May 282018

It has been a challenging two years for many Canadian faculty at the bargaining table. You may be interested in the following outcomes.

Most recently, Carleton faculty have reached an agreement after hundreds of hours and one year of collective bargaining, with the assistance of a mediator. Details will be reported soon.

Earlier this month, the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) and its members received an apology and more from the University of Manitoba administration for committing an unfair labour practice. Senior administration there will pay the maximum fine as directed by the Labour Board: $2,000 to each member of the Association, and $2000 to UMFA for withholding important information from the Association during bargaining in 2016, with a total price tag of more than $2 million.

In secret talks with the University government, the Pallister government imposed a one-year deal with a 0% salary increase. At the direction of government, the senior administration at U of M kept this information from the Association for weeks, revealing it only a few days before the strike deadline.

If you are interested in the state of bargaining nationally, the USFA’s homepage displays our Twitter feed, which reports this and similar items.


May 082018

Several faculty members were surprised to receive letters at their homes from Connection Point advising them of benefit packages that will expire as they approach “normal retirement age”.

The first round of letters contained references to a normal retirement age of 65; the subsequent letters changed this number to 67.

The language of “normal retirement age” was expunged from the Collective Agreement following the abolition of mandatory retirement.

Our concern about this language was raised at our Joint Benefits Committee and the term will not be used in future correspondence.

Although certain age-related changes in benefits packages remain legal, observers are beginning to question the ethics of these practices, as the arguments supporting them are in essence similar to those used to justify mandatory retirement in a previous era. The Association is monitoring developments in this area.

May 042018

Two recent events in Eastern Canada suggest that University Employers are taking a cynical attitude towards collective bargaining. At Carleton University, the faculty association negotiating team found out just a day ahead of their May 3 regular bargaining session that the Employer had unilaterally filed for conciliation, then advised faculty how mutually beneficial this would […]

May 032018

Recently, members of CUPE 1975 set up information tables across campus on the theme “PAWS off our Pensions”. CUPE’s Employer, the University of Saskatchewan, went to arbitration to determine whether it had the power to unilaterally change the terms of the CUPE pension plan. The arbitrator ruled in favour of the Employer. Though it is […]

Apr 232018

The Collective Agreement offers significant protection for collegial governance, and resolutions to recent grievances help to illustrate these various protections. The Collective Agreement is clear that the collegial committees established pursuant to the Collective Agreement (renewal and tenure committees, promotion committees for example) are required to determine their own operating procedures provided they are consistent […]

Apr 172018

Online applications for the USFA Scholarship will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. Friday, June 1, 2018. The USFA Scholarship Program is open to students who are immediate family members of USFA members.  Immediate family includes spouse/partner, sons, daughters or children whom USFA members have served as legal guardians. The application form for the 2017-18 USFA […]

Apr 092018

Please be advised that the upcoming USFA Academic Freedom event has been cancelled because the CAUT representative is no longer able to participate. The position of the USFA Executive is that CAUT participation was essential to provide an informed understanding of the complexities of defending Academic Freedom on Canadian campuses.    

Mar 272018

A recent Globe and Mail article cites Harvey Weingarten, CEO of HEQCO (a research agency funded by the Ontario government), as saying “As the professoriate ages, it has … a constraining influence on … renewal.” In contrast, the Human Rights Office at Queen’s, a U-15 University, publishes on its website examples of what age harassment […]

Mar 142018

USFA has heard from faculty members who have found (to their surprise) that they have been designated by the Employer as “non-active researchers” – something you may wish to explore among colleagues within your academic unit. Where did this designation come from? Certainly not from any negotiation or collegial process. Its origin seems to lie […]

Mar 132018

Claims for reimbursement for any expenses from any of the benefit plans must be submitted to Sun Life within 90 days of the end of the calendar year in which the expense is incurred.   This deadline applies to 2017 claims made under the Dental Plan, Health Plan or Flexible Spending Program (Health Spending Account […]

Mar 122018

The Executive of USFA met recently with representatives of the University to exchange views on the Living Our Values document, about which we informed you recently. The discussion was lively, but also productive, and we appreciated the opportunity to share thoughts on this matter. The document is a work in progress, but you may wish […]

Mar 062018

At the outset of this round of negotiations, the USFA requested information from the Employer (in August and then in October) for the purposes of negotiating outstanding issues concerning the College of Medicine, including: services considered to be academic services provided by Provincial Academic Clinical Funding Plan (P-ACFP) contractors to the university; a list of […]

Mar 062018

For those who have not yet completed the online questionnaire related to childcare services for faculty on campus, this is a reminder that the closing date for the questionnaire is scheduled for March 12, 2018. Depending on your responses, the questionnaire should take approximately 5 to 15 minutes of your time. Your responses will be anonymous as you will not be asked to provide […]

Mar 052018

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 […]

Mar 052018

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 […]

Feb 272018

The Committee on Women’s Issues, chaired by Susan Fowler-Kerry, continues to work actively to raise awareness about women’s issues at the university. Most recently, they have been engaged in a series of discussions related to evaluations of Indigenous Women on this campus. In an effort to promote transparency and fairness as we embrace diversity and Indigenization, […]

Jan 152018

In November 2017, USFA received notice of the drafting of Living our Values, described as a code of conduct. In subsequent weeks, representatives of the Employer met with our grievance officer, and our professional officer to discuss a more detailed draft. We subsequently heard rumours to the effect that the Association had approved the document; […]

Jan 112018

USFA members are invited to submit an application to the Executive Committee for reimbursement of attendance at a conference/workshop/meeting related to the USFA including, but not limited to, labour relations, academic freedom, employment equity, and workplace health and safety. The USFA Conference/Workshop/Meeting Attendance Policy was instituted as a way to ensure that there is an […]

Dec 112017

Details about the recently-signed tentative agreement reached by faculty and administration at Acadia University will not be publicized after ratification. The Acadia University Faculty Association (AUFA) had been dealing for months with snail’s pace ‘negotiations’, and little interest from the employer in addressing concerns of frontline academics. As ‘talks’ dragged on, AUFA leadership sought and […]

Dec 112017

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the 1997 UNESCO recommendation concerning the status of higher education teaching personnel which expressed concern about the vulnerability of the academic community to untoward political pressures that could undermine academic freedom, and declared member states to have an obligation to protect higher education institutions from threats to their autonomy. […]