This round of negotiations for a new collective agreement began under two significant storm clouds: Laurentian University’s bankruptcy procedure and Bill 124. QUFA President Jordan Morelli explained the consequence of these and of our transition to the UPP for 2022 negotiations here: https://www.qufa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/101-QUFA-Voices-Oct-2021-REVISED.pdf.
The Laurentian situation forced us to table proposals to prevent the use of bankruptcy proceedings to circumvent collective agreement protections in situations of financial exigency. Bill 124, which capped broader public sector wages to 1% for three years, forced us to focus on normative improvements to the collective agreement. QUFA authorized the formation of a couple of working groups (on Adjunct matters and on furthering EDII initiatives) to provide guidance to the bargaining team on how to make improvements in these areas. As well, Chief Negotiators Amy Kaufman and Leslie Jermyn visited all Units who wanted to meet with them in January and February of 2022. The specifics of the 2022 mandate can all be found on the bargaining page (https://www.qufa.ca/bargaining-2021-2022/) under the accordion tab Bargaining Resources.
Bargaining began in June 2022. The pace of negotiations, successes and disappointments, are all traced through Bargaining Alerts which are available on the bargaining page linked above. Some thematic areas have been bargained to tentative conclusion, including Library & Archives and Grievance & Discipline. Of late, a few more articles containing changes related to other thematic areas like EDII or Improving the Academic Workplace have been tentatively signed. However, the general tenor of this round has not been positive. The Administration has been slow to respond, has often simply ignored QUFA proposals and has tabled concessionary language like that ordering members to apply for external funding or that which would grant the university an unlimited license to copyrighted material members create in the course of work. Two articles in QUFA Voices reflect QUFA’s concerns with this tone at the table: in September 2022, Elizabeth Hanson commented on the University’s volte-face from collegial relations during the pandemic; in October 2022, Karen Rudie commented on the problem shared by all when the employer refuses to engage with QUFA:
- QUFA Voices, September 2022: https://www.qufa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/107-QUFA-Voices-Sept-2022.pdf
- QUFA Voices, October 2022: https://www.qufa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/108-QUFA-Voices-Oct-2022.pdf
QUFA and the Administration agreed to seek the help of a provincially-appointed Conciliator in the new year and to try to resolve their differences before that by engaging with a private mediator in December. Just before mediation began, the Ontario Superior Court declared Bill 124 “void and of no effect” which completely changed the compensation landscape of bargaining. The QUFA team was prepared to try to reach agreement in mediation notwithstanding these changes but the University’s team would not confirm that they were prepared to do the same. For this reason, and to move as quickly and efficiently to Conciliation, and to forestall more slow-walking at the bargaining table, the QUFA Executive directed the Bargaining Team to pull out of mediation early. In addition, the Executive voted to ask members for a strike mandate in order to give the Bargaining Team the strongest support possible in future negotiations. The President’s letters to the Provost and to QUFA members are available here: Letter to the Provost, Letter to QUFA Members.