SMU Bargaining Updates

January 28, 2023: We had a good participation rate in the ratification vote, and the Collective Agreement with Saint Mary’s University’s Administration has been ratified.

  • Yes Votes: 82.5% (170 out of 206)
  • No Votes: 17.5% (36 out of 206)
  • Participation Rate: 50.5% (206 out 408 eligible voters)

We will be formally signing the Collective Agreement with the Administration in the coming weeks, and then post it on CUPE 3912’s website. At that point, we will also provide an update on when you may expect to receive your retroactive pay.

January 13, 2023: A Tentative Collective Agreement has been reached.

  • We anticipate being able to circulate the proposed changes to the Collective Agreement as well as a Zoom link by Saturday, January 21, 2023.
  • On Tuesday, January 24, 2023 at 7 p.m. we will be holding an online information session about the SMU Tentative Collective Agreement. The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that all your questions are fully answered before a ratification vote is held.
  • The ratification vote will take place online, using Simply Voting, on January 25-27, 2023. You will be receiving an email with a unique link to cast your vote.

January 10, 2023: Today, we met with Saint Mary’s University’s Administration for conciliation. We were assisted by a professional conciliator appointed by the Department of Labour.

Because of the progress we made on non-monetary matters, we agreed to meet with the Administration again on Friday, January 13, 2023 for another day of conciliation.

December 2, 2022: After two days of voting with an exceptional participation of 86.8% of CUPE 3912 eligible members at Saint Mary’s University (SMU), an overwhelming majority of 91.8% voted in favour of a strike mandate.

In the coming weeks, we will survey SMU members as to what might be an acceptable collective agreement, and will be establishing a Strike Committee at SMU.

October 6, 2022: We received a letter on behalf of the Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration, acknowledging our request for conciliation and notifying us that a conciliator has been appointed. The conciliator will be contacting the parties regarding a time and location for a meeting.

While we hope that a conciliation officer will be of assistance in reaching a fair collective agreement, we have started mobilizing members at SMU for a strong strike vote. For more information, please visit our Strike Vote FAQ or reach out to us.

September 14, 2022: After four months, the Employer’s bargaining team finally came back to the negotiation table. However, unfortunately, the Employer told us that they did not agree to any of our live/active proposals. You may contact CUPE 3912 VP for SMU PT Instructors for more information on these proposals.

We were  also expecting to get a counter proposal to our financial proposal for wage increases that we presented to the Employer back in May 2022. However, the Employer’s team was not prepared to give us any counter proposal. The following day, the Employer sent us their incomplete proposal that contemplates the following annual wage percentage increases: 0.5%, 0.75%, 1%, and 1%.

Our Negotiating Committee felt that we reached an impasse, and notified the Employer that we would be contacting the Minister of Labour to file for conciliation.

May 25, 2022: We tabled financial proposals with no response yet from the employer. We hope to schedule new dates soon.

April 25, 2022: We had bargaining at SMU on April 14. It really looks like we will table financial proposals next time on May 5, but we’ll see what happens.

April 2, 2022: We had a bargaining session at SMU last week when we continued to work on fine details of proposals and counter proposals, reaching an impasse for some but still trying to agree on others before tabling financial proposals.

March 8, 2022: We had a bargaining session at SMU last 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 session at SMU. We agreed on a few more articles but are still negotiating details before we wrap up some major proposals on internal/external hiring. We have financial proposals ready to table and are anxiously waiting to wrap up (mostly) non-financial items.

February 16, 2022: We bargained at SMU on February 14 and made some more progress. Both sides are hoping to wrap up non-monetary items (mostly) and table financial proposals soon.

January 17, 2022: Last week we bargained at SMU (online). We are working on wrapping up non-financial proposals – or deciding what is at an impasse – before tabling financial proposals. At SMU we seem to be quite close.

December 2, 2021: We have been bargaining intensely at SMU. We are focused on wrapping up non-monetary issues at all universities this month and planning to table financial proposals in the new year.

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 14, 2021: We had three afternoon bargaining sessions at SMU in quick succession (Oct. 7, 12, 14). The only thing we discussed is a set of proposals to update the hiring and appointment processes towards continuing appointments, one of our bargaining priorities. After a few exchanges it looked like we were coming to an agreement but we are still negotiating some of the wording.

Our CUPE rep is not available most of November so our next dates at all three universities are in late November or December. We are booking dates well into January so we can make sure to reserve as much time as possible for bargaining.

September 24, 2021: There has been break from bargaining this month. Bargaining will resume in October.

September 2, 2021: Our new CUPE rep, Mike Kelly, will be quite busy with his new assignment in September so our next bargaining dates are in October.

On August 19, 2021, we had a bargaining session with SMU in which we signed off on some minor proposals and had some discussion on our major ones. We hope to get a counter proposal soon on our ideas on hiring and appointments.

At SMU we are discussing the ROE (record of employment). It seems that the number of hours determined for ROE purposes at Dal is only half of what it is at the Mount, but the determined number of hours is even greater at SMU. We are working towards making this similar for our members at all three universities.

July 22, 2021: We are making progress and today we signed off on some minor proposals. We are proposing language to strengthen academic freedom articles based on language from the collective agreements of the faculty associations. We are working on language towards continuing appointments such as having courses decided for a year in advance and internal and external posting processes.

July 14, 2021: We have been focusing on the appointment and hiring processes but have yet to have any meaningful discussion with the employer.

June 30, 2021:  There has been a change in the chief negotiator for the union bargaining teams and SMU.  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 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: We have no upcoming dates set for SMU. Recently we asked for suggested dates but have not yet had a response.

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 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.

February 22, 2021: We only had one bargaining session at SMU last week.

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 had one bargaining session  SMU.

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: Last week we had team meetings to prepare for bargaining at SMU this week. 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 SMU. We had our first session with SMU last week at which we exchanged proposals.


Past Bargaining Sessions:

  • May 5, 2022
  • April 14, 2022
  • March 29, 2022
  • March 3, 2022
  • February 25, 2022
  • February 14, 2022
  • January 27, 2022
  • January 13, 2022
  • December 1, 2021
  • November 30, 2021
  • October 14, 2021
  • October 12, 2021
  • October 7, 2021
  • Aug. 19, 2021
  • July 22, 2021
  • June 30, 2021
  • June 28, 2021
  • April 1, 1-5, 2021
  • February 18, 2021
  • February 1, 2021
  • January 21, 2021
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