FUNSCAD’s Territorial Acknowledgement
We [I] would like to begin by acknowledging that we are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” which Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) peoples first signed with the British Crown in 1725. The treaties did not deal with surrender of lands and resources but in fact recognized Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) title and established the rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship between nations.
Preparations for bargaining – large issues
- There have been a number of strikes recently. I haven’t done an analysis but it seems like, In the last couple years, there have been more strikes than before, an indication that things are difficult all over. At the moment there is a very significant strike by Ontario College faculty. One of their main concerns is the large percentage of courses being taught by Contract Academic staff. There has been increasing recognition of CAS issues by CAUT and by faculty unions, even when they don’t represent CAS faculty in their own bargaining units.
- Recent changes at NSCAD have created workload issues for our full time and pro-rated faculty. With the loss of administrative support, faculty’s workloads have increased. The workloads of Chairs and Directors have increased even more. At the moment, Chairs receive one course release which covers approximately 9 hours of work per week. No one in the position of a Chair or Director feels that they can get the work they are asked to do completed in that amount of time.
The Chief Negotiators have been chosen by the Union Executive. They are Jayne Wark for Unit I and Janice Fralic–Brown for Unit II. The Chief negotiators have already started putting their negotiating teams together. Recommendations from the Chief negotiators will go to the Executive who will present the teams at our next general meeting. Once that is done, meetings will be scheduled with the constituencies that make up the Union membership. We will make sure that these meetings cover everyone in each bargaining unit, examples from Unit I include: RPTs, new hires, tenured faculty, those thinking about retirement. We will also organize meetings that span Unit I and Unit II where appropriate for instance: health plan issues and those with children or thinking of having children.
Though NSCAD had a balanced budget last year and is planning to have a balanced budget this year, Bill 100, the Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act, is still a concern as we prepare for bargaining. In Brief, the issue is that, if we are in the process of bargaining and reach an impasse that threatens a strike, the administration might endeavour to invoke processes laid out in the act. Once those processes begin, we are no longer legally allowed to strike. In effect, the law takes away the only real leverage that a union has in negotiations. Bill 100 is the reason that we rolled over the last collective agreements during the last round of bargaining.
The landscape has changed in the last three years. As I mentioned above, NSCAD is no longer running a deficit. Also, Acadia University is bargaining presently and has just taken a strike vote. Acadia has had significant financial problems and consequent governmental support that have come to light recently. CBU also went through a bargaining process recently where the employer declared financial exigency. It later retracted the declaration and bill 100 was not invoked. We will be seeking advice from CAUT about bill 100 and will be speaking to the Unions at Acadia and CBU as we prepare for bargaining this time around.
Gallery Director Grievance
The grievance that we filed as a result of the Employer’s efforts to decertify the Gallery Director is proceeding. We have also filed a complaint with the Labour Board in an effort to bring an end to the grievance in a shorter and less expensive fashion. The Labour Board hearing occurred in September. Our understanding is that, If the Labour Board finds in our favour, then the Gallery Director will remain in the Union. If it finds in favour of the Employer, we can still take our grievance to arbitration because, even if the Labour Board is convinced that new responsibilities mean that the Director should be out of the Union, all the work that the Director used to do is unionized work and can’t be done by a non-unionized employee. We have yet to receive a decision from the Labour Board.
Towards the end of the Winter semester, the Employer sent the Union an invoice for the Union President’s workload adjustments (course releases). In the Collective Agreement the Union President receives two course releases in the Fall and Winter semesters: one paid by the employer while the other is covered by FUNSCAD. The invoice was massive and covered a period going back 5 years. When we checked our records we found that many of the workload adjustments had been paid and that the Union had never been invoiced for the others. The Employer contends that the Union owes them approximately $32,000, The employer has filed a grievance concerning the outstanding invoices. The Union’s position is that, by not invoicing the Union for a number of years, the Employer effectively inhibited our right to try to negotiate away the cost of the workload adjustments and also removed the potential for the Union to decline the course release. Still, in an effort resolve the grievance an offer was made to the Employer, which was rejected. The Employer made a counter offer which was rejected by the Union Executive. The Union is in the process of making another offer to settle the grievance. Arbitration is scheduled for the end of November.
PDA and PDR
There have been some unfortunate cases where the Employer has refused or made it difficult for both Unit I and Unit II employees to receive their PDA/PDR. There have been some relatively recent changes to our Collective Agreements about PDA and PDR that were legally required. The Administration seems to be taking a strict position about their responsibilities related to the disbursement of these funds. If you are planning on submitting expenses that you have not submitted before, go and see the business office for advice. Also, if you are planning on buying equipment, especially as you approach retirement, please note that the University continues to own the equipment that you purchase with your PDA or PDR.