Bargaining

Bargaining Information

Negotiations between the University of Lethbridge and the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) concluded on March 21, 2022, following the ratification of a new four-year collective agreement.

In addition to providing information about collective bargaining processes and providing updates about the status of negotiations, this site also provides detail about return to learning and return to work processes.

Unless otherwise indicated, updates on this page are attributed to the University of Lethbridge Collective Bargaining Team.

Our new collective agreement with ULFA offers fair and reasonable raises and benefits to our colleagues, while ensuring access to high-quality education and protecting the university’s long-term sustainability. The University’s future is bright and we look forward to the opportunities ahead.

Recent Updates

Earlier today the University’s General Faculties Council, which is comprised of faculty, students and administrators, discussed revised Spring 2022 and Summer 2022 academic term dates as well as providing students with grading options (credit/non-credit).

Spring 2022 term classes will re-launch on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.  The revised and approved official last day of classes and the end of the Spring 2022 term is Thursday, May 5, 2022.

Classes will continue on the days and times as originally scheduled. Due to the Easter holiday, classes that occur on Mondays or Fridays will have a final class meeting that is on a different day of the week. The chart below articulates the final scheduled class meeting for each day of the week.

Class meeting days 

Date of Final Class

Monday 

Wednesday, May 4 (make-up day)  

Tuesday 

03-May  

Wednesday 

27-Apr  

Thursday 

28-Apr 

Friday 

Thursday, May 5 (make-up day) 

Saturday 

30-Apr  

 

No exam period 

If you have a course that meets on multiple days, you will continue to attend class until the latest date. For example, if your class is held on:

  • Tu/Th, your last class will be on Tuesday, May 3
  • M/W, your last class will be on Wednesday, May 4
  • M/W/F, your last class will be on Thursday, May 5
  • W, your last class will be on Wednesday, April 27
  • Sat, your last class will be on Saturday, April 30

The delivery method of your course will be the same as it was prior to the labour disruption. Classes taught online before the labour disruption will continue online for the rest of this semester, including exams. Experiential courses that were delivered in-person prior to strike/lockout will be allowed to continue in-person when classes resume.

Summer 2022

Below are the new dates for the Summer 2022 term. Registration for Summer 2022 will open on March 28.

Event

Full Summer Term

Summer Session l

Summer Session ll (unchanged)

Summer Session ll/lll

(unchanged)

Summer Session lll

(unchanged)

First day of classes 

May 9 

May 9 

July 4 

July 4 

August 3 

Reading Week 

removed 

n/a 

n/a 

n/a 

n/a 

Last day of classes 

August 4 

June 20 

July 22 

August 15 

August 23 

First day of final exams 

August 6 

June 21 

July 25 

August 16 

August 24 

Last day of final exams 

August 15 

June 24 

July 25 

August 17 

August 24 

 

GFC also approved the following motion on credit/non-credit options for students:

General Faculties Council approved the re-opening of the opportunity to request to use the Credit/No Credit Designation after students have received their final grades. The opportunity will re-open beginning May 5, 2022 and will be available until May 17, 2022. The University may approve the use of Credit/No Credit in limited circumstances in a broader range of situations, at the request of a student, with implementation details to follow.

Information about the implications of credit/non-credit and the online request process will be sent to students later in the term.

Sincerely,

Erasmus Okine, Ph.D.

Provost and Vice-President (Academic)

The University is currently reactivating uleth email accounts of its faculty members. While some accounts have already been activated, the entire process may take a few more hours. The Provost’s Office is sending by email important return to work information to faculty. In an effort to ensure timely access to the message for those who wish to review it this evening  (as email continues to be restored), the message can also be found here.

The strike and lockout at the University of Lethbridge is ending, following the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association’s (ULFA) vote in support of a new collective agreement on Monday. The University Board of Governors ratified the agreement on Saturday.

Faculty members will return to work tomorrow under the guidance of a negotiated Return to Work protocol. All student academic activities, including classes, research and placements, will resume Wednesday.

Consistent with the University’s commitment to collegial governance, an amended academic schedule will be addressed through General Faculties Council processes that include student and faculty representatives. The process is commencing immediately. A finalized schedule will be shared with the University community as soon as this process concludes.

The agreement promises labour stability for the foreseeable future and addresses significant areas of concern ULFA brought forward during mediation last week. It reflects recommendations made in the mediator’s report.

The new collective agreement also protects the University’s ability to maintain equitable access to affordable, high-quality education, which is fundamental to our future, and the futures of our faculty, employees and students.

The University recognizes the last several weeks have been challenging, especially for students. It is committed to rebuilding its relationship with faculty and making immediate adjustments to protect our students’ interests over the next few weeks.

The University Board of Governors is grateful to all students, faculty, staff and community members for their patience, understanding and support during the labour dispute and looks forward to building a brighter, more sustainable future as one of Canada’s pre-eminent research institutions.

- University Board of Governors

The University of Lethbridge Board of Governors has voted to ratify the terms of a new collective agreement with the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA), following yesterday’s conclusion of enhanced mediation this week.

The University’s vote was based on recommendations contained in the mediator’s written report.

The Board looks forward to a successful ratification vote by the ULFA members later, in which case faculty and students could be welcomed back to classes next week.

Further details will be shared as they become available, including a potential timeline for return to classes.

The mediation process between the University of Lethbridge and the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) has concluded. The mediator has written a report and has made recommendations that may be considered as part of a new collective agreement.

Any agreement would need to be ratified by both parties before it is finalized.

The University thanks the mediator, who enabled collaboration between the administration and faculty association.

The University is hopeful progress made through mediation will result in the quick return of faculty and students to classes.

We will share further details about the outcome of the mediation process as they are available.

Today, the University of Lethbridge and the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) begin a new mediation effort.

Mediation is scheduled for multiple dates this week, and we are hopeful it will lead to a resolution that invites students and faculty back to class soon.

The University remains committed to settling an agreement that respects the value of our faculty, honours our responsibilities to students, and protects the University’s fundamental need for financial stability and long-term sustainability.

We will keep students and other stakeholders informed about mediation updates as they become available.

 

The University of Lethbridge and the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) have agreed to enter a process both parties hope will bring an end to the labour disruption, which has been ongoing since Feb. 10, 2022.

The parties have agreed to seek the assistance of David Jones, QC to settle the terms of a future collective agreement. The parties will meet with Mr. Jones for multiple sessions of enhanced mediation in the coming weeks which we hope will lead to a negotiated resolution to this dispute.

Should the process not lead to a negotiated settlement, the University and ULFA have agreed to solicit a report and recommendations from the mediator, which could form the basis of a reasonable and fair collective agreement.

The University remains committed to settling an agreement that respects the value of our faculty, honours our responsibilities to students, and protects the University’s fundamental need for financial stability, and long-term sustainability.

 

The University of Lethbridge and its faculty researchers have a sterling reputation as responsible and valuable stewards of research funding including funding administered per the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration (TAGFA).

In a letter dated March 1, 2022, ULFA made allegations that the University is not complying with Tri-Agency policies, including those pertaining to the payment of employees during a labour disruption.

The University has shared its procedures with the Tri-Agencies and has confirmed it is in full compliance of the TAGFA.

Further, the University continues to honour all non-faculty contracts, including hourly employees, and its obligations to pay employees for work performed in a manner compliant with both University and TAGFA policies.

Claims of this nature risk severe damage to the reputation of the University and to its researchers who are recipients of Tri-Agency grants.

 

On February 28, 2022, the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) made an application to the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) under Section 16 of the Labour Relations Code. The Notice to Employer and Employees can be found here.

 

The labour disruption at the University of Lethbridge is a challenging time for our entire campus community.

This week employees may encounter University of Lethbridge students exercising their legitimate right to protest on our campuses, through sit-ins or other forms of action. We understand that this may create some apprehension. As these activities unfold our community has a shared responsibility to respect these rights of students, in an atmosphere of mutual respect. 

During the first two weeks of the strike picketers and those crossing the picket line have conducted themselves appropriately. We anticipate that all strike related activities will continue to be lawful and undertaken with due consideration of safety and regard for others.

Please do not disrupt protests. Campus safety is aware that students may exercise their right to protest and is prepared to support all students and employees through these challenging times. If you have concerns with protocols for managing your work space please speak with your supervisor.

Campus Safety is available should any specific concern arise and may be contacted at 1(403)329-2603. It is located in L911, which is located in the LINC (Library) building adjacent to the Starbucks.

Erasmus Okine, PhD

Provost and Vice-President (Academic)

 

The University of Lethbridge is increasingly concerned about the impacts of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) strike on students and the union’s refusal to meet at the negotiating table to discuss our fiscal circumstances.

Since 2019/20, our provincial grant has been cut by more than 20%. We have lost $21M in annual provincial funding.

The University community has made significant contributions and sacrifices to adjust to this funding gap, including: 

● 21% tuition increases for students

● 0% raises for non-union workers since 2015

● 85 non-ULFA jobs lost through attrition and layoffs

● 0 new hires for 17 academic vacancies  

Meanwhile, the University has ensured faculty members remain well-compensated and their jobs protected throughout this time. 

● Over the last decade, our faculty have enjoyed 34% raises through their collective agreement. 

○ Median salaries for assistant, associate and full professors range from $108,000 to $178,000 per year. 

○ Nearly 30% of faculty earn between $140,000 to $260,000 per year. 

During mediation in January, the University offered ULFA members more: 3.25% raises, in addition to other raises faculty already receive for career progression and merit. As a result, the University and ULFA were within a 1% salary gap. 

ULFA responded by pulling out of the mediation process and demanding 12% raises.

Mediation has successfully resolved other post-secondary collective bargaining negotiations. 

The University was disappointed when ULFA abandoned the process. The union used mediation as a pretext to strike. It promised members a strike was not a certainty or would be very short. The University cautioned a strike would be lengthy because of its inability to fund raises beyond 3.25%.

ULFA’s demands convey a misunderstanding of the institution’s financial position and improper regard for students, other employees and the University’s long-term sustainability. 

Despite contrary claims, ULFA has refused repeated invitations to meet since Feb. 15 to discuss more reasonable salary demands. 

We continue to welcome ULFA to meet at the collective bargaining table for serious negotiations in the hopes of ending the ULFA strike and welcoming students back to class.

 

The University of Lethbridge congratulates Mount Royal University and the Mount Royal University Faculty Association on the recent ratification of a new four-year collective agreement.

The published mediator’s report shows both sides in the Mount Royal University negotiation have agreed to salary terms identical to those proposed by the University of Lethbridge during mediation with the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) on Jan. 17, 2022.

University of Lethbridge Salary Offer

Salary increase

Mount Royal University Negotiated Agreement

Jul.1, 2020

0%

Jul.1, 2020

Jul.1, 2021

0%

Jul.1, 2021

Jul. 1, 2022

0%

Jul. 1, 2022

Apr. 1, 2023

1.25%

Apr. 1, 2023

Dec.1, 2023

1.5%

Dec.1, 2023

Feb. 29, 2024

(subject to Gain Sharing conditions)

0.5%

Feb. 29, 2024

(subject to Gain Sharing conditions)

The Mount Royal University salary agreement sets a responsible precedent for post-secondary faculty negotiations. It recognizes the value and contribution of faculty members while respecting the institution’s budgetary responsibilities to students, other employees, and community stakeholders.

The University of Lethbridge is optimistic that it will encourage ULFA to adopt a more reasonable salary position that will permit negotiations to resume.

 

The University of Lethbridge is eager to resume collective bargaining with the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) and welcome students and faculty back to campus. It intends to pursue productive discussions that address the concerns brought forward by ULFA within a financial and governance framework transparently presented at the collective bargaining table. 

Progress has been impeded by ULFA’s opposition to this framework. This challenge has been unique to the University of Lethbridge collective bargaining process and has not been a hallmark of labour negotiations at other post-secondary institutions.

  • ULFA continues to demand salary increases that expand the 1% gap both sides had achieved in January, which forces the University into an untenable financial position.
  • ULFA continues to demand operational control of the University through co-management schemes, which no other post-secondary labour unions have sought. This would create unacceptable conflicts of interest that run counter to the principles of effective post-secondary governance. 

The University’s collective bargaining negotiations are guided by its commitment to providing exceptional and affordable education in a way that protects the sustainability of the institution - and its independent ability to act in the interests of many stakeholders - not only those represented by an academic association.

The University’s bargaining team believes a mutually beneficial collective agreement is most successfully negotiated when both parties focus on benefiting those for whom they are responsible. ULFA’s job is to negotiate a collective agreement for its members. The University’s job is to responsibly steward the institution, serve students, and balance the interests of employees and stakeholders within the limits of its budget. 

The University takes these responsibilities seriously.

The University will continue to seek opportunities to negotiate a collective agreement with ULFA that reflects the fiscal and economic realities our institution has faced over the last several years, and fulfills our broader commitment to creating an exceptional learning environment for all of our students, faculty, staff and community.

 

Over its nearly 60 years in the Lethbridge community, the University of Lethbridge has always respected and valued the input of our faculty to the governance of our post-secondary institution. This commitment to collaboration improves academic outcomes for our students, staff and community.

For this reason, in January, a Faculty member was added to our Budget Advisory Committee, which develops recommendations for the University’s budget allocation. This latest step is just one of many governance initiatives where faculty members and representatives from the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) offer invaluable perspective and input. Examples of governance bodies with Faculty representation include:

  1. An ULFA representative is a member of the University of Lethbridge Board of Governors
  2. ULFA sits on the Board of Governors Governance Committee
  3. Faculty members are members of the University of Lethbridge Board of Governors
  4. Faculty members are on the Board of Governors Advancement Committee
  5. Faculty members make up the majority of the University of Lethbridge General Faculties Council
  6. Faculty members are members of the GFC Strategic Planning Committee
  7. Faculty members are members of the GFC Curriculum Coordinating Committee
  8. Faculty members are members of the GFC Academic Quality Assurance Committee
  9. Faculty members are members of the GFC Research Planning Committee
  10. Faculty members are members of the GFC Admissions Standards Committee
  11. Faculty members participate in the University budgeting process through the University’s Budget Advisory Committee
  12. Faculty members are members of the University of Lethbridge Senate.

It is the University’s collective responsibility to steward the institution on behalf of the people of Alberta, and to ensure it is meeting the needs of students, while effectively balancing the interests of employees and other stakeholders efficiently and effectively.

As an academic union, ULFA’s duty is always to its members. ULFA’s exclusive authority is to negotiate and enter into collective agreements with the board, on behalf of academic staff.

ULFA is not mandated to consider the interests of students, any other university stakeholder.

The University’s primary mandate is to ensure students are provided an exceptional, and most importantly, affordable education.  We are currently in a challenging economic situation that requires difficult choices.  Our University governance is positioned to make those choices based on the input of many stakeholders, including our faculty.

While the University actively seeks and incorporates the valuable input of our Faculty on important management decisions, co-management arrangements with ULFA (as distinct from collegial governance with academic staff) would create unacceptable conflicts of interest that run counter to the principles of effective post-secondary governance.

The University will not entertain co-management arrangements that prevent it from independently prioritizing the interests of stakeholders such as students before the interests of an academic union- whose mandate is limited to contract negotiation.

ULFA’s most recent salary demand repeats a pattern of inconsistency that has only widened the negotiating gap. This prevents progress at the bargaining table and prolongs the strike, which negatively impacts students.

The University looks forward to resuming negotiations once ULFA has rectified its pattern of inconsistent and unproductive salary negotiation, and recognized that its demands for co-management run counter to the principles of responsible post-secondary governance.

 

The University is duty-bound to negotiate fair collective agreements that respect the value of our faculty and employees, protect student interests, and ensure the future sustainability of the institution.

The University of Lethbridge Faculty Association’s (ULFA) Feb. 10 demand for 12% salary increases did not reflect equity or parity with most other Alberta workplaces. It was out of touch with today’s economic realities. 

ULFA acknowledged this late Sunday night and presented a more reasonable offer for consideration at the bargaining table. This is encouraging, and the university looks forward to continued good-faith bargaining in pursuit of a fair agreement that protects students' interests and the institution’s financial sustainability. 

Negotiated salary increases must reflect the University’s existing budget shortfall and other annual raises for ULFA members already stipulated in the Collective Agreement. 

University of Lethbridge faculty members receive a raise of $3,225 per year, every year ($2,600 per year allocated as a career progress payment, and $625 per year in merit pay). 

University of Lethbridge's annual reports shows these annual increases have contributed to more than 34% salary growth for ULFA members over the last decade. 

The University remains confident that the ULFA strike action can be ended through collaborative negotiation that complements the 34% salary gains made by ULFA members over the last decade, while protecting student access to high-quality education for students, in a fair and respectful workplace for our faculty and staff.

 

After collective bargaining broke down Thursday because of the ULFA strike, ULFA’s lead negotiator sent a formal communication to the University bargaining team, clarifying the union's reversion to its demand for 12% salary raises to be paid over a four-year collective agreement.

This is a significant departure from bargaining positions taken during mediation, in which both sides had negotiated to within 1% on salary.

This raise would be in addition to other regular annual increases already included in the Collective Agreement. $2,600 per faculty member per year is allocated for career progress increments. Faculty members are also eligible for additional annual merit pay. These annual increases amount to an average 2.5% salary increase for ULFA members.

Requesting an additional 12% raise is out of step with the economic and workplace realities faced by Albertans and all post-secondary institutions. 

It is three times higher than recent raises accepted by Alberta’s nurse's union and the province’s largest union of public sector employees. It is not sustainable for the University nor affordable for its students.

The University looks forward to negotiating a more reasonable salary position with ULFA as soon as possible.

 

The University of Lethbridge has advised the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) that its members are legally prohibited from accessing University workplaces as of 11 a.m. 

A lockout is a labour negotiation action regulated by the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

The University has taken lockout action to ensure a consistent, safe, and legal approach to managing the impacts of the ULFA strike. 

A lockout allows the University to maintain operational responsibilities and control any potential health, safety or liability issues that may arise during a strike.

This action also defends the University’s priority commitment to students by precluding any unfair circumstances in which ULFA members might be enabled to conduct non-essential research for professional and academic benefit, while at the same time withholding instructional services from students.

During the lockout, students, non-ULFA employees and the public will have regular access to campus buildings and amenities. ULFA members will be permitted to attend on the Lethbridge campus and cross the picket line to access the University’s daycare or to access and any registered activities their children are enrolled and participating in.

To learn more about lockouts, please visit the ALRB FAQs.

 

Collective bargaining between the University of Lethbridge and the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) has broken off because ULFA members have begun legal strike action today. 

The University met with ULFA as recently as this morning in an attempt to find resolution.

The association’s choice to take job action follows several bargaining sessions during which the University presented various settlement offers that included pay raises and protection of benefits and academic freedom. 

The University remains committed to negotiating a fair collective agreement with the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA). 

The ULFA strike will impact all University stakeholders and halt all faculty-led instruction for nearly 9,000 University of Lethbridge students. 

During the strike, students will not:

  • attend courses,
  • have assignments or examinations, or 
  • engage in any faculty-supported activities (unless supervising faculty members are excluded through an essential service designation).

More information about the impacts of the strike on students can be found in our Student FAQs.

FAQs for non-academic university staff are here.
 

Students will remain the University’s top priority throughout the labour disruption. The University has established contingency plans to help mitigate impacts and support students. These plans are being shared with students and other stakeholders at appropriate times, through the strike action. General information on student support is also available in our Student FAQs. 

The University looks forward to resuming negotiations with ULFA soon, and to discussing more reasonable positions than ULFA’s demand for 12% raises. This is three times the salary increase recently awarded to Alberta’s front-line nurses, and not sustainable to the University nor affordable for our students. 

In order to ensure a consistent, safe, and legal approach to managing the impacts of the strike, the University will formally close all workplaces to ULFA members at 11 a.m. Friday morning. 

We appreciate the anxiety and inconvenience this circumstance causes for students, and remain committed to doing our utmost to achieve resolution through a good-faith collective bargaining process as quickly as possible.

 

The University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) has advised that its members will be on legal strike at 11 a.m., Thursday, February 10, 2022. 

A strike will halt all academic instruction and research activities, and profoundly impact our students, employees, families, and community. 

Students will have no classes or academic supervision during a strike.  

The University expects a prolonged strike, which could threaten our semester. As one of Canada’s pre-eminent post-secondary learning and research institutions, we are duty-bound to protect our students' interests and access to high-quality education. 

The University hopes to proceed in a good-faith bargaining process that avoids strike action and leads to a fair and equitable agreement. We are concerned that recent positions taken by ULFA have been counterproductive to our ability to make progress.

ULFA’s repeated demand for double-digit percentage salary increases - nearly three times greater than those already accepted by nurses and public sector workers, and after both sides had negotiated to within a 1% salary gap - is out-of-touch with today’s economic and workplace realities. 

ULFA’s immediate move to strike also contradicts repeated assurances a strike mandate was for bargaining leverage, and job action was not a certainty. 

ULFA’s approach has resulted in lost opportunities to make progress in negotiating a fair collective agreement and forced the University to file a Bad Faith Bargaining complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB).

Keeping with our commitment to do everything possible to avoid disruption to the semester, the University has also submitted an urgent interim application to delay the onset of any strike action, until the ALRB has had sufficient time to rule on the Bad Faith Bargaining complaint.

In response to the strike notice, the University has also applied to the ALRB for a lockout, which would formally close University workplaces to ULFA members. A lockout ensures a safe and consistent approach to managing the impacts of job action across a large institution with multiple worksites. 

The University respectfully encourages ULFA to present solutions that are less provocative and more compelling in future collective bargaining meetings so both parties might make progress toward a resolution that prevents work stoppage.  

We remain committed to a professional and respectful negotiation and using all available tools to prevent disruptions to learning.

We understand this causes concern and anxiety for our students and university stakeholders. The university has taken steps to mitigate the impact of a strike and will share contingency support plans with students, employees, and other stakeholders in the coming days.

 

The University of Lethbridge has been dedicated to a professional and respectful collective bargaining process with the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) focused on reaching a fair and equitable collective agreement that demonstrates our ongoing commitment to our faculty, respects current fiscal and budgetary pressures the University faces, and ensures our commitment to deliver a post-secondary education to students is second to none. 

The University bargaining team has been willing to engage in substantive discussions with the very clear intent of avoiding a labour disruption. We recognize that a ULFA strike will threaten the academic semester and the education of University of Lethbridge students. A strike of any duration will have a negative impact on our culture, community, and the livelihoods of many not associated with the Faculty Association.

It has become evident that ULFA does not share the university’s commitment to avoiding labour disruption. We regret that positions taken by the ULFA bargaining team this week prohibit meaningful progress in negotiation, which has forced the University’s Collective Bargaining team to file a Bad Faith Bargaining complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB). 

ULFA’s bargaining team has withdrawn from salary discussions, effectively derailing a negotiation that was on a path to resolution just weeks ago. Previously disclosed settlement offers from both sides recorded a mere 1% gap in salary negotiations. ULFA’s bargaining team has also re-opened several contract issues that the University understood that for all practical purposes were previously resolved through successful negotiation and the mediation process.

These developments are disheartening and move us closer to a strike action.

Our hope is that ULFA will return to the bargaining table with clear intent to negotiate a collective agreement that respects the contribution and value of its members, protects student access to high-quality education, and the sustainable future of our institution.

We will continue to keep our students and staff informed as the collective bargaining process unfolds.

 

The objective of the University of Lethbridge’s bargaining team is to seek a mutually beneficial collective agreement with the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA), respecting the contributions and value of our colleagues, student access to high-quality educational opportunities, and responsible governance.

Above all else, we remain dedicated to supporting our students. We share students’ concerns about academic delays that could be caused by ULFA job action, and their potential threat to the completion of the Spring 2022 semester.

The University is doing its utmost to avoid that outcome, and to protect student interests. 

We are committed to the professional and respectful collective bargaining process, as legislated by the Alberta government and regulated by the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB). The University is also mandated to provide students with a minimum number of instructional hours. 

Recent mediation - in which the University and ULFA presented settlement offers, has not resulted in resolution. 

We are eager to return to negotiations. 

At the same time, we are prepared in the event ULFA members vote in favour of job action. 

If the ALRB grants ULFA permission to strike, the Faculty Association must serve 72 hours’ notice in advance of abandoning their instructional duties to students and research and service activities.

Impacts of Faculty Association Strike on Students:

A Faculty Association strike will halt all faculty-led student learning and research opportunities at the University. 

Prolonged instructional delay threatens student outcomes below, and may result in the loss of the entire Spring 2022 semester:

  • course completion;
  • delays issuing final grades required for applications for graduation, graduate studies and other admissions;
  • disruption to applied learning placements, job placements, convocation, and employment timelines; and 
  • travel requirements for international students

Impacts of Faculty Association Strike on Faculty:

A Faculty Association strike will pause employment for all members, including faculty and sessional instructors. During the strike period, members will be unable to:

  • offer student instruction and supervision,
  • conduct or support academic research, or 
  • access any online academic platforms including email 

These potential consequences are profound, but can be avoided.   

The University is confident that through collaborative negotiation with ULFA, we can achieve a sustainable outcome that ensures ongoing access to high-quality education for students, in a fair and respectful workplace for our faculty and staff.

As a show of good faith, the University is renewing its commitment to the bargaining principles of trust, transparency, and confidentiality. Therefore, from today, the University will not publicly divulge or discuss matters presented at the bargaining table. 

We will use this space to keep our students and university community informed about key events related to the negotiations, and what steps the university is taking to manage the impacts of potential interruptions to learning and student operations.

 

In recent days, there has been talk about the possibility of labour disruption at the University of Lethbridge. We know these conversations are adding stress to an already busy term, which we regret. The University is committed to continuing to bargain in good faith with the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association to avoid any interruption to the academic year. This is why we entered into mediation and why we are so disappointed with its outcome.

The University values the work our faculty and staff undertake every day to make our University great, and to serve our students. Despite the historically challenging times we are all facing, the University has presented the faculty association with an offer that would provide pay raises, maintain benefits, continue to protect academic freedom, and strengthen equity, diversity and inclusion on our campuses. If you would like to learn more about this proposal or the bargaining process in general, please visit our bargaining website. The University commits to providing regular updates to students throughout the semester, and updates relating to the ongoing negotiation process will be posted on this website. 

Providing an excellent student experience is our top priority, and we encourage you to maintain your focus on your studies. We recognize that these matters may create stress, and we encourage you to access student counselling supports and services as needed. The University will not waver on our commitment to the sustainability and accessibility of our institution for the benefit of our students.

 

Earlier today, the University of Lethbridge Board negotiating team presented the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) bargaining team with an official Offer of Settlement. The Offer includes pay increases for all ULFA members as well as agreement and concession on a number of priority areas that ULFA has identified. This Offer is a result of productive discussions between the parties occurring during both the informal and formal mediation process which began on November 29, 2021.

In the period 2019-20 to 2022/23, the Government of Alberta will have cut the University's operating grant by 21 per cent. Additionally, COVID-related expenses and related loss of revenues are more than $8 million. The University has been required to make some very difficult decisions considering our financial realities including the elimination of approximately 10 per cent of our total work force. Additionally, the economic realities have been extremely difficult for some of our community members, including students who have incurred three years of seven per cent tuition increases and non-unionized staff who have had their salaries frozen by the Alberta government (both COLA and merit) since 2015.

Below is an overview of some of the significant items contained in the Offer of Settlement provided to the ULFA negotiating team on January 17, 2022. Our university community can read the Offer of Settlement which has been posted here.

Salary

The Board negotiating team is offering ULFA members cost of living salary increases of 1.25 per cent on April 1, 2023, and 1.5 per cent on December 1, 2023. These increases are in addition to annual career progress and merit increases which is approximately 2.5 per cent each year. ULFA members would also be entitled to an additional 0.5 percent in February 2024 (retroactive to December 1, 2023) based on a formula that measures Alberta’s economic performance. This represents significant progress from the Board’s opening position.  This Offer contains no proposed salary rollbacks in any year of the proposed agreement.

Benefits

The Board is proposing to maintain its commitment to the current benefit packages afforded to ULFA members. Further, the Board has agreed to ULFA's proposal to expand some benefit coverage, to be paid by Members.

Job Security (Financial Emergency)

ULFA expressed concern that the Board negotiating team had proposed to lower the threshold to declare a financial emergency. The Board negotiating team heard ULFA’s concerns and it has rescinded this language, to maintain the current threshold of job security for ULFA members.

Academic Freedom, Representation and Accompaniment

The Board negotiating team was seeking language to clarify academic freedom, as well as representation and accompaniment. The University removed these items in good faith given concerns expressed by ULFA. The Offer of Settlement proposes the language that exists in the current collective agreement remain unchanged.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI)

EDI is an issue that is of great importance across our university. The Board negotiating team and ULFA came to agreement on a schedule that will lead to important mutual gains with respect to EDI at the U of L.

Assignment of Duties

The Board is proposing to provide ULFA with copies of policies, procedures and guidelines related to the assignment of duties, to further support equity and transparency.

Intellectual Property

The Board negotiating team and ULFA agreed on a proposal which will lead to mutual gains for the University and ULFA membership with respect to supporting intellectual property and the commercialization of research.

Presenting to the University Budget Advisory Committee

The Board negotiating team has offered to ULFA an opportunity to present to the Budget Advisory Committee on an annual basis. Relatedly, the University has recently amended the terms of reference for this committee and membership will now include faculty, staff and both undergraduate and graduate students. Details regarding this change can be found on the budget website.

Partnerships Regarding Student Recruitment

ULFA expressed concern that if the University entered into an agreement with Navitas, that related courses would not be taught by ULFA members. Responding to this concern, the Board has agreed to work with ULFA toward an outcome, where in the case that the University enters into an agreement with Navitas, all academic courses would be taught by ULFA members. The Board negotiating committee has offered to enter into an MOU in this regard.

Recognition for ULFA Executives

In response to an ULFA proposal, the Offer of Settlement provides support for increased time allocation for ULFA executives to attend to ULFA-related duties.

Though significant progress has been achieved through the mediation process, the ULFA bargaining team advised the Board bargaining team late this afternoon that it would be withdrawing from mediation. This results in a mandatory fourteen-day "cooling off" period after which ULFA will be able to ask its members to participate in a strike vote.

Our campus communities have endured great uncertainty due to the global pandemic and historic funding cuts. The Board team feels they have put forward an Offer of Settlement that supports the collective well-being and sustainability of our campus communities. The Board negotiating team is ready to re-engage with the ULFA team at the earliest possibility.

 

Last week, AUPE members employed by the Government of Alberta voted overwhelmingly to ratify an agreement with the employer. The agreement, which includes a 1.25% salary increase effective Jan. 1, 2023, and a minimum 1.5% salary increase (with the potential for additional 0.5% increase based on economic factors) effective Sept. 1, 2023, has received significant media attention. As a result, we have received many questions regarding the status of negotiations with various employee groups and of salary restraint measures for non-bargaining unit employees.

In all instances, the Board’s negotiating teams’ goals are to bargain in good faith within the fiscal reality of a 21 per cent cut to the operating grant by the Government of Alberta and the negative financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and to reach agreements that are mutually acceptable to the parties.

Collective bargaining between the Board of the University of Lethbridge and Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) Local #053
The Board of the University of Lethbridge is currently in negotiations with AUPE, Local 053, representing support staff. The parties met several times this year and have scheduled several more dates for the New Year. Due to a change in Board mandate, on Wednesday, December 15, 2021 the Board’s negotiating committee offered a new proposal on salaries and salary ranges, replacing the proposal made in April 2021. This proposal included salary restraint measures of 0% increases to salaries and salary ranges until April 1, 2023 when a 1.25% increase to salaries and salary ranges would be offered, followed by a 1.5% increase on December 1, 2023 and a potential additional increase of 0.5% on December 1, 2023 to salaries and salary ranges.

Collective bargaining between the Board of the University of Lethbridge and the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA)
In late November, the parties commenced mediation. During this process, limited communication about the details of collective bargaining has been agreed to by both parties. As such, no update may be provided at this time on the details but mediation is ongoing with the hope to reach a mutually agreeable settlement in the new year.

Collective bargaining between the Board of the University of Lethbridge and the University of Lethbridge Graduate Association
The parties met earlier this year to commence negotiations. The parties put bargaining in abeyance due to changes in bargaining committee membership and in bargaining protocols. Negotiations will recommence in the New Year, with dates set in January.

Collective bargaining between the Board of the University of Lethbridge and the University of Lethbridge Postdoctoral Fellows’ Association
Negotiations commenced in 2019 but have been put in abeyance since 2020.

Non-bargaining unit employees salary restraint measures
Another development of last week was that the Government of Alberta announced it was commencing a review of the Salary Restraint Regulation for non-bargaining unit employees with a view to make decisions about changes to compensation to take effect on April 1, 2022. The University of Lethbridge administration will continue to advocate that this regulation be amended for the many employees (Exempt Support Staff, Administrative Professional Officers and senior administration) who have received no increases (cost-of-living or merit/career progress) since 2015.

 

This afternoon, the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) organized an “information rally” regarding the significant and ongoing Government of Alberta cuts to the operating grants of post-secondary institutions throughout Alberta, as well as inform the public that negotiations are ongoing between teams representing the faculty association and the University of Lethbridge Board of Governors.

By the end of 2022/23, the Government of Alberta’s operating support for the University will have been reduced by over 21 per cent since 2019/20. Advocating for ongoing public support for post-secondary education is an important activity, and like ULFA, the University of Lethbridge continues to make the case to the Government of Alberta that investments in post-secondary education will help our city, region and province grow, diversify our economy, and improve the quality of life of Albertans and beyond. 

In late October, the Board negotiating team applied for informal mediation services under the Alberta Labour Relations Code. Informal mediation is an established, positive, and constructive tool for collective bargaining, which supports both parties in reaching mutually acceptable agreements through a neutral third party. The Board negotiation team believes the assistance of an objective third-party mediator is necessary to achieve a resolution.

The Board negotiating team’s goal is to continue to bargain in good faith with ULFA, within the fiscal realities facing publicly-funded universities in Alberta. Our aim is to arrive at an agreement that is mutually acceptable to the Board and ULFA and enables the shared commitment of both parties to serve students, communities, local and regional economies, and society as a whole.

 

The University is aware of the complaint filed by the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) regarding the negotiation of an Essential Service Agreement, and we hope to continue to work with ULFA to reach a fair and equitable solution to this matter.

The U of L values greatly the relationship it has fostered with all its employee groups and respects the contributions faculty and staff make to providing our students with an unrivalled post-secondary educational experience.

As with all the University’s labour negotiations, we will continue to negotiate in good faith to reach a mutually beneficial agreement; and will do so at the bargaining table and not in the media.

 

Due to some unforeseen departures from the University of Lethbridge, the Board’s bargaining team has seen some significant changes over the summer. Dr. Robert Wood (Dean of Health Sciences) has now taken on the responsibility as Lead Negotiator. He is joined on the bargaining team by Ms. Linda van der Velde (Human Resources), Dr. Harold Jansen (Interim University Librarian) and Dr. Richelle Marynowski (Associate Dean, Faculty of Education).  After a summer hiatus which both parties agreed to, the Board team has been working hard at preparing for the resumption of negotiations with the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association . These negotiations are scheduled to resume on September 20, 2021. The team looks forward to positive and constructive discussions with ULFA.

 

Some members of the University Community are talking about the possibility of a labour dispute this summer, which will be a concern for many.  In order to ease these concerns, the Academic Staff Collective Agreement (ASCA) Board Negotiating Team is sharing some information about the mandatory process required under the Alberta Labour Relations Code.

A labour dispute can refer to either a strike or a lockout. A legal strike is a withdrawal of labour initiated by a union. A legal lockout is initiated by an employer.  

For a legal strike or lockout to occur, the following conditions must first be met:

  1. An Essential Services Agreement (ESA) must be signed by the union and the employer (the parties) and accepted by the Alberta Labour Relations Board (LRB).
  2. The parties must have been in collective bargaining and unable to reach a settlement, such that one side or the other believes they are at an impasse.
  3. Mediation between the parties with a Labour Relations Board appointed mediator must fail.
  4. A fourteen-day cooling off period must elapse after the failed mediation. 
  5. The union must apply to the LRB for a supervised strike vote. If an employer wishes to lockout they must apply for a poll.  
  6. In the case of a strike, a majority of those who vote, must vote in favour of the strike. 
  7. A strike or lockout notice must be provided to the other party at least 72 hours prior to the start of the job action. 

The Board Negotiating Team believes that a collective bargaining impasse with respect to the ASCA is not imminent. Nonetheless, the Board of Governors must be responsible and prepared to respond should ULFA initiate a strike. If a strike were to occur, ULFA members would no longer be allowed to engage in teaching, research, or service. Only those academic staff members specified in the ESA would be allowed to access University premises. The bridging conditions of the current collective agreement would be broken, so the parties would need to reach a new collective agreement before academic staff could return to work.

A labour dispute is difficult for all members of a community. The Board Negotiating Team remains optimistic that such a dispute can be avoided. 

 

January 18, 2021

The U of L board negotiating team exchanged opening proposals with ULFA on January 18, 2021, and commenced collective bargaining.

March 21, 2022

Negotiations between the University and ULFA concluded on March 21, 2022, following the ratification of a new four-year collective agreement.

Employee Groups

Staff and faculty compose a number of employee groups on campus. ULFA is one of four unions and the U of L is also home to a number of non-unionized employee groups.