Negotiations update: on authority and governance at the U of S

The Employer has proposed changes to Article 3 (Management Rights). This seems to arise from a key interest for the Employer in this round of negotiations, that is, to address issues of authority and governance at our institution, articulated as follows in the November Labour Update:

Our interest is in ensuring that we are negotiating terms and conditions of employment and to clearly distinguish these from responsibilities and prerogatives that fall under the jurisdiction of the Board, Council and Senate as conferred by The University of Saskatchewan Act. The authority and responsibility for the academic affairs of the university falls to the collegium through University Council. Further, the collegium is made up of both in-scope and out-of-scope faculty – the USFA represents in-scope members only. The University of Saskatchewan Act guarantees a role for both in-scope faculty and out-of-scope faculty in collegial decision-making under the authority of University Council and therefore it is our position that this authority and responsibility cannot and should not be negotiated as a term and condition of employment.

The Employer has also stated that:

Deans and all academic leaders require the right level of authority and accountability for managing their respective colleges and schools. Our interest is in ensuring that the terms of the collective agreement do not obstruct the authority of academic leaders.

The Employer’s statements have neglected to acknowledge that collegial decision-making is a process that falls to the collegium through the collegial processes in our Collective Agreement, as well as at University Council. In addition, the suggestion here seems to be that there is a distinction between the university’s academic leadership and those people whose roles are defined by the Collective Agreement. However, the Agreement applies both to those who are in-scope and to those who are out-of-scope (for example, Senior Administrators such as Deans, the Provost and Vice-President Academic, the President).

We do not yet have a full picture of how the Employer believes the Collective Agreement could obstruct authority of academic leaders, but the Employer has stated from the outset of negotiations that one of its key interests is to “Respect and define the appropriate boundaries and authority with respect to collegial decision-making and the tri-cameral governance structure of the University.”

We do not share the Employer’s interest in changing Article 3, since we are not convinced that any further definition is called for. The boundaries and authorities of collegial decision making and tri-cameral governance are clearly laid out in the University of Saskatchewan Act and in the Collective Agreement between the USFA and the University, as follows:

table of the roles and powers of the Senate, the Board, University Council, and Faculty Members (University of Saskatchewan Act) – (pdf)

table of collegial governance committees of in-scope and out-of-scope faculty members (Collective Agreement) – (pdf)

In short, the collegial governance processes articulated in our Collective Agreement are the negotiated terms and conditions of employment for faculty members represented by the USFA. They are also the negotiated processes whereby we work together with out-of-scope faculty members to make collegial governance possible.