Bargaining Update 3
The SAFA Executive and Negotiations Committee have made a commitment to SAFA members to keep you informed of our progress as we negotiate the renewal of our collective agreement. It’s my intention to deliver a “bargaining update” after every session of bargaining. In the update, I’ll try to paint, in broad strokes, the flavour of the meeting and the topics discussed. However, I won’t go into specific details or a “blow by blow” analysis (sorry for the pun).
The bargaining teams’ goal is to negotiate a renewed Collective Agreement and to sign a Memorandum of Agreement for ratification by you, the Membership of the Association. Our intention and desire is a mutually beneficial Collective Agreement will be reached in a timely manner at the bargaining table.
Welcome to our second update on negotiations for the renewal of the SAFA collective agreement expiring on June 30, 2017. On Thursday, April 27 your negotiations committee met with SAIT’s negotiations committee hoping for some clarification of SAIT’s proposal. If there is a phrase that best describes the feelings of your Negotiations Committee following this most recent bargaining meeting, I think it would be:
“A little clarity, please.”
The general business of this meeting was a continuation of the previous – the two sides asking and answering questions in order to clarify our proposals. SAIT also provided data to us that we had requested at the previous meeting.
SAIT has given SAFA notice that the “Rehire retirees” Letter of Understanding (LoU) would expire as of July 1, 2017. SAIT clarified that they would still hire retirees but under a different arrangement. They also intend to honour any current contractual commitments to this program till they expire.
A Letter of Understanding – there are currently ten in the SAFA collective agreement – is a formal text that sums up the terms and understanding of a negotiated agreement covering a topic which mostly has been negotiated up to this point only in spoken form. It could be the result of negotiations during the term of a collective agreement – typically to address some change or clarification of practice that has been a point of contention. Or it could be part of the negotiations cycle at the bargaining table where the parties are not sure of how the resolution will play out in practice.
In all cases a Letter of Understanding exists only for the term of the current collective agreement. When the collective agreement comes up for renewal, the parties to the agreement – SAIT and SAFA – can agree to continue the Letter of Understanding into the next collective agreement or move the terms of the Letter of Understanding into the collective agreement or –as is the case of the Letter of Understanding concerning the re-employment of retirees – either side can give notice that they no longer agree to continuing the Letter of Understanding, in which case it ceases upon the end of term for the current collective agreement.
We also discussed the changes that the new legislation will bring to our labour relations model. One of these changes is the requirement to negotiate an essential services agreement – if applicable – or apply to the provincial government for an exemption. An essential service is one that has impact on safety of life and limb, public safety, security or rule of law. Both parties agree that instructors wouldn’t conform to this definition and therefore wouldn’t be characterized as “essential services” but counselors may.
As always, please feel free to stop by the SAFA office N201 in the Burns Building or contact me directly – ext 4067 – or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.