CUFA Reaches Tentative Agreement with ConU

Members to Examine Agreement Next Week

The Concordia University Faculty Association, which represents the university’s full-time faculty members, came to a tentative agreement with the university on March 21.

But new negotiations for the next collective agreement could start as soon as one year from now.

The three-year tentative agreement includes the current academic year, and negotiations could recommence one year before the agreement’s expiration in May 2015.

“That means in the summer of 2014, CUFA and probably the employer [Concordia University] will be working on preparing the next negotiation,” CUFA President Lucie Lequin told The Link.

“In the current financial and economic climate of the province, we felt that it was better to negotiate a short agreement instead of a longer agreement.”

Lequin said CUFA is hoping negotiations will run more smoothly next time around.

“I think the way the negotiations take place needs to be changed,” she said, noting that Concordia President Alan Shepard—who came to the university when negotiations were already underway—said he would try to change the process and duration of negotiations moving forward.

Lequin said the labour situation at Concordia has deteriorated over the past few years.

“Negotiations did not used to last this long,” she said. “It’s been more like the last 10 or eight years where all of a sudden many union negotiations started to be very, very long and very inefficient. […] The style of negotiation on the part of the employer, in my view, has to change.”

Lequin said that improving labour relations would help improve the climate at the university in general.

“There used to be a real sense of community, but labour relations that are difficult sort of destroy, or at least diminish, this sense of community.”

CUFA’s 37 executives must still vote to recommend the negotiated collective agreement to the union’s membership at a meeting set for March 28.

After that, two meetings will be held with full-time faculty—one on each of Concordia’s campuses—to answer questions about the agreement.

Union members will then have five days to vote in a secret online ballot on whether or not to accept the agreement.

“I’m optimistically prudent,” said Lequin of the process still to come, adding that the voting will take place after faculty members return from the Easter long weekend.

The tentative agreement comes after 74 per cent of the union’s membership spoke out in favour of a strike mandate during a week of voting that began Feb. 28.

That vote gave the union the power to go on strike, provided it gave the university 48 hours’ notice.

In a statement, Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota acknowledged that the university had reached an agreement with CUFA, but wrote “details of the agreement in principle remain confidential as it is now being submitted to the CUFA membership for ratification and to Concordia’s Board of Governors for approval.”

In a bulletin posted on its website, CUFA said that under the tentative agreement, professors with limited-term appointments would be “better protected from an excessive number of course preparations” while professors with extended-term appointments would be “compensated for an excessive number of course preparations.”

Stipends for extra teaching will be brought in line with those of the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association in the second year, with a two per cent increase planned for the third year.

Lequin also told The Link that the tentative agreement “clarified the workload of librarians.”

The union was hoping to gain guaranteed research time for librarians since they have an “obligation” to do research in their jobs, but that didn’t happen and will instead remain a topic of negotiation for the next collective agreement.

—with files from Andrew Brennan