‘Make it fair’: Faculty union & Queen’s in process of collective bargaining

Negotiation progress between Queen’s and QUFA slows down

QUFA's held a table in Mackintosh-Corry Hall for Fair Employment Week.

Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA) is lobbying for fair employment as the union representing faculty members and other staff.

The association is currently renegotiating the 2019-22 Collective Agreement with the University, which expired on June 30. Leslie Jermyn and Amy Kaufman– QUFA’s Executive Director and Queen’s Head Law Librarian, respectively–are the Co-Chief Negotiators.

In a statement to The Journal, QUFA said out of the 43 articles in the Collective Agreement, changes to 30 articles are being discussed, with an addition of many appendices.

Bargaining has been slow but not yet stalled, according to QUFA.

“Negotiations have already been extended because of the sheer number of articles we’re discussing and because of the difficulty of finding times when everyone can meet,” QUFA said.

The articles are being negotiated in a “deep dive,” meaning both sides have spent time assessing the language used and terms in need of updating.

QUFA said one point of renegotiation is the cap on salary increases of one per cent for three years, outlined by provincial government wage restraint legislation Bill 124.

“One percent increases will not even come close to keeping up with inflation,” QUFA said.

The association hopes to make “significant improvements” for other parts of working conditions—such as equity and diversity considerations, professors’ “ballooning” workloads, job security for adjunct faculty, and changing the language used for librarians and archivists.

There are points of contention—such as working conditions—and areas where QUFA feels there can be more done, such as equity and diversity.

“So far, the University has not demonstrated a willingness to talk about faculty overwork or the situation of our adjunct faculty,” QUFA said.

A tentative agreement has been made regarding changes that will be made to the following: grievance, discipline, and safety articles; appendices; “housekeeping deletions.”

“We continue to be hopeful that we can reach a deal, but we need to see more movement on our substantive proposals,” QUFA said.

“QUFA members worked very hard, alongside everyone else at Queen’s, to get through the COVID years and we would like to see that rewarded with some willingness to make changes.”

QUFA put on Fair Employment Week this week to raise awareness and communicate the issues contract academic staff face, specifically adjunct members.

QUFA’s adjunct members—Anya Hageman, Melissa Houghtaling, and Chantal Brunette—sat at the booth in Mackintosh-Corry Hall, which aimed to address the adjunct and equity challenges QUFA is facing in the bargaining process.

The booth featured buttons and posters with statistics regarding contract staff’s working conditions, which they’re aiming to improve as they make up 43 per cent of the faculty members at Queen’s.

“To get tenure, you need to research and publish. How can I do that when I’m overloaded with coursework just to make a living?” one poster read. “Make it fair.”

QUFA’s most recent bargaining alert also highlighted the grievances of members.

Released on Oct. 13, the association’s eighth alert shared a member survey, testimonials, and a meeting summary. QUFA also released a new logo as a part of an initiative to distribute bargaining resources, coined “QUFA Disrespected.”

“We’ve heard from QUFA members, and you’ve told us you feel disrespected by Queen’s Administration at the bargaining table,” the alert said.

Alert number eight also shared the “voices” of some members.

“I am an award-winning researcher. Pay me for doing it. That’s how Queen’s can support my research,” one continuing adjunct member said.

In a statement to The Journal, the University said they’re committed to the process of collective bargaining and that they value employee contributions.

The University noted the obligations and recourses of both parties are outlined in the Ontario Labour Relations Act. They said their current focus is coming to an agreement.

“Collective bargaining is a normal cyclical process in the life of the University and provides an important opportunity to address workplace issues of mutual concern and to foster mutual understanding,” the University said.

In terms of specific issues, the University said discussing the details would be “inappropriate,” and details will be shared once the agreement is ratified.

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