BUFA

BUFA Announcements & Press Releases


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November 08, 2011
November 07, 2011
  • Letter of Support. Dalhousie Faculty Association

    Dear BUFA Members,

    Please be advised that a second donation in the amount of $1000 is in the mail to BUFA. The DFA also faxed a letter to Manitoba's Minster of Labour.

    Regards,

    Dalhousie Faculty Association
    6280 South Street
    Halifax, NS B3H 1T8

    Tel: (902) 494-3722
    Fax: (902) 494-6740
    Email: [email protected]
    Web: www.dfa.ns.ca



November 06, 2011
  • No Provincial Mandate for BU Exists, Selinger Says.

        A report of the NDP Provincial Council meeting held on November 5, 2011 obtained by the Brandon University Faculty Association (BUFA) reveals that a Provincial mandate limiting Brandon University salaries has never existed.

        According to the report, authored by NDP Provincial Council member Errol Black, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger was asked directly whether such a mandate ever existed.  In response, he said “No,” adding, “we've just given the universities 5, 5 and 5% increases in operating grants, so why would we direct them to hold salary increases...?”

        The Premier’s comments directly contradict public statements made by Brandon University during the contract negotiations with BUFA.

        In commenting on this development, BUFA spokesperson Bill Paton said, “We trust that this matter can finally be put to rest, so that we can now complete negotiations on a fair and equitable settlement at the table.”

        “We’ve wasted way too much time on this red herring,” Paton added.

        The strike by BUFA is entering its 26th day.

    For further information contact:
    Bill Paton, BUFA Secretary (727-1000)
    Joe Dolecki, BUFA President and Chief Negotiator (727-9749)


November 04, 2011
  • CAUT Letter to the Minister. Wayne D. Peters, President & James L. Turk, Executive Director

    November 4, 2011

    Hon. Jennifer Howard
    Minister of Labour and Immigration
    Government of Manitoba
    317 Legislative Building
    450 Broadway
    Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8 

    Dear Minister:

    On behalf of the 66,000 members of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, we are writing to urge your government not to intervene in the ongoing labour dispute between Brandon University and its faculty association.

    The university administration and the Brandon University Faculty Association remain in mediation. Sending the dispute to binding arbitration at this time would undermine the ongoing collective bargaining process.

    Your role as Minister is to foster collective bargaining and not get directly involved in any dispute. For collective bargaining to work, the parties themselves must willingly negotiate. We call on you to allow the collective bargaining process to continue and to allow the university and the faculty association to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. 

    Sincerely,


    Wayne D. Peters, President
    James L. Turk, Executive Director



    cc:    Hon. Erin Selby, Minister of Advanced Education and Literacy
            Hon. Stan Struthers, Minister of Finance


  • Letter of Support. Lisa Rae Philpott

    Dr. Poff,

    As an alumna of BU's School of Music (1980), I am extremely distressed to read that the ongoing labour negotiation between the BU Administration and BUFA has reached an impasse.

    As a Librarian at the University of Western Ontario, I have also recently walked the picket line - which I found to be an enlightening experience, particularly with regard to our Administration's "media spin." It appears the "media spin" by BU's Administration is similarly misleading - and engenders neither respect, nor confidence in your leadership - not in this alumna's estimation. You may wish that the provincial government's "cap" on salaries applies to University employees, but wishing does not make it so.

    Please cease the stonewalling, and put the considerable windfall of salary-savings accrued during the strike into a meaningful offer to BUFA. Universities are not just bricks and mortar; faculty and librarians are the life-blood of the students' academic experience - and they, the people, are what students remember, long after graduation.

    Treat your Faculty and Librarians with dignity and respect. Their demands are not unreasonable. If, in future, they should ever chose to "withdraw" all of the EXTRAS they DONATE to the students and to BU (time, make-up sessions, and the basic generosity of spirit that characterized my time at BU), you would better appreciate their value - and perhaps realize that their demands are, in fact, a bargain.

    Yours sincerely,

    Ms Lisa Rae Philpott - B. Mus. (Ed.) 1980



  • Letter of Support. Phoenix R. Eastwood

    Great idea! Let’s force the faculty back to work. While we are at it, let’s force Dr. Poff to come out from hiding behind the administration’s lawyer and say what she wants to say. In my humble opinion, I believe that all of the communiqué released by the administration is actually written by their legal team. If she actually cared about the students, SHE would make a public appearance/statement that demonstrates what SHE thinks and feels about the entire situation. To me, whenever I read about the term not being cancelled, tuition not being refunded, etc., I see the administration looking like Scrooge McDuck and the students looking like money bags.

    Binding arbitration is not a good idea. Why force people into doing something that they are not willing to do voluntarily? Taking away their democratic rights doesn’t prove anything. Yes, the strike may be settled for now but things within the working environment will never be the same. Given that the strike has lasted this long, things may never be same regardless. Prospective students may choose to go elsewhere, by their choice or influenced by others. Current students may transfer out. The university will lose (correct spelling, by the way!) a lot of money. Faculty members may choose to look for employment elsewhere which would limit the variety of courses available at the university. This, too, will cause the loss of a lot of potential income for the university.

    Have any of you, those who have been giving their advice and recommendations via the Internet and newspapers, actually gone down to strike headquarters and talked with the faculty? I have. I have visited with several members of the faculty, some I knew from courses I have taken and some I have just met. They all want to be back in the classrooms. They MISS their students. I know some of you will say that if they really miss their students and want to be back in the classrooms, they will say to heck with the union, cross the picket lines, and continue teaching the students. That may be the consensus among most people but they cannot simply do this. There is a principle involved. When you are getting, pardon my less-than-politically-correct language, screwed over, you tend to fight for what you believe in. This is something I truly believe in – standing up for what you believe in regardless of what others think.

    Many of you believe that the faculty is nothing but greedy people who want more money than they deserve. As I had previously mentioned in another letter, they deserve every cent they earn and more. If you believe they shouldn’t be paid as much as they are or as much as they are asking for, then my recommendation would be for them to teach in a different manner. This would include not doing any extra research, not compiling notes and handouts for students, and only reading text from the required textbooks for the class. Nothing more, nothing less.

    It is not difficult to keep up with the courses while the faculty is on strike. Instead of spending your time freaking out about “when is the strike going to be over”, or “when are we going back to class”, or whatever, spend your time doing your own research. The Internet isn’t just there for Facebook, ebrandon, or whatever social networking site you vent your rage on. There are plenty of websites available, 24/7, for you to use to help you understand what you are learning about. It just takes a little more time and a little more self-determination.

    I realize that I am biased towards the faculty and I do not apologize for this. My mother is a teacher and I know the amount of “out-of-classroom” work she does to prepare. This does not change for professors. There are times when a student will ask a question that the professor does not know the answer to and that professor will take the time out of their personal life to find out the answer. There are times when a student may have personal issues that are affecting their academic performance and they may discuss them with the professor. Usually the professor will do all that they can to assist the student in whatever way they can.

    You are taking out your frustrations on the faculty because they are making themselves seen. They are not hiding out in an office, “unavailable” to answer questions. By going out on the strike line, being subjected to the daily abuse by those who do not fully understand what is at stake, they are demonstrating their integrity, their courage, and their personal and collective convictions. I applaud them for this. They are out there – you are sitting behind your computer monitor. What positive things are you doing to help rectify this situation?

    I admit that I could be out there doing more but I have a family to take care of. I am also spending my “free-time” reading my textbooks, making notes, and researching things I do not understand. I want to be prepared when classes do resume. Yes, there are times when I am reading my textbooks that I think to myself, “am I wasting my time? What if classes are cancelled?” This does not deter me though. Even if classes are cancelled, I will have still learned about something that I wouldn’t have otherwise. There is much to be learned from self-study. You can learn to apply it to everyday life. Things that have happened in your life may help you to better understand what you are reading. I realize that there are some courses whereby you cannot learn your course material without in-class instruction. However, you can still do extra research on your own to supplement what you are learning from your books.

    So, yes, call me a union sympathizer, call me biased, call me whatever you want to call me. I support the faculty in all of their endeavours. I thank them for what they have done and what they are doing. I also hope and pray that once this strike is over, they don’t leave. We are lucky to have such wonderful, caring PEOPLE that teach at Brandon University!

    Thank you for reading!

    Phoenix R. Eastwood

    Brandon, MB

    P.S. After reading a lot of different posts on various sites, I hope the strike is settled soon because the amount of spelling mistakes in those posts indicates to me that many people need to get their education back on track! The correct spelling is LOSE, not LOOSE and LOSING not LOOSING. Have a nice day!



November 03, 2011
  • Mediation Ends.

    Late this afternoon, provincially appointed mediator Michael Werier declared that mediation efforts between BUFA and the Employer had reached an impasse, and as a result have ended.

    Although mediation did not yield a final agreement, several language issues were resolved, including provisions on research entitlements for professional associates, and on web-based courses.

    Mr. Werier hopes to submit his report to the Minister of Labour on Monday, November 7.

    Joe Dolecki, BUFA President and Chief Negotiator (727-9749)
    Bill Paton, BUFA Secretary (727-1000)



  • BUFA Statement on Grant Mitchell’s CBC Interview and Dr. Poff’s Communiqué of November 1. BUFA Negotiating Team

    In an interview on CBC Radio One on the morning of 1 November, 2011, Brandon University’s chief negotiator, Winnipeg lawyer Grant Mitchell, alleged that BUFA has published inaccurate information regarding negotiations and stated that the University would issue its own communication to the community to address their concerns.  BUFA would like to respond to the communiqué issued later that same day by Dr. Poff, as well as other claims Mr. Mitchell made in the CBC Radio interview.


    Dr. Poff claims that BUFA is making “financial demands that stand in the way of a settlement.”

    BUFA’s most recent salary position met the Employer’s commitment to limit the salary increase to 4.4% over the three year contract, though BUFA proposed that arbitration be invoked to determine if a further increase is viable for the third year of the contract.

    Dr. Poff claims that “BUFA has steadfastly refused to recognize the provincial mandate.”

    BUFA has repeatedly requested that the Employer produce written evidence of the alleged mandate, but they have not been able to do so. While the NDP government did issue wage restrictions for the provincial civil service and Crown Corporation workers, this does not apply to universities. University staff are not civil servants. Universities are not Crown Corporations. In fact, BUFA undertook to search independently for evidence of such a mandate for universities. After a lengthy search, during which numerous government departments and individuals were contacted, we received confirmation from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Literacy, and the Council on Post-Secondary Education (COPSE) that no such mandate exists.

    Dr. Poff claims that BUFA refused to meet with Lloyd Schreyer, “the Province’s representative responsible for compensation in universities.”

    Lloyd Schreyer, a former management negotiator at the University of Manitoba, is currently Secretary of the Compensation Committee of Cabinet. He holds no responsibility for compensation in universities contrary to Dr. Poff’s assertion. He is responsible for Crown Corporations and the civil service, but he holds no mandate to impose (or even suggest) wage restrictions for universities. COPSE has repeatedly denied that Lloyd Schreyer has any influence on the council, and any statements he made about university wage settlements would exceed his authority and represent an infringement of the institutional autonomy of universities. According to the Mediator, Michael Werier, Mr. Schreyer had been in discussions with the Employer prior to the offer to hold a conference call with BUFA on 26 October. BUFA refused the offer to discuss the purported mandate with Mr Schreyer, requesting instead that Mr Schreyer submit his comments in writing. We have not received any response to this request, written or otherwise. In any event, as Kathy McIlroy, BUFA’s lawyer advised, BUFA is negotiating with BU, not with the provincial government.

    Concerning the University’s Pension Plan, Dr. Poff claims that the University must “pay $3.12 million into the plan each year for 15 years.”

    According to the requirements of pension legislation, the actuarial position of Brandon University’s pension plan must be evaluated every year when the solvency ratio falls below .9, and any required payments must be adjusted accordingly. It is exceedingly unlikely that the required solvency payments will remain at their current levels. BUFA’s last proposal offered salary arbitration for the third year of the contract in order to accommodate these uncertainties. The Employer refused this offer.

    Furthermore, BUFA offered to end the strike if the Employer made a commitment to place any “solvency savings” (generated if the required solvency payment fell below 3.12 million dollars) into the pension plan. If, as the University has claimed, this money was intended by the Employer solely for pension purposes, they would have no reason to reject this commitment. In fact, they did.

    Instead, Dr. Poff states that the Employer has proposed a “salary supplement,” should pension payment requirements fall below $3.12 million. This is inaccurate. On their proposal, if the payment falls below 3.12 million, the Employer would make a one-time payment to the Professional Development Allowance (PDA) available to BUFA members. PDA is a fund which members use to purchase books and equipment, attend conferences, travel for professional purposes, etc. Every tangible purchase from the allowance remains the property of the Employer.   By analogy, in any other industry, it would be like saying that you have been given a “salary increase” when the employer agrees to give you the use of a new filing cabinet or work gloves.

    Dr. Poff claims that “no member of the University administration, including the bargaining team, has ever stated that the BU faculty are ‘inferior’.”

    The actual, verbatim exchange (which took place at the September 13 bargaining session) on this point was reproduced in BUFA Bargaining Bulletin #7. It reads as follows:

    In commenting on these proposals, Dr. Grills stated that the current QXR language was reflective of Brandon University’s “institutional past,” while the Employer’s proposals are appropriate to the Employer’s vision of “Brandon University of the future.” He added that the goal of the Employer was to bring Brandon University up to the “national standards of comparable, peer institutions.”

    BUFA then asked the Employer the following question: “Is it your view that the present complement of faculty at Brandon University is inferior to that of our peer institutions?” The Employer responded, “Yes.” This response was immediate, unqualified, and un-revisited during the remainder of this session. BUFA then asked what empirical evidence the Employer had to support this view, to which the Employer responded, “We’ll get back to you on that.”

    Dr. Poff claims that “the University proposed changes to the collective agreement at the outset of bargaining, most of which were of a housekeeping nature.”

    At the beginning of the bargaining process, the Employer introduced 80 pages of revisions to the current collective agreement. They opened every article except the Preamble. Even their 40 pages of so-called “housekeeping” issues proposed changes to the CA that went well beyond the shift to gender neutral language (which BUFA agreed to immediately). As a whole, the Employer proposed rewriting most of the criteria and procedures governing appointments, tenure, promotion and so on. After many hours over many sessions of working through these proposals at the table, it became apparent to BUFA that these proposals would do substantially more harm than good. BUFA ultimately succeeded in convincing the employer to withdraw almost all of them.

    Dr. Poff claims that “now there are no outstanding University language issues. The outstanding issues are BUFA’s.”

    This statement is demonstrably false. Language issues surrounding technologically mediated (e.g. web-based) courses are still being negotiated. This is the Employer’s initiative, not BUFA’s.

    In his CBC Radio interview, Grant Mitchell, lawyer and chief negotiator for the Employer, claims that BUFA has said ‘no, no, no’ to the Employer’s offer of Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration.

    BUFA willingly co-operated with conciliation, and BUFA, not the employer, requested mediation on Oct. 21. Moreover, BUFA’s last proposal offered salary arbitration in year three, an offer the Employer rejected.

    Mr. Mitchell continues to suggest BUFA should accept the same terms that were accepted by the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. He claims that the terms that he is offering are “based on the same funding, based on the same tuition figures, the same grant increases that the other universities got.”

    This claim is false. The Collective Agreements of the three Winnipeg-based Universities expired a year before BUFA’s collective agreement. These other faculty associations negotiated their contracts in a different economic and fiscal environment. In March 2011, after the Winnipeg universities had already reached their new agreements, the Manitoba government announced a 5% increase to the grants of all Manitoba universities in each of the next three years.

    Each university is unique: Other settlements reflect the differing needs and requirements of their respective institutions. Note that on other matters, such as total compensation and workload, the Employer does not make comparisons with the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba where professors typically teach less than those at BU and on average receive close to $10,000 more than professors at Brandon University.

    BUFA Negotiating Team



  • BUFA Member Update. BUFA bargaining team

    Yesterday (Nov. 2) the Employer tabled their latest proposal. On the plus side, it contained provisions that would entitle a minimum of five research days for Professional Associates, on the down side it contained the same monetary package as their previous offer and no other concessions.

    Today BUFA tabled a response. Given that on Monday, October 31 BUFA tabled two proposals involving partial salary arbitration, and that both were rejected by the Employer, today’s proposal substituted the offer of partial arbitration with a wage reopener in year 3. [A wage reopener is a commitment between BUFA and the Employer to negotiate, not arbitrate, the year 3 salary scale at a future date.] Here is the proposal in brief. BUFA suggested some modifications to provisions on PA research days, on RFR for sessionals, and on web-based courses, and reasserted our other existing language proposals. Our salary offer was 2%+increment+ ½ floors & ceilings in year 1; 2.4%+increment+ ½ floors & ceilings in year 2; and increment + wage reopener on salary scales in year 3.

    The Employer responded, agreeing to BUFA’s language on web-courses and PA research days, rejected BUFA’s formulation of the RFR provision, and rejected BUFA’s other language proposals. The Employer’s financial package was unchanged (0.5,1.0,2.9 with $1000 back to work payment), except for allowing 50% of the potential pension contribution savings to be dispersed through PDA or a one-time payment to BUFA members, instead of forcing it into PDA.

    At 5pm BUFA tabled a response, reasserting its existing language proposals (including our proposals on RFR, sabbatical replacements and sessional replacements for research-induced teaching reductions), and its existing financial position, except for a modification to our proposal on pension contribution savings that permits savings that remain once the 0.9 solvency ratio has been reached to be dispersed through a one-time payment to BUFA members.

    At approximately 6pm Michael Werier declared that mediation had failed. He expects to file his report to the Minister on Monday, November 7.

    BUFA has advised the Employer that we are available and willing to meet with them face to face in order to conclude these negotiations at the table.

    BUFA bargaining team.

    Derek Brown, Joe Dolecki, Elisabeth MacDonald-Murray, Bill Paton, David Winter




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