MSVU Bargaining Updates

Upcoming Bargaining Sessions:

  • May 18, 2022

April 12, 2022: We had hoped and expected to make progress at the bargaining table this week after tabling our financial proposals on Friday April 8th. The employer, however, has requested that we postpone meetings scheduled for this week until May in order to leave them time to consult with the Board Governors on their response to our financial package .We hope this means they are looking for approval to meet some of our demands, but we are not holding out breath!

April 2, 2022: We had a bargaining session at the Mount last week but still did not table financial proposals

March 8, 2022: We have as session at the Mount this week. We are still focusing on wrapping up non-financial proposals (mostly) so we have not yet tabled financial proposals. Because we are a bit behind Dalhousie, we have not yet set a date for a strike vote at either university.

February 28, 2022: Last Friday we had a bargaining session at the Mount.  We agreed on a few more articles but are still negotiating details before we wrap up some major proposals on discipline. We have financial proposals ready to table and are anxiously waiting to wrap up (mostly) non-financial items.

February 16, 2022: We bargained with the Mount on February 11. Both sides are hoping to wrap up non-monetary items (mostly) and table financial proposals soon.

January 24, 2022: Last week we bargained again at the Mount. We reached agreements on a few more minor proposals but we still seem to be far apart on more major proposals regarding hiring and discipline. We have prepared financial proposals but have not yet tabled them.

January 17, 2022: Last week we bargained at the Mount (online). We are working on wrapping up non-financial proposals – or deciding what is at an impasse – before tabling financial proposals. At the Mount we are still in some initial discussions about some major issues.

The delay in the Mount compared to the other universities is mostly because the employer filed for conciliation last year early in the process. The conciliator advised both sides to go back to the table so we had a restart at the end of 2021, at which time we were lagging behind the other two universities. However, we have more dates scheduled for the Mount in the next few weeks, so that might change.

December 20, 2021: We had bargaining days at the Mount last week. We had further discussion on most of the non-financial items, trying to see if there is some common ground.

December 9, 2021: We had two full days of bargaining at the Mount this week and went over all of our non-financial proposals at least twice. We agreed to several minor proposals and started discussions on more substantial proposals.

November 5, 2021: We do not have bargaining dates until late November. We know that bargaining is taking a long time. There are several reasons for this:

  • We are bargaining with three employers at the same time. Although last time we finished earlier at one university, we signed the collective agreement at the third university almost three years after the previous one expired.
  • We have a lot of proposals because there are a lot of changes to be made to the collective agreement to achieve fair working conditions. It takes time to discuss these proposals and we are making progress.
  • It is difficult to schedule times when 7-11 people are available. The schedule of our CUPE representative is particularly busy as whoever is in this position also assists other locals and is at other bargaining tables as well. Also note that we (union bargaining team) do not get time off for bargaining, as may be the case for other bargaining teams. However, we are setting several dates at all universities in the next few months hoping to wrap up soon. Also note that we are continually working on bargaining with extra meetings for the individual teams and all teams together.

October 6, 2021: We had a ‘reset’ bargaining meeting where we discussed plans for returning to bargaining. It was the first time we met with the employer at the bargaining table since May 2021.

We are hopeful negotiations will proceed effectively and efficiently; however, we could only plan for dates in December 2021 due to our lack of availability. (It is difficult to schedule bargaining dates with 3 employers.)

July 14, 2021: The conciliator asked both sides to return to the table without a conciliator, so we hope to set dates to do that soon.

June 30, 2021: There has been a change in the chief negotiator for the union bargaining teams and the Mount. This is fortuitous timing as it means both sides understand the challenge such a change brings, particularly organizing proposals and counter-proposals. We are taking the time to go over the status of proposals with the employer at all universities to make sure we are on the right track. We are also spending more time with just our teams to work out details of some of our common proposals.

June 22, 2021:  We were disappointed that the employer filed for conciliation so early, but we are working on the way forward and hope to set new dates soon.

June 14, 2021: Summer is generally slower as it is more difficult to coordinate schedules. We are also going to have a meeting with all bargaining teams to finalize our financial proposals and with the mobilization committee to continue our strategic planning as we continue negotiations.

June 1, 2021: Those of you at the Mount will have learned from us that the employer has filed for conciliation, a process of intervention in collective bargaining by a neutral third party knowledgeable in effective negotiation procedures. We ended our last negotiating session on May 7 with the employer stating that they would respond to Union proposals and we would reciprocate. The move to file for conciliation was therefore unexpected and resulted in cancelling our next bargaining session on May 28. We want to assure everyone that your Union is committed to working within the conciliation process to achieve a renewal of the Collective Agreement that meets our members’ needs. Despite the move to conciliation, we are still early on in the bargaining process. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more about conciliation timelines.

May 17, 2021: We had an all bargaining teams meeting last week. We are working on our financial proposals including costing (estimating how much our proposals will cost the employer). Bargaining seems to be particularly slow these days, partly due to less frequent dates during the spring/summer months and partly due to issues that seem to be unrelated to our actual proposals. We hope things will pick up but the summer is usually a slow time. 

April 26, 2021: We resume bargaining later this week at the Mount after an extended break.

April 12, 2021:  Next week the bargaining teams have a CUPE training session on strike planning. The purpose of this is not to prepare for a strike but instead to learn about how to plan for a possible strike.

March 15, 2021: It seems like a lot of bargaining involves back and forth discussion and proposals, often about specific wording. Sometimes language disagreements might seem trivial, but the difference between something like ‘could’ or ‘shall’ can be substantial.

Another aspect of bargaining is the LOU or MOU (letter or memorandum of understanding). Sometimes if both sides want to see progress towards a proposal but don’t think it can be accomplished during the current round of bargaining, they set up a LOU/MOU to set up a committee to discuss the issue within a certain time period. The discussion can then lead to changes in the next round of bargaining. We then have to decide if or what we can achieve this round of bargaining and what could go in an LOU/MOU and how it will be followed up.

March 8, 2021: Last week at the Mount some members of the bargaining team presented the results of a survey and report on office space and related facilities. This report was the result of an appendix of the Collective Agreement negotiated last time to look into office space. The results are helping inform bargaining issues and also issues related to occupational health and safety.

February 22, 2021:  Much of what we are discussing at the table in the early stages is related to past and ongoing grievances. There are two main sources of ideas for bargaining proposals: priorities of our members, which we get from our survey, and grievances. Proposals related to grievances are usually non-financial and often relate to different interpretations of the collective agreement from the employer and union (this is why they result in grievances). For us this time they are mostly related to discipline and job postings. These issues often seem to be less important to most members, yet by protecting a few members through grievances and changing the language of the collective agreement, we are protecting all members from possible unfair treatment. Progress is slow but it is a challenge to bargain at all three universities at once.

February 17, 2021: We have had a bit of a break from bargaining. The first step in negotiations is to exchange proposals, which we have now done at all three universities. The next step is the long process of asking questions, suggesting counter-proposals and hopefully coming to an agreement on some of these while deciding not to pursue others. We are now at the start of this stage and are just beginning to ask each other questions to clarify proposals. We have tentatively agreed on only a few very minor proposals, most of which involve things like editing. Some of our common proposals such as a major increase in salary, pension and other benefits are financial proposals and come much later in the process, typically after dealing with all non-financial proposals. We do not expect to even start negotiating financial proposals anytime soon. Therefore, the bargaining teams are still doing background research including exploring different options for a pension plan.

February 9, 2021: We continue to discuss various proposals at each university. Bargaining at three universities at the same time gives us a comparative vision of the perspective of the employers. For example, we have common proposals to address equity issues. Our goal is to strengthen languge to protect our members against harassment and discrimination. Notably we want to want to make sure that provincial and university policies are included in the collective agreement wherever possible to inform our members and alert them to details of these policies. One of the employers agrees with us and included even more language outlining various university policies on these issues. Another employer instead proposed to remove the language we have from the collective agreement rather than expand it further. This week we have a break from bargaining but the teams continue to prepare for future bargaining sessions.

February 1, 2021: We had our second session with the Mount last week at which we discussed definitions of terms that we hope will clarify our collective agreement. Overall we are still in the early stages of bargaining and have not yet had a response from any of the universities on most of our common proposals. See the bargaining page on our website for more details.

January 26, 2021: Last week we had team meetings to prepare for bargaining at the Mount.

Past Bargaining Sessions:

  • April 8, 2022
  • March 11, 2022
  • February 25, 2022
  • February 11, 2022
  • February 4, 2022
  • January 21, 2022
  • December 16, 2021
  • December 8, 2021
  • December 6, 2021
  • May 7, 2021
  • March 17, 2021
  • March 10, 2021
  • March 5, 2021
  • January 27, 2021
  • December 11, 2020