Information about the form of representation for faculty and librarians
Whether to continue with a faculty association or instead to be represented by a faculty union is a decision to be made by individual faculty members and librarians at the University of Victoria.
This website has been established to answer some of the key questions around this issue as they arise in our community.
UVic has a deep and longstanding commitment to collegial governance, a positive, supportive working environment and constructive employment relations. We're proud of the critical role our faculty and librarians play in teaching and inspiring our students and in conducting internationally-leading-research that's tackling key issues and opportunities for Canadians.
We will respect the choices made by faculty and librarians regarding their representation and believe strongly that the process must be respectful, and whatever the outcome, must be regarded as an opportunity to move forward together in particularly challenging times.
For information about the status of bargaining with faculty and librarians, please see the bargaining information website. For information about the university's financial circumstances and budget constraints see the budget planning website.
Have UVic and the faculty association reached agreements in the past, through negotiations, without binding arbitration?
Yes, the university and the Faculty Association have reached agreement numerous times in the past decade on the terms and conditions of employment, including the processes and procedures for tenure and promotion. Under the current Framework Agreement non-monetary issues can be taken to mediation but not to arbitration.
The parties have also reached agreement on salary and benefits through negotiations many times (1996-99, 2002-04, 2004-06, 2006-10, 2010-12). Since 1994-95, salary and benefits issues have gone to binding arbitration three times and were settled by mediation once.
If there is a faculty union, can binding arbitration co-exist with the right to strike to resolve an impasse on salary issues?
If there is a faculty union, a collective agreement will be negotiated between the university and the Faculty Association. When it expires, the parties are required to negotiate a new agreement in good faith. Typically, the right to strike when an impasse is reached at the bargaining table and the opportunity to resolve the issues by binding arbitration cannot co-exist, so it's generally one or the other. The right to strike is a basic bargaining tool for unions of all types, including those representing faculty.
If the faculty and librarians at UVic unionize, what will happen to the current processes governing dispute resolution in the Framework Agreement?
If a union is formed, a new agreement will need to be negotiated.
The current Framework Agreement restricts the types of issues that can be sent to an external arbitrator for resolution and uses the University Review Committee process, rather than grievance and third party arbitration, for matters related to reappointment, tenure and promotion.
On the latter point, the recommendations made by the departmental and faculty committees and the dean are favorable to the faculty member most of the time. Where the recommendation is unfavorable, the individual has the right to appeal to the University Review Committee.
Although there are more than 50 individual reappointment/tenure/promotion applications each year, only 13 in total have been appealed to the URC in the past 10 years, less than 3 per cent of the total cases. In almost all cases the URC case panel's recommendation is accepted by the President.
There have been five strikes by faculty unions at Canadian universities in the past five years.
Faculty strikes can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Since 2008 there have been five faculty strikes at Canadian universities, the longest of these was 45 days and the shortest 16. This includes a 31-day strike at Vancouver Island University in spring 2011. Some required provincial government intervention to reach settlement and some involved changes to the length of the academic term to make up for lost time.
As a member of an association, faculty members or librarians make individual choices about whether to cross a legal picket line on campus. By way of contrast, when faculty members are unionized, their union will generally issue instructions about how it wishes them to deal with legal picket lines established by other campus unions. It is, however, ultimately an employee's individual decision about whether or not to cross a picket line to attend work. For example, in the case of the CUPE 3903 strike of contract professors and teaching assistants at York University in 2008-09, the Faculty Association actively supported the strike and urged their members to respect the picket lines. The university was effectively shut down for 84 days.
Does a union mean that BC wage constraints would no longer apply to faculty and librarians? (Updated Oct. 31)
The wage constraints imposed each year by the provincial government through the Public Sector Employers' Council (PSEC) bargaining mandate would still apply to the university, as they do for all public sector employers, whether unionized or not. As such, the university must limit its offer to the boundaries of that mandate. However, where a collective agreement contains a binding arbitration clause for salary issues, and the matter goes to arbitration, arbitrators have determined that their decisions are not bound by the PSEC mandate.
Provincial bargaining mandates for all BC universities have been identical over the past decade, regardless of whether they are unionized or not.
Salaries for faculty members and librarians at UVic are definitely lower on average than most comparator universities. This is not a reflection of the university administration's attitude towards faculty and librarians — their excellence is a fundamental part both of UVic's rise to national and international prominence and of the superb student experience we offer. The salary gap is the result of a historical pattern, driven by nearly 20 years of public sector wage control in BC, where the allowable percentage increases when applied to the different salary bases at the different institutions simply widen an existing gap.
The university has sought to obtain greater flexibility from the provincial government to improve the relative salary situation of faculty, and will continue to advocate for more flexibility than we have now. If we're able to achieve this, we then need to find a way to fund it. In a resource-constrained environment this means either (i) finding a way to increase revenue; or (ii) undertaking a reallocation exercise to find the required resources (e.g. increased teaching loads; a trade-off of reducing the number of faculty overall in return for higher wage rates for individual faculty members; or reallocating funds that were intended for different university purposes).
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