On the Radar Volume 2 Number 1

“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: UBC Rejection Leads to Arbitration

Just before Christmas the UBC Board and Executive Committee rejected the mediated resolution to our grievance filed in the fall of 2004. The University had made a proposal to the mediator for a $6.8M solution to this $14.3M issue. When presenting this proposal to the AAPS mediation team on November 16, 2005 mediator Don Munroe noted that it required the approval of the UBC Executive Team. Mr. Munroe also noted that this was the final proposal UBC would be making in mediation.

After careful consideration, the AAPS Executive Board decided to approve the settlement as being the best compromise resolution of a 10-year-old problem that would generate monetary gains for at least 1533 of our nearly 2200 members as quickly as possible. It wasn’t perfect, but it would have avoided a lengthy and costly arbitration and prevented more delay in delivering monetary benefits to members.

In agreeing to the proposed settlement what would AAPS have given up?Two things:

  1. One year of retroactivity i.e. October 1, 2004 to September 30, 2005; and
  2. Carrying the “compa ratios” of members who are currently paid beyond the existing mid-point onto the new salary scale i.e. members would have been placed at the new mid-points at best.

These two items are worth approximately $7M in the first case and $7.5M in the latter.

On December 14 and 15 we presented an outline of the proposal to our members in a series of meetings at: Women’s & Children’s Hospital, VGH, Robson Square, Kelowna via video-conference, twice at the main campus and also at St. Paul’s Hospital. Thank-you to everyone who attended and to those who provided us with feedback. Special thanks to Norm Hodges, AAPS Executive Board Secretary for facilitating the Kelowna video-link session.

Meanwhile UBC’s Executive Committee and Board missed the deadline for responding and ultimately did not provide a response until Friday December 16th. As we now know that response was to reject their own proposed settlement.

Peculiarly, we were told both that UBC had “ability to pay concerns” and that the proposal did not go far enough to resolve the remuneration concerns of senior members. In other words: “it costs too much and it doesn’t cost enough”.

 

So what happens next?

Mediation is dead and we now move on to the arbitration stage. AAPS has notified both Don Munroe and UBC that we want to get this rolling as quickly as possible.

The process will most likely commence with a “case management” discussion between the parties where the arbitrator will try to clarify what the issues are, how information will be exchanged, how long the parties anticipate it will take to present each of their cases and coordinating potential hearing dates. If this is a lengthy hearing in all likelihood it will stretch well into Fall/Winter of 2006.

 

What are the Arbitration Issues?

First of all the mediation discussion and the final proposal were all completely without prejudice. The proposed settlement is now off the table. AAPS will argue for the full $14.3M resolution together with retroactivity to October 1, 2004.

UBC in its rejection has raised the issue of “ability to pay”. It is comforting to note that UBC has been running surpluses for the past couple of years AND that in addition it has made very healthy allocations to “depreciation” of over $85M in 2004 and $103M in 2005. UBC is a $1.25B operation with an independent ability to raise additional revenues through its control of fees, services and sales.

Also, the Executive and Board annually make a myriad of financial decisions about allocating funds. AAPS argues that our salaries grievance is an unfulfilled contractual obligation which dates back to 1995. We contend that in UBC financial parlance that this is a “go to jail” obligation i.e. that it must be funded before allocating money to all the discretionary items that the University annually approves.

Your Executive Board and Staff are disappointed with this turn of events. However, looking for the upside in every unhappy situation … we now get to go to arbitration and argue for the full $14.3M remedy and complete retroactivity to October 1, 2004. If we have to wait for a remedy at least we get to work on the full remedy rather than the partial remedy that was achievable at mediation.

  • It is not reasonable that the University has made no headway whatsoever in rectifying this problem since UBC first committed to doing so in 1995. The data shows us slipping further away from the target over time.
  • It is inappropriate at best for the University to claim that “Our compensation ratios are in the top 50 percentile of the industry” (People Plan p.3). when two top consulting firms have filed reports [Mercer 2000 & Hay 2004] showing this is not so.
  • Are the 2200 Management and Professional Staff in AAPS so under-valued by the UBC Executive Committee and Board?

AAPS is committed to winning this dispute and achieving the best resolution possible for our members.

More background to this dispute can be seen in the previous edition of 'On The Radar'.

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Collective Agreement Negotiations for ACTE #4

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”. 

AAPS and UBC exchanged bargaining proposals in July. We agreed at that time to “stand down” negotiations and put our major efforts into the salaries mediation process with bargaining to resume in the fall of 2005. We held 2 bargaining sessions prior to the Christmas break both of which dealt with non-monetary items. In those sessions we agreed to a couple of issues and appear to be headed for a deadlock on others.

Another issue is UBC’s inability to devote the necessary amount of time to bargaining. They appear to prefer to meet for a part day “here and there” rather than commit a series of consecutive days to get it done. The obvious difficulty is that the intermittency of the UBC approach leads to a “stop and start” mentality and unnecessary delays. We will be pushing UBC to set aside a week to get into negotiations and to hopefully conclude them.

UBC has been seeking to delay the discussion of money items pending the resolution of the salaries mediation. They no longer have that option as the salaries arbitration is likely to consume most of this year. There is also the additional pressure of the recent BC government announcements about hurrying along public sector bargaining. Your Executive met with HR reps, Lisa Castle, AVP, Linda McKnight, Director and LIndi Frost Manager on Thursday, January 19th to hear more about the government plan as it relates to AAPS. As you are probably aware the BC Government wishes to lock in all collective agreements from now until after the Olympics in 2010. UBC has told us they wish to enter into fast-track bargaining with all eight employee groups to try to conclude 4 and 5-year collective agreements to be bargained between Feb. 1 st and March 15th. Your Executive Board is meeting on Monday January 23 rd to discuss the matter in detail. We will communicate further with the members following that meeting.

In our current negotiations AAPS has been seeking a short term agreement with some wage increases. We believe that there is some small measure of increase allowable under the government’s PSEC wage controls for the 2005/06 year. We understand that groups that have experienced their fourth consecutive year without general wage increases are eligible for “extraordinary mandates”. While the term “extraordinary mandates” 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.

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

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Advocacy Issues: What Job Security?

The Advocacy Committee is chaired by Bernice Urbaniak. With the assistance of staff members David Harvey and Sharon Cory 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 will update you on a recent spate of “without cause” terminations.

Job Security at UBC? – “Without Cause Terminations”

In the weeks leading up to Christmas UBC fired 6 AAPS members purporting to carry out these terminations under Article 9 of our collective agreement. That article: “Termination of Employment Without Cause” is viewed by UBC as “carte blanche” to fire any AAPS member for no reason providing the University pays the requisite severance money. UBC is not alleging that the position needs to be eliminated or that they are reorganizing. Simply put, if someone senior doesn’t want you here, then you can be given a letter saying there is a “lack of fit” or that you are “unsuitable” and you are terminated. The 5 members who were terminated in the week at the start of December varied in service from 1.5 to 16+ years. The 16-year employee has previous positive performance reviews on file up to the summer of 2005. The member was told that a merit recommendation would flow from this most recent review. UBC chose termination instead of using the evaluation or discipline processes to deal with the new Director’s concern regarding the content of an email the member had written. The Member was terminated four days before scheduled surgery. This is the second case we are dealing with where UBC has terminated an AAPS member immediately prior to scheduled surgery.

We find these terminations inappropriate and a wrong application of the terms of our agreement. One of the terminations was resolved in a manner that is acceptable to the member and another has not yet been grieved since on its face it is the result of reorganization. We have filed 4 grievances each of which points out to the University the following from our collective agreement:

  1. At Article 2 UBC agreed to act fairly, reasonably and without discrimination.
  2. At Article 6 UBC agreed to a mandatory model of providing evaluation to members about their performance.
  3. At Article 8 UBC agreed to provide corrective (not punitive) progressive discipline in cases of “culpable behaviour, conduct or performance”.
  4. Article 9 is limited at 9.1.1 to use with an employee “who suffers a loss of employment as a result of departmental reorganization, budget cuts or the elimination of her/his position”.
  5. At Article 9.1.2 UBC agreed that any termination under this article would be authorized by a VP or Dean. (In some of these cases UBC is unable to provide us with such authorization which leads us to ask: who is running this ship?)

When UBC simply jumps into Article 9 and gets rid of an employee rather than dealing with its performance concerns it clearly violates articles 2, 6, 8 and 9

Being terminated for valid business reasons is difficult at the best of times. When an employee is let go for no real reason it is crushing. It demeans their previous contributions and creates real concern about the employee’s future job prospects. The Supreme Court of Canada recognized this when it said:

Work is one of the most fundamental aspects in a person's life, providing the individual with a means of financial support and, as importantly, a contributory role in society. A person's employment is an essential component of his or her sense of identity, self-worth and emotional well-being.

[Wallace v United Grain Growers Ltd., 1997, Supreme Court of Canada, paragraph 93, citing Dickson C.J. noted in Reference Re Public Service Employee Relations Act (Alta.) , [1987] 1 S.C.R. 313, at p. 368:]

Just as important organizationally is the effect on those who are left behind still working at UBC. We all have to ask: what job security do I really have?UBC’s indiscriminate misapplication of Article 9 can only tear at the fabric and culture of the organization. When the pay is inadequate AND the job security non-existent the University should not be surprised if it has recruiting, retention and commitment problems.

In all four cases UBC has denied the grievances. AAPS will be seeking early dates to bring these matters to arbitration and is seeking the reinstatement of all four employees.

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Grievance Update

AAPS has 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].

In this issue we are omitting the normal grievance update in order to address our full concerns on the recent terminations.

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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PD Possibilities …

Now that the New Year is upon us AAPS is reconstituting the Member Professional Development Committee. At its first meeting the committee decided to work towards offering a short list of member seminars as soon as possible. In the early stages of planning for this term are: “lunch and learn” sessions on work-related skill building and on personal development; and hopefully a hands-on workshop on the topic of process planning. As soon as we have firmed up speakers, dates and locations we will e-mail the members.

Co-chaired by 1 st Vice President Susanne Schmiesing and Member-at-Large Wendy Ma, the committee includes Peter Godman, Sharon Cory and David Harvey. We would welcome any others who wish to participate in planning future events for members.

If you have recently seen a presentation that you thought was really outstanding and that could be of interest to colleagues here at UBC please contact Sharon Cory in the AAPS office at 827-3516 and tell us about it.

Members should also be aware of the opportunity to use their UBC tuition waivers provided at Article 13.6 of the collective agreement. All members have access to these and they provide for up to 12 credits OR the dollar equivalent to 12 credits as tuition for non-credit or certificate programs in Continuing Studies [Article 13.6.1]

 

A extensive list of programs that may be of interest to AAPS members can be accessed on the Organizational Development and Learning website. open link in new window (or tab)

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AAPS Submission on the UBC People Plan

AAPS provided UBC with the Association’s submission on the People Plan in December. It is fair to say that while we support the objectives of the Plan that we have a significant number of reservations regarding it. Rather than canvass those concerns at length here, we invite you to see our full submission: People Plan Response.

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Staff News: Sharon Cory Hired as Member Services Officer

sharon cory

Sharon Cory became our new Member Services Officer on December 12th. Initially Sharon will focus much of her attention on advocacy and grievance issues and collective bargaining. At the same time she will support us in member professional development programming and in a planned reassessment of benefit programs.

Sharon comes to us from the WCB where she was a Senior HR Advisor for over 10 years. She has prior HR experience in municipalities and health care and started her career in an administrative capacity at SFU. Sharon is a Certified Human Resources Professional and member of the BC Human Resources Management Association.

Please join the Executive Board and staff in welcoming Sharon. She is already hard at work on a number of member issues. Sharon can be contacted at 827-3516.

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Meet Your Executive Board

susanne schmiesing

“My passion for my commitment to the AAPS Executive Board is two-fold.  I want to continue to ensure that AAPS is recognized by the players on this campus as a vital and relevant group, representing the 2,200+ members whose jobs are key to UBC’s effective operations.  My second goal is to ensure that our members see the work that AAPS does on their behalf as deserving of their respect and active support.  I am convinced that some of our members are not as aware as they should be about our work, which therefore (at times) may go unrecognized.  A knowledgeable and supportive membership makes us a stronger association.”

Susanne Schmiesing is AAPS’ 1st Vice President.

Susanne has been an Executive Board member since 1997. She developed the AAPS Speakers Series in a previous stint as Chair of the AAPS Professional Development Committee. This is a role she has agreed to reprise in the coming year. As 1 st VP, Susanne is called upon to stand in whenever President Barbara Crocker is unavailable.

In her UBC role, Susanne is the Manager of Student & Administrative Services in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences. In her private life, she is a dedicated hockey mom and an avid traveller…

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AAPS Executive Board Holds Planning Session

The members of the Executive Board gathered on a cold and blustery November day to review the challenges of the past year and to plan for the coming years. Issues reviewed included:

  • Executive Board Representation – making the nomination process as open and transparent as possible and encouraging new volunteers.
  • Review of the policy model of Board governance.
  • Planning the AAPS response to the draft UBC People Plan.
  • Planning an improved classification and pay system to take forward in future.
  • Revising the 3-Year Plan.

This was a full day which enabled in-depth discussions of the important issues facing the Association.

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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. 

Member Professional Development Committee :  to work with staff and a dedicated group of volunteer members to identify and plan PD programs to best meet members’ learning needs. The commitment would likely be to approximately 4 or 5 meetings per year, each about 90 minutes long plus some e-mail exchange between meetings. Staff will do the “legwork” but members are needed to assist with planning. To volunteer please contact Susanne Schmiesing at 822-7771 or Sharon Cory at 827-3516.

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Coming Events to Note:

This section lists seminars, meetings, or other events that may be of interest to AAPS members. Please contact the event organizers for further information.

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AAPS Spring General Meeting

The AAPS Spring General Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 25th from noon until 2 p.m. (location not yet set). Please mark your calendars and plan to attend.

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