2020

June 30

Final Offer Ballots Mailed

The university has been made aware that the SK Labour Relations Board has mailed ballots to employees to vote on the university’s latest offer to reach a new collective agreement with ASPA. If employees who are eligible to vote have not yet received a ballot, one should be received in the mail in the coming days. Please watch for your voting ballot in the mail. Balloting concludes on July 20, 2020.

The university encourages its employees to exercise their right to participate in the last offer voting process and conclude this current round of negotiations with a new collective agreement that provides fair and appropriate employment terms and conditions. To ensure employees are well informed of the last offer, the outstanding items and the opposing interests between the parties, please review the following details.

The university values its employees and appreciates your continuous contributions to the success of the institution.

June 11

Side-by-side comparison

Both ASPA and the university have worked diligently to negotiate a new collective agreement. The university believes its recent offer to settle is fair and reasonable, especially in the context of today’s labour-market environment, and results in a collective agreement that continues to provide appropriate employment terms and conditions.

In terms of the monetary value of the respective proposals, the university’s and ASPA’s last offers (dated May 7, 2020 and May 5, 2020, respectively) are almost identical.

The outstanding monetary issue between the parties comes down to differing philosophies and principles around how compensation is modelled in this particular collective agreement and for this particular employee group. The university’s interest is to maintain an affordable merit system that still allows for meaningful recognition of performance. The union’s interest is to expand eligibility to receive built-in compensation in the form of an automatic service-based increment to those paid above the market rate for their role. This is in addition to negotiated wage adjustments.

The university is hopeful that employees exercise their right to vote on the university’s offer to settle and that this process results in a new collective agreement so that we can move forward in focusing on the valued work its employees conduct in support of the institution’s mission and vision and becoming the university the world needs.

Below is a side-by-side comparison of how the offers compare to each other.

June 5, 2020

Employees to Vote on USask Last Offer to ASPA

The university values its employees and their contributions to the success of the institution. The university strives to ensure appropriate terms and conditions for all employees and collectively bargains in good faith to accomplish this outcome. The university has presented the ASPA bargaining team with a very fair and competitive offer to conclude current negotiations and form a new collective agreement between the parties.

With this, the university has submitted an application to the SK Labour Relations Board to proceed with a supervised vote on the university’s last offer. This will allow employees in scope of ASPA to vote on the offer and, if accepted, will immediately form the new collective agreement between the university and ASPA.

ASPA has 10 business days to respond to the application and raise any objections they may have with the SK Labour Relations Board proceeding with the supervised vote. If no objections are raised, or once any objections are resolved, the SK LRB will proceed with issuing voting ballots to employees in scope of ASPA via the Canada Post mail system. The timing for the SK Labour Relations Board to turn around this process (including distribution of voting ballots to employees) is uncertain, but the university will remain in contact with them to request updates on the progress of this process.

The university encourages eligible employees to exercise their rights by participating in the last offer voting process.

May 8, 2020

Mediation concluded

The university and the Administrative and Supervisory Personnel Association (ASPA) met this week with the Ministry-appointed mediator. After three days of mediated discussion, including proposals from both sides, the mediator will be confirming that mediation has been unsuccessful early next week.

During the mediation process, the parties discussed outstanding monetary items that included automatic increments, the merit system, wage adjustments and a signing bonus. Despite respectable concessions proposed by both the university and ASPA throughout the mediation process, the parties were not able to eliminate the existing gap.

The lone outstanding item at the table is ASPA’s proposal for an extension of the annual automatic increment beyond the current 2% up to the target point in the respective salary bands. ASPA has been seeking a 1%-2% annual automatic increment for positions above the target point to further continue service increments for employees already paid at, or above the market rate for their position.

The university's proposal seeks to maintain the current 2% per year up to the target point. This allows us to progress employees to the market rate at an accelerated pace. The proposal would also enhance the ability to recognize high performing ASPA employees through merit. Guaranteed built-in service increments are a significant challenge in existing financial circumstance and do not align with university market strategies.

Considering these factors, along with our desire to provide our employees with a competitive and equitable offer, the university submitted a counter-proposal that it believes provides an appropriate balance.

The university believes all employees who are members of ASPA have the right to review and understand the offer that was tabled. Here are the highlights:

Compensation

Lump Sum

$2,500 — lump sum payment per eligible member active at the date of signing

  • $1,000 payment by September 30, 2020
  • $1,500 payment by May 15, 2021

Wage Adjustment
adjust to base, up to maximum
0.0% – 2019
0.0% – 2020
1.5% – 2021

Adjustment to Salary Range 
minimum, maximum and target point
0.0% – 2019
0.0% – 2020
2.0% – 2021

Merit (Effective May 1, 2021)

  • Remove restrictions around up to 60% of employees eligible to receive merit
    • any percentage of employees eligible to receive merit
  • Distribution of merit pool will be 0.75% as lump-sum payments and 0.75% adds to base salary
    • merit capped at no more than $7,500 per employee per merit year
  • Merit pool decreases to 1.5% of ASPA payroll; all funds will still be distributed each year

Pension

7.0% – Increase employer and employee contribution rate (currently 6.82%)

Benefits

$2,000 – Increase annual maximum for Psychologists/Social Workers (currently $350)

$150 – Increase eye exam coverage (currently $100)

All University of Saskatchewan employees are critical to advancing the university’s mission and vision, and we value everyone’s contributions. Employees deserve fair, reasonable and appropriate employment terms and conditions that are affordable for the university. Though mediation was not successful, the university remains open to continuing negotiations with ASPA in hopes that an agreement can be reached.

The university will be reaching out to work with ASPA to establish an essential services framework, which is a requirement of the parties (under provincial legislation) when essential services are identified.

Updates will continue to be posted here.

 


 

March 5, 2020

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) has notified the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety that negotiations with the Administrative and Supervisory Personnel Association (ASPA) have reached an impasse. The university and ASPA have met 11 times since October 31, 2019, and although it appeared some progress on key items was being made, ultimately the parties have not been able to come to an agreement on monetary items.

The university’s goal is to reach an agreement through the collective bargaining process. Bargaining will continue through mandatory mediation with a mediator appointed by the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety. We have four pre-scheduled bargaining dates in April that we are hopeful can be used for mandatory mediation.

Further communications will be provided to the campus community via PAWS and/or on this page.

Next Steps After Impasse

The following steps are legislated in Saskatchewan after an impasse has been declared through notification to the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety. In terms of timing for a union to be in the position of conducting any form of job action, the following steps must occur. It could take anywhere from 1-4 months for this process to unfold.

Mandatory mediation

Unless agreed to otherwise by the parties:

  • there is a maximum 60 days allowed to mediate from date of the appointment of a mediator
  • the mediator is appointed by the Ministry
  • dates will be scheduled for mediation
  • mediation occurs and is deemed successful if parties reach a new collective agreement
  • mediation is unsuccessful when the parties cannot reach a new collective agreement and mediation is called off by the mediator
No strike or lock-out activity is permitted during mandatory mediation.

 


 

February 13, 2020

Collective bargaining commenced in October, 2019 and discussions have been ongoing. The university and ASPA are scheduled to meet later in February and again in March and April.

 


 

2017

December 14, 2017

Voluntary Exit Program

  • 99 employees (includes some exempt positions) were approved to leave their position over the next several months. The majority of exits will take place in the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
  • We are working with ASPA on 13 active grievances/arbitrations. The focus of these is primarily on matters of scope and jurisdiction (within which union, if any, a position belongs).

September 19, 2017

  • 73 members of ASPA have been approved for the Voluntary Exit and Retirement program.
  • People and Resources is working with colleges and units to address changes to work assignments for those who are leaving and for positions that will be replaced. The savings for the program will be contingent on these outcomes.

July 25, 2017

  • Approximately 100 employees in scope of ASPA and Exempt staff have expressed interest in the Voluntary Exit Program.
  • College and unit leaders are communicating directly with all eligible members to inform them of the outcome of their application.
  • Recent changes to The Saskatchewan Employment Act asserts that supervisors should not be a member of the same union as the employees they supervise. To provide clarity to the university and our unions, the university requested assistance from the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (LRB) to determine specific positions that meet the definition of ‘supervisory employee’. The University and ASPA agreed that the application would be determined by way of written submissions and agreed statement of facts. CUPE has since applied for intervenor status and indicated it intends to raise a constitutional challenge to the employer’s argument if granted. The University and ASPA have both filed replies opposing CUPE being granted the ability to introduce a constitutional challenge to these proceedings through intervenor status.

June 27, 2017

  • ASPA and the University reached an agreement on the terms of a voluntary exit program for staff. The terms of this agreement also applies to Exempt staff. Approximately 50 members have expressed interest in this opportunity.

May 30, 2017

  • On May 19, ASPA and the university signed a Memorandum of Agreement regarding the incentivized exit program. The terms of this agreement will also apply to Exempt staff.
  • The university will be presenting to the LRB, seeking clarity on the issue of whether supervisory and managerial positions at the university meet the definition of ‘supervisory employee’ under the Saskatchewan Employment Act.

2016

November 29, 2016

  • Recent changes to the Saskatchewan Employment Act asserts that supervisors should not be a member of the same union as the employees they supervise. To provide clarity to the university and ASPA, the university is requesting assistance from the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (LRB) to determine if specific supervisory and managerial positions meet the definition of 'supervisory employee' under the Act. Any changes will help to alleviate any conflict of interest in the employee/supervisor relationship.
  • It is expected that the application will take months to be determined. Changes, with respect to this issue, will not be made until the LRB has reached a decision.

October 18, 2016

The university, ASPA and CUPE 1975 have agreed in principle to a resolution regarding jurisdiction matters between ASPA and CUPE 1975. We are working with the unions to finalize the agreement.

July 26, 2016

Implementation of the new collective agreement has concluded.

May 17, 2016

Implementation of the new collective agreement is underway.

April 12, 2016

On Mar. 29, the University Board of Governors approved the five-year collective agreement for the period May 1, 2014 - April 30, 2019.

March 22, 2016

  • On Mar. 10, ASPA announced that it had ratified a five-year collective agreement for the period May 1, 2014 - April 30, 2019. 93% of voting members were in support of the new agreement that will now be presented to the Board of Governors on Mar. 28 - 29.
  • Once approved, many of the newly agreed-to terms will commence within 60 days.
  • Discussions continue with ASPA and CUPE 1975 around matters of jurisdiction--of which union will represent certain positions.
  • During a lengthy round of negotitations, the university and the union were able to come to agreement on a number of important interests. This displays that the process of collective bargaining does work.

February 23, 2016

On Feb. 4, the university and ASPA reached a tentative agreement on a five-year collective agreement for the period, May 1, 2014 – April 30, 2019. Both parties are working towards their respective ratification in March (by the university’s Board of Governors and ASPA membership).

Information sessions for the campus will be scheduled after ratification. View the university’s summary of all agreed-to terms.

February 8, 2016

U of S Collective Bargaining Highlights of Tentative Agreement With ASPA

January 26, 2016

The university and ASPA continue to be at an impasse. The university remains open to discussions with the union.

2015

November 3, 2015

The university and ASPA remain at an impasse in collective bargaining.

  • The university tabled its best and final offer on Sept. 24. Both parties are in possession of a draft Collective Agreement that is subject to review. View the Summary of Bargaining document.
  • On Oct. 9, the university offered to engage in a discussion with ASPA and requested that the offer be put to a membership vote. (Read the letter)
  • To date, this offer has not been brought to the ASPA membership for a vote.
  • On Oct. 20, the university heard from ASPA that they were consulting with their members and others, regarding the university's current offer. (Read the letter)
  • On Oct. 23, the university became aware that ASPA had communicated a financial offer to their members that had not been tabled first with the university's bargaining team. This act represented an unfair labour practice by the union.
  • On Oct. 26, the university communicated with ASPA regarding the unfair labour practice, requesting that the behaviour cease, and reiterated the invitation to meet with the union. (Read the letter)
  • On Oct. 26, the University president received a letter from ASPA, to which he responded. (Read the letters)
  • On Oct. 28, ASPA requested a meeting of the full bargaining team to present the offer they had communicated to the membership. (Read the letter)--an offer that was already publicly available on ASPA's website (see reference to unfair labour practice, Oct. 23 above)
  • The university remains willing to meet, as per the chief negotiator's letter on Oct. 9.
  • The university is interested in reaching an agreement.

The impasse relates to two issues:

Salaries

The university has a board-approved compensation strategy for each of our eight employee groups. ASPA has compared the current salary offer to salary increases provided to USFA and CUPE and has used this comparison as rationale for their position to not accept the university's offer. Each bargaining unit is unique and at different positions in their unique market. The university offer attempts to balance the need for competitive increase (based on market position) and fiscal accountability of public funds.

Faculty are the backbone of our academic mission and therefore we strive to offer salaries at the 75th percentile of medical-doctoral universities in Canada. The recently negotiated USFA increase reflected the fact that faculty salaries, on average, were below their market target.

Employees in scope of ASPA, on average, are paid 2% above their target market--the 50th percentile of national public and private sector employer data. ASPA's current agreement also includes embedded increases (increments and merit that apply to targeted individuals) that represent an approximate increase of 2% in ASPA payroll costs per year.

Severance

The university is committed to fairness and to providing employees who are faced with layoffs with the appropriate transition supports. Changes as outlined in the current offer are intended to better align the university with common law provisions. There are no plans to implement layoffs through the Service Design and Delivery process. 

The university takes a principled approach to negotiations--tough on the issues, not on the people. We aim never to make the discussions personal and we are confident in the professional staff at the bargaining table. The university's bargaining team includes: Brad Steeves, Barb Gillis, Brandy Halter, Jeff Hepp and Greg Trew.

October 5, 2015

The university and the Administrative and Supervisory Personnel Association (ASPA) have not met since Sept. 24. Both parties are in possession of a draft Collective Agreement that is subject to review. View the Summary of Bargaining document (Sept. 29, 2015).

September 24, 2015

Today, mediation between the university and the Administrative and Supervisory Personnel Association (ASPA) broke off. The university has increased its offer during mediation but has not been able to meet the union's expectations. The parties are now awaiting further direction from the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety and for the time being, no further negotiations are planned. Regular updates will continue to be provided here.

September 22, 2015

Mediation resumes Sept 23-25 with the university and ASPA working toward the terms of a tentative settlement.

August 12, 2015

ASPA and the university's bargaining teams participated in mediation, facilitated by the provincial Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, on July 27-29 and August 4-5. Both parties found the mediation helpful and some progress was made on outstanding issues. The parties agreed to adjourn the mediation until September 23-25, at which point they hope to be able to conclude the terms of a tentative settlement.

July 28, 2015

Collective Agreement expired April 30, 2014

  • Collective bargaining reached an impasse on June 12 when ASPA rejected the university's best and final offer.
  • Both ASPA and the university applied for the appointment of a mediator to assist the parties in reaching an agreement.
  • Mediation is a newly legislated, mandatory step when an impasse is reached during collective bargaining. If mediation fails, the process ultimately leads to dispute resolution or makes strike/lockout permissible after a 14-day cooling off period and 48 hours notice.
  • Mediator Jim Jeffery, Senior Labour Relations Officer of the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, was appointed by the Saskatchewan Government.
  • Mediation began July 27 and is also scheduled for July 28, 29, August 4, 5 and 6.
  • The university has expressed to the mediator, its willingness to consider any suggestions ASPA has to put forward to move past the current impasse.
  • We will continue to provide updates

June 16, 2015

  • ASPA negotiations have been centered on adapting to legislated changes regarding supervisory employees and the long-term sustainability of the ASPA collective agreement. While progress has been made on some issues, major issues remain unresolved. One such issue is the university's proposed alternatives to scope, intended to address legislated changes to supervisory employees. In order to bring this specific issue to a conclusion, the university provided notice of its intent to bring the matter before the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board.
  • On June 12, the university team tabled our best and final offer to conclude a three-year contract with ASPA. The offer included various amendments to current language and modest wage and benefit improvements. ASPA rejected the offer, bringing the negotiations to an impasse. The university has applied for the appointment of a mediator to assist the parties, going forward. It is our hope that this important step will guide both parties to agreement so that any work interruptions may be avoided.
  • The mandatory mediation process is expected to occur over the summer. No job action can commence, per the legislation, until mediation has concluded and a fourteen-day cooling off period has passed. We will continue to provide updates.
  • Bargaining dates scheduled for June 23 and 24 have been cancelled.

May 15, 2015

Jurisdiction Review

Mediation regarding the jurisdiction of positions continues with ASPA, CUPE Local 1975 and the university. The Mediator has provided a draft agreement for the parties to consider regarding the appropriate boundaries of the bargaining units and implementation of any changes.

ASPA declined to mediate regarding legislative changes to the new definition of supervisory employee, which will prohibit supervisors from belonging to the same bargaining unit as those they supervise This piece of legislation will take effect in May 2016. The issue has been referred to collective bargaining.

Collective Bargaining

Collective Agreement expired April 30, 2014

Negotiations began in November 2014 with an exchange of interests. The bargaining teams have met 13 times and have reached tentative agreement on a number of housekeeping and non-monetary items. The university has provided ASPA with a comprehensive offer to settle a renewal of the collective agreement for the period of 2014-2017. The proposal includes a wage offer offset by reductions in a variety of terms and language adjustments intended to bring greater clarity to the agreement.

Considering the new definition of supervisory employee that comes into effect May 2016, the university has proposed alternatives to ASPA’s current scope.