On the Radar Volume 1 Number 3

“On the Radar” is an electronic news bulletin for members of the Association of Administrative and Professional Staff at UBC. It is published on a periodic basis throughout the year under the guidance of the AAPS Communications Committee. Writing and editing by David Harvey. Layout and design by Petra Ormsby. Picture in this issue by Michael St. Claire. Members wishing to make submissions please contact David Harvey at david.harvey@ubc.ca.

In This Issue

Compensation Grievance Update

On November 30th 2004 AAPS filed a grievance with UBC claiming that the University is violating the terms of our collective agreement by failing to compensate the membership at the “50th percentile of a representative comparator market”. As previously reported the parties have agreed to Don Monroe as a “Mediator/Arbitrator”. Mr. Monroe held a first mediation meeting on Tuesday, May 3rd where he met separately with UBC in the morning and AAPS in the afternoon. 

The afternoon session was attended by most of your Executive Board members, staff and legal counsel. AAPS lawyer Drew Schroeder led off and summarized our claim and the legal arguments in favour of it. Executive Director, David Harvey followed up with an outline of the collective agreement provisions starting with the Framework Agreement in 1995 and running through 3 succeeding Agreements on Common Terms of Employment (ACTE 1, 2 and 3). David summarized the Mercer Report of 2000 which indicated that salaries were then 7% to 9% below the mark and also reviewed the Hay report of 2004 which indicates that salaries are now 9% to 11% below the 50th percentile. The Executive Board members each contributed background on the bargaining history and relationship between UBC and AAPS. Heather Hilliard was introduced as the compensation expert AAPS has retained to work with us and UBC through this process.

We understand that Mr. Monroe would like to facilitate a process where he will work with the experts on both sides trying to come up with a resolution. He has scheduled time on the afternoon of Thursday, May 19th for a joint meeting between the parties. A further two days will be scheduled later in May or in early June to see if we can find common ground. Failing a settlement at mediation, Mr. Monroe will become the arbitrator who makes a final and binding ruling on the matter.

We have been asked where is the Public Sector Employers’ Council in all of this? We note that PSEC has approved each of ACTE’s 1, 2 and 3 and the Framework Agreement. It is AAPS position that PSEC should have no participation in this process. It is not the negotiation of a collective agreement but rather the assertion of rights already contained in earlier agreements. We also say that even should PSEC assert participation in the process that the provincial budget clearly provided for market adjustments outside of the current wage controls and this is simply a very-long-overdue market adjustment. PSEC did approve a 63% market adjustment for UBC’s President which made her one of the 3 or 4 best paid presidents in the country. So PSEC should have little difficulty approving a 9% to 11% adjustment that will make UBC’s M&P staff paid slightly better than the M&P staff at small and medium universities in Canada. However, we should expect PSEC to be interested in how this issue is resolved.

UBC has finally (and publicly) recognized that is has some obligation to rectify this matter. In a recent presentation to the AMS outlining proposed tuition increases the University noted the increased costs it is expecting in the coming year and allocated a sum of $1.5 million to “AAPS salary settlement”. This portion of the presentation was on the UBC website, but we have been advised that it was “posted there in error and will be taken down”. [Webpage has now been removed]. We have reprinted the slide below for your consideration (red arrow added by AAPS).

Settlement

 

We have also been advised that the $1.5 million is an allocation “only for the 40% of AAPS members who are on General Purpose Operating Funding” and that it includes allocations for “bargaining, salary adjustments and merit”. We were also told that it is “just a placeholder in the budget process and not a final figure”. The figure is considerably lower than we expect the actual 50th percentile cost to be. However, this is the first time in many years that we have seen UBC state publicly that it intends to move to rectify this historic inequity.

AAPS will press forward with the compensation grievance through the mediation process. We remain hopeful of achieving a positive result in that venue.

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Collective Agreement Negotiations 2005

On May 13th AAPS served notice to UBC to commence collective bargaining in June. The current edition of the agreement (ACTE #3) expires June 30, 2005. Your Executive Board would prefer that we conclude negotiations prior to the expiry of the current agreement. Should that not be the case Article 1.3 of the ACTE requires that it “continue until a new agreement is in place”. UBC has indicated that it is not optimistic that we will find an early settlement to negotiations. The University is making a connection between negotiations to renew the agreement for 2005 and the salary grievance which is based upon the 1995 commitment to meet the 50th percentile salaries target. They have said: “UBC is not in a position to bargain monetary issues while the salary administration grievance filed by AAPS is outstanding.” AAPS does not agree with this position and will be pursuing the matter further with UBC.

We continue to seek member input regarding what can be improved in our agreement. Attendance at the “town hall” member meetings earlier this month was low. You can contribute suggestions by sending issues to us via e-mail. Please forward them to the AAPS office via e-mail ataaps@interchange.ubc.ca

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Benefits 1% Fund Deficit

UBC has notified AAPS of the need to make changes to our health and welfare benefits. As part of the negotiations for ACTE #2 AAPS negotiated improvements to our benefits package, the cost of which “must not exceed 1% of the payroll of the M&P staff represented by AAPS” [ACTE #2 Memorandum of Agreement page 20]. Since 2001 the cost of the benefits improvements has been less than 1% and we have been accumulating a surplus. However, benefits costs everywhere have been rising and UBC calculates that we are in a deficit but not debt situation at present. The accumulated surplus is currently covering the deficit but sometime in 2005 HR expects that we will exhaust the surplus. Sometime prior to that point we will need to work with the membership and UBC to make decisions that will keep the cost of the benefits improvements under 1%.

The 2001 benefits improvements included in the 1% are:

MSP

25% of premiums paid by UBC

Extended Health

  • Added oral contraceptives
  • Added direct pay drug card
  • Hearing aids increased to $900
  • Psychologist maximum increased to $1200/year
  • Limit on massage/physiotherapist increased to $750/year
  • Other health practitioners maximum combined $600/year
  • Vision care increased to $400/2 years
  • Orthotics added at $400/year for adults

Dental

  • Orthodontics increased to 65% coverage with lifetime maximum of $3,000 and coverage extended to include adults.

 

Representatives of the AAPS Executive Board, the Benefits Working Group and David Harvey met with HR in May to discuss the situation. HR presented some initial options for consideration. We have asked the HR staff to look at the situation again and consider as guiding principles:

  1. The impact of any benefits reductions should be distributed across the entire group rather than having a significant negative impact on a small number of people.
  2. Changes that assist members in making cost effective use of benefits are preferred as we thereby increase the number of benefits that can be provided to all members.
  3. Some element of choice for members to address the varying benefits needs of singles, couples, parents etc. is preferred.
  4. Looking beyond just the benefits plan to see where money can be saved to retain the existing levels of benefits.

 

AAPS and HR representatives will meet again in a few months to consider a full range of options. Subsequently, members will be asked for their input prior to making any final decisions.

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Advocacy Issues: Performance Evaluation

Your Advocacy Committee, with the assistance of E.D. David Harvey supports members with issues arising under the collective agreement and with problems in the workplace. This column seeks to inform members about contractual and employment issues.

The topic for this edition is performance evaluation. Article 6 of the ACTE sets clear requirements for the regular review of members’ performance [ACTE Article 6.1.1]. Probationary members must be given two formal evaluations of their performance prior to the end of the 11th month of probation. Post-probationary employees are to be given at least one formal evaluation per year.

Evaluations help both employees and their supervisors clarify what is required by way of performance and identifies what is actually occurring. Regular feedback can assist both parties in heading off serious misunderstandings that can jeopardize the employment relationship. A history of positive evaluations can also help an employee and a new supervisor understand the background of service provided by the member in the past.

There is an excellent explanation of the purpose and uses of the evaluation process in Article 6 of the ACTE [page 5]. Some additional basic principles about performance evaluation:

  • Feedback between a supervisor and staff member should be a regular, on-going feature of the relationship. It shouldn’t be a “once-per-year” activity.
  • Anything worth mentioning in a formal evaluation was worth mentioning at the time it occurred. Both learning and motivation are best enhanced by timely discussion of events.
  • The corollary to this is that nothing on a formal evaluation should be a surprise. Rather, the formal evaluation should actually be a summary of issues previously addressed.

The Advocacy Committee has found itself dealing with performance issues that do not comply with the basic principles. These include:

  1. Issues that are raised for the first time, long after the event in question.
  2. Long service employees who have never had a formal evaluation.
  3. Probationary terminations where little or no formal evaluation has been conducted, leaving the member to guess whether she was doing well or not.

M&P staff members are often both supervisor and employee. We can each help “facilitate, create and sustain a flexible, self-managing and self-sustaining organization that produces high performance and a high quality of work life” [ACTE Article 6]. The most important thing you can do is engage your staff and your supervisor in regular discussions about how things are going. Here are some sample questions to add to your own ideas:

  • What is going well?
  • What can I help improve?
  • What could I learn that would help me do a better job?

The other important thing to do is to ensure that formal performance evaluations are conducted for you and your staff on a regular basis – it is doubly important now that M&P merit pay depends upon these evaluations being completed. It is especially critical that probationary evaluations occur early enough for the employee to make any significant changes that the department requires.

If you have questions about this or any other term of the collective agreement, please contact the AAPS office at 822-9025 or speak to a member of the Advocacy Committee.

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AAPS Executive Board Endorses UBC Mediation Pilot Project

At its May meeting the Executive Board voted to endorse the UBC Mediation Pilot Project. The project is being led by Equity Advisor Lori Charvat who identified a need to mediate conflict between staff members that is NOT about a human rights complaint. With the support of Human Resources, Lori has put together a program that provides informal, facilitated dialogue between two or more parties. The program is:

  • Completely confidential
  • Totally voluntary
  • Open to self-referrals
  • Available only to current staff and faculty
  • For disputes that are not currently the subject of a grievance
  • Aimed at people who will have on-going work relationships and who are prepared to enter into mediation in good faith.

Interestingly, the project seeks to build the skills of the parties so that they can solve future difficulties on their own.

We recommend the process to any member who is having difficulty with another employee and who is interested in finding ways to resolve it. You can refer yourself or refer others to the program on a confidential basis by contacting Lori Charvat at 822-2153 or 822-4580 or e-mail lcharvat@equity.ubc.ca.

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Board News

In an e-mail earlier this week we announced that Gord Lovegrove has stepped down as President due to his secondment as Honorary Associate Professor of Engineering at UBC Okanagan. Following the provisions of our Bylaws the Executive Board passed motions to deal with the vacancy. It has made the following appointments which are in effect until the Fall Annual General Meeting when all Executive Board positions are up for election:

President:Barbara Crocker (previously 1st VP)1st Vice-President:Susanne Schmiesing (previously 2nd VP)2nd Vice-President:George McLaughlin (previously Past President)Past President:Gord Lovegrove

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Meet Your Executive Board

barbara crocker

Barbara Crocker is AAPS’ new President. Her “day job” at UBC is as Associate Director, Student Financial Assistance and Awards where she is responsible for a staff of 22. Barbara previously worked at SFU and joined UBC in 1999 where in her original posting she managed Green College. In her personal life Barb sits on the Executive Board of the Community Living Society and was treasurer for six years of the Family Support Institute. Barb’s passion is travel and Rome is her favourite destination. 

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Spring General Meeting Report

The AAPS Spring General Meeting was well attended on April 26th in the SUB theatre. Susanne Schmiesing who was at the time Acting Co-president chaired the meeting. Key items included:

  • Financial update by Treasurer Shawn Swallow (all is on track, no surprises)
  • Advocacy update by Advocacy Chair Bernice Urbaniak
  • Executive report by Susanne Schmiesing including introduction of new Executive Director David Harvey
  • Compensation Grievance update and Collective Bargaining planning report by David Harvey
  • Question and Answer session involving all members.
  • UBC Coaching Program presentation by Erna Hagge and Justin Marples.

To assist those who could not attend or who work at locations outside the main campus, the event was taped and members can borrow a copy of the tape by contacting Petra in the AAPS office at 604-822-8025. 

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Volunteers Needed

AAPS has a very small staff which helps keep our dues low. However, that means we rely on member assistance for a variety of activities. Currently we need a few people to help with:

Communications Committee: do you have a flair for marketing and communications? This group would provide advice and oversight into how we can improve the quality and relevance of our communication to members. We anticipate that involvement would include 1 meeting every 3 or 4 months and some e-mail discussion. The committee is chaired by Executive Board member Wendy Ma. 

To volunteer contact either Petra in the AAPS office at 822-9025 or Wendy at 822-9267 or wendy.ma@sauder.ubc.ca

 

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