The DFA offers condolences to the family of Dr. Robert S. Rodger, who passed away Friday January 8, 2021 at the age of 94. Bob was a founding member of the DFA, and served as our president in 1978-79. More detail on Bob's contribution to the DFA and the Dalhousie community is available in our In Memoriam message.
(January 8, 2021) Dalhousie University and the Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) have successfully reached a tentative collective agreement. The bargaining teams met with the government conciliator today (Friday, January 8) and successfully resolved the remaining outstanding items. The parties would like to extend thanks to all bargaining team members who volunteered their time to be involved in this important process. A tentative agreement means that both parties have agreed to the terms of a collective agreement, which need to be agreed to or ratified by the DFA members and the university’s Board. The details of the tentative deal will be made available once the Board and the membership of DFA have ratified the collective agreement.
The December 2020/January 2021 Bulletin by the Canadian Association of University Teachers includes a great article on the Pandemic and PSE. Dr. Julia Wright, DFA Past President, and several other academics share their perspectives.
(December 18, 2020) The DFA Executive Committee has formally accepted the recommendations of the Conciliation Board that was established to assist negotiations between the DFA and the Dalhousie Board of Governors.
However, the Dalhousie Board of Governors has rejected the report of the Conciliation Board. "The DFA leadership believes the recommendations in the report are reasonable and do not favour one party over the other. We see no reason why the recommendations should not form the basis of a new collective agreement," says DFA President Dave Westwood in a media release issued Dec. 20/2020.
The report, dated December 16, 2020 contains several non-binding recommendations.
Both parties have reached out to Conciliation Officer Peter Lloyd to convene a meeting of the two bargaining teams to try to reach a tentative agreement. Until that meeting takes place, both sides have committed to no strike or lock-out.
(October 28, 2020): The Dalhousie Board of Governors (The Board) and the Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) have been in discussion and recognize that a work stoppage would not be in the best interests of our community. There will be no strike or lock-out at this time.
The Board and the Dalhousie Faculty Association have agreed to request the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education to appoint a conciliation board to assist us in reaching renewal of our collective agreement. A conciliation board will include nominees from both the Board and DFA. The timing for the conciliation board process is to be determined, recognizing both parties will fully engage and respect the conciliation board process.
Together, we have agreed that we will not be making additional public statements in regards to negotiations, but will certainly ensure relevant updates for our community are shared as soon as they are available.
We appreciate our community’s patience and we look forward to reaching a resolution.
(October 26, 2020) Today, more than 95% of the members of the Dalhousie Faculty Association have voted to reject the offer made by the Dalhousie Board of Governors during conciliation last week. A total of 865 members – representing 90% of the DFA bargaining unit – cast a ballot in the vote which ended today at 1 pm. “This strong vote to reject the Board’s “best offer”, coupled with a strike mandate of higher than 90% delivered in early October, puts us in a strong and clear position as we continue to try and negotiate an agreement with the Board,” says DFA President David Westwood.
Conciliation talks broke off on October 19 after the Board presented its best offer. The offer contained an extremely poor monetary package and continued to push for pension concessions, in addition to rejecting all non-monetary proposals made by the DFA. “The Board is pushing us out on a strike by continuing to demand changes to our pension plan,” explains Westwood. “Last week, the Department of Labour proposed a conciliation board, and the Dalhousie Board of Governors refused.”
Today, the DFA sent a request to the Board suggesting a conciliation board be struck to try and save the fall term from disruption. In a conciliation board, an experienced mediator chairs a board made up of conciliation members representing each party. This approach can often come up with solutions that both parties can accept, resulting in a settlement and avoiding job actions.
As of Friday, November 6, the DFA will be in a legal strike position and the Board will be in a legal lock-out position, provided either side gives 48 hours’ notice of job action. The two sides are scheduled to meet with the Board via conciliation officer Peter Lloyd on November 3 and 4 to try and reach an agreement before then. “Nobody wants a strike,” emphasizes Westwood. “It causes disruption and uncertainty for everyone - students, faculty and staff alike. I am hopeful that the Board will eventually hear our voices: they need to recognize that protecting our pension plan is a top priority and we are not prepared to let it go. They need to engage with us in a more reasonable manner, and they need to drop their bullying tactics so that we can reach a deal and return to our work without any additional and unnecessary stress.”
Back in May, the Board rejected DFA’s initial approach, which was to delay bargaining for a year and allow time for some of the uncertainty related to COVID-19 to settle down. The current collective agreement expired June 30, 2020. The two sides met seven times during the summer and were unable to reach an agreement. Conciliation broke down October 19 after only a few hours. Conciliation officer Peter Lloyd filed his report with the Department of Labour October 22, starting the 14-day countdown to legal job action.
(October 19, 2020): Conciliation between the Dalhousie Faculty Association and the Board of Governors has failed. “While today was the first of two days scheduled for conciliation, we reached an impasse this morning,” says DFA President David Westwood. “The Board presented their best offer, and they have not moved on a few critical issues related to our pension that are unacceptable to our members. At a time when the university needs everyone working together, the Board is choosing to push our members to the brink.”
“The Board rejected our initial approach, which was to delay bargaining for a year and allow time for some of the uncertainty related to COVID-19 to settle down,” notes Westwood. “Instead, they chose to push ahead and attack existing pension benefits of our members, demanding changes that will disadvantage both future and current retirees.”
The Board’s offer will be presented to the DFA membership later this week and they will be asked to vote on whether or not to accept the offer. Earlier this month, the DFA membership delivered a strong strike mandate – almost 91% of the voting membership said “yes” to strike action in support of DFA’s position at the table. Nearly 87% of DFA members cast a vote.
“They know the results of our strike vote, so they understand that by demanding these changes they are triggering a labour disruption which will further increase the stress and pressure on students as they try to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic,” continues Westwood. “If the Board genuinely wants stability, as they claim in their messaging, the easiest way is to back off their demands for unnecessary and unacceptable reductions to existing pension benefits.”
The current collective agreement expired June 30, 2020. Since mid-July, the two sides met seven times and were unable to reach an agreement. The DFA filed for conciliation on September 22. Now that conciliation has failed, Peter Lloyd, conciliation officer, will file his report with the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. Once that report has been filed, there is a 14-day waiting period before either side can engage in legal job action.
(October 5, 2020) More than 90% of the members who cast ballots in the recent DFA strike vote said “yes” to strike action in support of the bargaining team's position in collective bargaining. A total of 86.7% of the DFA Membership participated in the vote that closed midnight on Monday, October 5, 2020. Of those who voted, 90.6% voted in favour of strike action.“This gives our bargaining team a powerful strike mandate as we head into conciliation later this month,” says DFA President David Westwood. “Our members have given the Board of Governors a clear and unambiguous message: we will not accept their demands for unreasonable economic concessions on pensions and wages.” The Board tabled their most recent offer on September 18. It included reductions in pension benefits and three years without salary adjustments to reflect cost of living increases. The DFA filed for conciliation on September 22. Conciliation officer Peter Lloyd has been appointed. Conciliation will take place October 19 and 22. (This was covered in the Chronicle Herald, NS Advocate, Halifax Today and allnovascotia.com)
(September 22, 2020) Today, the DFA filed for a provincially-appointed conciliator to assist in talks with Dalhousie’s Board of Governors for a new Collective Agreement. The current Collective Agreement expired June 30, 2020. Since mid-July, the two sides have met seven times to exchange and discuss proposals. “We remain far apart on several issues and believe that the best course of action at this point is to see if a conciliator can bring us closer together,” says DFA President David Westwood.
In mid-September, the DFA conducted a workload survey. Over 71% of our Membership (630 of 967) responded to the survey, a response rate which demonstrates the importance of workload issues to DFA Members. More than 85% of respondents reported higher/substantially higher levels of stress when compared to last year. They also reported feeling overworked and anxious. In addition to quantitative results, the comments strongly reflect a common theme among our Members - feeling disrespected by the Board’s demands for serious economic concessions at a time when they are working harder than ever to deliver the academic mission of the institution. On Tuesday, September 22, DFA President Dave Westwood sent the results to Dalhousie President Deep Saini and copied all Deans, expressing DFA's concerns about the health and well-being of our Members. You can see the full quantitative results and brief summary of the comments here.
The DFA office has received many enquiries about issues related to copyright, particularly in the context of on-line teaching. I thought it would be helpful to summarize the key points, and recommendations, that arise from our Collective Agreement. For reference, Article 23 addresses issues related to Copyrights, Patents and Author's Rights.
As always, please reach out to the DFA Office for support (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have concerns about your working conditions.
Dave Westwood, DFA President 2020-2021