Negotiation of the Collective Agreement

This message, published in the Summer 2019 edition of The Beacon, was written by StFXAUT President Mary Oxner.

The Fourth Collective Agreement between the Board of Governors of St. Francis Xavier University and the StFXAUT expired on June 30, 2019.

What happens when the contract expires?
Prior to its expiration, we provided notice of the intent to engage in collective bargaining with a view to negotiate the next collective agreement. The Fourth Collective Agreement will remain in place until negotiations conclude.

Who is responsible to negotiate the Agreement?
In March 2019, the Executive Committee appointed a Negotiation Team which consists of Dr. Charlene Weaving (Faculty-Human Kinetics), Chief Negotiator, Dr. Patricia Cormack (Faculty-Sociology) and Mr. Jamie Powell (Sr. Lab Instructor-Biology); it is the Team’s responsibility to negotiate on behalf of all Members. The Executive will provide oversight and direction to the Negotiation Team both directly and through a Negotiation Advisory Committee.

Currently there are all four collective agreements which have to be negotiated by the University’s administration. CUPE has completed its negotiation. Both NSGEU’s and UNIFOR’s negotiations are in progress and StFXAUT’s negotiation has recently begun.

What is the process for gathering input from Members?
In preparation for negotiation, we engaged Members in broad consultation in various formats. The purpose of consultation is to allow for the identification of issues that should be addressed in the negotiation process. Consultation allows Members to have a voice in the process, it allows our Executive committee to consider the various priorities of our Members, and it allows our Negotiation Committee to prepare appropriate proposals for negotiation to address those priorities.

The various forms of consultation included an online survey which invited Members to identify and prioritize issues, meetings with various Member groups for more specific discussions of priorities, discussions with our Executive Committee Members, the Chief Grievance Officers, etc. The Contract and Benefits Committee designed and launched an online survey, collected data and language from various sources including comparators’ collective agreements on a large set of issues, and will continue to collect data specific to the requests of our Negotiation Team. Fueled with the information from the surveys and data collection, our Negotiation Team met with our Chief Grievance Officers to better understand issues in the Collective Agreement that concern our Grievance Committee and also met with Members of the Executive Committee to identify additional issues voiced by our Members for consideration. Finally, our Negotiation Team organized a series of meetings (“Coffee, Conversations, and Cookies”) to receive direct input from our various Member groups.

Based on that extensive consultation process, our Negotiation Team, in conjunction with the Executive Committee, prepared a set of proposals for presentation to the University’s administration.

When will negotiations begin?
As of the end of June, the Negotiation Teams had met twice, once to discuss the protocol for negotiations and once to exchange proposals. Negotiations begin in earnest in mid-July.