Announcements: President’s Message #7 re Covid-19, April 27, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Here is an update on QUFA’s negotiations with the University regarding variances from the Collective Agreement required in response to the Covid-19 pandemic emergency. As I reported in my last missive, QUFA had insisted to the University that talks on a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) related to the emergency would begin as soon as we completed the 2019-2022 Collective Agreement. We took that position because of the extreme dilatoriness of the Faculty Relations Office in bringing bargaining to a conclusion, and some balking by the University at what we understood to be the already agreed upon terms of the Phased Retirement program. Last week we signed off on both the normative articles and the terms of the Phased Retirement program. The latter express precisely our understanding of what we bargained in December 2018; Leslie Jermyn will send a notification to Members about the specifics of the Phased Retirement Program this week. We then attended a meeting late last week with members of the senior administration including the Provost as well as Faculty Relations personnel to begin discussing a Covid-19 MOA. Subsequent discussions will include the Deputy Provost, Teri Shearer, and V-P Teaching and Learning, John Pierce. Their inclusion is important because they have the operational knowledge and the authority to make decisions quickly.

In order to expedite this process, QUFA had already presented the University with a wide-ranging list of issues that the Parties should address in an MOA. Some of these matters, such as the need for a year-long extension of the pre-renewal or pre-tenure periods, have already been acknowledged by the University as obvious and easily addressed. On other matters, such as the provision of technical support to Members for remote teaching, there is good will but translating that good will into specific commitments is a tricky business. QUFA’s aim is to keep all matters together so that the concerns of our most precarious Members such as Term Adjuncts receive the same consideration as do the difficulties of Members with specific accommodation needs. However, in our view that doesn’t mean these negotiations will be protracted. We have prepared a comprehensive draft MOA that reflects the considerable input our Members have provided. Our legal counsel and the Executive have vetted it and we will send it to the University tomorrow so that we have a focus for a principled and informed discussion. We expect that with a concentration of minds we should be able to reach agreement by the end of the first week of May.

In preparing such a draft MOA, QUFA is asserting that there must be such a formal agreement between the Parties on all affected terms and conditions of employment. We acknowledge that variances from the CA are necessary in these circumstances but also that the University and QUFA must be clear that what is permissible in the University’s management of faculty, librarians and archivists remains subject to agreement between the Parties. The more clarity we have in the turmoil of this situation the more everyone will be able to get on with being their best professional selves, all things considered.

Elizabeth Hanson
QUFA President