SMU Bargaining Updates

Upcoming Bargaining Sessions:

  • November 30, 2021
  • December 1, 2021
  • January 13, 2022
  • January 27, 2022

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.

On August 19, 2021, 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.

At SMU we are discussing the ROE (record of employment). It seems that the number of hours determined for ROE purposes at Dal is only half of what it is at the Mount, but the determined number of hours is even greater at SMU. We are working towards making this similar for our members at all three universities.

July 22, 2021: We are making progress and today we signed off on some minor proposals. We are proposing language to strengthen academic freedom articles based on language from the collective agreements of the faculty associations. We are working on language towards continuing appointments such as having courses decided for a year in advance and internal and external posting processes.

July 14, 2021: We have been focusing on the appointment and hiring processes but have yet to have any meaningful discussion with the employer.

June 30, 2021:  There has been a change in the chief negotiator for the union bargaining teams and SMU.  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.

June 14, 2021: 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: We have no upcoming dates set for SMU. Recently we asked for suggested dates but have not yet had a response.

May 17, 2021: We 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. 

April 12, 2021:  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.

March 15, 2021: 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.

February 22, 2021: We only had one bargaining session at SMU last 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. 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. The first step in negotiations is to exchange proposals, which we have now done at all three universities. The next step 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.

February 9, 2021: We had one bargaining session  SMU.

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 this week. 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. See the bargaining page on our website for more details.

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


Past Bargaining Sessions:

  • October 14, 2021
  • October 12, 2021
  • October 7, 2021
  • Aug. 19, 2021
  • July 22, 2021
  • June 30, 2021
  • June 28, 2021
  • April 1, 1-5, 2021
  • February 18, 2021
  • February 1, 2021
  • January 21, 2021