I have heard from several of you over the last couple of days with questions about the joint AASUA, NASA, University of Alberta statement that was issued on Tuesday morning. I have responded to all those messages directly, but also wanted to provide some background and clarification here for the rest of you.
You will recall that, back in October, NASA and AASUA jointly filed an Unfair Labour Practice Complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB). The essence of that complaint was that the University had interfered with the unions’ administration and representation of our members by denying us seats at the tables struck by the University to address the University of Alberta for Tomorrow (UAT) restructuring process.
The first step in dealing with any complaint at the ALRB starts with the parties (in this case NASA, AASUA, and the University) coming together in what is called a resolution conference to see if a resolution to the complaint can be found without going to formal hearings. These conferences are confidential, and without prejudice, in order to allow the parties to talk and discuss possible solutions freely and openly. Because the formal hearing process can be drawn out, costly for all parties (including the ALRB itself), and often lead to decisions and resolutions that nobody is fully happy with, it is usually seen as being in everybody’s interest to resolve the complaint without going to a full hearing.
While confidentiality prevents me from disclosing the full details of the resolution discussions, I can confirm that the joint statement circulated earlier this week, and the decision by NASA and AASUA to withdraw our ALRB complaints, were outcomes of that process. The two significant things that I hope all members take away from that statement are: the acknowledgement of the unions’ knowledge, experience, and important contributions, and the creation of a joint committee where we will regularly be able to ask questions, obtain information, provide input, and have a hand in developing solutions with regard to UAT.
I also want to clarify, because some of you have asked, that this agreement will not impact, in any way, our ongoing bargaining for a collective agreement, nor does it limit us from undertaking any other form of advocacy, engagement, or action to represent and advocate for our members going forward. It is simply one more tool at our disposal.
As always, should you have any further questions or concerns about any of this, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.