URFA calls impasse as Provost backtracks

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author: john loeppky | editor-in-chief

Into the bargaining vortex / Jeremy Davis

Faculty and institution at odds over contract

The University of Regina Faculty Association (URFA) and the University of Regina are at odds as bargaining continues toward a new contract.  

In an email sent to students on Feb. 1, Provost Dr. Thomas Chase spoke about the university’s view of the negotiations.  

“Our meetings have been constructive and positive in keeping with our focus on putting students first, and reaching the best possible collective agreement not only for them, but for professors and the broader campus community.  

“The University has suggested to URFA that we clear more dates to continue bargaining into February and March. We are waiting to hear from URFA as to which dates work for them.” 

“So far, I am pleased to say that we have reached agreement on a number of key issues, including improvements to the performance review and merit processes.” 

In an interior URFA update seen by the Carillon, URFA’s bargaining committee took issue with this version of events.  

“The URFA Bargaining Team is disappointed and dismayed that the Provost has chosen to further communicate with the University community in a way that is, at best, misleading. While Provost Chase’s email, sent 31 January 2019, contains some accurate information, he has been highly selective in what has been included and what has been omitted. His message gives an incomplete, and, as a result, inaccurate sense of the progress of negotiations. We believe the Provost is attempting to create an impression of bargaining that is profoundly at odds with what is actually happening.” 

“Although we have reached tentative agreement on a number important issues including merit, benefits for full-time-equivalent sessionals, and performance review, these issues were hard-won through 10 months of active bargaining.” 

“Other issues remain outstanding, and attempts to get the University to meaningfully engage with them have been stonewalled or even gone backward. These issues include the instructor-faculty ratio, pensions, liability insurance for members exercising academic freedom, and compensation. These issues all speak to upholding the academic mission of this institution, and to providing equitable and realistic remuneration to our members who work so hard for our students and the community.” 

A faculty member whose name has been withheld due to the sensitivity of the situation spoke about their feelings in regard to the negotiations.   

“I am deeply dismayed and saddened that admin chose to seemingly provoke and disrespect us by pushing outrageous discussion items that would effectively eliminate tenure, contained bizarre articles about colleagues’ demeanor, and unfairly shifted an evaluation burden onto students.” 

In a Feb. 4 email seen by the Carillon, Dr. Chase changed track.  

“Today, the University of Regina Faculty Association (URFA) advised the 

University it believes an impasse has been reached in negotiations for a 

collective agreement.” 

“The University has been bargaining since March 2018. Talks were 

generally constructive and positive. Progress was being made as the 

University tried to achieve the best possible collective agreement for 

students, professors and the broader campus community.” 

“Unfortunately, the University and URFA were not able to reach agreement 

on several proposals. URFA has now called an impasse.” 

The letter went on to detail that an impasse does not necessarily mean a strike and that now more people would be involved in the process.  

“The University is now focused on this next step in the collective 

bargaining process, and on working with URFA and a mediator to achieve a 

revised collective agreement.” 

The Provost also pointed toward previous successes in negotiations on campus.  

“Last year, the University reached agreement on two contracts with other 

employee groups. Both of these resulted in four-year agreements, with 

modest monetary enhancements that reflect the fiscal situation facing 

the province and the need to keep tuition and fees affordable. The 

University is working under the same principles with URFA.” 

In a Feb. 4 tweet, Professor Tom McIntosh wrote about his feelings, which appear to be mirrored by a number of faculty  

“So @UofRFA asked for mediation in contract talks w @UofRegina. In an email Provost notes they’ve ‘been bargaining since March [20]18’, but the contract expired in July ‘17. That means for 9 mos. they couldn’t even be bothered to meet. That’s the attitude we’ve been dealing with.”  

This is a developing story.   

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