Collective Bargaining Update - Sept. 7, 2018

The university bargaining committee provides the following update on our most recent collective bargaining sessions, which occurred on Aug. 29-30 with the assistance of a conciliation officer.

During the session, we were able to reach agreement on several Articles as noted below:

  • 4 – Duties and Responsibilities of Librarians;
  • 8 – Procedures for the Formation of Promotion and Tenure Committees for Faculty Members; and
  • 24 – Counselling Faculty Members.

In addition, we submitted proposals on the following Articles:

  • 3 – Duties and Responsibilities of Faculty Members
  • 20 – Complaints, Grievance and Arbitration
  • 30 – Cooperative and Field Education

MUNFA submitted a new proposal to amend Article 22 (Leaves) primarily to increase/enhance leave benefits available to faculty members. For example, additional leave with pay is requested for leave in Special Circumstances and additional sick leave benefits for those ineligible for long term disability. MUNFA is seeking to combine supplemented maternity and paternity leave into one clause as well as including all leave as defined by employment insurance and Service Canada legislation to become supplemented leave. The additional leaves to be included for supplemented benefits include: family caregiver for children, family caregiver for adults, sickness and compassionate care.

The list of Articles that remain unresolved is getting shorter, which is positive. When the parties exchanged proposals in December 2017, MUNFA submitted five proposals as their priority issues. To date, we have reached agreement on two of those (Article 11 – Tenure-Track Appointment and Tenure for Faculty Members and 24 - Counselling Faculty Members) and submitted language on Article 12 (Procedures and Criteria for Promotion of Faculty Members) which should address MUNFA’s concerns.

You may recall, the University signalled to MUNFA that we had four priority issues to resolve: a mechanism to open a collegial dialogue surrounding course equivalences; align the collective agreement provisions of misconduct in academic research with Tri-Agency Framework; a constructive dialogue for more collegial accountability for faculty members holding the rank of professor; and providing remuneration for extra teaching rather than banking time.

During our meetings last week, MUNFA tabled a counter proposal with respect to course equivalencies; otherwise they have been unreceptive to having meaningful dialogue on our outstanding issues.

Our previous updates have purposely not addressed the points contained in negotiation updates circulated by MUNFA to its members as we wished to remain focused on the negotiations and progress at the table. However, given the most recent MUNFA Negotiation News #14 (NN14) released earlier this week, we feel obligated to address the misrepresentations about negotiations; in particular how they are choosing to diminish progress on articles that were clearly presented as MUNFA priorities from the onset of negotiations.

For example, NN14 states that the MUNFA negotiating team is disappointed that meaningful discussion did not occur on important Articles, yet in the next paragraph it states that there was agreement on Article 24 (Counselling Faculty Members) – one of the five priority issues identified by MUNFA during the initial exchange of proposals.

The MUNFA update also states that “Considerable time was spent once again on rather minor issues.” The example provided by MUNFA was receiving the seventh iteration of Article 12. This is quite concerning as Article 12 was another of MUNFA’s five priority items identified during the exchange of proposals. To suggest now that the issue is a minor one is disingenuous at best or arguably can be described as bargaining in bad faith. We accepted the submission by MUNFA during the initial exchange of proposals as being genuine in that Article 12 was very important to the association. We note that as recently as NN13, the importance of Article 12 is referenced: “However, there was very little substantive progress on the other Articles that MUNFA considers the most important for us (Articles 12…)”.

MUNFA has also misrepresented the university’s proposal to include a constructive dialogue for more collegial accountability for faculty members holding the rank of professor as “post-tenure” review. At no time was the proposal about post-tenure review. The MUNFA negotiating committee is aware of the difference yet chose to distort the real issue.

It is also important to place context around conciliation concluding early on August 30. We approached the conciliation officer about the potential to conclude conciliation approximately 2:30 pm that day to ascertain whether doing so would negatively impact conciliation. After some discussion about what we could accomplish prior to 2:30 pm that day, we were advised that it would be acceptable to conclude a bit early. Subsequent to the decision to conclude early, the parties met at 12:50 pm to exchange proposals. At this joint meeting, the MUNFA negotiating team did not raise any issues with concluding early, yet it is highlighted in NN14 as a disappointment in the messaging to faculty.

Another example of MUNFA’s misrepresentation of the negotiations is illustrated in NN13. The update states that MUNFA was waiting for responses from the university on a list of proposals. This list was misstated. Specifically, Article 4 (Duties and Responsibilities of Librarians) was with MUNFA to respond, which they did on August 29. Article 22 (Leaves) was listed; however, MUNFA did not submit a proposal on this Article until August 29. Similarly, we have not received a proposal to date from MUNFA on Article 32.

We are troubled that during this stage of the negotiation process MUNFA would misrepresent the progress of negotiations to our faculty. Conciliation is a process meant to focus on reaching a collective agreement rather than generating confrontation. The university is committed to bargaining in good faith in an attempt to conclude a renewed collective agreement that is acceptable to both parties.

Conciliation will continue on September 13-14 and we will provide another update after that session.

On behalf of the University Negotiation Committee
Geoff Williams, Co-Chief Negotiator
Ian McKinnon, Co- Chief Negotiator

Contact

Newfoundland and Labrador’s University

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000