We are now on a summer break from bargaining with the UBC administration. Answers to a few key FAQ’s here:
- Does this mean we’re past the end of the contract? Yes, as in almost all of the bargaining rounds of the last 15 years, we’re negotiating past the term of the contract (June 30th, 2019). While we were certainly prepared enough to finish this spring, and while it would be nice to conclude negotiations within the term of a given contract, it’s ultimately more important to achieve our objectives than to finish quickly.
- Can we still rely on the terms of the Collective Agreement? Yes, the general terms of the Collective Agreement remain in force while we continue to work on the next contract (Part One, Article 25 Sec 25.01; p 23).
- Will we have to wait until there’s a new Agreement to get our salary increases? Merit, PSA and CPI, as well as the 1% lump-sum payment, are now given out regardless of whether or not we have a new agreement in place, so these will come to you on time. Step-increases will also be applied to those of us on step-systems (librarians; sessional faculty). General Wage Increases will be applied retroactively once we have a tentative agreement ratified by you, the members.
- Are some of the proposals already agreed upon yet? No, we don’t have any specific new proposals signed off on yet; this is a very gradual process, and often negotiating parties prefer to wait until a whole picture or package starts to emerge.
- Does this mean that negotiations are going badly? No, negotiations are proceeding about as expected. We know this is vague, but it is not usually productive in negotiations to decide too quickly that something is either at an impasse or completely resolved.
- What have you achieved so far? Here’s what we’ve done to date:
- Proposal Exchanges: Both teams have given each other paper versions of our proposals, with considerable discussion of these as well. These discussions are designed to make sure we understand not only the words being used but their intended effect, purpose, and context. Such understanding is crucial in bargaining, as it often clarifies where (if at all) there might be a common path, common priorities, or common intentions.
- Preliminary Responses: Both sides have also provided each other with responses, written or verbal, to those same proposals: some version of “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” This is also a very useful process in clarifying priorities, fruitful avenues or dead ends. These responses often shift and develop as we discuss them as a team and with the UBC negotiators as well, so it is an iterative process.
- Consultations: Both sides have also consulted or brought experts to the table to inform our discussions; this has helped us understand the more technical, or more personal, issues we’re negotiating.
- Communication: We have been sharing the rationales for each of our proposals with all of the FA membership and responding to all of our colleagues’ comments, advice, and input. Thanks to all who have written in with stories, information, expertise, research, perspectives, notes on additional implications, trial arguments, or aspects of a problem we hadn’t considered. This can only make us stronger.
- What are you doing over the summer? We will continue to post our bargaining updates and also to research any issues for which more information, more precedents, or more perspectives might be useful. We will also do the preliminary groundwork for arbitration, should we need that option.
- Do you know yet when you expect to finish negotiations? No, we don’t know yet by when we will have a deal. We will be back at the bargaining table in September, hopeful as always that we can reach a tentative agreement.
Thank you as always for your support, suggestions, and queries.
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