Information on the Mount Royal Faculty Association (MRFA) collective bargaining process

Categories: Academic

Mount Royal Faculty Association collective bargaining process

Some students have expressed concerns to SAMRU representatives about a possible interruption to the semester due to the ongoing negotiations between the Mount Royal Faculty Association (MRFA) and the Mount Royal University (MRU) Board. We have been reassured that there are many steps in the Alberta Labour Relations Board’s process and many decisions that need to be made by both parties before there would be a direct impact to the campus community. As well, we understand that these steps could take weeks or months to go through. (Please see our FAQ below for a description of the collective bargaining process).

To clarify, this is an employment matter between MRU and the MRFA. While we have a stake in the outcome, we don’t have voice at the table. Our goal is to endorse and advocate for predictability and stability for students, and to represent the views of our membership to both faculty and to administration.

We are monitoring the situation very closely and we will provide students with information as we get more information.

For more information, please refer to our FAQ below.

If you have more questions, contact Cordelia Snowdon at: vpacademic@samru.ca

 


Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

Will there be a faculty strike this semester?

It’s difficult to say. The Mount Royal Faculty Association (the MRFA or the faculty) and Mount Royal University (MRU) Board of Governors are involved in a multi-step negotiation process, most of which is imposed by the Alberta Labour Relations Board. Each step takes time. There are specific guidelines and rules that govern the process. The steps are as follows:

  1. Notice to commence collective bargaining [completed]
  2. Commence collective bargaining
  3. Informal voluntary interest mediation
  4. No collective agreement in force, unless bridged (The MRFA Agreement is bridged)
  5. The next step in the process as set out by the Government of Alberta is obtaining approval from the Commissioner of the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) for the Essential Services Agreement (ESA) filed jointly by Mount Royal and the MRFA. This agreement outlines what public services must continue if there was a work stoppage so as to maintain public health, safety and security. ***The ESA has just been approved by the government***
  6. Once an ESA is approved by the Commissioner, the process is as outlined below. (It is important to note these are the steps; there is no suggestion parties would or would not make certain decisions.)
  7. The government or either party can request a government-appointed mediator to help reach a settlement.
  8. If an agreement is not reached in mediation, the mediator typically recommends a settlement for the parties to vote on.
  9. If the recommendation is accepted by both parties, it becomes the new Collective Agreement.
  10. If either party rejects the recommendation, mediation stops and there is a 14-day cooling-off period.
  11. Following the cooling-off period the Association can hold a strike vote and/or the employer can apply to the ALRB for a lockout poll.
  12. If a strike or lockout mandate is given, either party can start a work stoppage within 120 days. The parties have to give each other notice 72 hours in advance.

Other possible interim steps:

  • At any point, either party could request a “proposal vote” from the LRB – this would go directly to faculty membership or to the Board of Governors for a vote.
  • Both parties could agree at any time to have a dispute resolved through arbitration. The final ruling would be binding.

What happens if they can’t reach an agreement?
If the main process has been exhausted and there is no final agreement, the University has a procedural manual that would kick in

  1. The Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) would be activated
  2. MRU would launch a dedicated website with a detailed Q&A on operational aspects that would be constantly updated
  3. Students, staff, faculty visitors would be updated regularly

Should I sign the faculty petition?

Take the time to read through the statements on the petition to ensure that you fully understand and agree with them, and also make sure to ask faculty questions if you need clarification about what providing your signature means.

Will signing the petition avoid a strike?

Faculty are seeking to strengthen their negotiating position with MRU. The petition they are circulating is part of their approach. Take the time to read through the statements on the petition to ensure that you fully understand and agree with them, and also make sure to ask faculty questions if you need clarification about what providing your signature means.

What is collective bargaining?

In this situation, collective bargaining is a process in which the MRFA (‘the union’) and MRU (‘the employer’) are negotiating the renewal of a previous collective agreement. Collective bargaining processes often focus on issues such as wages, working conditions, grievance procedures and fringe benefits.