A collective agreement is a written contract between the university and a union that outlines many of the terms and conditions of employment for employees in a bargaining unit. The terms and conditions are reached through collective bargaining between the university and the union. Collective agreements are time-limited and are renegotiated every few years.
Collective bargaining occurs when a group of employees negotiates as a single entity with their employer. These negotiations encompass salaries, benefits, working conditions, and the working relationship between employers and workers. At universities, negotiations typically also include tenure and promotion, academic freedom, hiring, and the role of faculty in governance. Most workers at Canada’s universities are unionized, and so collective bargaining is the norm across the university sector.
The university and the union each have a collective bargaining team consisting of a lead negotiator and two other negotiating team members. Currently, CBUFA’s lead negotiator is Scott Moir and the two other team members are Calvin Howley and Cyndie Glogowski.
CBUFA engages with members throughout bargaining using various means: emails, surveys, townhalls, and meetings. In each of these circumstances, it is important for the CBUFA executive and the bargaining committee to have a good sense of what is important to all members. Collective bargaining means that we use the power of all the workers in the union to ensure a fair deal for everyone.
CBUFA will not go on strike unless a majority of its members are willing to take strike action. If/when CBUFA feels it’s necessary to consider strike action, the membership will be asked to indicate its support for such action via a strike vote.
It is important to note that a strike vote does not mean that CBUFA would automatically be on strike. The “yes” to a strike vote remains valid for four months, which allows more time for bargaining if both CBUFA and CBU feel that bargaining is a useful and productive process.
A strong vote for a strike sends a clear message to CBU’s bargaining team that members are not willing to accept the employer’s offer. A vote in favour of a strike does not mean a strike begins automatically. Often, employers will move away from aggressive bargaining when faced with a clear message that union members are ready and willing to strike, if necessary.
Conciliation occurs following the submission of a request by the union or the university to the provincial government to appoint a conciliator to serve as a neutral third party to help the parties resolve their differences. The parties can also file a joint request to appoint a conciliation officer.
A request for conciliation is a common occurrence during collective bargaining.
Conciliation must be completed before the union can be in a position to engage in a legal strike, or the university can be in a legal position to lock-out employees in the bargaining unit.
Conciliators do not impose a settlement or choose one side's position over the other. Their role is to listen, identify underlying points of agreement, and suggest ways to move toward an agreement.
If conciliation succeeds, the result is a collective agreement that is subject to ratification by both the Association and the employer. If conciliation fails, a report is submitted to the Minister of Labour. This begins a two-week cooling off period after which a strike or lockout may begin when either side gives notice of its intent.
A strike date has been announced: CBUFA will begin striking on Friday, January 27 if no agreement is reached before then.
Legal strike action is the right of unionized workers to withdraw their services with the aim of demonstrating collectively their concerns and resolve to achieve fair terms of employment. For CBUFA members, this would mean ceasing all of the teaching and service tasks that make up their workload for the duration of the strike.
A lockout occurs when the Employer denies employees access to the workplace and stops paying them in order to exert pressure on the union and its members to settle on the Employer’s terms. A lockout could mean not having access to your office, laboratory, or even your CBU email account. Lockouts have been rare in the university sector in Canada but it is a legal option open to our Employer.
Please note that agreements are in place to safeguard certain research labs. For example, designated faculty can enter a biology lab to care for living creatures or other labs where special care is required to safeguard specialized equipment or volatile chemicals.
Just as the union is required to give at least 48 hours’ notice before a strike, the employer is required to give at least 48 hours’ notice before a lockout.
Strikes are designed to pressure the employer (CBU in this case) to agree to a new collective agreement that CBUFA members can agree to. When this happens, the strike will end. The average length of strikes in Canada is about 3 weeks, although there have been both shorter and longer strikes at Canadian universities.
We are happy to provide our strike protocol at this link.
A strike protocol is a set of agreements negotiated between the university and the faculty association that sets the ground rules of a strike. Strike protocols typically address the following types of matters:
During a strike, CBUFA members will withdraw their service and teaching labour. This includes committee work, any work in courses or a supervisory capacity with students, or course revisions and curriculum development. You may continue your research. You may also choose whether to write letters of reference or recommendation for students.
For those caring for animals on campus or for other critical circumstances that require regular care, arrangements are typically made between the union and the employer to allow particular union members to access campus (see “what is a ‘strike protocol’”).
CBUFA members who strike and perform strike activities are eligible to receive strike pay. CBUFA will also continue members’ health benefits. CBUFA has its own strike fund, built up over many years, and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) will also typically provide some support. Strike pay is non-taxable.
To receive strike pay, CBUFA members will be required to participate in picket duty. Those who cannot perform picket duty (e.g., due to disability or because the member doesn’t currently live in the area) must request an alternate form of strike duty. Picket line assignments have already been sent to your alternate email address. If you haven’t received picket line information or your alternate responsibilities, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org asap.
Picket lines will picket every day for the first four days of the strike (Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday). A smaller number of picket lines will be assigned to picket on the first Sunday. After that, members will picket every other day for two hours at a time.
If you are sick, please contact both HQ and your picket captain to advise that you won’t be in attendance. If at all possible, trade shifts with someone else. Otherwise, arrange to make up the shift once you are feeling better.
Members who complete their assigned strike duties will receive $100/day ($700/week). Strike pay will increase after two weeks.
Members will be paid strike pay by cheque which they will pick up from strike headquarters.
CBUFA members may normally NOT cross the picket line. However, those who have reasons to cross the picket line – such as taking children to the CBU daycare, attending a doctor’s appointment, or caring for animals or plants in a research lab – may request a pass from the President of CBUFA, Adango Miadonye. Members MUST have a pass to cross the picket line. Please request a pass well in advance of the strike as the President will be very busy once the strike begins.
Yes. We will not prevent anyone from accessing campus although we encourage everyone to avoid coming to campus as a sign of solidarity.
Members assigned picket duty will report to strike headquarters (at the Grand Lake Fire Hall) at least 30 minutes prior to their shift. A shuttle van will take them to Bud’s Speedway; they will walk from there to the campus. Picket captains will divide the picket lines between the two entrances.
CBUFA may occasionally choose to picket 500 George Street or the Cineplex; picket lines will be advised if that is the case.
Please note that CBUFA currently doesn’t have permission to place a port-a-potty on CBU property. CBUFA is actively seeking a viable alternative. But please be prepared in case toilet facilities are not available while picketing.
The purpose of the picket lines is to inform the general public of our strike. Members may choose to carry signs indicating that we are on strike and what are major issues are. Members will stand or walk for the duration of their shift.
Although not guaranteed, faculty often receive “back pay” from the employer after a strike ends. This is because the employer typically doesn’t want to compromise the academic term. Faculty are expected to find ways to complete the term by revising their courses and making accommodations for students. In essence, they are paid for a term’s work, even though it is compressed.
Faculty will also typically receive any negotiated salary increases retroactively. Our collective agreement ended June 30, 2022. From that time on, we are receiving salaries and increases as defined in our existing collective agreement. Once negotiated, a new collective agreement will go into effect as of July 1, 2022 and any negotiated increases in salary will likely be retroactively applied from that date.
CBUFA will continue members’ health benefits. Maintaining benefits is also in the employer’s best interest. CBU will invoice CBUFA for the cost of benefits while members are on strike and CBUFA will cover those costs.
If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this FAQ document, or if you have other questions, please email Debbie MacAulay at email@example.com.
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