Dear Members,

I would like to update you on the status of Collective Bargaining between AASUA and the Board of Governors.

The AASUA Bargaining Team met with the Employer’s Bargaining Team on February 4, 2022. The next time we will meet will be in Formal Mediation on February 18, 2022, next Friday.

The purpose of the February 4, 2022 joint meeting was to discuss and hopefully find agreement on all outstanding language proposals. The AASUA Bargaining Team will be submitting one disputed language item to mediation.

Unfortunately, the Employer still insists on removing the existing right of refusal held by Academic Faculty to be assigned Intersession Teaching (see article “a” in Appendix A.5: Intersession Teaching in Schedule A in the collective agreement).

The AASUA Bargaining Team will not agree, within this round of collective bargaining, to the Employer’s Intersession Teaching proposal because this is a complicated issue that involves issues of workload and work-life balance that are presently minimally addressed in the collective agreement. Many Academic Faculty reserve this period of the year to focus very deeply on their scholarship, research and creative activities that typically requires them to work in an uninterrupted way either by themselves or with their graduate students and research teams in Libraries, laboratories or studios, etc. Moreover, many Academic Faculty use the intersession period to do off-campus field research, attend conferences, or to collaborate with colleagues at other research institutions around the world, which may not be possible to arrange at another time of the year. Scholarship, research and creative work is absolutely central to the professional obligations/university responsibilities of Academic Faculty.

The AASUA Bargaining Team’s position is that the Employer should withdraw their proposed language for Appendix A.5: Intersession Teaching and that the parties enter into an LOU to strike an Agreement Review Committee (ARC) in accordance with Article 2.06 – 2.11 to consider intersession teaching. Should the parties not reach agreement during the ARC process, the current collective agreement language would remain as status quo.

In addition, while the Employer has withdrawn its original proposals that had the explicit intent of essentially bankrupting the Academic Benefits Plan in order to lay the ground work for their long-standing goal of introducing co-premiums and co-pay, the Employer has proposed at the January 27, 2022 joint meeting with us that AASUA engage with them in an “exploratory discussion” on the Terms of Reference of the Academic Benefits Management Committee (ABMC) in which the “elements” of this proposed discussion will achieve essentially the same long-standing Employer goals.

AASUA’s Bargaining Team doesn’t feel the need to formally respond, within this round of collective bargaining, on the “elements” the Employer wishes to base a “discussion” on with respect to revising the Terms of Reference of the ABMC. However, AASUA’s Bargaining Team is proposing that the parties enter into an LOU to strike an ARC in accordance with Article 2.06 – 2.11 in the collective agreement to consider the Terms of Reference of ABMC. Should the parties not reach agreement during the ARC process, the current collective agreement language remains as status quo.

With respect to language, the Employer will not agree with the AASUA Bargaining Team’s TLAPS proposal that:

·      A TLAPS Member who has served 6 continuous years of full-time employment whether in a rolling term or in successive term appointments shall have their current appointment converted to a (continuing) APO appointment, performing the same duties.

AASUA Bargaining Team’s compensation proposal also seeks that:

·      A TLAPS Member whose appointment is more than 8 months in duration and who has served continuously as TLAPO Member for three years or more, is eligible to apply to take 5 paid days annually for professional development.

The Employer has not presented AASUA’s Bargaining Team with an updated offer on compensation since its January 27, 2022 set of proposals. The Employer’s compensation proposals can be read here. AASUA Bargaining Team’s full formal response to the Employer’s compensation proposals can be read here.

I must comment on the Employer’s recent bargaining update, which was posted online on February 11, 2022.

·      The Employer incorrectly states in their online post of February 11, 2022 that they have never proposed language regarding academic freedom – in fact, their opening proposal did attempt to limit academic freedom (see the Employer’s proposed language in A2.03.1 in their Opening Proposal) which has, through negotiations, been withdrawn by the Employer.

·      I can unequivocally state that Employer’s compensation proposals will lead to significant reductions in the UAPP pension that will be earned by Academic Faculty and this is clearly shown in the “response document” mentioned above.

·      The Employer’s February 11, 2022 online description of their proposal for the Academic Supplementary Retirement Plan (ASRP) as introducing “certain proposed changes” is classic understatement. The Employer is proposing to eliminate all pension accumulation under the ASRP effective the date of ratification. Irrespective of what any one person thinks about the value of one benefit over another, the Employer is not proposing to “fully offset” the elimination of the ASRP by “enhancements in other areas.” This is also fully described in my “response document” to the Employer’s compensation proposals.

The AASUA Bargaining Team at 9am on February 10, 2022 formally submitted an updated set of compensation proposals to the Employer, including:

·      Proposing 4.75% – 5.25% ATB over 2022 - 2023 (depending on economic conditions),

·      Elimination of the troublesome Promotion Transition Zones in the Academic Faculty and FSO Salary Scales,

·      Extra steps for all capped salary grids,

·      Specified annual funding for the Academic Benefits Plan,

·      Selected improvements to the Academic Benefits Plan,

·      Increased compensation in lieu of benefits for those not covered by the Benefits Plan,

·      Increased Sabbatical and Professional Leave remuneration,

·      Zero-cost increase adjustments to the salary cap for the Academic Supplementary Retirement Plan,

·      Gender Pay Equity,

·      Reimbursement of eligible, receipted expenses incurred while doing our jobs remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic up to a maximum of $3,000 per person.  

AASUA Bargaining Team’s February 10, 2022 compensation proposals can be read in full here. These will be the compensation proposals that the AASUA Bargaining Team will be taking into formal mediation on February 18, 2022. The AASUA Bargaining Team has prepared a 29-page document that gives the background, rationale and a full costing our proposals. That document can be found here. This later document will be submitted to the Mediator for the February 18, 2022 meeting.

It is estimated that over the remaining two years (i.e., July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2024) of the proposed 4-year collective agreement (i.e., July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2024), these compensation proposals will imply an approximately additional $35M +  (Reimbursement of eligible, receipted COVID-19 expenses) in Operating Budget expenditures. This proposed expenditure increase must be put in the context of about $1.7B in total 2020-21 Operating Budget expenditures, which had a year-end surplus of about $53.6M (and a net accumulated surplus of about $1.9B) in the “Consolidated Statement of Operations” as described in the 2021 UofA Financial Statement. AASUA Bargaining Team’s compensation proposals are fair and fiscally responsible and do not result in disruptive budgetary dislocation.  

Respectfully Submitted,

Gordon Swaters

AASUA Lead Negotiator

No to two-tier salary scales!

No to reducing pensions!

No to Benefits cutbacks!

Yes to a fair cost-of-living adjustment!