We have now finished negotiating the new CUPE 3911 contract with AU. We completed bargaining on all the non-compensable (non-money) items in March, including two items which took quite awhile to work out. While collective bargaining always involves give and take and—as the Rolling Stones once said “you can’t always get what you want”—we are confident we avoided making serious concessions to the employer while at the same time improving the situation for our members.
Once the non-compensable items were settled and signed off by both sides, what remained were the compensable (money) related items, including earnings, vacations and leave, expenses, professional development, and benefits. We met with the representatives of the AU administration on March 22 with the goal of totally wrapping up the bargaining on the compensable items. This part of bargaining went surprisingly quickly. We then met again on April 16 to complete the signing of the necessary documents and had a further meeting on April 27th to finish the sign-off.
One of the most exciting developments from this round of bargaining was that CUPE 3911 finally has an opportunity to legally make its 52 out of province tutors (OOPs) members of the larger bargaining unit. This is a struggle that has been going on since 2006. The main problem has been provincial labour legislation, specifically PSERA (Public Service Employee Relations Act) which blocked us from having out of province workers in our bargaining unit. A new approach has circumvented this problem. Numerous OOPs have commented very positively on this development.
It should be noted that AUFA is attempting to prevent us from organizing the OOPs by lodging a complaint with the provincial LRB (see next article for a copy of the complaint). Even though AUFA admits that the OOPs are part-time tutors and academic experts and not full-time faculty, they want to make them part of AUFA. We tried to keep this disagreement internal but AUFA attacked us publicly under the hoax of “academic freedom” using the blog of a so-called labour expert who is an AUFA member. Well, if AUFA wants to have a public brawl about organizing our own members then fine, we can brawl with the best of them.
Note also that this attempt to block our attempt to organize the OOPs did not come as a surprise to us. AUFA also recently attempted to raid us in order to take over our entire bargaining unit but we fended them off. (Raiding is forbidden by the bylaws of the Alberta Federation of Labour, of which CUPE 3911 and AUFA are both members.) This previous raid and the current OOPs issue have led us to conclude that AUFA’s attempt to organize the OOPs is likely a prelude to another takeover attempt of CUPE 3911. Now that we know that raiding us is permanently on the AUFA agenda, we will be very vigilant about it in the future.
The proposed new contract will soon be voted on by all the members of CUPE 3911. Ballots have been mailed out and the necessary information about the new contract has been mailed to all CUPE members. Don’t forget to vote. Included in everyone’s package is a notification of the new contract proposal that highlights changes/gains from the previous contract. Members should note that the salary increase part of the new contract is retroactive to the date on which the old contract ended, which is June, 2016. That was not a given but we bargained for it successfully.