Unit 2 Bargaining updates

Posted May 12th, 2020

Below is the latest bargaining update from Unit 2. 

To read past bargaining updates, please click here

Hello CUPE 4600 Unit 2 (CI) Members,

This message provides an update on the status of collective agreement negotiations between your Union and Carleton management. Please review the below information and, if you have any questions or concerns, or would like to get involved in the bargaining process, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@cupe46000.ca.

In particular, please review the section below on Article 17 & Job Security and provide your feedback via this short survey.

Contents

  1. General Update

  2. Virtual Bargaining Town Hall - Wed. May 13th, 7pm

  3. Article 17 & Job Security

  4. Incumbency & Job Security

  5. Teaching Evaluations

  6. Are We Going on Strike?

  7. What Would a Strike Look Like During a Pandemic?

  8. Who Decides If We Go On Strike?

  9. How Can I Get Involved?

  10. For More Information

1. General Update

After a pause of more than a month due to the pandemic, bargaining between CUPE 4600 Unit 2 and Carleton management has resumed.

Negotiations are now in the ‘conciliation’ phase of the bargaining process, and are taking place with the presence of a Ministry of Labour appointed conciliation officer. There have been 5 conciliation meetings between your union and Carleton management since April 20th, 2020.

It is important for union members to understand what conciliation means for the bargaining process and the possibility of a strike or lockout. During conciliation, either the union or the employer, if they believe an impasse has been reached, can file a No Board Report. This would mean that, following a 17 day countdown during which talks can continue, the union or employer is free to begin a legal strike or lockout.

There has been significant progress at the table, and agreement reached on a number of key issues. Importantly, management has completely withdrawn their attacks on CI incumbency rights. Additionally, an agreement was reached on student evaluations of teaching that, while not a complete overhaul, does address some of the core concerns that union members have about the evaluation system.

However, the union and management remain in disagreement over proposed changes to Article 17: Appointment of Doctoral Students and Postdoctoral Fellows which your union is concerned will have negative impacts on CI job security.

Following our last conciliation meeting on Friday, May 8th, your Bargaining Team notified management that the membership of Unit 2 would need to be consulted prior to any further discussions regarding Article 17.

To that end, your Bargaining Team will host a CUPE 4600 Unit 2 (CI) Bargaining Town Hall which will be held online on Wednesday, May 13th, from 7:00pm to 8:00pm. Follow this link to attend.

2. CUPE 4600 Unit 2 (CI) Bargaining Town Hall

All CIs are encouraged to attend this online town hall at 7:00pm on Wednesday, May 13th, to discuss the status of collective bargaining.

Specifically, while a tentative settlement is close and discussions continue, the union and management are nearing an impasse on Article 17: Appointment of Doctoral Students and Postdoctoral Fellows. The Bargaining Team needs your input in order to determine if the CIs are open to changes to this article, of if you’d be wiling to take job action to maintain the status quo on Article 17.

Management’s proposal would see the number of CI displacements as a result of PhD appointments change, potentially increasing in some departments while decreasing in others. This could have an impact on CI job security.

 

3. Article 17 & Job Security

Management is proposing changes to Article 17: Appointment of Doctoral Students and Postdoctoral Fellows that would alter how many PhD students can be appointed to courses outside the normal hiring process. Your Bargaining Team needs feedback from members on how best to approach this issue.

It’s important to note the context here: The union and management have reached tentative agreement on almost all other issues. If an agreement is reached on Article 17, a tenative settlement would be put to CIs for discussion and vote within a matter of weeks. If no agreement is reached on Article 17, it seems likely that a strike or lockout would commence sometime this summer.

The Current System

Currently, in each Department in any given academic year, no more than 1.5 full courses (or equivalent) can be assigned to an Article 17 appointee.

Management feels this system does not allow for flexibility or take into account that some Departments are much larger than others, and have a greater need for PhD teaching opportunities.

The Proposed Change

To address their concerns, management is proposing to allow more flexibility at the Faculty (rather than Departmental) level to assign courses to Article 17 appointments. The maximum number of Article 17 appointments in any Faculty would be determined by the number of Departments, with each Department contributing 1.5 full courses towards the Faculty total.

For example, if the Faculty of Arts & Sciences (FASS) has 17 Departments, the total number of Article 17 appointments available within FASS in an academic year would be 25.5.

Each Faculty would have the authority to assign these 25.5 Article 17 courses to whichever Departments they deemed appropriate.

So while there would be no increase overall in the number of CIs displaced by Article 17 appointments, it could mean changes at the Department level. In any given year, some Departments would not see any CIs displaced or any courses go to Article 17 appointments, as that Department’s alotment was moved to another Department. It could also mean that some Departments would see an increase in CI displacements in a Department if the Faculty moved unused Article 17 appointments from one Department to another.

In practice, this would likely mean that some larger Departments would see an increase in CI displacements due to Article 17 appointments, with the actual number fluctuating year to year.

Bargaining Team Response

Your Bargaining Team’s initial response was concern over how this would affect CI job security. Allowing for fluctuating displacements would obviously increase the uncertainy CIs might feel about their job prospects in the future. To that end, your union notified management that they were rejecting any changes to Article 17 that would increase CI precarity.

At the direction of the Conciliator, your Bargaining Team and Carleton management then engaged in informal non-binding discussions about Article 17, to see if a compromise was possible.

Management indicated they would be open to a proposal from the union that saw management’s system implemented but with a larger cap at the Department level. So for example, Department A could have up to 4 courses assigned via Article 17, but anything above 1.5 courses would have to come from another Department’s allotment.

Additionally, management expressed tentative openness to proposal language that would prevent CIs from suffering successive discplacements. That is, a CI could not be displaced more than once from a specific course within a three year period. This would actually be a nominal but not insignificant increase to CI job security, as there are currently no restrictions on CIs being repeatedly displaced from courses.

Next Steps

Your Bargaining Team needs feedback from members on this issue. Please complete this short survey no later than 5pm on Wednesday, May 13th.

For the union, this is obviously a key issue, as it affects CI job security. Equally, management has indicated this is an important issue for them, in order to account for the different sizes of Departments.

As mentioned above, reaching an agreement on Article 17 would mean a tentative settlement would be put to members for discussion and a vote within weeks. If an agreement cannot be reached, the possibility of a strike or lockout would increase significantly.

4. Incumbency & Job Security

Your Bargaining Team is happy to report that Carleton management has withdrawn its proposed changes to Article 16: Hiring, Incumbency, Seniority that would have seen CI incumbency and job security significantly undermined.

 

Thank you to all union members that wrote to management or posted comments on social media expressing their concerns about changes to incumbency rules.

 

5. Teaching Evaluations

 

Your Bargaining Team and Carleton management have reached an agreement on Article 18: Teaching Evaluations.

 

While the current questions used for student evaluations of teaching (SET) remain, there have been significant overhauls to how evaluations are conducted and how the results can be used by management.

 

First, a low SET score can no longer be the sole reason that CI is required to undertake an action plan or is displaced from a course. In line with the recent arbitration ruling from Ryerson, SET scores are now just one of several factors that Departments must take into consideration if they wish to evaluate a CIs teaching.

 

This is a significant change to the evaluation system. While the SET system remains in place, the removal of the score as the key element in CI evaluation has long been a goal of Unit 2 members.

 

CIs can now have their evaluations conducted in class with physical copies of the evaluation form, just as full-time faculty members can.

 

We have removed language in the CI collective agreement that required the method used to evaluate CIs be the same as for full-time faculty. This has long been an issue of concern for union members, as CI working conditions, and the impacts of poor evaluations, are very different than those of full-time faculty. Removing this language means your union is now able to move forward in discussions with management on system that makes sense for CIs.

 

Additionally, management will now compile CI specific data on SET scores, providing a more accurate assessment of how an individual’s score compares with workers experiencing similar working conditions. Previously, CI scores were lumped in and compared with the scores of full-time faculty.

 

We will provide further details on this issue in the near future.

 

6. Are we going on strike?

At this point, both sides remain committed to resolving contract talks at the bargaining table.

That said, with conciliation underway, either the union or the employer is now in a position to file a ‘No Board’ and initiate the 17 day countdown to a strike or lock out.

CUPE 4600 needs to prepare for the possibility that a strike or some other form of job action may be necessary if the employer refuses to budge on the remaining issues CIs have identified as important for this round of bargaining. In nearly every previous round of bargaining, the Administration has refused to budge on important issues until a strike is imminent, often just hours before a strike is set to commence.

7. What would a strike look like during a pandemic?

Your union is currently in conversation with CUPE National regarding what job action might look like under the current circumstances. We will update members when we know more.

8. Who decides if we go on strike?

The members of CUPE 4600 decide if a strike will occur or not. Members of Unit 2 have already voted overwhelmingly to go on strike if necessary. However, if your Bargaining Team feels it has reached an impasse at the negotiating table, it will then ask the general membership to authorize the start of strike action on a specific date.

You can find more information about bargaining and strikes via our Quick Guide to the Bargaining Process, Strike Votes, and Going on Strike.

9. How can I get involved?

Negotiations will only be successful if union members become directly involved in supporting the bargaining process. And there are lots of ways to do so! Contact us at info@cupe4600.ca for some ideas and suggestions.

Another important way you can support and stay up to date on the bargaining process is to join the Team at the table. By agreement with the employer, a number of CUPE 4600 members are able to sit in on bargaining sessions on any given bargaining date. If you are interested in joining a session, contact Dan Sawyer at info@cupe4600.ca.

10. For more information

If you have any questions or want to get involved, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

If you are interested in attending a bargaining session as an observer, contact us at info@cupe4600.ca.