Category: Bargaining

Bargaining Continues, Slowly

The University and Faculty Association Bargaining teams have continued to meet over the past two months, and we have three days of bargaining booked for the last week of June. Progress is being made, slowly. A couple of issues have been resolved and a number of important issues where the parties have some mutual interests are being worked on, and resolution on those issues seems possible.

Term Certainty for Salary Payouts

We are trying to solve a major problem with our proposal #3 (Merit, PSA, and CPI certainty).

The existing language pertaining to Progress Through the Ranks (PTR) contains specific dates for the distribution of this money to faculty members. The 2014-2016 Collective Agreement specifies that the PTR be allocated on July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015. Normally what would happen is that the 2016-2018 Collective Agreement would specify new dates: July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017. However since negotiations to renew the Collective Agreement have not yet been completed, the July 1, 2016 payments have been delayed, much like those for 2014 and 2015. This delay happens every bargaining round that is not settled before the Collective Agreement ends and is always a source of considerable irritation by the members.

Tuition Waiver for Spouses/Partners

The Association’s Proposal #8 seeks to transfer a member’s tuition waiver to their spouse or partner, if desired. The tuition waiver permits members to take up to 12 credits per year. Specifically our proposal would allow a member to transfer the tuition waiver to his or her spouse. The Association does not believe that this waiver transfer would add a significant cost to the University, while making it easier to recruit and maintain faculty members. Our members have repeatedly told us that a spousal tuition waiver would help address both recruiting and retention issues.

Maternity/Parental Leave

The Association has proposed a significant revision to the maternity and parental leave Article in our Collective Agreement (Part 3, Article 6). There are a number of particular issues around maternity and parental leaves that we are attempting to solve.

The Pension Issue

Over the past three bargaining rounds we have, through our bargaining blogs, talked frequently about the UBC Faculty Pension issue for Lecturers, Sessionals, and all members working at and beyond age 71. It is sufficiently important to talk about it again.

Guest Blog: Educational Leadership Titles

Occasionally the bargaining team asks members for permission to share their thoughts via the bargaining blog. In September 2016, Christina Hendricks, Chair, Instructor Network Leadership Team, sent a letter to the Provosts at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan, the President of the Faculty Association and the Chair of the Okanagan Faculty Committee discussing the need for change in the Educational Leadership titles. The correspondence follows:

As current faculty members in the Educational Leadership stream we are requesting that you advocate a change to our titles to align appropriately with our job descriptions and career trajectories, as well as to parallel our Research stream colleagues. We suggest that titles of Instructor and Senior Instructor be replaced with Assistant Professor of Teaching and Associate Professor of Teaching, respectively. Such a shift in titles would create a sensible, clear trajectory of rank that ends with the extant Professor of Teaching. The University of Toronto has just recently made a change to their instructor/educational leadership stream faculty titles.

General Wage Increase

The Association proposal remains, as it always has been, to provide a general salary increase sufficient to keep pace with inflation and the general state of salaries elsewhere. In particular the Association’s position has always been that on salaries, we should rank at, or just below, the University of Toronto. This latter goal is an important and long-standing objective of the Association. UBC is one of the most profitable, if not the most profitable, university in Canada. It can easily afford to pay salaries comparable with those at the University of Toronto. There is no financial justification for UBC to rank so far down the national salary rankings.

Lecturers

A Lecturer is defined in the Collective Agreement as a person holding an appointment without review for a term of twelve (12) months or less with responsibilities limited to teaching and related duties. Those related duties may include administrative responsibilities normally undertaken by faculty members (i.e., not work normally undertaken by administrative staff). The university has proposed adding service to the duties of Lecturers, something to which the Association is not opposed in principle, although we recognize that with additional responsibilities should come additional compensation.

A Tale of Three Estoppels

As a matter of labour law if a party to a Collective Agreement has knowingly declined to enforce a provision of the Agreement, or where the parties have entered into a practice that is contrary to the plain language of the agreement, they may be estopped from enforcing the actual language of the collective agreement.

Bargaining Resumes

After a long hiatus caused by scheduling difficulties, the Faculty Association and the University resumed bargaining on April 5th and 6th. We are bargaining today and have another 8 full days of bargaining scheduled between now and the end of June. 

Bargaining Begins for 2016-2018

Negotiations between UBC and UBCFA to renew the Collective Agreement that expired on June 30, 2016 began yesterday. Both parties presented all of their proposals.

The University and the Association have started to table specific language. At our next meeting, on February 9, both parties aim to table specific language on all proposals.

Bargaining 2016 – Call for Volunteers

In preparation for the 2016 round of negotiations with the University, the Faculty Association is seeking applications for volunteers for the Bargaining Preparation Committee and the Bargaining Advisory Committee. 

Bargaining Ends with Some Agreements

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.

A Most Peculiar Proposal

As part of its general wage increase offer the University has made what must be described as a most peculiar proposal. Their proposal is that on May 1, 2016, in addition to the general wage increase they have proposed, our salaries will also be increased by 50% of the amount by which the Economic Forecast Council forecast underestimates real (inflation adjusted) GDP growth in 2014.  They also proposed similar forecast error increases on May 1, 2017, May 1, 2018, and May 1, 2019. This will take some explaining.

UBC Proposes 0% for 2014/2015. The Association Declines.

On June 5 the Faculty Association and UBC exchanged proposals for a general wage increase (GWI). The University has proposed a five-year agreement with a GWI of 0% in 2014/15, 0.9% in 2015/2016, 1.4% in 2016/17, 1.4% in 2017/2018, and 1.5% in 2018/19. The Association has proposed a two-year agreement with a GWI of 3% in 2014/15 and 3%.

Our Pension Proposals

Two of our proposals pertain to pensions. First, we propose that the university provide pension plan contribution for all sessional lecturers. Currently the university only pays full compensation (salary plus pension plan contributions) to sessional lecturers with at least 50% workloads. Second, we propose to work out a way for members’ full compensation not to be reduced at age 71, which would happen if the university stopped paying the pension plan contributions at that age.

To understand why we feel so strongly about these proposals it is first necessary to understand how our pension plan works.

An External Analysis of the University’s Budget Model

In preparing for the 2012-2014 arbitration, the Faculty Association commissioned a report from Professors Cameron Morrill and Janet Morrill, accounting professors in the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba. The Morrills have considerable experience in examining University budgets for Faculty Associations in Canada. While we did not use this report in the actual arbitration, it did help us to understand a variety of issues related to the University’s ability to pay appropriate salaries to faculty members.

Some of the highlights of their report include the following observations:

The University’s Destructive Budget Model

By far and away the largest single complaint we received from members while we prepared for bargaining concerned UBC’s budget model. Members are justifiably unhappy about a budget model in which the departments and Faculties are not treated as central to the core mission of the University. The comment “I am particularly concerned about the apparent over-allocation of University funds to administrative positions/costs, and a concomitant reduction of funds available to support scholarly activity and investment in hiring faculty” sums up the comments of many, many members.

Bargaining Themes: Three Big Issues Emerge

When the bargaining preparation committee analysed the input we got from members in face-to-face meetings, from emails, and from the survey, particularly the comments sections of the survey, three major issues emerged, in addition to widespread concern about salaries. Members can see that most of our non-salary proposals deal with these issues in one way or another.

First, we are increasingly observing what can only be described as symptoms of burnout.

Bargaining Begins for 2014-2016

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.

Bargaining: Preparation for Next Round Begins

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.

What the Arbitrator Ruled in Bargaining 2012, and Why

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.

Interest Arbitration Award: Joint Message from Provosts and Faculty Association to UBC Faculty Members

Yesterday we received the award of Arbitrator Colin Taylor Q.C. which decides the July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2014 Collective Agreement between the University and the Faculty Association.

Arbitration Update

The interest arbitration to resolve the dispute between the Faculty Association and the University about the terms of the 2012-14 Collective Agreement finished on Wednesday, June 5, although the arbitrator asked for additional information, which was supplied last week.

Arbitration Reply Submissions Exchanged

On May 24, 2013, the Faculty Association and the University exchanged their formal reply submissions with each other (UBCFA and UBC), and with the Arbitrator, Colin Taylor.

Arbitration Briefs Exchanged

On May 8, 2013 the Faculty Association and the University exchanged their formal submissions with each other, and with the Arbitrator, Colin Taylor. The actual arbitration will take place on June 3-5, 2013. The two parties have submitted final proposals (UBCFA and UBC) on all outstanding issues.

Arbitration Rescheduled – The Real Story

Message from Nancy Langton, UBCFA President

Members will recall that the Association and UBC were scheduled to begin five days of mediation-arbitration this week. Unfortunately, the Arbitrator, Colin Taylor, became ill and had to cancel the dates at the last moment. This was a very disappointing development, but clearly not one either party had any control over.

Report on Further Negotiations

Last week the University contacted the Association and suggested they were prepared to make a new offer in the week of December 10. Although we started meeting with the University at the beginning of the week, unfortunately, it turned out that they were not, in fact, prepared to make an offer until today. 

Recent Salary Settlements at Comparator Universities

One of the primary objectives of this round of bargaining is to bring our salaries back  in line with those of other Canadian universities of comparable academic quality and size.

UBC offers 0.4% for 2012, the Faculty Association Declines

The Faculty Association and the University had set aside this week (October 22-26) to continue negotiations towards a new Collective Agreement. Both parties had hoped that an agreement could be reached at this time, but unfortunately the parties are still far apart on a number of issues, key among which is the Across-the-Board (ATB) salary settlement.

Faculty Salaries at UBC and Elsewhere

In May 2012 Maclean’s magazine published an article comparing median faculty salaries at Canadian universities for 2010/2011. The data were provided by Statistics Canada’s Centre for Education Statistics through the University and College Academic Staff Survey.

Bargaining Resumes

After a long hiatus over the summer, negotiations between the Faculty Association and the University have resumed. As we noted in our June 28 blog, our intention was to set arbitration dates before resuming. The parties have agreed on a date for binding interest arbitration with arbitrator Colin Taylor.

Negotiations on Hiatus until October

When negotiations between UBC and the Faculty Association began on February 14, the parties set the third week in June as the date when we would take a hiatus, if necessary.

Minimum Scales for Sessional Faculty

In 2010, one of our bargaining proposals was for a unified minimum salary scale for all sessionals. We have this as one of our bargaining objectives this year as well. Here is the rationale we provided to the members in 2010:

The University’s Bargaining Proposals

On February 14 the Association and the University met for the first time for the current round of Collective Bargaining. During this meeting the Parties exchanged proposals and provided a general overview of the problems the proposals are intended to solve, or the objectives they are meant to accomplish.

Bargaining: How the Process Unfolds

Negotiating for a new Collective Agreement began in earnest on February 14, when the Faculty Association proposals and the University proposals were exchanged.

What Should We Bargain?

Upcoming contract negotiations begin in early 2012, but right now, we want to hear from you! Come to the Faculty Association’s face-to-face consultations and tell us what you think. The Association is coming to your area of campus to hear your issues and answer your questions.

Call for Volunteers

In preparation for the 2012 round of negotiations with the University, the Faculty Association is seeking applications for volunteers for the Bargaining Preparation Committee and the Bargaining Advisory Committee.

Ubyssey Claims FA Gave Up Right to Strike Earlier This Year

You may have woken up the other day to a headline in the Ubyssey claiming that the Faculty Association bargaining team bargained away the “right to strike earlier this year.” We’re still wondering who provided them with this information.

Faculty Association and University Move to Interest Arbitration

Under the provisions of the Collective Agreement, if a negotiated agreement has not been reached within six weeks of the receipt by the University of official notification of the operating grant allocated to it, the matters in dispute shall be submitted to binding arbitration. This type of arbitration, which is designed to resolve a bargaining impasse, is known as “interest arbitration”, as opposed to rights or grievance arbitrations which resolve disputes about the interpretation or application of the Collective Agreement.

Faculty Association Negotiations at an Impasse

Joint Communication from the University of British Columbia and the UBC Faculty Association

Following nineteen days of negotiations which began in February of this year, the University and the Faculty Association have reached an impasse in negotiations for a new collective agreement.

July 1st, and Then What?

Our Collective Agreement has a technical expiry date of July 1st, 2010. Don’t panic. There’s nothing to worry about if we don’t reach agreement by that date. We have what’s called an “evergreen clause” (Article 26 in the Framework Agreement) in our Collective Agreement, meaning that it remains in force until such time as we reach a final agreement.

Minimum Scales for Sessional Faculty

One of the basic ways to prevent teaching-intensive positions from becoming a ghetto for the academics who uphold UBC’s teaching mission is to guarantee respectable minimum salaries.

Privacy of Records and Communications

In 2009, the Faculty Association had to work hard to ensure that UBC withdrew a bad privacy policy – one that would have given the university access to all of our private information, including in filing cabinets, emails and offices.

Addressing Rumours: No Salary Offer Has Been Put on the Table

We recently received an email from a member, saying that there were rumours circulating that the Faculty Association had been offered a general rise in salary at the bargaining table, and we had turned it down. This rumour, of course, has caused concerns among our members.

Campus Surveillance

Technology has made surveillance, including that done surreptitiously, so easy that its use is growing dramatically, often forcing us to surrender our privacy for no tangible or even foreseeable benefit.

Excellence in Research. How About Professional Development Funds?

UBC claims to rank in the top 40 internationally for research-intensive universities. The university states that this achievement in excellence “is supported by strategic efforts to promote funding success, research infrastructure, the recruitment and retention of talented faculty members, and knowledge mobilization.”

UBC’s Career Advancement Plan Salary Structure Explained

Salaries in most jobs are characterized by seniority-based pay systems. This is partially to account for increasing productivity over time, but primarily it is designed to defer compensation from the early part of the employee’s career to the latter part.

Heads, Directors, and Associate Deans

A big black hole: that’s where heads, directors, and associate deans live in the Collective Agreement with UBC.  We have no guidelines in our Agreement to protect the department’s voice in appointing heads.

Promotion & Tenure: What’s Fair?

Our bargaining Proposal 2 flows from the premise that UBC faculty members have the right to promotion and tenure processes that are fair. We should be able to trust that the evidence is appropriate, that the processes are iterative and responsive, that there are safeguards and mechanisms to ensure accountability.

Bargaining Goals for Sessional Faculty

The FA has three big goals in our Proposal 6: to tidy up the very messy systems for counting and paying sessional faculty for their work; to create more job-security for our most vulnerable colleagues; and to create a real career-path with promotions and reviews for our dedicated full-time sessional faculty.

Spotlight on Workload

Our proposal to the university on faculty workloads (Proposal 5) aims to make sure that our members have a healthy and productive work environment, with workloads assigned collegially, fairly and equitably.

Salary and Benefit Proposals Await Further Information

As of our last bargaining session (April 27) the Association has not made any concrete salary or benefit proposals to the university (Proposals 9 and 10). We hope to be in a position to do so at our next bargaining session (May 26).

University Makes First Settlement Offer

We have bargained with the university weekly (usually twice a week) between March 1 and April 27. That amount of intensive bargaining time has allowed both the Faculty Association and the university to present their proposals in great detail, and also answer any questions the other side had about the objectives that were trying to be achieved through specific proposals.

University’s Rollover Proposal Declined

On February 1 the university repeated a proposal they had made informally a few times previously in the past several months, that we just “”roll over”” the Collective Agreement for a two year period.

University’s Rollover Proposal

Before the University tabled its proposal with the Faculty Association, they suggested that the Association consider a two-year “rollover agreement” which would write in the 0/0% salary increases recommended by the province for the public sector but not otherwise discuss or negotiate any revisions or new language for our Collective Agreement.

Bargaining Begins

On February 1 the parties met for the first time to exchange proposals and provide a general overview of the problems the proposals are intended to solve or the outcomes the proposals are intended to achieve.