BUFA

BUFA Announcements & Press Releases


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October 12, 2011
  • Message to BUFA Members: Strike and Start of Picketing. Jim Forsythe, Chair Strike Action Committee

    The BUFA executive has informed me that picketing is to commence Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 8:00 am. Please take note of what shift you are scheduled to walk or work first and arrive at the strike headquarters (Park Community Centre, 15th St and Louise) ten minutes prior to your start time. (Your picket shift assignments are posted elsewhere on this website) Sign in, pick up a sign, and follow your shift supervisor to the start of the picketing route. 90 minutes later follow your supervisor back to headquarters, sign out, drop your sign off and go home to rest. If you are scheduled in a support role please check in with Patrick, and seek out Jim Forsythe or Bruno Tomberli.

    Please note that all inquiries regarding picket shifts, time off, schedule changes etc are to go through the Picket Captain, Patrick Jackson at [email protected] Strike Headquarters phone number is 720-0878.

    Picket line passes necessary to cross the picket line and enter the university buildings for any reason are to be channelled through me. However, the Knowles Douglas Building belongs to the students and is available as an emergency washroom and source of warmth and support, they are on our side.

    The first day may provide some challenges for both the Strike Action Committee and for individual members. I ask you to please be patient with all concerned.

    As Picket Captain, Patrick Jackson is your conduit to strike pay; please remember to sign in and out with him or his assistants. His table will be immediately on your right as you enter the main room of the Park Community Centre. Coffee, water, fruit and other goodies will be to your left.

    Winnipeg BUFA members will record shifts separately.

    I am turning on the coffee pot at 0715. See you soon.

    Good luck.

    Jim Forsythe,
    Chair Strike Action Committee



  • Support from RRUFA. Carolin Rekar Munro, President, Royal Roads University Faculty Association

    Dear Members of BUFA Executive,

    We just heard the news that BUFA is on strike and wish to express our support in what appears to be a tough battle ahead. Your colleagues and friends at RRUFA send their best wishes in hopes that you will stay strong and reach a settlement that preserves the integrity and spirit of bargaining.

    Best wishes to you and your members.

    In solidarity,

    Carolin Rekar Munro

    President,

    Royal Roads University Faculty Association



October 11, 2011
  • Message to BUFA Members: Money Matters. BUFA Bargaining Team

    Message to BUFA Members: Money Matters

    October 11, 2011

    In the latest Statistics Canada data published by CAUT, the average salary at Brandon University (at all ranks) is greater than the following institutions : Ambrose University College, The Atlantic School of Theology, Canadian University College, Dominican University College, Redeemer University College, The King‘s University College, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Cape Breton University, Concordia University College of Alberta, Huron University College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Luther College, University of St. Michael‘s College, St. Francis Xavier University, University Saint-Paul, University of Northern British Columbia, Thompson Rivers University, Trinity Western University, Universite de Hearst, Universite de Moncton, Shippagan and Universite Sainte-Anne.

    Note that virtually all of these institutions are University Colleges with religious affiliations. Brandon University, despite its early history as a Baptist college, is a publicly funded institution with no theological affiliation.

    In April, the Provincial Government informed all the Manitoba Universities as well as UCN that they would receive a 5.4%increase each year in their operating grant for the next 3 years ( that is, for the entire duration of the collective agreement currently under negotiation). In addition, the Universities will receive tuition increases that are tied to a yearly inflationary calculation: 1% - 2011-12; 1.5% 2012-13 (the amount for 2012-13 is currently unavailable). When the University of Manitoba Faculty Association signed their Collective Agreement in September 2010 they did not know about the Provincial grant or the tuition increases; nor did the University of Winnipeg when they settled (after a strike vote) in March 2011. Both Agreements extend from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2013.

    Another important issue for members to consider (when pondering the financial aspects of an agreement) is how the new CA will be affected by the inflation pattern in the province. It is important to note that, in 2009 (the year preceding the settlements at the U of M and the U of W), the Consumer Price Index for Manitoba was 0.9%. However, things have changed significantly since then, and the current CPI for Manitoba is 3.0%. Thus, the CPI for 2009-2010 was similar to the market crash of 2008: it was a one year period of slow growth. If we want to avoid the erosion of our take-home pay, BUFA maintains that we must insert a COLA proviso in the last years 2 and 3 of the agreement.

    In our review of members‘ salaries, we have identified some anomalies which can only be attributed to inequities in appointments. All appointments at Brandon University are subject to the final approval of the President and Board of Governors. BUFA maintains that the appointment procedures should be equitable and fair across all faculties. In some instances, however, salary differences have arisen because of the failure of our salary grid to attract doctorate-prepared candidates to come to Brandon. In some cases in which no doctorate-prepared candidate is available, the hiring of master‘s-prepared candidates at the Assistant Professor rank has been accepted without question by the President and the Board of Governors. While in other cases, master‘s-prepared candidates have been hired even when a qualified doctorate-prepared candidate is available.

    There are other departments and faculties in which market factors have contributed to high turnover (2012-13 Estimates to COPSE). We have advised the Dean(s) and other administrators that if they are unable to find suitably qualified Canadian candidates, they may seek qualified candidates off-shore. The economic climate in the United States and the EU suggests that this is a more viable solution to the problem than introducing the disruptive effects of market supplements for new hires. This was the approach used by many Canadian Universities during the expansion period in the 1960s and 1970s. It was also used in the early 1990s when there was a massive student enrolment surge in Computer Science. In addition, the agreement on IA 4s will allow for higher salaries in the IA category and increased teaching power in the faculties. It is also evident from comparisons of salary scales at the four ranks that we are particularly unattractive at the Lecturer and Assistant Professor ranks. This can be addressed by examining the floors and increments in those ranks. The floors and ceilings at the end of the 2010-11 agreement in the Associate and Full Professor are more comparable with a number of other institutions. However, it is useful to note that one long term goal of the University of Winnipeg, Brandon University and l‘Université de Saint-Boniface has been to achieve parity in salary grids with the University of Manitoba. In their latest round of bargaining, Winnipeg and St. Boniface achieved this goal.

    At the bargaining table, the employer is determined to raise the research potential and output of the faculty. One of the most logical ways to encourage this is to provide more time for both professors and PAs to do this work. There are also a number of other financial initiatives that could be adopted to achieve this end. For example, at Athabasca University, every new professorial appointment can apply for research funding as part of the contract up to $15,000 per year for up to 3 years. Several other universities guarantee, over and above the PDA, $2,000 to support the presentation of scholarly and creative work at conferences, gallery shows, etc. Instead of providing direct research support to the scholars who need it to meet the employer‘s new expectations, Brandon University wants to hire an Associate Vice-President (Research & Graduate Studies) at significant cost.

    On pensions, BUFA has withdrawn two items after reviewing the costs that such improvements would entail. These improvements are of particular significance to our ever-increasing cohort of young faculty who now tend to be hired at an age that will never allow them to achieve the full pension under our current plan. Indeed, we have lost some very valuable young faculty to government jobs because of this situation. We have, therefore, requested a joint committee of administration and faculty to examine this matter and attempt to develop a plan to try to achieve real improvements over time. Many other universities have addressed the federal maximum pension guideline on a continual basis. Brandon University did not agree to do so until the last round of negotiations, and even then, we achieved only some improvement of the situation. As members‘ salaries move ever upward, sooner or later more faculty will reach the new limit. Increasing our contributions will help somewhat in the valuation of the plan; the Canadian federal limit for contributions is 18% which the University of Manitoba Agreement will reach at the end of 2013, with the employer contributing 9% and the employee 9%.

    Our position on Benefits remains the same and we have had no feedback from the employer on this issue.

    Derek Brown, Joe Dolecki, Elizabeth Macdonald-Murray, Bill Paton, David Winter

    BUFA Bargaining Team,

    October 11, 2011



October 10, 2011
  • BUFA SETS STRIKE DEADLINE.

    The Executive Committee of the Brandon University Faculty Association announced today that it will exercise its strike mandate at 7:31 am on Wednesday, October 12, should negotiations fail to achieve a tentative agreement by that time.

    The Employer was advised of this deadline by BUFA’s Negotiating Team on Saturday, at the end of the fifth bargaining session in as many days.

    In commenting on this development, BUFA President and Chief Negotiator Joe Dolecki said, “It has always been, and continues to be, our objective to conclude these negotiations at the bargaining table, without taking job action.”

    “While we are still far apart on a number of monetary and language issues, BUFA firmly believes that this objective can be achieved,” he said.

    Talks are scheduled to resume at 1:00 pm on Tuesday afternoon.

    “We have advised the Employer that BUFA is prepared to negotiate for as long as it takes on Tuesday in order to reach a fair and equitable settlement, but time is running out,” Dolecki stated, noting that three additional sessions were added to last week’s bargaining schedule at BUFA’s request.

    The current Collective Agreement, which was signed following a 17-day strike in 2008, expired on March 31.

    BUFA represents approximately 240 full-time equivalent employees at Brandon University – including Professors, Sessional Instructors, Librarians, Instructional Associates, Professional Associates, and Administrative Associates.

    For further information contact:
    Joe Dolecki, BUFA President and Chief Negotiator: 727-9749
    Bill Paton, BUFA Secretary: 727-9783



October 09, 2011
  • October 7&8 Negotiations Update. BUFA Bargaining Team

    Employer seeks option to hire unqualified faculty

    In May, BUFA’s Bargaining Team advised BUFA members that the Employer’s initial bargaining proposals were complicated, containing scores of pages of changes that amounted to a fundamental restructuring of the document itself - a systematic overhaul of our existing Collective Agreement.

    One area of particular concern to the Employer involves the provisions contained in QXR, Tenure, and Promotion Articles. As we reported in Bulleting #7, the Employer argues that the requirements specified for Professional Preparation, Teaching, Scholarship/Research, and Service in our CA do not meet “national standards of peer institutions.” Consequently, in the view of the Employer, the present compliment of BU faculty is “inferior” to that of our “peer institutions.’

    As your bargaining team worked through the Employer’s proposals, we encountered some surprises at the table: there were instances in which the Employer wasn’t sure why this or that proposal was put forth, instances in which a proposal was a vague idea that had yet to be worked out, and so on. BUFA negotiators have, over the last months, worked diligently and in good faith with the Employer to clarify and overcome these challenges.

    At Thursday’s Session (Oct. 6), the Employer tabled a 50-page revised version of their package. At Friday’s Session (Oct. 7), BUFA began to inquire about new difficulties evident in the Employer’s package, particularly in relation to QXR, Tenure, and Promotion.

    BUFA pointed out, for example, that the Employer’s proposals would guarantee, by definition, that a majority of applicants for an initial contract at, or for promotion to, Associate Professor would fail to meet the new criteria (because applicants must perform far above any operationally identifiable average). Their proposal for applicants for an initial contract at, or promotion to, Assistant Professor, was barely comprehensible, if at all (The requirement for scholarship/research stated “Evidence of high quality and original contributions to the Member’s discipline or profession leading to a reasonable expectation of his/her ability to demonstrate some combination of maturity of scholarship and professional achievement is required”).

    The Employer recognized both objections (and others), and conceded that much of their proposal was been cobbled together from other CAs, with minor adjustments being made in response to BUFA’s queries.

    At Friday’s Session (Oct 8), after BUFA had more opportunity to digest various aspects of the Employer’s revised 50 page proposal, matters were worse.

    Two cases merit attention. First, according to the Employer’s proposal no scholarship/research activity that is outside one’s own discipline can be considered in applications for appointment, tenure or promotion. This, for example, would exclude work a physicist has published in a chemistry journal, or a historian in a sociology journal. Not only does this undermine (and diminish) the efforts by members pursuing interdisciplinary scholarship/research activity, but more fundamentally it is antithetical to the basic principle of Academic Freedom itself.

    However, perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the package relates to their new proposal on letters of appointments. Under this proposal, the Employer would be permitted to write a letter of appointment simultaneously stating in writing that a candidate is being offered a position at a specific rank and that s/he does not meet the qualifications for that rank.

    Remember that the Employer has stated that it aims to “raise the standards’ of the CA, yet it is now apparent that the Employer seeks to do so, while being permitted to quietly hire candidates who do not meet said standards. BUFA asked the Employer to imagine the impact this would have on students, colleagues, and the reputation of Brandon University amongst “peer institutions.’

    The Employer undertook, after a long pause, to “take these points under advisement’.

    The difficulty we face is now plain. The Employer’s systematic overhaul of the CA, constructed through the aid of a consulting company, was not designed with care. It is premised on a false assumption. The band-aid solutions they have been giving BUFA in response to our queries have in many cases only partially worked, and in some cases created egregious difficulties. In response the Employer has consistently asked BUFA “How would you fix it?’, a plea that was again made several times in the past two days. BUFA has regularly pointed to elements of the existing CA for provisions avoiding these troubles.

    BUFA has informed the Employer of the following. After many months of wrangling over these issues, it cannot at this point be BUFA’s job to fix the ongoing difficulties created by the Employer’s vast set of interconnected proposals. The Employer, especially where it wishes to systematically overhaul the CA, has the obligation to provide a proposal containing comprehensible, reasonable provisions that can be meaningfully debated. It has not done this. BUFA is prepared to consider the next set of fixes the Employer provides, but it now has ample reason to doubt that those fixes will eliminate existing problems with their proposal, or that they will avoid creating new ones. The Employer’s attempt to systematically overhaul the CA is systemically failing. In response the Employer stated: “You’ve raised some good points and we’ll take them under consideration’.

    A primary purpose of the CA is to outline the nature of our jobs and workplace, and to guide both applicants and committee members through processes such as hiring, tenure, promotion, and so on. If our CA were to contain the kinds of difficulties above described it would be unusable as a guide through such processes. Worse, such a CA would invariably lead to misapprehensions and misapplications of its provision, to arbitrary and capricious decisions within BU. In BUFA’s view, this must be avoided - not invited.

    Derek Brown, Joe Dolecki, Elizabeth Macdonald-Murray, Bill Paton, David Winter

    BUFA Bargaining Team,



October 07, 2011
  • NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE. Joe Dolecki, BUFA President and Chief Negotiator

    As reported in yesterday's negotiations update, at the October 6 bargaining session BUFA verbally proposed a package of revisions intended to resolve outstanding issues on most of the remaining Articles, including Appendix F, Salaries and Benefits. At yesterday's session, which lasted until 9:00pm, BUFA tabled these proposals in written form.

    BUFA's proposals contained several substantial changes, notably in Appendix F, which included a reduction in the salary proposal from 5-5-5 or COLA + 1 (whichever is higher) to 3.9-4.25-4.4 or Cola + 1 (whichever is higher). As well, BUFA withdrew two of the proposed pension improvements and advanced a proposal to refer these items to a joint Employer/BUFA committee. Finally, BUFA proposed an increase in Employer and BUFA member contributions to the pension plan to 8%, commencing in year two of the contract.

    The Employer then tabled a 50 page document containing a revised version of its proposal package, which BUFA is reviewing. Missing at the time of tabling was the page containing their salary offer. After BUFA requested and the Employer supplied it, the full package was discussed. The Employer was very clear that the contents of this document had taken into consideration everything contained in BUFA's October 6 verbal proposal.

    Despite BUFA's significant initiative on the salary issue, the Employer's salary offer remains unchanged at 0-0-2. Indeed, the only change in their financial position involved the pension plan contribution proposal. Here, the Employer proposes that BUFA and the Employer both increase contributions to 8.5% (up from 7.5%).

    BUFA's bargaining team views the Employer's lack of movement on monetary issues as regrettable.

    In addition, at the BUFA Executive Committee held yesterday, a decision was taken to increase the amount of strike pay, should the job action mandate be exercised. Sessional instructors (3 credit hours or more) will receive $32/day on a 7 day basis, and full time members will receive $130/day on a seven day basis, prorated for less than full-time members.

    Joe Dolecki
    BUFA President and Chief Negotiator



October 06, 2011
  • NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE. Joe Dolecki, BUFA President and Chief Negotiator

    At the bargaining session held yesterday, BUFA advised the Employer of the outcome of the strike vote, emphasizing the need to redouble efforts to conclude a fair and equitable settlement at this critical juncture in the negotiations process.

    BUFA then suggested that additional bargaining sessions be scheduled on October 6, 7, and 8, to which the Employer agreed.

    The Employer was unable to provide, as promised, a revised written proposal on workload, QXR, evaluations, tenure and promotion. Nevertheless, in an effort move discussions forward, BUFA verbally proposed a package of revisions intended to resolve several outstanding issues on most of the remaining open articles, including Appendix F, Salaries and Benefits.

    BUFA anticipates receiving a response to this initiative, as well as the tabling of the Employer's written proposal referenced above, at today's session.

    In the Meantime, the BUFA Executive Committee will meet this afternoon to consider matters arising out of the strike vote.

    Joe Dolecki
    BUFA President and Chief Negotiator



October 05, 2011
  • BUFA Strike Vote: Strong, Positive.

    Members of the bargaining unit represented by the Brandon University Faculty Association (BUFA) have strongly endorsed strike action against the Employer, the Brandon University Board of Governors.

    Results of the strike vote, which was taken over the last 10 days, were released by BUFA early this afternoon.

    Of the votes cast, 71% were in favor of taking strike action, with approximately 90% of BUFA’s membership returning ballots.

    In commenting on this development, BUFA President and Chief Negotiator Joe Dolecki said, “We are grateful for this expression of support for our efforts from our members.”

    “The clear message of this strong, positive mandate is that BUFA members are determined to achieve a fair and equitable settlement in this round of negotiations,” he stated.

    Talks between BUFA and the Employer are scheduled to resume late this afternoon.

    “Our objective has always been to obtain an agreement at the bargaining table, without having to rely on job action” Dolecki stated, “We have reached a critical juncture in that process.”

    The current Collective Agreement, which was signed following a 17-day strike in 2008, expired on March 31.

    BUFA represents approximately 240 full-time equivalent employees at Brandon University – including Professors, Sessional Instructors, Librarians, Instructional Associates, Professional Associates, and Administrative Associates.

    For Further Information Contact:
    Joe Dolecki, BUFA President and Chief Negotiator. 727-9749
    Bill Paton, BUFA Secretary 727- 9783



October 04, 2011
  • Message to BUFA Members. Joe Dolecki, BUFA President and Chief Negotiator

    At the President's "negotiation question and answer session" held for BU students on September 30, 2011, Dr Poff evaded questions from students concerning the cost of the employer's chief negotiator, Winnipeg-based lawyer, Mr Grant Mitchell. She called the issue (and the amount expended) "irrelevant".

    BUFA considers the employer's unprecedented use of consultants and off-site lawyers is a matter of community interest, both in terms of its cost and its effect on the bargaining process.

    In order to provide BUFA members (as well as students and the wider community) with the information necessary to make an informed assessment of these negotiations, BUFA's negotiating committee has been keeping a rough running tally of the employer's legal expenses.

    In Mr Mitchell, the administration of Brandon University has hired one of the top-rated labour lawyers in the province. As a full partner in the Winnipeg-based firm Taylor-McCaffrey, Mr Mitchell commands an hourly fee that puts him at the top of his profession. Though the employer has been reluctant to share his precise level of remuneration, we have estimated it to be in the neighbourhood of $300 to 450 dollars per hour.

    Presumably, he receives this sum not only when he is sitting at the negotiating table, but also when he is travelling to and from Winnipeg, when he consults with the employer (in person, on the phone, or via the internet) as well as when he does research or paperwork for the employer. We do not know whether Mr Mitchell has employed junior partners or articling students to assist him, but we do know that, in addition to any lodging expenses, it is also standard practice to accord a per diem allowance for food and other minor outlays.

    We note parenthetically that this stands in contrast to the amount expended by BUFA, whose bargaining team provides their services on a voluntary basis. They must find time between their teaching and research duties to work on behalf of our membership. They may apply their time spent on union activities to university/community service.

    Our back-of-the-envelope calculation of Mr Mitchell's fee is as follows:

    Negotiations: 6 hours per week for 14 weeks = $25,200 to $37,800

    Travel: 10 hours per week for 14 weeks = $42,000 to $63,000 (We do not know whether Mr Mitchell has offered a discount for travel time. Typically, lawyers charge their full hourly rate for time spent in transit)

    Consultancy: 5 hours per week for 14 weeks = $21,000 to $31,500

    Research and miscellaneous costs: 3 hours per week for 14 weeks = $12,600 to $18,900

    The total estimated cost for Mr Mitchell's services = $100,800.00 to $151,200.00.

    Please note that this sum does NOT include the amount that the employer spent on out-of-province consultants earlier this year to establish BU's bargaining priorities. This is work which, in every round of bargaining before this one, has been performed by salaried employees of the university as part of their official duties. By contracting out this work, the employer has probably expended, at the very least, another $10,000 to $20,000.

    Thus, we estimate that the university's total outlay during this round of negotiations stands somewhere between $110,800.00 and $171,200.00.

    To put this amount in context, we ask you to consider the following: If the university were to apply the $110,800 that they have spent on lawyers and consultants to wages across our bargaining unit, it would put $461.66 into the pockets of each of BUFA's 240 members. Assuming an average salary of $77,000 per annum, this would give each member of BUFA an increase in pay of .6% for one year.

    When we use the higher estimate of $171,200.00 the resulting increase is, of course, even higher. Each professor and instructor at Brandon University would receive $713.34. This represents one full percentage increase in wages.

    In such straightened times, we do not believe that the employer has expended this level of compensation on legal counsel without a reasonable expectation of results: in this case, a dramatically altered vision of Brandon University. Moreover, we do not believe that the administration has committed this extraordinary sum to lawyers and consultants, as Dr Poff stated, "to simply change the dynamic at the bargaining table."

    And, contrary to Dr Poff's assertion at the student forum that Mr Mitchell's inclusion in negotiations was simply intended to assist the process and speed it along, we find that negotiations are further behind than they have been in early October during previous rounds of bargaining. We have no doubt that Mr. Mitchell's physical distance from the bargaining table, and his other scheduled commitments, have contributed significantly to this delay, impeding the Parties' ability to expeditiously complete negotiations for a fair and equitable settlement at the bargaining table.

    Joe Dolecki
    BUFA President and Chief Negotiator




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