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June 15, 2011
  • BUFA Negotiations Bulletin #2. Joe Dolecki, Chief Negotiator, BUFA Bargaining Committee

    Since our Special General Meeting, there has been only one session of bargaining, held on June 8, due primarily to scheduling difficulties encountered by the Employer’s Chief Negotiator, Winnipeg Lawyer Grant Mitchell. Below is a synopsis of this session.

    Session #2 – June 8, 2011

    At the beginning of this bargaining session, all of the Articles of the Collective Agreement (CA), except the Preamble, were outstanding.

    The session lasted from 10:30 am until 2:00 pm and was entirely taken up with BUFA’s response to the Employer’s proposals on: the Standard Bargaining Protocol (SBP); “Housekeeping issues” (40 pages); and “Substantive Issues” (44 pages).

    Standard Bargaining Protocol

    At our first bargaining session, the Employer advised that it would not sign off on the SBP unless item #6 was deleted. (Indeed, the Employer signed the SBP document with Item 6 struck out). SBP Item 6 states that, once one side opens an article, the entire Article is opened for proposed changes by either side. A major purpose of this provision is to provide an incentive for each side to limit the number of Articles opened during negotiations.

    BUFA advise the Employer that we would not sign the SBP without Item 6 included, but that BUFA was prepared to negotiate without the SBP altogether, as we did in 2002 when the Employer flatly refused to sign the document.  BUFA further advised that we would be tabling at least three additional language change proposals in Articles the Employer (but not BUFA) had opened.

    The Employer expressed the view that such action might be interpreted as ‘bargaining in bad faith’, a view that BUFA flatly rejected.

    “Housekeeping Issues”

    As in the past, the Employer divided its proposals into “Housekeeping” and “Substantive” bargaining issues.  Housekeeping matters ostensibly involve corrections to spelling/grammar/typographical/omission errors identified in (and stylistic amendments to) the existing CA that do not affect the meaning of existing language. 

    Occasionally in the past, however, the Employer has advanced ‘housekeeping’ changes that do affect the meaning of existing language. In the Employer’s present package, BUFA identified about 20 such changes, and insisted that they by moved to the “Substantial Issues” list.

    For example, the Employer proposed, as a ‘housekeeping’ matter, changes to Articles 14 and 15 (the Retrenchment Articles) which would replace the existing words “on probation” with the words “on probationary appointments” in 14.6 and 15.4. The effect of these ‘housekeeping’ changes would be to exclude those members who are in the probationary period of a continuing contract (IA’s and AA’s) from coverage under these Articles.

    To take another (actually, amusing) example, the Employer proposed, as a ‘housekeeping’ matter, a change in the specification of the date of the CA referenced in the grandfathering Memoranda (reproduced at the beginning of the existing CA) from 1 April 1995 – 31 March 1998 to April 1, 1995 – March 31, 1998. BUFA pointed out that the proper identification of documents was essential in legal and arbitration proceedings, and that the CA referenced in the Memoranda was in fact styled as 1 April 1995 – 31 March 1998 on the signature page. Thus, the effect of this ‘housekeeping’ change would be to identify a document which does not technically exist and whose terms, accordingly, would not be technically enforceable by an arbitrator. BUFA also noted that, as a lawyer, Mr. Mitchell should appreciate the point.

    The Article-by-Article discussion of the Employer’s ‘housekeeping’ changes took up more than an hour.  BUFA agreed to corrections involving identified spelling, grammar, and typographical errors, and to one stylistic change proposed by the Employer: the interchangeable use of “her/his” and “his/her”, “him/hers” and “her/his”, and the use of “s/he” throughout the CA, as requested (one surmises) by the current BU President.  BUFA did not agree to the Employer’s ‘housekeeping’ proposals to replace the word “Article” with the word “Clause”, nor with the proposal to add the adjustive “teaching” before the word “workload,” through out the CA.  The Employer subsequently withdrew these latter two proposals.

    “Substantive Issues”

    After a short break, the session resumed, being taken up with BUFA’s response to the ‘substantive’ changes to our CA sought by the Employer in this round of negotiations.  As discussed at the Special Membership Meeting, these changes are remarkably aggressive, and involve a fundamental restructuring of central provisions of our CA.

    BUFA prefaced its discussion by noting that we were initially of the view, given the Provincial Budget tabled in April, that these negotiations could be concluded expeditiously. However, upon reviewing the Employer’s proposals, BUFA’s view has changed – it has become less optimistic.

    BUFA went on to advise that the Employer’s proposals display a distinct lack of appreciation for the strength and success of the existing CA, whose provisions define and enshrine the fundamental attributes of our University. BUFA reminded the Employer that BUFA members were not Canadian Tire Employees (Thanks for the analogy, Tom), but rather academic ‘journeypersons’ who value inter alia their academic freedom, their workplace autonomy, collegiality, and the freedom from the micromanagement of their personal and professional lives by the Employer. As such, the proposals by the Employer signal the emergence of a fundamental conflict between the Parties.

    Following this introduction, BUFA proceeded to discuss and respond to the Employer’s proposals, Article by Article and, in most cases, clause by clause.

    Among other things, BUFA flatly rejected: the conversion of CIS coaches, the AD, and the Athletic Therapist positions from tenurable/continuing appointments to renewable term appointments, as well as the modification of the job descriptions for these positions; the elimination of the Faculty’s Right of First Refusal for Internal Sessional Contracts; all the changes to QXR and appointments; the changes to workload assignment (particularly as linked to Dean’s evaluations]; the reporting requirement for absences from the office and domicile; the proposal to reduce the credit hour weighting for practicum courses from 0.5 to 0.25 credit hours; the proposals relating to member evaluations; all of the proposed changes to the tenure,  promotion, and leave articles; the proposed changes to the right of privacy article; the market supplement proposal for nursing; the proposed elimination of the Sexual Harassment and Technologically Mediated Courses Articles; the Employer’s Salary offer; and the Employer’s proposal to divert Pension Plan surpluses to the Operating Budget.

    In short, BUFA rejected every major initiative proposed by the Employer.

    However, BUFA did identify some areas of potential agreement, which are under consideration.  These included: the IA IV position (but under BUFA’s language); Appendix B (Library job descriptions); changes to the CRC selection process (involving the role of the VP A/R); the process of Chair selection (where no department member is willing or available to serve); a (minor) change to the Seniority Article; and Appendix H (Expense and Travel Allowances).

    After a short break, the Employer advised that although they had prepared a response to BUFA’s June 8 proposals, this response would be presented at the next session, given that the time allocated for this session had nearly expired.

    The session ended at 2:00pm, with no Articles being initialed.  The next bargaining sessions are scheduled for June 23 and June 24.

    Joe Dolecki,

    Chief Negotiator,

    BUFA Bargaining Committee



May 18, 2011
  • Negotiations Set To Commence At Brandon University.

    Contract negotiations between the Brandon University Faculty Association (BUFA) and Brandon University's Board of Governors (BOG) are set to commence tomorrow morning, following a postponement due to the state of emergency declared by the City of Brandon.

    According to BUFA President and Chief Negotiator Joe Dolecki, "BUFA's objective in this round of negotiations is to achieve a fair and equitable settlement at the negotiating table, without utilizing Job Action."

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

    "We are confident that this objective will be achieved, particularly given the unexpectedly generous Operating Grant allocated to BU by the provincial government," Dolecki said.

    Meanwhile, Brandon University's BOG has named Winnipeg Lawyer Grant Mitchell as its Chief Negotiator.

    In commenting on this development, Dolecki observed, "This is the first time in BU's history that the Board has contracted out its negotiating responsibilities to a third party."

    "Undoubtedly, this round of bargaining will be unique," he said.

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

    For further information, contact:

    Joe Dolecki
    BUFA President and Chief Negotiator



May 06, 2011
  • Negotiations Bulletin #1.

    On Wednesday, May 4, BUFA received a communication from the Employer confirming that the first bargaining session in this round of negotiations was set for Tuesday May 10, at 9.00 am.

    This communication also identified the members of the Employer's bargaining team, which consists of Scott Grills, Barb Smith, Scott Lamont, and Winnipeg lawyer Grant Mitchell (Chief negotiator and spokesperson).

    The utilization of Mr. Mitchell represents another departure from the Employer's past practice in, and approach to, the negotiating process. As noted at the AGM, the Board has, for the first time established a negotiations subcommittee to oversee the Employer's participation in negotiations and, at its last meeting flew in a team of consultants to address the Board on collective bargaining matters.

    BUFA would note parenthetically that Mr. Mitchell's participation in our bargaining process carries with it certain implications. On the one hand, our information is that his fees are on the order of $400/hour plus expenses (travel, hotel, meals etc.), which will be covered out of the University's operating budget. On the other hand, the contracting out of negotiating responsibilities, says something remarkable about the Employer's confidence in its own abilities at the bargaining table.

    All things considered, this round of bargaining promises to be unique. In accordance with past practice, BUFA will issue regular updates on negotiations as the process unfolds.

    (Update: On Monday, May 9, the Parties agreed to postpone the first bargaining session in light of the declaration of the state of emergency in Brandon due to the flooding situation. The session has been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 17, 2011).

    Joe Dolecki
    BUFA President and Chief Negotiator



January 07, 2011
  • Memorandum to Board of Pension Trustees. Maureen Barrett, BUFA Administrative Assistant

    Following a call for nominations circulated to the BUFA membership, Mr. Alan Levy, Department of Business Administration, will replace Dr. Bryan Hill as one of BUFA’s representatives on the Brandon University Board of Pension Trustees.

    Mr. Levy’s appointment is for three years retroactive to January 1, 2011 (and thus ending on December 31, 2013).

    Thank you for your attention to this matter.

    Maureen Barrett,
    BUFA Administrative Assistant




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