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. All the terms of the Agreement stay in place except for those that are “term-certain”: that is, items that are explicitly applicable only in a given calendar-year (salary increases are the most obvious example).
It is of course not uncommon for contract negotiations not to even begin until an agreement is about to expire, and they can take many months to complete. Most of the other UBC unions (e.g., CUPE Locals 116 and 2950, and IUOE 882) currently have expired contracts (as of March 31) and they haven’t even started negotiating yet. As well, the University has a process for managing payments during collective bargaining years which anticipates that there will be delayed payouts.
We also have a clause in our Agreement which says that we can’t complete bargaining until UBC has received its provincial budget-letter; these letters have not arrived yet, so we still don’t have final confirmation of UBC’s provincial grant.
Negotiating past the end of our collective agreement simply means that the new agreement’s compensation terms are enforced retroactively, so any pay or benefit increases will be paid out in a lump sum once the negotiations are complete and UBC has completed its financial processing. We’ve had retroactive payments many, many times in our history at UBC.
Our goal at the Faculty Association is not to make the mistake of rushing bargaining just so that whatever salary increase we negotiate comes on July 15th; we think it’s far better to get a really good deal than a quick one. (A standard one-unit merit increase is about $40 per paycheque after taxes, which does not seem a reason to rush a settlement. However, if this amount of deferred payout will cause sleepless nights, that suggests that salaries at UBC are too low, and you should let us know about that so that we can argue this on your behalf.) We are working hard (VERY hard!) to make negotiations efficient and effective, and if we can finish before the end of June, we certainly will.