The Memorandum of Understanding between the Province and the Universities

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MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE PROVINCE OF NOVA SCOTIA AND THE NOVA SCOTIA UNIVERSITIES

The key points are that while no other province is reducing post secondary level funding, the attached MOU announces a further overall cut to funding of 3% for 2012-13 (in addition to the 4% cut for 2011-12 that was previously announced). When inflation is factored in, it is calculated that this represents an overall reduction in funding equivalent to $75 million over two years.

 Funding for the remaining two years of the MOU has yet to be determined. Funding for 2013-14 will be announced before the end of 2012. There will be an attempt (in line with the recommendations of the O’Neill Report) to  arrive at a formula for stable ongoing funding.  What that might look like remains unclear since the funding would be determined by what it was linked to. For example, if it was linked to provincial GDP it would result in ongoing increases, whereas if it was linked to provincial population it would likely result in decreases.

 Under the terms of section 9, a “pot” of $25 million will be available to institutions who can make a case as to how funds from this “pot” could help them to reduce overall operating costs. This will be awarded on the basis of competitive bids from University administrations.

ASTFA Ratifies Agreement

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Monday, March 28, 2011

ATLANTIC SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY FACULTY ASSOCIATION RATIFIES TENTATIVE AGREEMENT 

HALIFAX – At a meeting on Wednesday, March 23, 2011, members of Atlantic School of Theology Faculty Association (ASTFA) voted 70% in favour of the Tentative Agreement reached between ASTFA and Atlantic School of Theology (AST) Board of Governors negotiating teams late in the evening of March 21, 2011.  “A first collective agreement is about locking in important basic rights,” commented ASTFA President, Alyda Faber. “In this first round the majority of our members voted in favour of those rights, despite the very low salary offer from the Employer. ASTFA remains firmly committed to achieving parity with Nova Scotia university sector norms.”

Signing of the Collective Agreement is expected to take place shortly.

ASTFA was formed in 1998 to represent faculty and professional librarians at AST. It was certified as a union in 2010, and has been in negotiations with the AST Board of Governors for a first Collective Agreement since April, 2010.

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Contact:

Dr. Alyda Faber, ASTFA President
Atlantic School of Theology Faculty Association
902-423-2242
afaber@astheology.ns.ca

No Strike

No strike: Tentative Agreement Reached. The ASTFA negotiating team and the team for the Board of Governors of AST reached a tentative agreement in the evening of March 21, averting a strike. A membership meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 to present the tentative agreement to ASTFA members for a vote.

Strike Imminent

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Friday, March 18, 2011

STRIKE IMMINENT: ATLANTIC SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY FACULTY AND LIBRARIANS GIVE NOTICE OF INTENT TO STRIKE

HALIFAX – On March 16, 2011 Atlantic School of Theology Faculty Association (ASTFA) gave notice to the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development that the union will exercise its right to strike if the parties do not reach an agreement. An eleventh-hour bargaining session is scheduled for March 21, 2011.
All ASTFA members unanimously approved a vote on February 1, 2011 authorizing the union executive to hold a strike if necessary.

ASTFA was formed in 1998 to represent the faculty and professional librarians at AST. It was certified as a union in 2010, and has been in negotiations with the AST Board of Governors for a first Collective Agreement since April, 2010. In December, 2010, after 8 months of very slow progress in negotiations and with progress stalled in key areas, the union filed for conciliation. While progress has been made, conciliation reached an impasse on the afternoon of March 3, 2011. A further full day of bargaining on March 14th was not successful in clearing up major outstanding issues, including freedom from surveillance of office spaces and classrooms, the status of professional librarians and associated issues, and salary.

ASTFA bargaining positions, strongly re-affirmed by the membership, reflect the Association’s commitment to achieving a fair collective agreement which protects member rights, is aligned with Nova Scotia university sector norms, and ensures the future of AST.

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Contact:

Dr. Rob Fennell, Chief Negotiator
Atlantic School of Theology Faculty Association
902-425-3298
rfennell@astheology.ns.ca

Dr. Alyda Faber, ASTFA President
Atlantic School of Theology Faculty Association
902-423-3504
afaber@astheology.ns.ca

Press Release

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Friday, February 4, 2011

STRIKE MANDATE:
ATLANTIC SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY FACULTY AND LIBRARIANS VOTE ‘YES’

HALIFAX – With 100% voter turnout for a strike vote held on February 1, 2011, members of Atlantic School of Theology Faculty Association (ASTFA) voted unanimously in favour of a strike mandate. This authorizes their executive to declare a strike if the ASTFA and the Atlantic School of Theology (AST) Board of Governors fail to conclude a collective agreement through the bargaining and conciliation process. Alyda Faber, President of ASTFA, comments, “The strong strike mandate reflects ASTFA’s seriousness in pursuing a fair agreement without further delays.”ASTFA was formed in 1998 to represent the faculty and librarians at AST. It was certified as a union in 2010, and has been in negotiations with the AST Board of Governors for a first Collective Agreement since April, 2010. In December, 2010, after 8 months of very slow progress in negotiations and with progress stalled in key areas, the union filed for conciliation. This process is now engaged. “Conciliation is a promising process, and the membership and negotiating team believe that an appropriate settlement is possible within that framework,” says Rob Fennell, ASTFA Chief Negotiator. He adds, “This will require a serious commitment from the Board of Governors to respect today’s norms of University employment in Nova Scotia.” A number of key issues remain to be resolved. These include salaries, status of professional librarians, and workload. ASTFA bargaining positions, strongly re-affirmed by the membership, reflect the Association’s commitment to achieving a fair collective agreement which protects member rights, is aligned with Nova Scotia university sector norms, and ensures the future of AST.

For more information, contact:

Alyda Faber
ASTFA President
afaber@astheology.ns.ca
423-2242

Rob Fennell
ASTFA Chief Negotiator
rfennell@astheology.ns.ca
425-3298-30-

Background Information on Conciliation

As you know, on December 6, 2010, the ASTFA filed for conciliation with the Province.  The intent of this request is that after 8 months of protracted negotiations, the Association wants to see a fair collective agreement concluded in a timely way.

It is important for all ASTFA members to be informed of the issues and concerns in this process.  Be sure to keep in touch with your bargaining team and to support them. The mandate you have given them and have re-affirmed is the foundation for their work to achieve an acceptable settlement that they will bring back for your consideration.

The Mount Saint Vincent University Faculty Association recently requested conciliation as well. They have provided some information to their membership that is worthwhile to reprint here in red, for your information:

Q. What’s conciliation?

A. Conciliation is governed by the Trade Union Act of Nova Scotia and administered by the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development. When an impasse is reached in negotiations, one of the parties may request the Minister to appoint a conciliation officer. This officer will act as an intermediary between the two sides and attempt to reach an acceptable settlement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the conciliation officer files what is called a “No Board report”.

There is then a cooling-off period of two weeks to allow the two sides to consider the consequences of not reaching an agreement. At the end of that period the union is in a legal strike position, and the Employer can legally lockout its employees.

For more information see http://www.gov.ns.ca/lwd/conciliation/conciliation.asp

Q. What’s a strike vote?

A. As governed by the Trade Union Act of Nova Scotia, a strike vote requires a secret ballot, and to be successful, a strike must be supported by the majority of all members, not just of those voting. If needed, arrangements will be made to submit ballots by mail, by e-mail as well as on site.

For more information see http://nslegislature.ca/legc/statutes/tradeun.htm article 47 (3) (a)

When MSVUFA took a strike vote was in 2004 (85.9% in favour), this was an important factor in the successful outcome of conciliation.

The  ASTFA’s goal in this process  is to negotiate a fair collective agreement. After 8 months of reflecting on the document and meeting for negotiations, the Board’s negotiating team has elected not to respond in full to our proposals. The ASTFA has as a result requested conciliation, which we believe will facilitate discussions and help us achieve our objective of a fair collective agreement. As part of this process, the ASTFA must prepare itself for any eventuality; a strike vote is part of that preparation.  A strike, however, would be a last-resort option.  Our goal is to reach a negotiated settlement.

We have had positive relations with the Board and the Administration over the years, and we are hopeful that they will respond reasonably and in full to our proposal, and without further delays.  The ASTFA remains committed to doing all it can to conclude an agreement.

ASTFA Files for Conciliation

ASTFA has requested the Minister of Labour, the Hon. Marilyn More, to appoint a conciliation officer to assist the Union and the Employer to reach an conclusion to the negotiation of a collective agreement.

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Monday, December 6, 2010
TALKS NOT PROGRESSING:  ATLANTIC SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY FACULTY ASSOCIATION REQUESTS APPOINTMENT OF CONCILIATION OFFICER

HALIFAX – After 8 months, negotiations toward a first collective agreement between the Atlantic School of Theology Faculty Association and the Board of Governors of Atlantic School of Theology (AST) have made very slow progress.

In a vote conducted between Nov. 30 and Dec. 3, the members of the Faculty Association (ASTFA) voted to file for conciliation.  The ASTFA has formally requested the Hon. Marilyn More, Minister of Labour and Workforce Development, to appoint a conciliation officer  to assist in the conclusion of the negotiations.  The ASTFA remains committed to continue to negotiate toward a fair agreement.   A strike vote has not yet been called, but will be contemplated if the Employer  does not present an offer acceptable to the membership within a reasonable time frame.

The ASTFA was organized in 1998 and certified by the Province of Nova Scotia in January 2010 as the sole bargaining agent for the south end University’s full time faculty and professional librarians.  However, the Union has never had a collective agreement with the AST Board of Governors. Current negotiations began in April 2010 and the Union has presented a full proposal to the Board’s representatives.  Some progress has been made in those areas in which the Employer has replied to the Union’s proposals, but  many key issues remain unresolved or unaddressed, including job security; privacy rights; working conditions;  occupational health and safety issues; and employee benefit plans and salaries, among many other issues.

AST faculty and professional librarians are among the lowest paid in Nova Scotia.  The Faculty Association’s salary proposals ask the Board to remedy that situation and to acknowledge the cost of living in Nova Scotia’s most expensive city, as well as the rates of taxation that prevail in Nova Scotia. To date, however, the Board has made no salary offers. The fact that ASTFA salaries have not increased since April 2008 is concerning for ASTFA members, not least because of the University’s ongoing public commitment to excellence in theological education.

Theological schools across Canada are competing for what seems to be a smaller number of students.  AST’s ability to attract and retain students is related to the University’s commitment to providing well-qualified teachers and scholars.  As they are in all sectors of the economy, working conditions and salaries are factors in the University’s ability to attract and retain such personnel.

ASTFA’s interest in unionization and in this agreement has always been to strengthen the existing positive relations among AST faculty, librarians,and AST as a whole.  The Union believes that the Board has the same goal.

ASTFA Union Certification Press Release

PRESS RELEASE
Atlantic School of Theology Faculty and Librarians Vote on Union

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Friday, February 8, 2010
ATLANTIC SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY FACULTY AND LIBRARIANS
VOTE TO FORM A UNION

In a secret ballot conducted by the Nova Scotia Labour Relations Board on December 11, 2009, faculty members and professional librarians voted unanimously to name the Atlantic School of Theology Faculty Association (formed in 1998) as their bargaining agent in contract negotiations with the university. Dr. Alyda Faber, president of the Faculty Association, said, “In a smaller institution, we have the benefit of direct personal relations with the Administration and Board; for us, certification adds some formality necessary for bargaining fair terms and conditions of work. It is our hope that unionization will enhance and strengthen our relationship with the Board and Administration of Atlantic School of Theology.”  The Nova Scotia Labour Relations Board made the order of certification on January 6th, 2010.“Our intentions in certifying,” Faber adds, “emerge out of a commitment that we share with the Board and the Administration, to provide an optimal educational experience for our students toward their preparation for ministry, lifelong learning, or for further graduate studies.” The smallest faculty union in the country, Atlantic School of Theology Faculty Association represents 8 teaching faculty and 3 professional librarians.Atlantic School of Theology is a public ecumenical university of theology and Christian ministry, established in 1971 and affiliated, since 2002, with Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.

ASTFA Signs Service Agreement with SMUFU

Jul-23-2009
On July 22nd The Atlantic School of  Theology Faculty Association (ASTFA) and SMUFU signed a service agreement that links the two organizations together in a unique and exciting new way. A portion of the dues paid by ASTFA members will be collected by SMUFU and in exchange SMUFU will provide collective bargaining and grievance advice and services. In addition, SMUFU will also ensure that any future arbitration costs are not too burdensome to ASTFA by guaranteeing to pay a significant proportion of the legal costs associated with any arbitration case.

Other links in the partnership will be a development of communication channels such as the exchange of newsletters and access to each organization’s websites. While both organizations will continue to be completely separate and be solely responsible for representing their own members, this new partnership is a significant sign of the desire to work collectively and in solidarity to achieve the best work environment possible at both institutions.

The agreement was signed by Jeff Power, President of SMUFU and Alyda Faber, President of ASTFA. In addition it should be noted that much of the work leading up to the agreement was done by Ron Houlihan and Susan Slater the outgoing presidents of SMUFU and ASTFA respectively as well as several other members of the executive of both associations.