On Tuesday, AUFA applied to the Labour Relations Board for a proposal vote by the Board of Governors (BoG) on AUFA’s most recent proposal. A few members have questions about this process and we thought sharing the answers might be helpful.
1. What is a proposal vote?
Once per round of bargaining, each side can request the other side vote on a proposal even though the other side’s bargaining team has rejected it. If the proposal is accepted, then the collective agreement is settled. If the proposal is rejected, then bargaining continues.
2. Who votes on this proposal?
The employer has the power to determine how it will handle a vote. The entire Board could cast a vote (with a majority rules arrangement) or the Board could designate a group or an individual to cast a ballot.
By contrast, if AU applies for a proposal vote of AUFA members, each AUFA member would be entitled to vote and the majority would rule. (This is one of those asymmetries that exist in labour law.)
3. Why did AUFA choose to apply for a proposal vote now?
There are a couple of reasons the executive decided to authorize a proposal vote now:
We believe that the BoG bargaining team is taking a more aggressive stance than the BoG itself would approve. A proposal vote after impasse has been reached forces the BoG to recognize that their bargaining team’s strategy is not working. It also gives the BoG a way out (e.g., sign this pattern proposal and get 5 years of labour peace) before things escalate further.
Bargaining coming to impasse is a disheartening event. Filing a proposal vote demonstrates that we are not passive victims and we still have power in this dispute. It also demonstrates that AUFA is doing everything it can to avoid an actual work stoppage (which is unnecessary, but for the employer’s intransigence).
We could think of no good reason to save this tactic for a later time. If it is successful this dispute is over (so big potential reward). If it fails, it cost us nothing (so low risk). If it fails, it also demonstrates to everyone (e.g., our members, the government, students) that the barrier to resolution is the BoG.
4. What is AUFA’s proposal?
AUFA advanced its December 5 proposal. The nub of it is:
A five-year contract (July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2023).
A wage freeze in years 1 and 2.
A wage re-opener (i.e., further negotiations) in years 3-5 with impasse resolved by arbitration.
Four language improvements addressing on-call pay, spousal hiring, converting term positions to regular positions after a fixed period of time, and provisions addressing intellectual property.
Numerous housekeeping proposals made by the employer. Some of these were included in the December 5 offer,and some were agreed to in January (and which AUFA would honour if AU accepts the December 5 proposal).
5. Can I see AUFA’s December 5 proposal?
The proposal itself can be a bit hard to read, so we have posted a detailed summary here. The summary includes the entirety of the new language AUFA has proposed. We have also summarized the house-keeping items to reduce the length and complexity of the document.
For example, AUFA has agreed to get rid of much of Article 6.3 (which governed collective bargaining) because moving under the Labour Relations Code makes these provisions irrelevant. So we’ve summarized that as “6.3: Deleted; replaced by bargaining language in Labour Relations Code.”
The actual proposal includes all of the language that is being struck out and makes for hard reading. If you really, really want to grind through the whole thing, we can send you several pdfs as well as the existing collective agreement (which you will need to read side-by-side with the changes).
6. When will the results of the vote be known?
At this point, no date has been established. At present, we’re hearing probably 2.5 weeks, but it depends on whether AU objects to the vote of not. Obviously we’ll report the results as soon as we know them.
—Bob Barnetson, Chair
Work Stoppage Committee