The bargaining teams for MUALA and the university employer met as scheduled on July 22-24 and 27-31. Jeff McKeil, CAUT Assistant Executive Director, joined us for the first day of bargaining and provided constant and invaluable support throughout the entire 8 days. As of Friday, July 31, we have recessed for the summer and are scheduling dates in September and October to resume bargaining.
Bargaining has progressed in a collegial and respectful manner as the two bargaining teams have exchanged views and provided revised proposals as we work toward a full and final agreement. A number of minor and mutually agreed articles have been signed off. Compensation and benefits have not yet been tabled.
The employer’s incoming proposals sought concessions in many areas, particularly through the elimination of processes that—in our opinion—would lessen employee involvement and increase employer discretion. The employer bargaining team described these proposals as their attempt to recognize MUALA members as professionals by removing all bureaucratic encumbrances between the administration and academic librarians.
The problem, as we pointed out, is that without agreed upon processes and clear rights for MUALA and its members, the employer will have complete discretion. MUALA and its members will have nothing to rely upon to ensure member rights and administrative transparency and accountability.
We further pointed out that while it is true MUALA members are professionals, it is also true that we are part of the academic community, which demands academic rights and involvement. Having left MUFA in 2010 in order to become a certified union in no way changes that. These academic rights can only be protected and enforced if they are clearly defined.
We are pleased to report that in response, the employer’s bargaining team agreed fully that MUALA members are part of McMaster’s academic community and our status has not changed because we chose to exercise our Charter right to certify as a union.
However, concessionary proposals remain on the table that limit MUALA members’ rights. As we work through all the proposals, we are cautiously optimistic that we may reach a fair and reasonable collective agreement this fall.
MUALA Bargaining Team: Laura Banfield (President and Chief Negotiator), Neera Bhatnagar, Rick Stapleton