USFA e-letter: USFA disappointed Board has chosen to appeal

The USFA Executive Committee has been advised that the September 16th Queen’s Bench decision of Justice Laing will be appealed by the University. The decision to appeal was made by Interim U of S President Gordon Barnhart.

Chair of the USFA, Doug Chivers, expressed disappointment saying, “We knew, regardless of what happened at the bargaining table that the University could choose to appeal, but we believed there was a true desire to turn the page on recent events at the University and move forward.” The University has chosen to appeal a Queen’s Bench decision, which upheld an earlier arbitration decision that proper procedures to award tenure were not followed in the way the U of S Board of Governors dealt with a faculty member’s tenure case. The question at the heart of the issue is whether or not The University of Saskatchewan Act requires the President to nominate someone for tenure.

On October 9 the Board of Governors accepted a three-year contract that USFA members voted on September 2nd to accept. The new 2014-17 Collective Agreement, viewed by many as ending the controversial “presidential veto,” includes the board’s withdrawal of its delegation of final authority over tenure decisions to the President, changes to address perceived problems with tenure procedures and a clear statement that the parties have respect for and confidence in collegial decision making processes.

“Our hopes that the negotiated changes to our Agreement would mark the end to this troubling issue have been dashed,” said Chivers adding that, “It seems to me a terrible waste of precious University resources to chase down legal minutiae that could result in further internal unrest as well as additional scrutiny of the University by the international community over academic freedom.”

Should the Court of Appeal overturn the QB decision, it will once again raise the spectre that one person controls the careers of faculty despite clear language about deference to collegial decision-making that is part of the new Collective Agreement.