As emailed by the Executive Committee, Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), to the CAUT Discussion List, 2 October 2012:
CAUT has issued an ALERT to draw attention to the serious threat to the collective bargaining rights of the faculty at Concordia University College of Alberta. This is the first time in more than a decade that CAUT has had to take this step.
An ALERT signals a situation in which a university or college board and administration goes beyond hard bargaining to engage in an extreme form of bad faith bargaining and is seriously inhibiting the free collective bargaining process.
In late 2011, the academic staff at Concordia University College of Alberta were given a ‘draft faculty agreement’ that contained an unprecedented assault on job security and other employment rights. In response, the academic staff applied to the Alberta Labour Relations Board for certification, and in late April were certified by the Board after a vigorous effort by the employer to block unionization.
Subsequently, the new union served notice to bargain days after receiving the certificate. The employer immediately began to refuse offered bargaining dates on the grounds that its team would be unavailable. Finally, bargaining began in late summer only to be stopped again by the resignation from the university of the vice-president academic who was the employer’s chief negotiator. The university president then wrote to the university community blaming the presence of the union for VPA’s departure.
Since then the employer:
- has refused to meet regularly and frequently enough to make progress in bargaining possible;
- has refused to follow normal bargaining conventions that allow the parties to identify changes made to its most recent proposals;
- without even considering the union’s opening set of proposals, reintroduced its pre-certification “draft faculty agreement” and insisted the union work from its language;
- engaged in “receding horizon bargaining”, i.e. new counter-proposals move further backward from its previous position;
- has ruled core articles in the sector out of bounds for the bargaining process, including academic freedom, permanence, promotion, performance evaluation and appointments.
This ALERT means that CAUT will be taking all measures necessary to publicize the events which led to the invocation of an ‘ALERT’, and provide all possible support to its member association. As well, CAUT encourages every academic staff association to offer all possible support to the CUCAFA which is facing a threat to its collective bargaining rights.
Should these measures not resolve the situation, CAUT may decide to impose censure through its Council.
Messages of solidarity and support to our colleagues at Concordia University College of Alberta should be sent to Deb Hemmerling, President, Concordia University College of Alberta Faculty Association, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, contact Angela Regnier, CAUT communications Officer, 613-726-5186, email@example.com.