The UBC administration has recently released a bargaining communiqué, dated Thursday, November 4th. The communiqué contains a series of misleading statements, some of which might charitably be described as “spin” and some of which are completely false.
In particular, the bargaining team has never said that we would agree to a settlement with no net compensation increases in return for agreement on a specific set of Association proposals. The University’s description of our specific proposals under which we would agree to giving up on salary increases is a complete fabrication. No such proposal was ever made to the University by us.
Misleading statements such as these, as a rule should be ignored. They are the bargaining equivalent of shouting “Fire” in a crowded auditorium, when there is no fire at all, for the sole purpose of creating chaos. Whatever its motivation in producing this communiqué, the University knows, or at least should know, that this kind of tactic is counterproductive. It makes it harder to achieve an agreement at the table and hampers the free-flow of discussion that is necessary at the bargaining table.
We know that most FA members are experienced enough to understand the importance of taking the university’s negotiations bulletins with a grain of salt. That said, because false statements were made in the most recent communiqué, we felt compelled to respond.
Faculty Association President Nancy Langton met with VP (Academic) Dave Farrar (on a Sunday, no less) to express our displeasure at this completely unethical and fundamentally counterproductive bargaining tactic by the University. We have also made the same point, forcefully, to the UBC bargaining team.
This kind of tactic does not help the parties come to an agreement. Instead it threatens to lead to an unfair labour practices complaint in front of the BC Labour Board, a procedure pretty much guaranteed to destroy any chance of an agreement prior to arbitration. With the very limited amount of time left to achieve a settlement before the arbitration hearing, we think it would be better if both parties spent their energies more productively, rather than yelling “Fire.”