We are now on a summer break from bargaining with the UBC administration. You may be wondering, and we’re here to help:
1) Does this mean we’re past the end of the contract? Yes, as in almost all of the bargaining rounds since 2006, we weren’t able to conclude our negotiations before the end of the contract (June 30th, 2022). We were slowed down considerably this year because the University negotiators were not able to come to the table until mid-April.
2) Can we still rely on the terms of the Collective Agreement? Yes, the general terms of the Collective Agreement remain in force while we negotiate.
3) 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. General salary increases will be applied retroactively once we have a tentative agreement ratified by you, the members, or once we have an Arbitration award, should we fail to reach agreement at the table.
4) Are some of the proposals already agreed upon yet? We have some agreement in principle on a few small matters, but these are usually contingent on the whole process.
5) How are negotiations proceeding? They are proceeding about as expected; our values and the administration’s values are often at odds, but we work at finding win-win solutions where we can. 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.
6) What have you achieved so far? Here’s what we’ve done to date:
- Proposal Exchanges: We have exchanged what are called “table proposals”: specific language versions of our Day One objectives. The Faculty Association has provided UBC with all of our table proposals with the exception of a couple of technical proposals that need input from our legal team. UBC has given us the majority of their proposals, but there are several they are waiting until the fall to provide. In each case, we have spent time discussing and probing the intent, the problem behind, and the processes imagined by our respective proposals. Such understanding is crucial in bargaining!
- Preliminary Responses: Both sides have also provided each other with responses to those same proposals: some version of “yes,” “no,” “maybe,” or promises to provide a “counter,” a reworking of the proposal to address concerns or issues raised. These preliminary responses often shift as we discuss them as a team and with the UBC negotiators as well.
- Consultations: Both sides have also brought experts to the table to inform our discussions on particular proposals. This has helped us understand the more technical, or specific, 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, ideas, or questions. This is always extremely helpful!
7) What are you doing over the summer? We will be organizing our fall bargaining sessions in advance. We will also be researching any issues for which more information, more precedents, or more perspectives might be useful. Lastly, we will lay the preliminary groundwork for arbitration, should we need that option.
8) Do you know yet when you expect to finish negotiations? No, we don’t know yet by when we will have a tentative deal or reach impasse. We are available to be back at the bargaining table in September, hopeful as always that we can reach agreement.
Thank you as always for your support, suggestions, and queries.