University of Lethbridge Graduate Workers - Bargaining Update #2

ULGSA Bargaining Resumes

The Union Bargaining Team resumed bargaining with the University of Lethbridge Team on January 25th and 26th.  The ULGSA team was happy to be back at the table to advance the members’ interest after months of delays. We expect to have more regular meetings with the Employer on a go-forward basis.

The Union team has welcomed a new team member. Jenn Prosser has replaced Tyler Stewart on the team. Tyler made some terrific contributions to the team’s efforts in the lead-up to bargaining, and we want to acknowledge and thank him for those contributions. One of those contributions was to encourage Jenn to join the team after he departed. We’re delighted to have Jenn on board, especially given her significant union experience in the sector.  

As discussed in our previous bargaining update, the Union Team spent the intervening months between bargaining developing a complete non-monetary package of written proposals. The previous mode of bargaining involved tabling discrete proposals after interest-based discussions rather than a complete package of written proposals, and the team ultimately determined that that mode of bargaining was too slow and unworkable. We approached the Employer about tabling complete packages to try to expedite the bargaining process, and they were amenable. So, on the 25th of January, the teams exchanged their packages, and on the 26th of January, there were exchanges on several articles.

The full non-monetary package is attached  for your review, and we encourage all members to read it.  Some of the highlights follow:

  • There is a strong equity theme throughout the proposals, whether it is through the insertion of management rights language to ensure that the Employer accepts its positive obligation to ensure fair, reasonable, and equitable treatment of members; or through a proposal to create a committee to survey the members and create an action plan to ensure Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
  • Several proposals address member concerns about inconsistent application of the collective agreement across campus, requiring training for those who administer the agreement, making sure that the Union is involved in all departmental orientations where GA duties will be discussed, and ensuring that duties and responsibilities are more clearly articulated in the initial meeting between GAs and their Employment Supervisors.  
  • The Union has also proposed improvements to the appointment process, ensuring that members get an opportunity to indicate a preference for assignments and requiring the University to provide a rationale when preferred courses are not assigned.  In this vein, the Union has also proposed a standardized appointment letter.
  • The Union has tabled proposals to address the fact that members who transfer from Masters to the PhD programs don’t find themselves with fewer GA appointments after the transfer. We have also tabled a proposal to define when the PhD rate applies for GA (Research) and Casual positions when members transition from a Masters to PhD program.
  • The Union has added a new and robust Assignment of Duties and Allocation of Hours form so that members have a clear idea of how many hours are allocated to specific duties.  This should ensure that members aren’t expected to work beyond their contracted hours.
  • We have tabled many proposals for new provisions to bring the collective agreement into line with what is in other collective agreements in the sector and to put the Union in a better position to support its members.

The tenor of the exchange was respectful. The Union Team went first, introducing its package to provide context for its proposals. And the University Team followed. For the most part, the University package contained statement of interests for discussion, rather than written proposals. While some of these statements of interest suggest that the university will be demanding concessions from the Union at some point in bargaining, further discussion will be necessary before we can determine whether that is their intent.  

At the end of the bargaining session, both Teams had exchanged counter proposals on several articles. While we have yet to establish bargaining dates for the next session, we expect to do so in the coming days, and both teams will be caucusing during the interim.  

The Union will inform members once dates have been established, and you can look forward to another bargaining update after the next meeting.

As always, you are our strength at the table.

In Solidarity,

Your Graduate Student Employee Bargaining Team:

Jenn Prosser

Luke Saville

Jackson Ham

Rachel Stark (PSAC Representative)

Silja Freitag (PSAC Researcher)

John Eustace (PSAC Negotiator)