Librarians

Categories: Bargaining Updates 2014, Library

While the parties have agreed on many issues there are a number of issues still in dispute. On some of these issues the parties are likely to engage in further discussion that might lead to resolution, others will have to be decided by an Arbitrator. Please note that any items agreed to at the bargaining table will not be implemented until the interest arbitration is complete. This is the twentieth in a series of blog posts to discuss both the matters that have been agreed to and those that are still in dispute, and the twelfth dealing with matters still in dispute.

The Association has been seeking, since 2010, to modify Part 5, Conditions of Appointment for Librarians, for two reasons:

  1. to ensure workload is collegially assigned in a fair and equitable manner; and
  2. to create Heads language for the Library that is essentially parallel to Heads language for faculty (i.e., term appointments, stipend, administrative leave).

Currently, Librarians are governed by the same workload language as everybody else in the bargaining unit (Part 1, Article 13) which kind of works but is extremely awkward given librarian duties. In 2010, when we first started our resolve to change the language in the Collective Agreement about the Library, the Library didn’t have Heads in the conventional sense of academic department Heads. Instead UBC appointed Administrative Librarians who were more-or-less designed to be permanent Heads, a practice that was abandoned for faculty approximately in the early 1980s. In 2010 the University strongly opposed our position and argued that having Heads in the Library as term appointments made no sense. We dropped the proposal so we could consult more fully with our members in the Library prior to the 2012 round.

In 2012 the University did an about face, and was now in favour of faculty-like Heads, at least as regards to term. In fact their proposals were very much like our proposals. Although both parties now seemed to be working towards the same model, we had a hard time reaching agreement on every issue. In the end we agreed on some changes to the Collective Agreement that essentially introduced Heads into Part 5, Conditions of Appointment for Librarians. However there is no language in the Collective Agreement dealing with the selection, duties and compensation for Heads, nor any specific Librarian workload language. Workload is still covered by Part 1, Article 13.

In 2014 we again presented our proposals for workload language and Heads language. The University presented language that would lengthen Librarians’ probationary period. In the end, no agreement on new language could be reached because we could not even agree on the problems to be solved.

The parties did meet on May 12 in an attempt to reach further agreement on the Library, and did succeed in making one small change, but basically the parties are still on completely different pages about how the Library should work, and how librarians should be treated.

The University seems unable to find a consistent position. In 2010 it was opposed to Heads in the Library; in 2012 it was in favour; and now, in this round, it seems unwilling to move forward in a direction that would create meaningful Head positions. The real problem, to put it bluntly, is that the management of the Library is a disaster. Recently the University commissioned an External Review Committee comprising the Chief Librarians at the University of Toronto, McGill University, and UC Berkeley. In their report, they note “the internal poor morale”, the “culture of negativity,” and “the perception, which [the review panel] believe[s] to be real, of dysfunction and disarray within the executive leadership team.” Members can read the entire report here, the response of the University Librarian here, and the response of the Provost here. It all points to a Library structure that is not supportive of its librarians. We believe in our librarians, and the work they do. As the Provost notes, “a strong, cohesive leadership team is critical for the long term success of any organization.” Until that occurs it will be difficult to move forward at the bargaining table to improve the working conditions of our librarians.

Next up on the blog: Part-time Sessional Benefit and Pension Issues

Send a comment on this entry to the bargaining committee