May 4, 2020 “Excellence and Equity for Our Faculty”
The KUCFA Collective Bargaining Committee have now held five meetings with the employer’s “Negotiating Panel,” for the purpose of renewing our contract since our last bulletin update on March 12. The contract - the “Conditions of Appointment for Faculty” expired on April 30, 2020.*
Our recent meetings with the employer’s Negotiating Panel have not been productive. While we were very happy to conclude a LOU on the COVID-19 situation with the employer, it was an unnecessarily long and arduous process. The last counter we received came with very short notice via email prior to the meeting. But it gets worse. The ‘counter’ was actually not a ‘counter,’ because it did not address our previous positions. Therefore, we spent the first hour of the meeting in caucus trying to align the two documents. About a third of the employer’s points we could only respond to by noting “see our current counter offer.” Several other points in their document included positions we had agreed to many weeks earlier, and/or their descriptions were at odds with the attached sections and even with their own proposals!
We cannot say if this is purposeful. If it is not, we have doubts about competency; if it is, we have doubts about good faith. The employer has given us a massive set of proposals (opening more than 129 clauses of the contract). We have been able to agree to about 1/3 of their many proposals and have engaged in a substantive response to all the others. They have responded substantively to only two of our non-monetary proposals. We will likely have more to say about these in the coming week. Instead, they typically conduct this sort of game: they propose two changes that are both problematic for academic success with a caveat, if we accept one, they will withdraw the other. For example, they propose that the LTA contract should be raised from 3.0 to 4.0 courses a year and offer us in return the removal of a proposal that any faculty member who is denied sabbatical leave or who refuses to take one will have their course load increased to 4.0 courses per year. And this is not the most worrying response to our non-monetary positions.
The employer remains very entrenched with respect to certain positions: -increasing restrictions on unpaid leaves of absences
-removing the right of disclosure and due process from the formal investigation process of the discipline clause
-reducing the ability of faculty to grieve the contract and of KUCFA to protect its members and due process
-reducing benefits to legal minimums and less than sector norms
– removing references to human rights and labour legislation and commissions – reducing parental/adoption benefits and increasing verification processes.
We are committed to obtaining the best deal for our members. We have been working very hard to avoid weakening our contract by collaborating with the employer on many of their proposals. We have yet to see the same sort of mutuality from them, meaning that we have engaged with many of the employer’s proposals while many of ours have been rejected outright. It is important to note that the employer is entrenched in many of their proposals, linking acceptance of our suggestions of improvement to acceptance of their punitive measures. The bargaining environment is exhausting. We have seven additional meetings scheduled for May. Thank you for taking the time to read this over and feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
The KUCFA Collective Bargaining Committee: Stephanie Bangarth (chief negotiator); Anisha Datta; Adian McFarlane; Pat Ryan and Lesley DePauw.
* For details of the procedures, see “Negotiation Procedures”, Appendix A, page 63 Conditions of Appointment of Faculty