USFA e-Letter: Board Ratifies Tentative Agreement

The U of S Board of Governors has voted in favour of accepting the 2014-2017 Collective Agreement and revoked the delegation to the President of final authority over tenure decisions.

A number of issues were addressed in this round of bargaining, the most important being a way to move forward on the “presidential veto.” The USFA bargaining team worked hard to come to an agreement with the Employer that eliminated any reason for resorting to such veto powers. To accomplish this objective, the parties agreed to procedural changes that involved adding input by senior administrators at the tenure appeal level, and to a process that the Board of Governors could follow should review of a tenure case be necessary. We were also pleased to arrive at a mutual acknowledgment of established collegial processes by adding to Article 1 the statement: “The parties have respect for and confidence in the collegial decision making processes described in this Agreement.”

Outstanding, however, is the question of whether or not the University will choose to appeal the September 16th Queen’s Bench decision of Justice Laing.

We know, regardless of what happened at the bargaining table, that the University can choose to appeal the outcome of the judicial review of Arbitrator Sim’s ruling. However, we believe the University has an opportunity to turn the page on recent events and move forward by accepting the Laing decision and relying on the negotiated changes to the collective agreement.

Should the Court of Appeal overturn the Queen’s Bench decision, the verdict would once again raise the spectre that one person could cut short the careers of faculty, potentially for reasons other than meeting the standards—despite clear language about deference to collegial decision-making in the new Collective Agreement.

It’s time to put difficult times behind us, and return to our long-established trust in collegial committees to evaluate academic performance knowledgeably and fairly. Let’s hope university administration agrees.