On the Radar Volume 1 Number 4

“On the Radar” is an electronic news bulletin for members of the Association of Administrative and Professional Staff at UBC. It is published via email (text version) and on our website (including graphics) on a periodic basis throughout the year under the guidance of the AAPS Communications Committee (Chaired by Wendy Ma). Writing and editing by David Harvey. Layout and design by Petra Ormsby. Web design and graphics are by Michael St. Claire. Members wishing to make submissions please contact David Harvey at david.harvey@ubc.ca.


In This Issue


Compensation Grievance: Mediation Second Joint 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”. 

Board members and staff have been meeting regularly with UBC since May on this complex and detailed issue. The entire Executive Board is engaged in the key meetings while a sub-committee including: George McLaughlin (2nd Vice President), Bernice Urbaniak (Advocacy Chair), Scott Wallace (Member at Large) and David Harvey (Executive Director) has taken the lead on the detail issues. We have been supported by Heather Hilliard of Caliber Leadership Systems. A compensation professional with many years of experience, Heather has led large salary surveys and assisted organizations with implementing the results of those surveys.

The parties have agreed to limit their communications at this time in order to allow the mediation process a fair opportunity to succeed. UBC and AAPS have agreed to two joint statements to date. The first joint statement is available on the AAPS website at: Salary Grievance

The more recent of these is reprinted below. 

Re: AAPS & UBC Salaries Mediation Update #2

This is the second update issued jointly by the University and the Association of Administrative and Professional Staff (AAPS). The first update on May 30, 2005 outlined the process being supervised by mediator Don Munroe, Q.C. Unlike traditional labour mediation this process has the parties meeting regularly to exchange information and discuss options. We report regularly to Mr. Munroe, but he does not attend our meetings unless we ask him to do so.

UBC and AAPS have held regular meetings in the mediation process since May. In that time we have had the opportunity to better understand the issues and concerns of the other side. On July 13th UBC made a proposal to AAPS recommending a three-stage process for resolving the matter. AAPS responded to that proposal on July 22nd. Both parties are hopeful that we are making progress.

The mediation process and resolving this dispute is the single most important matter both parties are working on at this time. Both sides have cleared their schedules to provide time for meetings, research and preparation. At this time we anticipate further meetings over the next 6 to 8 weeks with a break in August to accommodate vacations on both sides.

At Mr. Munroe's request we are restricting communication with our stakeholders while we work to find a mutually agreeable solution to this detailed and complex situation. We will report again as the situation progresses.

Sincerely,

Linda McKnight, 
Director
Human Resources Advisory Services 
University of British Columbia 

David Harvey,
Executive Director
AAPS

 

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Collective Agreement Negotiations 2005

The current edition of the agreement (ACTE #3) expired June 30, 2005. Article 1.3 of the ACTE requires that it “continue until a new agreement is in place”. 

On July 14th AAPS met with UBC to exchange bargaining proposals. This meeting was the culmination of a long process of gathering member input. This included member town hall meetings, submissions by members to the AAPS website and finally a member meeting to review draft proposals which was held on June 27th. The Executive Board held a series of meetings to review this input and to include those submissions in a balanced set of proposals that address the issues of key concern to the members. AAPS would like to thank all the members who took time to write suggestions for improvements to our agreement and to come to meetings. 

AAPS’ Negotiating Committee includes: Barbara Crocker (President), Susanne Schmiesing (1st VP), George McLaughlin (2nd VP), Bernice Urbaniak (Advocacy Chair), Scott Wallace (Member-at-Large), Shawn Swallow (Treasurer), Michael Shepard (previous Executive Board member) and David Harvey (Executive Director). David is our spokesperson.

The UBC Negotiating Committee includes: Linda McKnight (Director, Employee Relations and spokesperson), Angus Livingston (Executive Director, University Industry Liaison Office), Lindi Frost (Manager, Employee Relations), Shanda Jordan (Employee Relations Advisor), Linda Penn (Employee Relations Advisor) and Jackie Podger (new Director, HR for UBCO).

At the July 14th meeting we worked out a protocol for an “interest-based” approach to bargaining, presented and exchanged proposals and then took the time to clarify certain aspects of the proposals. Interest-based bargaining is a process where both sides seek first to understand the objectives of the other side, then to search for areas of mutuality and finally once agreement has been reached to create language reflective of the shared understanding. The approach is more collaborative in nature than traditional bargaining, tends to be more respectful of the participants and has been shown to result in more durable and workable collective agreements.

We have agreed to now set bargaining aside for about another 8 weeks in order to allow us to focus all our efforts on the salaries mediation issue (and to accommodate the vacation schedules of the participants in August). It is anticipated that we will get together again in late September or early October. At that time we will address the non-monetary issues first. 

AAPS proposals fall generally into three categories:

  1. Housekeeping Issues: aimed at “cleaning” up the various clauses of the agreement to make it clearer and more easily understood.
  2. Language Changes: to address those areas where there is wide-spread diversity in application and understanding of the intent of the clauses.
  3. Improvements: new items or additions to existing clauses that are intended to improve the wages, benefits and working conditions of M&P staff.

Some of our proposals have no monetary impact while others will require new money. We will work with UBC on finding ways to make some of the monetary issues “revenue neutral” by looking for mutual gains within the current situation. At the same time we are seeking wage increases and believe that there may be some small measure of increase allowable under the government’s PSEC wage controls. We understand that groups that are experiencing their fourth consecutive year of zero are eligible for “extraordinary mandates”. While that term has not been defined we believe it allows for a minor increase in salaries and/or benefits. AAPS will keep you apprised as the bargaining process unfolds this fall.

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Advocacy Issues: Update and Hours of Work

The Advocacy Committee is chaired by Bernice Urbaniak. With the assistance of David Harvey it 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. In this edition we would like to update you on current grievances and discuss the matter of “hours of work, overwork and overtime”.

Hours of Work, Overwork and Overtime

The Advocacy Committee repeatedly encounters extremely unusual interpretations of our hours of work clause (ACTE Article 10). We are also aware that M&P employees work an unusually large amount of extra hours – a joint study by UBC and AAPS in 2002 identified that on average AAPS members work 11.2 extra hours per week. The study hasn’t been repeated since then but anecdotal information points to the workload increasing rather than decreasing.

Unfortunately, some departments seem to rely upon AAPS members to “fill the gap” between their service demands and the staff budget. This has resulted in a whole gamut of unusual “overtime” arrangements which we believe mostly violate our agreement. Article 10 sets the work week at 35 hours and was crafted to provide for flexibility for M&P staff in their working schedules. The intent was to allow individuals a great deal of control over when they were at their jobs and when they were away from them. We do not believe the intent was to fail to compensate people for regularly and normally being required to work extra hours. This is a major issue in negotiations this year which is the venue in which we would prefer to rectify it. However, it must be said that departmental schemes that provide for overtime “only after 7 p.m.” or which pay for overtime “one hour off for each 2 (or 5) hours worked” are clear violations of the agreement. Advocacy reps have seen these and a myriad of other such arrangements and in each case we work with members to get these schemes in line with the agreement. If your department’s overtime arrangements do not coincide with the provisions of Article 10, please contact the AAPS office at 822-9025 and we will work with you to make appropriate changes.

AAPS values the flexibility of our hours of work clause. However, the non-monetary aspect of some of it works against the problem of overwork of individuals. Any non-monetary system of compensating members for extra hours means that there is no financial record of the extra hours that would enable the department to argue for a staff increase. If a small group of 7 people is each working 11.2 hours extra every week that is 78.4 hours of extra work. What that really means is that this group is understaffed by 2 people. We will be working with the University in bargaining to address the whole issue of hours of work, overwork and overtime.

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Grievance Update

AAPS has only a small number of grievances, most of which are resolved in discussion with UBC. Only a very limited number of grievances require the assistance of an arbitrator. Our grievances are arbitrated under the BC Commercial Arbitrations Act rather than under the BC Labour Code [Framework Agreement Section 7.7.7 ]. 

Currently we have one arbitration on-going and are awaiting the outcome of two others (one of which UBC appealed to the courts). The on-going case is a termination case which will conclude in the fall. The case UBC appealed to the courts was a dismissal and severance matter in which the terminated employee claimed a larger severance package than was provided for in the collective agreement. This employee had been head-hunted to come to UBC but the person who hired him left the University the day the new employee arrived. The job he had been lured here to do did not materialize and not too long after, he was let go. He was granted a larger severance by an arbitrator based on common law rules and the facts of his particular employment circumstances. UBC appealed the decision to the courts. The case was heard February 25, 2005 and we are waiting the court’s decision.

The “Bill 66” case was heard at the end of June by arbitrator Stan Lanyon, a former chair of the Labour Relations Board. Bill 66 made into law some changes to the Public Sector Employers Act. Those changes did not affect “members of bargaining units”. However, for public employees who are not members of a bargaining unit the changes limited severance payments to a maximum of 18 months (our ACTE provides for up to 24 months, Article 9) and severely restricted the ability of a terminated employee to work for another public sector employer (i.e. they would lose their severance pay). AAPS contends that it is a bargaining unit by any normal definition of that term and in fact that is exactly the term our collective agreement uses in a number of places. UBC and PSEC contend that Bill 66 intended to (but didn’t) refer to “managers” as defined under the Labour Code. In their submission, they say that some AAPS members are limited by Bill 66 (those who manage and direct the workforce) but others aren’t (non-managerial professionals). We expect a decision on the matter in the fall. Currently we are aware of four individuals with over 18 years of service who are on severance pay and are affected by this issue.

If you have questions about these issues or any 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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LTD (IRP) Funds Used to Pay Court Awarded Damages

A long-running dispute between a former member and UBC has resulted in a BC Court of Appeal award against the University. This court upheld the key findings of a lower court who ruled that UBC was liable for aggravated and punitive damages in the denial of LTD benefits to the member. UBC now intends to pay those damages, interest and costs of approximately $200,000.00 out of the accumulated LTD funds of the M&P staff. AAPS is on the record as saying that costs and damages flowing from UBC’s actions are the responsibility of UBC and should not be borne by the members’ funds.

This complicated case arose when the member was ill and having difficulty working. She left the employ of UBC and was subsequently found to be suffering from multiple sclerosis. UBC and its agent Manulife ignored the findings of two MS specialists who stated that the disease had its onset during the member’s employment at UBC (in which case she should then have been entitled to LTD benefits). The lower court found both UBC and Manulife had acted improperly in denying the benefits and required that the member be granted ongoing LTD benefits. Aggravated and punitive damages totalling $185,000.00 were awarded together with costs. UBC and Manulife appealed to the BC Court of Appeal which upheld the damages award and LTD benefits. UBC has the option of appealing this case to the Supreme Court of Canada but must do so prior to the end of August.

Members wishing to review the full award from the Court of Appeal can do sohereopen link in new window (or tab) AAPS is considering how to dispute UBC’s use of member funds in this way. The issue is complicated by the fact that the funds are not Association monies. Rather the funds belong to M&P employees some of whom are excluded from AAPS membership and representation. 

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Staff News

The Executive Board has reported in the past that there is a need for more staff in the office. In 2004 a report prepared by consultant Sharon Yandle identified the need for additional resources. David Harvey has been working with the Executive Board to assess what the needs are and how best to address them. Specific needs include assistance with: database and web evolution; and member services including assistance with classification, benefits and advocacy matters. 

We are fortunate that Michael St. Claire who has been working with us temporarily has joined the staff on July 1st as Database Administrator/Systems Advisor. In this role Michael does a combination of data entry, system admin for our network, database improvement, website update and general backstopping for our Office Manager Petra Ormsby.

In the very near future we will be advertising to fill one new position “Member Services Officer”. This new role will be responsible for assisting members with classification, benefits and advocacy issues and backstopping E.D. David Harvey on negotiations, advocacy and other matters. We have found that the very large increase in member numbers in recent years has simply overburdened our ability to address the level of service required. In addition many of the issues that were previously handled by Advocacy volunteers are now so complicated that they require the expertise of a human resources management professional. There are simply too many of these for David Harvey to be involved in each and every case. The new position will be advertised both through the BC Human Resources Management Association and via UBC postings.

At the fall AGM we will be presenting to the members a 3-year plan that will address finances, services and staffing.

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Meet Your Executive Board

george mclaughlin

George McLaughlin is AAPS’ 2nd Vice President.   George has been employed at the University for twenty-eight years. Presently he is a Facility Manager in Plant Operations.

George became a member of AAPS in 1997, joined the AAPS Executive Board in 1999, and has served as a member - at - large, 1st Vice President, President and Past-President.

This year George chaired the Benefits Committee in preparation for collective bargaining.  He is a member of the Board Working Group dealing with the salaries mediation and arbitration and is also a member of our Negotiating Committee for this round of bargaining.

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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 two or three more people to help with:

Communications Committee: do you have a flair for marketing and communications? This group provides advice and oversight into how we can improve the quality and relevance of our communication to members. Your 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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Kudos to External Committee Volunteers

The Executive Board would like to thank Grace Wolkosky who recently stepped down as AAPS representative on the UBC Joint Employee and Family Assistance Plan Committee. It is the work of dedicated volunteers like Grace who enable AAPS active participation in University affairs. 

Additional thanks to Ian Doyle, Director HR & Administration in Land and Building Services for volunteering to become our new representative to the EFAP Committee. Ian has previous experience working with EFAP programs.

Other AAPS External Committee Representatives Include:

  • Fernanda Santos        Health & Safety Committee Rep
  • Bernice Urbaniak        Return To Work Committee Rep

 

Thanks also to the people who volunteer on our internal committees. They are too numerous to mention here. AAPS will be recognizing all of our Volunteers at a reception on the afternoon of October 5, 2005. 

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