BUFA Announcements & Press Releases

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October 20, 2011
October 19, 2011
  • BUFA FAQ for Students.

    Students have had a lot of questions and concerns about how they are affected by the ongoing job action by BUFA.  The following is meant to provide some answers, from BUFA's point of view.

    Why didn’t you guys bargain in the summer, and if necessary strike then, before we were all back at school?

    That’s a good question. BUFA was prepared to meet with the administration’s bargaining team all summer. There were a few meetings, but very little progress was made. Mostly this is because the administration’s team was not available for more bargaining sessions during the summer. The threat of a strike is only used when bargaining stalls and this threat is necessary, in the union’s opinion, to get talks moving forward more quickly. If no further progress is made, then the strike is called. 

    So if bargaining didn’t get very far in the summer, why not wait until January to do this, so students have the option to withdraw and get a refund earlier in the second term?

    This is similar to the question above. Strikes are not called when they are convenient, but rather, at the point in bargaining when they are required. This time, we reached that point in the second week in October. Last time, we reached that point much earlier. Bargaining has taken longer this time because of the limitations on the administration’s bargaining team’s schedule – mostly due to their use of a lawyer from Winnipeg who is not always available.

    I thought the University offered to go to binding arbitration. Wouldn’t this help you reach an agreement and avoid the whole strike? Why didn’t you agree to that? 

    Binding arbitration should only be used when both parties really can’t move any further. BUFA has come to the table with a willingness to continue negotiating, and has continued to table new offers. We believe the administration can move much further than they have been willing to so far. In fact, while we have attempted to compromise on most of their requests, they have mostly simply refused outright any of our requests. Normally, before going to arbitration, the parties will use conciliation, and then mediation. Binding arbitration is a last resort, as it can be destructive; rather than the parties working out their differences through negotiation, a decision is imposed. Nothing guarantees it to be fair to either side. We think it is still worth giving negotiation a chance. In an effort to make sure that both parties continue to make genuine efforts at moving toward a negotiated settlement, we have agreed to conciliation at this time.

    I want to support my professors, but the University is refusing to promise us protection from academic consequences if we choose to respect the picket line. Why would the University do this? Can BUFA offer us any protection? 

    We’re not sure why the University won’t stand behind our students. It is our opinion that they are trying to pressure students to cross the line in order to weaken the union, not to help students. They must know that this can result in uneven treatment of students and possible penalties to those who respect the line. It doesn’t seem right to let students be penalized for acting according to their personal political views. BUFA has been committed to ensuring that, once this is over, all students will be treated fairly and not suffer penalties of any kind. While we cannot make any promises on behalf of the BUFA members who cross the line and offer their courses, we can assure you that STRIKING members will not penalize you in any way whether or not you choose to support our job action. When this is over, we will try once again to get the University to promise no academic penalties. We cannot predict what their response might be.

    I see that after a lot of confusion and complaints, Dr. Poff has offered some assurance (communiqué Oct. 18) that we will not be penalized. She’s asking us to trust her on this. What is BUFA’s reaction to this? 

    BUFA applauds any action that protects the rights of students, and it is correct that Senate is the ultimate forum for decisions about academic matters, including those arising from the strike. In her communiqué, Dr. Poff says that “Brandon University will not discriminate against students for their political beliefs.” Unfortunately, we have no idea how she intends to enforce that claim.   Dr. Poff appeals to the values of trust and respect . The latest communiqué was needed because those values had been significantly damaged by the Employer’s encouragement of BUFA members to cross the picket line. In essence, what this communiqué says is that if you feel you’ve been discriminated against or unfairly penalized, you can always file an appeal. BUFA believes that it should not be the students’ responsibility to respond to such cases after the fact. We think this still leaves a lot of room for uncertainty that could have been resolved by preferably a simple lockout, which would be inherently non-discriminatory, or, failing that, a signed Memorandum of Understanding as proposed by BUFA and supported by BUSU.

    So why don’t they just lock all BUFA members out, so we don’t feel we have to do something we don’t want to? 

    We’re not sure about that either. They’ve given several reasons on their website for not locking us out, but frankly they don’t make much sense. They say that locking us out last time resulted in the longest strike in BU’s history. But the previous strike in 1998 was the shortest, and we were locked out then too. They want you to believe that lockouts are hardly ever used in universities, but we’ve checked into it, and we can’t find any information to verify that claim. The University also says they feel an obligation to fulfill their contract with you regarding the delivery of classes. We do too (see next question), and the University will expect all of us to deliver our courses in full after this is over. We did it last time.

    When I paid tuition, I understood that the University had an obligation to give me what I paid for. Some students’ classes are being offered while others are not. Doesn’t this mean that some students will get their money’s worth while others won’t? 

    Every time there is job action like this at a university, we remain committed to ensuring that once it is over, coursework will be completed. We understand that some BUFA members feel an obligation to teach their classes now even though there is a strike. We are all equally committed to our students, but striking members will meet that obligation once the strike is over. There may be some adjustments to scheduling to make sure that this happens, but you can rest assured that we intend to deliver in full the courses you paid for. The University can help by accommodating revised scheduling, making rooms available for extra class meetings if necessary, etc. Again, whether they make any effort to do this is not in our control. As far as we know, in the entire history of strikes at universities in Canada, no term has ever been lost.

  • BUFA Response to BU Communique of October 19, 2011. Joe Dolecki, BUFA President and Chief Negotiator

    On Oct. 19, 2011, members of the Brandon University community received the following communique, sent directly by Dr. Poff:

    BU Logo Colour vertical.jpgCommunique to the Members of the Brandon University Community

    October 19, 2011

    Members of the Brandon University Community, 

    News media have reported that conciliation has broken off. This is incorrect. Conciliation is still in process. There is no conciliation today because the conciliator had a prior commitment and both parties were made aware of this well in advance.

    The parties are both working on getting to a settlement. The last offer was made by BU to BUFA, to which BUFA has not yet responded. Both the conciliator and the University are available to continue conciliation on Thursday (tomorrow), Friday and Saturday, but through the Conciliator BUFA has informed BU that they will not meet again until Monday. 

    Prior to the commencement of strike action, Brandon University offered, and continues to offer arbitration or mediation/arbitration as an alternative process that would result in an immediate resumption of classes. BUFA has declined that offer.

    The following is BUFA's response to this message:

    October 19, 2011

    An unattributed “communiqué” issued today to the members of the BU community requires correction.

    • While BUFA agrees that the Conciliation process is continuing, we are unaware of any ‘prior commitment’ the Conciliator had today.
    • BUFA responded, through the Conciliator, to the Employer’s last offer. It was rejected.
    • BUFA was advised by the Conciliator that he had a prior commitment on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
    • BUFA had discussions with the Conciliator in this morning.
    • BUFA suggested, through the Conciliator, a Friday meeting date, but we haven’t heard back from the Employer, through the Conciliator.
    • We are confident that the Employer will agree to a Friday Conciliation session.

    We remain committed to achieve a fair and equitable Collective Agreement through the Conciliation process.

    Joe Dolecki,
    BUFA President and Chief Negotiator

  • Letter of Support. l'Association des bibliothécaires, professseures et professeurs de l'Université de Moncton (ABPPUM)

    Notre administratrice à la Caisse de défense de l'ACPPU, également vice-présidente externe, Linda Lequin, se rendra vendredi à Brandon avec un appui moral et financier (1 000 $) de l'Association des bibliothécaires, professeures et professeurs de l'Université de Moncton (ABPPUM).

    D'autres visites et appuis financiers sont prévus dans l'éventualité où la grève perdurerait.

    Our CAUT Defence Fund Trustee and Vice-President Internal, Linda Lequin, will also participate in a Flying Picket on Friday in support of the Brandon University Faculty Association.  Linda Lequin will present a donation cheque on behalf of l'Association des bibliothécaires, professseures et professeurs de l'Université de Moncton (ABPPUM) in the amount of $1,000.

    Other visits and financial support will follow should our colleagues need it in the coming weeks.

    ABPPUM   Ensemble, nous sommes plus forts !

October 18, 2011
  • Negotiations Update. Derek Brown, Joe Dolecki, Elisabeth MacDonald-Murray, Bill Paton, David Winter - BUFA Bargaining Team

    As reported last night, conciliation talks resumed Monday, 17 October 2011 at 10:30 am. The conciliator was asked to clarify whether the items the Employer had withdrawn from their most recent ‘all-or-nothing’ package would remain permanently off the table. After consultation with the Employer, the conciliator confirmed their intention to withdraw said items. A number of language issues remain unresolved and thus we find ourselves at an impasse.

    On 28 September 2011, Dr. Poff communicated the following to the university community: “We are still negotiating language issues, having deferred monetary items until we have resolved the language issues or reached an impasse on them.” Because an impasse was reached on language, we wanted to shift the discussion to monetary items. We had hoped that the Employer was serious about resolving outstanding monetary issues. Indeed, operating on the assumption that Dr. Poff was a person of her word, BUFA negotiators offered a strong rationale for taking up the unresolved monteary issues. BUFA negotiators presented the conciliator with a memo stating our rationale and asked him to deliver it to the Employer. We also provided the conciliator with a series of questions for the Employer along with a commitment to present a new financial proposal later that day (together with our approximate costings).

    After lunch, BUFA negotiators met with the conciliator and the Employer’s bargaining team. We discussed BUFA’s financial proposal in which we made significant concessions: 2.9%: 3.0% and 3.25% with a one step increase in the floor and ceilings for all ranks in year 1 and yearly increments. While this represents significant movement on our part, we made the move in an attempt to reach an equitable deal and thus end the job action.

    We did not hear from the Employer until 7pm. They responded with the same deal that they have offered us twice before: 0.5%: 1.0% and 2.75% with yearly increments but no increase in ceilings or floors.

    Though frustrated by the Employer’s disinclination to bargain in a meaningful way, we nevertheless met with the conciliator on Tuesday, 18 October 2011 at 1 pm. This was followed by a private meeting between Joe Dolecki (BUFA President and Chief Negotiator) and Scott Lamont (VP – Administration and Finance); little progress was made. Following another round with the conciliator, conciliation talks recessed at about 5:30 pm. The conciliator has returned to Winnipeg though he remains available to return to Brandon in the event that either party requires his presence. No future meetings are currently scheduled.

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

  • Letter of Support. Linda Lequin, Université de Moncton


    I am coming to walk with you on your picket lines on Friday. I just want to say that the ABPPUM (union of professors and librairians from the Université de Moncton) stand with you.

    Linda Lequin
    Secteur langue
    Université de Moncton
    Tél: (506) 858 3783

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