Negotiations update: where are we now?

Since last June we have met with the Employer on 16 separate dates, and have scheduled 10 more between now and June. Talks have proceeded slowly, due to both scheduling difficulties and some lengthy dialogue concerning issues where our interests are far apart. Coming into negotiations with a mandate themed “Equity and Stability,” we encountered an Employer mandate that focuses on increased authority for academic leaders, “accountability” of faculty, and once again a claim of financial strictures (in this round due to budget cuts by the Government of Saskatchewan).

To date, we have agreed on a number of uncontroversial changes to the language of the Collective Agreement, and we are close to agreeing on updated language to Article 7 on Non-discrimination that will expand inclusivity from the current terms “aboriginal” and “gay men or lesbians,” and will reflect changes in law since the article was first composed.

College of Medicine

We have proposed negotiating terms and conditions for new hires of MD Research faculty, including what percentage of time doing academic as opposed to clinical work would constitute full-time employment with the university. The Employer, however, insists that all newly hired MD faculty are independent contractors and refuses to negotiate new hires. This issue will be resolved through grievance, as will our request for information about medical faculty for the purposes of negotiations, which the Employer has declined to provide. We have begun discussions of differential designations for clinical faculty who are not full-time employees of the university (Article 13.1.1 (iii)). A more detailed explanation of USFA’s interests in negotiating these issues concerning the College of Medicine will follow.

Employer items

We have had extensive discussions about processes for discipline (Article 30) and investigating allegations of misconduct (Article 12, Personal Files). The Employer’s proposals so far have been distant from USFA interests but we continue to look for mutual interests. Ultimately, both USFA and the Employer hope to have clarity in our language that will reduce the number of disputes over disciplinary processes. Protection of our membership from improper instructions or disciplinary actions is a primary interest of USFA.

A key interest for the Employer in this round of negotiations has been to address issues of authority and governance at our institution, and the Employer has proposed opening Article 3 (Management Rights). We do not share an interest in changing this article. A more detailed explanation of USFA’s understanding of Tri-cameral and Collegial governance at this institution will follow in a separate e-letter.

Other items tabled by the Employer concern MOA 2, Appointment and Reappointment of Senior Administrators, an increase in available Academic Programming Appointments, and language on negotiating severance.

USFA items

We have tabled proposals for changes to Article 15 regarding the composition of the College Review Committee and the University Review Committee, specifying that the Nominations Committees shall strive to achieve a gender balance based on overall membership of the college or university. So far, the Employer is not interested in agreeing to this proposal.

Article 10.5.6, under “Rights and Privileges of the Association,” specifies that there will be a USFA observer on the Budget Committee of Council. Because there is no longer such a committee, USFA has proposed that certain financial information be shared at JCMA instead. The Employer is not willing to entertain having a USFA observer on present financial committees of Council.

We have tabled a proposal regarding support for spousal employment (both academic and non-academic).

We have yet to discuss proposals on issues related to supporting stability for new faculty, recognition of community and interdisciplinary scholarship, the next steps for childcare on campus, Emeritus rank, basis for the awards of Special Increases, and transparency in reporting.

Financial items

Monetary items (salary, merit, benefits) will be last to be negotiated. The Employer has stated an interest in moving to a new market target for academic salaries at a lower percentile among the U15. The USFA’s goal is to not lose ground, and to maintain a position in the top quartile of the U15. The Employer has also indicated that it will table a proposal on changes to the award of Special Increases.