If you experience a problem, face an issue, or need information to help resolve a difficulty in your working life at UBC, we’re here to help.
The Faculty Association is your legal representative in all employment-related matters. This means that you have the right to:
- consult with the Association at any time;
- provide the Association with any information or documentation related to your work at UBC;
- request that the Association officially represent you in any dealing with the university administration.
There can be no reprisal or retaliation from the administration for your having sought the advice and assistance of the Association.
What sort of issues can the Faculty Association help me with?
The Faculty Association is here to help you with questions and concerns stemming from your employment at UBC. Such concerns include the following:
- Career Progression:
- Appointment and Reappointment
- Tenure and Promotion
- Reduced Appointments
- Compensation and Benefits:
- Merit, PSA, and CPI
- PDR Funds
- Leaves (sabbatical, medical, parental, etc)
- Health & Wellness Benefits
- Work Environment:
- Workplace conflict
- Bullying and Harassment
- Academic Freedom
- Investigations – whether you are a respondent or complainant
Ideally, you should contact the Faculty Association as soon as your concern, question, or issue arises. Even if you aren’t sure that you want or need the Faculty Association to take action on your behalf, our Membership Services Officers (MSOs) are here to help you understand the issue at hand, your rights and obligations as an employee, and your options. The MSOs are the Association’s professional labour relations staff and have expertise in labour relations.
Is my enquiry confidential?
The Faculty Association is your legal representative in all employment-related matters, and there can be no reprisal or retaliation from the University for your having sought our advice and assistance. Further, anything that you discuss with us is confidential. While the support you receive from an MSO may require discussions with the University’s human resource managers in Faculty Relations, MSOs will not discuss the specifics of your enquiry with the University without your consent.
The Association retains information about member enquiries in order to identify patterns in workplace-related concerns. Any personally identifying information related to an enquiry is protected and will not be shared. Aggregate information about the nature of issues and their frequency may be shared with Faculty Association committees as necessary.
How do I get in touch with one of the Membership Services Officers?
The first step is to call the Faculty Association main line at 604.822.3883. One of our front office staff will take your intake information (i.e., name, department, rank, the general nature of your concern, and how best to contact you). You can also email the Faculty Association at [email protected]. If you elect to email the Association, please include the above intake information in your email. You will then be contacted by one of our Membership Services Officers, usually within 24-48 hours depending on current volume of work in our office and the urgency of your matter. If you are facing a specific deadline, please advise us of this in your initial enquiry.
What can I expect when I meet with an MSO? What, if anything, should I bring with me?
Most questions and concerns can be resolved with an email or telephone call, and the MSOs are happy to help you in this way. If a meeting is needed, then it is important that you bring all relevant documentation with you. For example, if you are going up for Tenure and/or Promotion and concerns have been raised about your file, please bring any correspondence from your Head or Dean related to these concerns with you to the meeting. If you feel you have been subjected to bullying and/or harassment, please bring all correspondence/documentation that you believe supports your claim. This may include a timeline, email correspondence, and/or meeting notes. Compiling supporting documentation/evidence in advance and bringing it with you to the meeting will assist our MSOs to more efficiently assess your concern and offer their advice/assistance.
MSOs are also available to accompany you to meetings with the administration, advocate for your rights with Faculty Relations, and assist you in preparing for, and participating in, investigation processes whether you are the respondent or the complainant.
What is a grievance and what happens when I want to file one?
A grievance is a formal dispute between the Faculty Association and the University about the interpretation, application or an alleged violation of the Collective Agreement.
Under the Labour Relations Code, the Faculty Association has sole carriage of a grievance and is your sole representative on employment-related matters covered by the Collective Agreement. Only the Association can determine whether to advance a matter to a formal grievance or refer a grievance to arbitration. The Association’s responsibilities and obligations in this regard flow from the “duty of fair representation” as defined by Section 12 of the Labour Relations Code. The duty of fair representation requires that the Association not act in a manner that is arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith in representing its members. The duty to fair representation does not require the Association to file a grievance on every matter or take every grievance to arbitration. Rather, it requires that member concerns be thoroughly and seriously investigated, and that the Association not act capriciously or give only superficial attention to a complaint. In exercising its discretion regarding the advancement of cases through the grievance process, the Association must balance the significance of the potential grievance, and its consequences for you, with the broader interests of the Association in representing the membership as a whole.
If you have a concern or issue that may give rise to a grievance, the MSO will seek your consent to undertake discussion with Faculty Relations in an attempt to resolve the issue informally. This is the first stage of the grievance process. In the majority of cases, workplace issues/concerns are able to be resolved with the administration in this manner.
While the negotiations at this point are “informal” – meaning that they have not been formalized through a written exchange of grievance letters – the resolution may require a signed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to confirm what the University and the Faculty Association have agreed. If this is necessary, the MSO will work with you to ensure that you are comfortable with the resolution and that you understand how it is described in the MOA.
What happens if my issue cannot be resolved informally?
In such cases, a formal grievance may be warranted. The first part of the formal grievance process under the collective agreement is referred to as a Step 1 grievance. At this stage, the Faculty Association and the University enter into discussions over a dispute or potential dispute and advises the other party that the grievance process has been initiated.
If your issue cannot be resolved informally or through Step 1 of the grievance process, a formal, written grievance is initiated with a letter from the Faculty Association to the University outlining the concerns, the provision or provisions or the Collective Agreement that are alleged to have been breached, the specific application or interpretation that is being disputed, and the remedy being sought. The remedy must be related to a specific harm that was caused by the misapplication or misinterpretation of the Collective Agreement or pertinent University Policy. This is Step 2 of the grievance process.
Under Part 1, Article 20.03, Step 2 grievance must be submitted within 60 calendar days of the grieving party becoming aware, or reasonably becoming aware, of the facts that are giving rise to the grievance. Within 30 days of receiving the grievance, the University and the Association must meet to discuss the grievance. A written reply to the grievance must be received within 30 days of the Step 2 grievance meeting outlining whether the grievance has been accepted or denied.
What happens if my concern cannot be resolved through a formal grievance?
If the Faculty Association and the University cannot come to a resolution on the grievance, the matter may be referred to arbitration. This is called Step 3 of the grievance process and this step should be initiated within 30 calendar days of the receiving the written reply to the Step 2 grievance letter. If the Step 2 reply letter is not received on time, the grieving party may advise the other party of its intent to have the matter heard at arbitration on the date on which the Step 2 grievance was due.
An arbitration is a legal proceeding with a third-party decision-maker (i.e., arbitrator) who receives evidence and argument from both the Association and the University before issuing a binding decision. An arbitration decision becomes part of the jurisprudence and has implications for the interpretation and application of the Collective Agreement in subsequent disputes of a similar nature. Therefore, the Association must consider very carefully whether to advance a matter to arbitration. If your file proceeds to arbitration, the Association will engage our legal counsel in the process and work with you to prepare should you need to participate in the proceeding as a witness.
The Executive Committee has the ultimate authority as to whether your case proceeds to arbitration. In order to make this determination, the MSO will provide Executive Committee members with copies of any relevant documents to be considered including a case summary, any legal opinion(s) received, and official correspondence between the Faculty Association and the University. At the Executive meeting where your case is to be discussed, the MSO will present the history of the case and answer any questions members of the Committee may have. The Executive will deliberate in camera, and the President of the Association will provide written reasons for the decision to you, as well as the procedures for appeal should the decision be negative.
What happens if I don’t agree with the Faculty Association’s decision? How does the appeals process work?
All members have the right to appeal a negative recommendation or decision regarding initiating a formal grievance and proceeding to arbitration. The body to which the member appeals is the Executive Committee. The appeals process is similar, whether you are appealing the recommendation of the MSGC or the decision of the Executive Committee. You must inform the Association that you wish to appeal within 7 calendar days of receiving the recommendation or decision. The Faculty Association will make every effort to hear the appeal within 10 working days from the date we receive notification from you of your wish to appeal, and you will be advised of the date and time of your appeal meeting.
At this point, you will be provided with a case summary, which is the property of the Association and which you must treat as confidential (i.e., it must not be distributed publicly). You will also receive copies of any official correspondence between the Association and the University, if these have not been provided previously. You may appear in person to make an oral presentation of approximately 15 minutes. Alternatively, you may provide a written submission of no more than 10 double-spaced pages (roughly 2500 words). This submission must be received no later than 7 days in advance of the appeals meeting.
Prior to your being invited into the meeting with the Executive Committee, the MSO will present the history of the case (if this has not already been done at a previous meeting). You will then be invited to present your appeal. The Executive will then ask you to leave the meeting so that they can deliberate in camera. The Association President will provide written reasons for the Committee’s decision to you.
A negative decision from the Executive Committee is final and binding and is the last step in the internal appeals process. If the decision on your appeal is negative, you will be informed of your right to appeal to external bodies (e.g., the Labour Relations Board) at the same time that you receive notification of the Executive’s negative decision.
Arbitration Decision Tree:
Full Size Chart
What happens if I decide I no longer wish to pursue my concern/issue/complaint?
If you determine that you do not want the Faculty Association to pursue your case any further, you can withdraw your consent to proceed at any point in the grievance process (i.e., at both the informal and formal stages, including once your matter has been referred to arbitration).
How long will it take for my issue to be resolved? How long does the grievance and arbitration process take?
There is no simple answer to this question. Often, matters can be resolved quickly (i.e., in a week or two); sometimes they take longer. The specific facts underlying a grievance, whether informal or formal, have a significant impact on the time between when the matter is initially raised and resolution. The Collective Agreement lays out timelines guiding the grievance process so that the Faculty Association and the University can keep the process moving forward in a timely way. It must be noted, however, that these timelines can be extended by mutual agreement of the Faculty Association and the University.
In general, an informal resolution resulting in a settlement agreement may take weeks or a couple of months to finalize, depending on the complexity of the settlement and if there are any disputes arising from the terms of settlement. On the other hand, if your grievance is referred to arbitration, it may take a couple of months for arbitration dates to be set and then a few more months to wait for those dates to happen. Additional time may be required if a lengthier hearing becomes necessary or the arbitrator takes a long time to render a decision. All told, it can take up to two years to reach a final resolution in arbitration cases.
There are many issues that we can assist you with that do not engage the grievance process. For example, if you are the complainant or respondent in an investigation, an MSO can work with you to prepare for the meeting with the investigator and can ensure that you are provided a procedurally fair process.