April 18, 2016
To: Heads Up – Vancouver and Okanagan campuses
From: Lisa Castle, VP, Human Resources
Cc: Human Resources
Re: Bargaining Bulletin #31 – Collective Bargaining Update
The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you with an update on developments in collective bargaining at UBC.
On April 4, 2016, we posted the joint message from the University and the Faculty Association about the interest arbitration award issued by the panel chaired by Mr. Colin Taylor Q.C. Subsequent to this, the Faculty Association posted an update to its bargaining blog on April 6. We understand the importance of such communications, and the University has endeavoured to not engage in arguments with the Faculty Association in bargaining bulletins. In this round of bargaining in Bargaining Bulletin #18, we confirmed that “we will not engage in debate with the Faculty Association about proposals away from the bargaining table,” but also felt compelled to also say “the University does not agree with all of the Faculty Association’s comments about the proposals, nor assertions about the University’s motivations or intentions towards faculty members.” We need to respond to three matters raised in the Faculty Association’s April 6 blog.
First, the Faculty Association says that the University’s proposal was that the “retention fund be included as part of the GWI, effectively suggesting that faculty members should pay for retention by receiving less than the GWI.” It would be helpful if the University’s proposal could be presented accurately. The Faculty Association knows well that even though the arbitration panel is not bound by the PSEC mandate by the language of the agreement, the Provincial Government requires as part of its relationship with the University (and all other provincially regulated public sector employers) that the University comply with the mandate. The mandate for the two years of the agreement – July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2016 – was that all compensation increases (improvements in salaries, benefits, leaves and any other matter with a cost) could not exceed 0% and 1% respectively for the two years of the agreement. The retention fund is important to the University’s ability to address retention issues with faculty, and the mandate required that it be deducted from the 1% in the second year.
Second, on the matter of benefit improvements, it is not true that the University “fought hard at arbitration not to improve any of these benefits.” The University offered benefit improvements on a number of occasions in the bargaining process and at arbitration, including continuing the tuition fee benefit for surviving eligible dependents of faculty who pass away while the dependent is enrolled at UBC. As the PSEC mandate requires all compensation increases, including benefits improvements, to be costed against the mandate, any improvements to benefits had to reduce the GWI offered. The University offered three different ways to accomplish benefit improvements and each offer from the University included the tuition fee benefit for surviving eligible dependents.
Finally, as we prepare for the next round of bargaining, the Faculty Association acknowledges that the University has consistently taken “the position that it will not deviate from a government bargaining mandate,” and expresses the hope that the University “will take a more sensible view about the PSEC mandate in the upcoming round of bargaining.” The PSEC mandate is a Provincial Government requirement for public sector employers, and 98% of employees in the public sector, including faculty members at other universities, have settled for the mandate through 2019, including seven of UBC’s staff unions and association. The University cannot, as a public sector employer, ignore the PSEC mandate. But, as always, the University will enter into the next round of bargaining with the goal of reaching agreement with the Faculty Association without proceeding to interest arbitration.
An overview of collective bargaining (including information on the bargaining units) is available at http://www.hr.ubc.ca/collective-bargaining/. Thank you for your interest.