Home   |   Contact Us

Bargaining Blog

Bargaining Begins for 2014-2016

Posted on Monday, April 4, 2014 at 3:20pm

categories: bargaining, proposals

Negotiations between UBC and UBCFA to renew the Collective Agreement that expires on June 30, 2014 began formally on April 7 - 8, although the parties did engage in some preliminary discussions in the preceding months.

Both parties have presented all of their proposals, with two exceptions. UBC has a proposal on the library they have yet to make and we are still finalizing our list of housekeeping items.

The University has not tabled any specific language and the Association has thus far only tabled specific language on a few issues.  At our next meeting, on May 8, it is expected that both parties will table specific language on all proposals with the possible exception of across the board salary increases. The Association will not table a specific proposal on across the board salary increases until the University's bargaining team has been authorized to make a meaningful response.

Until specific language has been tabled, it's not reasonable to attempt to characterize the University's proposals; however, members can read the proposals that the University has tabled thus far here. The Association’s proposals can be found here. Over the next month we will be using this blog to give members more detailed description of the problems we are trying to solve and the objectives we are attempting to achieve, so stay tuned.

Next up on the blog: Three Big Issues Emerge

Be sure to check back to the blog on a regular interval. Or, you can to our blog to get automatic updates.

If you prefer updates via an RSS feed, activate here.

Bargaining: Preparation for Next Round Begins

Posted on wednesday, january 22, 2014 at 3:15pm

categories: bargaining, arbitration

Although the 2012-2014 Collective Agreement was only finalized in late 2013, it will soon expire, on June 30, 2014. Consequently it is already time to begin preparations for the next round of negotiations, tentatively set to begin in mid-March. Once negotiations begin it is expected that they will proceed fairly intensively until either a new Collective Agreement, or impasse, is reached. Our expectation is that if the University is willing and able to negotiate a Collective Agreement without recourse to an Arbitrator, it will be done by mid-June. 

As always, if a new agreement is not reached before the expiration of the current agreement the current agreement will remain in force.

Members will well recall that the last round of negotiations, which started on February 14, 2012, was a very long drawn-out process. This was partly caused by the university’s unwillingness or inability to “put money on the table” until well after the previous agreement had expired and an arbitrator named, and partly caused when the arbitrator contracted an illness at precisely the time he was scheduled to hear our arbitration.  We hope that this round can be concluded more expeditiously, preferably without the help of an arbitrator, but to some extent this is outside our control.

Members can expect to receive an invitation to complete a fairly short electronic bargaining survey soon. In addition to the usual set of questions there is space for members to relate any specific concerns or issues they would like to see addressed in this round of negotiations. We would greatly appreciate it if you would take the time to complete it.

If you’d like to be considered for our bargaining preparation committee or our bargaining advisory committee, please send an email to us. We are looking for members who would like to be involved in various aspects of the bargaining process, and would like to make that commitment to the Association.

To avoid email overload, we selectively email blogs to the entire message. Be sure to check back to the blog on a regular interval by bookmarking this webpage. Or, you can subscribe to our blog to get automatic updates.

Next up on the blog: Bargaining Begins for 2014-2016

What the Arbitrator Ruled in Bargaining 2012, and Why

Posted on Monday, November 18, 2013 at 8:45am

categories: Interest arbitration, bargaining, salary increases

On July 25, 2013, the Faculty Association and the University sent out a joint memorandum describing the details of the arbitration award for the years 2012 – 2014. We also linked to the actual award so that members could read it in its entirety. However many members have found the entire award a bit much to internalize and have asked us for a short, non-technical, explanation of the reasoning behind the salary settlement. Here it is.

The first thing Arbitrator Taylor had to adjudicate was the question of how large a salary award the University had the ability to pay, based on maintaining a “reasonable balance” between faculty salaries and other expenditures in the University’s general purpose operating funds. He found that the ratio of faculty salaries to total expenditures, over the seven years between 2006 and 2012, ranged from a low of 24.9% to a high of 28.8%.

The Association took the position that a pay rise of 5% per year would still maintain a reasonable balance and the University took the position that 2% per year was the absolute maximum increase that would maintain a reasonable balance. Arbitrator Taylor accepted neither position. He ruled that the Association’s proposal of general wage increases of 5% and 5% would result in ratios for 2013 and 2014 (forecast) of 28.9% and 31.1%, respectively.  In his view, for 2014, the Association’s proposal was outside the reasonable balance and therefore beyond the University’s ability to pay. On the other hand he also ruled that the University did have the ability to pay a salary increase in excess of 2% per year.

The second question on which Arbitrator Taylor had to rule was, within the fairly wide range of salary increases that the University did have the ability to pay, what salary award was most appropriate? In making that decision he primarily considered the need to keep pace with inflation and the general state of salaries at our comparator universities.

The Association had argued that higher wages were also needed for the purpose of recruitment and retention. However on that point Arbitrator Taylor said “I accept the University’s submissions that it does not have a general recruitment and retention problem.”

The University had argued that our progress through the ranks (CPI, Merit and PSA) and annual bonus represented something analogous to an annual pay increase. On this point Arbitrator Taylor said: “I also accept the Association’s submission that PTR rewards individuals’ career advancement; it is not a substitute for a general wage increase to keep pace with inflation and the general state of salaries elsewhere.”

In terms of the criteria on which his award was primarily based, inflation and the general state of salaries elsewhere, he ruled that a) monthly price inflation was fairly low, ranging from 1.25% to 2.33% between January 2011 and July 2012; b) monthly wage inflation was somewhat higher, ranging from 1.8% to 3.2% over the same period; and c) salaries at UBC have fallen somewhat behind its relative place in terms of academic quality. Taking these factors into account he ruled:
“The appropriate Award under Article 11.02 [of the Collective Agreement] is therefore annual increases of 2.5% and 2.5%.” and “I am satisfied this falls within the University’s ‘ability to pay’ as defined in that Article.”

The Association was not unhappy with this award even though we would have preferred a larger increase. While a higher awarded increase would still have remained within the University’s ability to pay it was not the Arbitrator's duty to award the largest possible increase that the University can afford, but to make an award that is appropriate given criteria such as inflation and wages at comparable universities. We think he discharged his duties thoughtfully and impartially.

Next up on the blog: Bargaining: Preparation for Next Round Begins