Bargaining

Here you can find information on bargaining teams, scheduling, and updates as bargaining progresses.

Please select the university below to be taken to the page with additional information.

This brochure, from February 2020, contains some information that has shaped our bargaining proposals and approach. It makes reference to a membership survey that was conducted last winter and has also shaped our proposals.

You can see these bargaining proposals here. Contact our webmaster for the password.

Here is Collective Bargaining 101, prepared by CAUT. It outlines the process and steps involved in collective bargaining.

*   *   *   *   *

Updates:
September 24, 2021: There has been break from bargaining this month. Bargaining will resume in October.

September 2, 2021: Our new CUPE rep, Mike Kelly, will be quite busy with his new assignment in September so our next bargaining dates are in October. We had a bargaining session with SMU in which we signed off on some minor proposals and had some discussion on our major ones. We hope to get a counter proposal soon on our ideas on hiring and appointments. We are expecting a similar counter proposal from Dal, where we are still working through TA proposals. At both these universities we are also discussing the ROE (record of employment). It seems that the number of hours determined for ROE purposes at Dal is only half what it is at the Mount, but it is even greater at SMU. We are working towards making this similar for our members at all three universities.

August 13, 2021: We had two sessions at Dal this week and have one at SMU next week. While we did make some progress at Dal, we are realizing that scheduling full days of bargaining (hopefully in person) would be more efficient. However, our CUPE rep is very busy in general at multiple bargaining tables but especially in September with several arbitrations including one for us. Therefore, our plan is to schedule full days of bargaining at Dal and hopefully the other universities to make some substantial progress this fall. The bargaining teams have been meeting a lot recently and have focused on finalizing our financial proposals.

July 26, 2021: Last week we had bargaining at both Dal and SMU. We are making progress for both and have signed off on some minor proposals. At both universities we are proposing language to strengthen academic freedom articles based on language from the collective agreements of the faculty associations. Also at both we are working on language towards continuing appointments such as having courses decided for a year in advance and internal and external posting processes. At Dal we also provided extensive proposals for TAs and markers that address issues of timing, transparency and the use of the duty form. We have our next dates for both Dal and SMU in mid-August.

July 14, 2021: We have not had any bargaining since the last update, and this month we  only have a couple of bargaining dates scheduled for SMU and Dal next week. At SMU we have had a few bargaining sessions with the employer and have only begun to discuss our proposals. We have been focusing on the appointment and hiring processes but have yet to have any meaningful discussion with the employer. After more bargaining sessions at Dal we have agreed on several proposals with the employer but still have outstanding ones, particularly wrt TAs and our common proposals. We are currently working on financial proposals to present to the employer. At the Mount the conciliator asked both sides to return to the table without a conciliator, so we hope to set dates to do that soon.

June 30, 2021: There has been a change in the chief negotiator for the union bargaining teams and 2 of the 3 employer teams (SMU and the Mount). This is fortuitous timing as it means both sides understand the challenge such a change brings, particularly organizing proposals and counter-proposals. We are taking the time to go over the status of proposals with the employer at all universities to make sure we are on the right track. We are also spending more time with just our teams to work out details of some of our common proposals. This month we only have a couple of bargaining dates scheduled so far for July 20 and 22.


June 22, 2021: We resume bargaining next week at SMU but have a bit of break before Dal next month. At the Mount we were disappointed that the employer filed for conciliation so early, but we are working on the way forward and hope to set new dates soon.

June 14, 2021: This past week we had a bargaining team meeting and a bargaining session for Dal. Our next bargaining dates are at the end of June for SMU and in mid-July for Dal. Summer is generally slower as it is more difficult to coordinate schedules. We are also going to have a meeting with all bargaining teams to finalize our financial proposals and with the mobilization committee to continue our strategic planning as we continue negotiations.

June 1, 2021:
Dal: Things are going relatively well and we are making progress on several items. However, we have yet to table financial proposals, which we hope to do soon. We have two bargaining sessions scheduled next week.

SMU: We have no dates set for SMU. Recently we asked for suggested dates but have not yet had a response.

MSVU: Those of you at the Mount will have learned from us that the employer has filed for conciliation, a process of intervention in collective bargaining by a neutral third party knowledgeable in effective negotiation procedures. We ended our last negotiating session on May 7 with the employer stating that they would respond to Union proposals and we would reciprocate. The move to file for conciliation was therefore unexpected and resulted in cancelling our next bargaining session on May 28. We want to assure everyone that your Union is committed to working within the conciliation process to achieve a renewal of the Collective Agreement that meets our members’ needs. Despite the move to conciliation, we are still early on in the bargaining process. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more about conciliation timelines.

May 17, 2021: Since the last update, we had to cancel our Dal bargaining session and we had one bargaining session with the Mount. We also had an all bargaining teams meeting last week. We are working on our financial proposals including costing (estimating how much our proposals will cost the employer). Bargaining seems to be particularly slow these days, partly due to less frequent dates during the spring/summer months and partly due to issues that seem to be unrelated to our actual proposals. We hope things will pick up but the summer is usually a slow time. We have bargaining sessions scheduled at the Mount and Dal next week but still no dates set for SMU.

May 3, 2021: 
We resumed bargaining at Dal last week. We are making progress on Dal-specific issues but have only just started discussing some of our common proposals that focus on equity, stipend and benefits. This week we are scheduled to have sessions at both Dal and the Mount. We have no future dates set for SMU at this time.

April 26, 2021: We resume bargaining later this week at the Mount and Dal after an extended break. We have no future dates set for SMU at this time. 

April 12, 2021: We have not had any bargaining sessions recently and our next one is on April 29. Please come to the Annual General Meeting for a bargaining update and feel free to ask questions. Next week the bargaining teams have a CUPE training session on strike planning. The purpose of this is not to prepare for a strike but instead to learn about how to plan for a possible strike. I am hoping to get answers to key questions such as when to hold strike votes.

March 29, 2021: At a session with Dal we had a presentation on the evaluation of instruction and student ratings of instruction from the Centre for Learning and Teaching. A couple of weeks ago we discussed the same topic with the Mount Student Union. These discussions illustrate some of the advantages of bargaining at three universities at the same time. Some of our common proposals deal with these issues and it seems that at least one university is also reflecting on how to update assessments of instruction. By considering these proposals at all three bargaining tables, we can share and reflect on what could work at all universities and which options might contribute more to fair working conditions for our members.

March 22, 2021: We had to cancel last week’s bargaining session due to illness and this week we didn’t have any scheduled. We are currently scheduling bargaining sessions for April and May.

March 15, 2021: We were bargaining last week at the Mount and Dalhousie. I thought I’d take this opportunity to discuss more about what goes on at the table. It seems like a lot of bargaining involves back and forth discussion and proposals, often about specific wording. Sometimes language disagreements might seem trivial, but the difference between something like ‘could’ or ‘shall’ can be substantial.

Another aspect of bargaining is the LOU or MOU (letter or memorandum of understanding). Sometimes if both sides want to see progress towards a proposal but don’t think it can be accomplished during the current round of bargaining, they set up a LOU/MOU to set up a committee to discuss the issue within a certain time period. The discussion can then lead to changes in the next round of bargaining. We then have to decide if or what we can achieve this round of bargaining and what could go in an LOU/MOU and how it will be followed up.

This week we’ll be back at the Mount and it looks like we have a week off next week.

March 8, 2021: We have been having some good discussions at some of the bargaining tables. In particular, last week at the Mount some members of the bargaining team presented the results of a survey and report on office space and related facilities. This report was the result of an appendix of the Collective Agreement negotiated last time to look into office space. The results are helping inform bargaining issues and also issues related to occupational health and safety. This week we’re bargaining at both Dal and the Mount.

February 22, 2021: We only had one bargaining session at SMU last week and our next one is at the Mount next week. Much of what we are discussing at the table in the early stages is related to past and ongoing grievances. There are two main sources of ideas for bargaining proposals: priorities of our members, which we get from our survey, and grievances. Proposals related to grievances are usually non-financial and often relate to different interpretations of the collective agreement from the employer and union (this is why they result in grievances). For us this time they are mostly related to discipline and job postings. These issues often seem to be less important to most members, yet by protecting a few members through grievances and changing the language of the collective agreement, we are protecting all members from possible unfair treatment. We have some bargaining sessions scheduled for March and April. Progress is slow but it is a challenge to bargain at all three universities at once.

February 17, 2021: We have had a bit of a break from bargaining so I’ll give a more long-term update. The first step in negotiations is to exchange proposals, which we have now done at all three universities. Then there is the long process of asking questions, suggesting counter-proposals and hopefully coming to an agreement on some of these while deciding not to pursue others. We are now at the start of this stage and are just beginning to ask each other questions to clarify proposals. We have tentatively agreed on only a few very minor proposals, most of which involve things like editing. Some of our common proposals such as a major increase in salary, pension and other benefits are financial proposals and come much later in the process, typically after dealing with all non-financial proposals. We do not expect to even start negotiating financial proposals anytime soon. Therefore, the bargaining teams are still doing background research including exploring different options for a pension plan. This week and next we only have bargaining at SMU, with the next dates at Dal and the Mount in March.

February 9, 2021: We had one bargaining session each at SMU and Dal last week; another at Dal was cancelled partly because of weather. We continue to discuss various proposals at each university. Bargaining at three universities at the same time gives us a comparative vision of the perspective of the employers. For example, we have common proposals to address equity issues. Our goal is to strengthen languge to protect our members against harassment and discrimination. Notably we want to want to make sure that provincial and university policies are included in the collective agreement wherever possible to inform our members and alert them to details of these policies. One of the employers agrees with us and included even more language outlining various university policies on these issues. Another employer instead proposed to remove the language we have from the collective agreement rather than expand it further. This week we have a break from bargaining but the teams continue to prepare for future bargaining sessions.

February 1, 2021: Last week we had team meetings to prepare for bargaining at SMU and Dal this week. We had our second session with the Mount last week at which we discussed definitions of terms that we hope will clarify our collective agreement. Overall we are still in the early stages of bargaining and have not yet had a response from any of the universities on most of our common proposals.

January 26, 2021: Last week we had team meetings to prepare for bargaining at SMU and the Mount. We had our first session with SMU last week at which we exchanged proposals. This week we have our second session with the Mount

January 19, 2021: We continued bargaining at Dalhousie this past week; we are making progress but it’s slow. We continue to seek improvements in the timeliness of the awarding of TA, Marker and Demonstrator contacts. We are pleased that the employer agrees with us on including or referring to policies such as for domestic violence in the collective agreement. This week we have team meetings to prepare for bargaining at SMU (starting this week) and the Mount (2nd session this week).

Nov. 30, 2020: At Dalhousie, we had three bargaining sessions on Nov. 23, 26 and 27. Bargaining this past week consisted mostly of asking and answering questions for clarification. We are pleased that the employer is eager to understand our motivation behind our proposals and we are hoping to come to an agreement on several non-monetary issues. The union explained the importance of key issues such as ensuring grad students are not asked to teach or TA extra hours to finish their degrees in a timely manner and making this year’s temporary ban on using student evaluations for discipline permanent because they are biased.

Our next dates will be in January. We start bargaining at the Mount on Dec. 11 and we are still setting dates at SMU.

Nov. 18, 2020: We started bargaining with Dalhousie administration on Monday. The first session simply involved exchanging proposals so there is not much to report, we had additional sessions on November 23, 26, 26 have another session with Dal next Monday. We are scheduling dates with SMU and the Mount.