University and Faculty Association conclude first collective agreement

After several months of hard work by both negotiating teams, the university and the Faculty Association have their first collective agreement since the association certified as a union.

The agreement was reached after months of negotiations that began last year and concluded in May with the assistance of mediator Trevor Sones, of the Labour Relations Board of BC.

Association members voted 96.5 per cent in favour of the agreement, with results being released June 5. The university’s Board of Governors approved the agreement when it met May 26, conditional upon the acceptance of the agreement by the association’s membership of faculty members and librarians.

“The university is pleased to have reached an agreement with the Faculty Association that maintains the positive, supportive working environment for faculty members and librarians and will meet our obligations to students, the university and society,” says UVic President Jamie Cassels. “This collective agreement builds on the existing good work of previous agreements and reaffirms our commitment to a productive and beneficial relationship.”

The five-year agreement is largely based on the previous framework agreement that defined the relationship between the university and the Faculty Association since 2001, prior to the association’s certification as a union in January 2014. The association represents approximately 900 faculty members and librarians.

The agreement, which takes effect immediately and covers July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2019, was negotiated within the BC government’s Economic Stability Mandate providing for a government-funded 5.5 per cent increase over the length of the contract. In addition, net zero trade-offs and efficiencies enabled the inclusion of a differentiated salary adjustment of 1.44 per cent in each of two years and a three-year lift to the career progress increment plus some other minor enhancements. Faculty and librarians also continue to receive annual merit increases.

“This first collective agreement reflects a great deal of collaborative work on the part of both the university administration’s negotiating team and the association's negotiating team,” says Faculty Association President Helga Hallgrimsdottir. “It is my sincere hope that this signals, going forward, the potential for a strong and collaborative relationship between the association and the administration, and that we can work together on issues in which we share a mutual interest.”

The agreement contains a number of streamlined procedures and some new features, such as the addition of the new rank of Associate Teaching Professor for faculty members in the teaching stream.

Unnecessary administrative process has been reduced where possible including recommendations for reappointment, promotion and tenure. Where the dean and department committee (whose members are elected from faculty in the department) agree on a positive recommendation for a file, it will go directly to the president for his decision.

This process will eliminate the additional review by a faculty advisory committee and those committees will be discontinued. Where there is disagreement between the dean and department or both recommendations are negative, an extra level of review will be done by a university-wide committee.

In other administrative streamlining, faculty members and librarians will now submit material for evaluation every second year, rather than annually. Some faculties will conduct evaluations in even-numbered years, and some in odd-numbered years.

A committee of members from both negotiating teams is working with the assistance of an editor to assemble the 70 provisions signed off in negotiations that will form the collective agreement, with the goal of having a well-organized document that is easy to navigate and read, including hyperlinks from the index to specific sections.

More detailed information will be available for university administrators and administrative officers over the next three months to apply the new agreement in their areas.

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Keywords: administrative

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