article 9.04(b) of the Collective Agreement (see page 8). This phase concluded on Friday, January 30, 2015 when the parties signed a Memorandum of Agreement that itemizes the proposals on which agreement has been reached, the proposals the parties have mutually agreed to withdraw, and those “matters still in dispute” that the parties may submit to arbitration. We will be providing more details on the agreements reached in future blog posts.
We have now entered the second phase of the process. Our legal counsel has been instructed to contact the University’s legal counsel to finalize the details of the arbitration including, importantly, the dates for the arbitration hearings. We don’t expect that the arbitration will take place until the summer, since arbitrators that would be acceptable to both parties are much in demand and already heavily booked. Between now and the beginning of the arbitration hearings the parties can continue to discuss outstanding issues and we fully anticipate we will have further meetings with the university’s bargaining team to see if we can settle any of the items in dispute. While it is possible that arbitration could still be avoided, and all outstanding issues resolved, as happened two bargaining rounds ago, this seems unlikely. The parties are far apart on some key issues, including the general wage increase. Again, we will be providing information on the positions of the parties on the unresolved issues in future blog posts.
The bargaining team would like our members to know that this round of bargaining was a much more pleasant and productive experience than the two previous rounds. Both the Association and the University engaged in open, honest dialogue and worked very hard to come to agreement on a number of very important issues. Though we wish more had been resolved, we enter the arbitration phase pleased with what we’ve accomplished, so going to arbitration should not be considered a failure in any way.