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Conciliation unsuccessful: Negotiations between university and faculty association reach impasse

Negotiations between the university and Memorial University Faculty Association (MUNFA) reached an impasse on Nov. 5.

 

After seven rounds of conciliation, including 15 days of meetings, the conciliation officer determined that no further progress to reach a collective agreement could be gained through continued negotiations and he has now filed a report with the minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour to advise of the impasse in talks.

 

"Despite good progress on addressing the five priority issues identified by MUNFA, and a hope that we could reach a collective agreement through this process, we are disappointed to report that conciliation was unsuccessful," said Noreen Golfman, provost and vice-president (academic).

 

Conciliation Oct. 1-4

During conciliation held Oct. 1-4 several issues remained outstanding, such as intellectual property, collective agreement duration, gender salary equity, a collegial accountability mechanism for those holding the rank of associate or full professor, paid leave available to faculty and equity for term appointments.

 

On Oct. 3, the university presented a package of proposals that provided right of first refusal in the rehiring of limited-term contractual appointments and sought to have language placed in the collective agreement providing for more accountability of associate and full professors in a formative review process that emphasized improvement of research and teaching.

 

The university proposal emphasized a balanced approach to its and MUNFA's concerns. Unfortunately, MUNFA rejected this package, including the right of first refusal, and clearly indicated there was no opportunity for further dialogue on the review process.

 

On Oct. 4, the university presented a final proposal addressing the remaining outstanding issues in light of parameters identified by MUNFA, balancing the concerns of both parties by withdrawing its proposals on formative review and the right of first refusal. MUNFA rejected this proposal as well. During conciliation on Nov. 5, the university invited MUNFA to make an alternate proposal that would reflect such balancing, indicating that it was open to proposals on formative review, length of contract or potentially other issues that might provide the basis for a mutually acceptable agreement. MUNFA refused and broke off talks.

 

All issues cannot be addressed in one round of collective bargaining; however, by agreeing with a three-year collective agreement expiring in August 2020, the parties will be in a position to continue dialogue on these important issues in a relatively short period of time.

 

The university believes that its final offer would have strengthened its ability to ensure that the best faculty are in the classroom providing education to our students and engaging beyond in the most productive programs of research possible.

 

"Given the potential uncertainty and anxiety that is created among students and faculty by not having concluded a tentative collective agreement, we are very disappointed that the university's proposed collective agreement, inclusive of our proposals tabled on Oct. 4, was not presented to our faculty through a formal ratification process," said Dr. Golfman.

 

A summary of the final offer is below. The university remains committed to the bargaining process and achieving a mutually acceptable collective agreement.

 

Background

MUNFA's contract expired on Aug. 31, 2017. First proposals were exchanged on Dec. 12, 2017, and negotiations continued until MUNFA applied for conciliation on June 14, 2018. Since mid-June, seven sets of meetings were held with the aid of a conciliation officer and significant progress on the vast majority of items.

 

Detailed updates on bargaining are available here.

 

Summary of university final package of proposals:

Three-year collective agreement, expiring Aug. 31, 2020, of which one year has already passed;

No change to the current salary scales;

$1 million over the term of the collective agreement for a joint committee to commence addressing gender equity;

Effective April 2019 one step to be added to the lecturers' salary scale (applicable to term appointments), and effective April 2020 one step to be added to the lecturers' salary scale;

Providing birth mothers with access to supplemented parental leave;

Intellectual policy language as proposed by MUNFA placed in Article 27;

A joint process to consider course equivalences on a university-wide basis;

Recognition, within the existing leave with pay provisions, that faculty can access leave in situation...

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