The university has posted a new Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Related Procedures on the Secretariat Web page for community consultation.1 Paragraph 14 of the complaint procedure introduces an early resolution process to resolve conflicts.
Conflicts in the workplace between two or more people can often spiral out into larger issues. Supervisors and workers or co-workers who once had good working relationships no longer trust each other. People take sides, relationships fall apart, and positions harden.
For this reason, QUFA supports the introduction of an early resolution process. The language of Article 19 of the Collective Agreement (CA) reflects this joint commitment, agreeing to the use of “every reasonable effort to resolve grievances informally, amicably, and promptly.”
However, for the reasons set out below, QUFA has advised the university that, if Faculty Relations is involved in any way in an early resolution process that involves one or more QUFA Members, there must also be a place set at the table for QUFA.
Any Resolution Must Be Enforceable: No settlement or resolution is enforceable or binding unless those who have agreed to the resolution have been provided with legal advice about any rights they are giving up and the impact on their future rights that could result from the agreement. QUFA Members are provided with that advice by their union. An agreement that contravenes existing rights in the CA, or that has unanticipated negative impacts on the rights of other Members, and has not been signed off on by QUFA, can be struck down.
Know Your Rights: You may agree to a settlement that is less than what you are entitled to by law or under the CA. If QUFA is unaware of the agreement, we may not be able to grieve your right to the greater benefit at a future time.
The Agreement Should Be Equitable and Not Discriminatory: QUFA strives to ensure all Members are treated equally, regardless of personal characteristics or what department you work in. You should not be treated differently from how Members in the same situation have been treated. QUFA will help to protect your interests if we are included in all discussions.
The Bottom Line
Know your rights. It is your decision as to when to invite QUFA to the table during the early resolution process.
However, any final decision or agreement must be brought to the attention of QUFA for final review and authorization to ensure Member rights are protected. Questions and comments are welcome.
Note 1The Policy and call for feedback is here: https://www.queensu.ca/secretariat/ policies/consultation-harassmentdiscrimination.
Peggy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.