The Association Wins in Arbitration: Faculty Member’s Collective Agreement Rights Cannot be Ignored by the University.
In a recent arbitration decision, it was found that both the Collective Agreement (CA) and the UOIT Act were breached when the University excluded Members from running for election to the Board of Governors (BOG) because they had applied, or were intending to apply for research leave within the next 2 years. The policy was deemed to be discriminatory in that it precluded tenured faculty, the only group whose job allows for Research Leave, from fully being able to participate on the BOG. The University’s position was that, in essence, the BOG was not bound by the CA and could set its own rules of membership and eligibility, and that those who were planning or taking a research leave in the following 2 years would not be able to participate fully in the BOG because under Article 28.03, they were required to dedicate 100% of their workload to Research during that time. They, therefore, were deemed ineligible from applying for election to the BOG. In the year in question, three out of the five people total that put in for election were deemed ineligible and denied the opportunity to run for the election.
Kaplan, the Arbitrator assigned to this file, noted in his decision that Article 28.03 was being used by the University inappropriately and that “…experience indicates that the purpose of provisions such as this are to limit what other duties can be assigned during the period of the research leave: namely, none.”
“This decision has implications on how our Members have a say in their own Service obligations and reasserts that the Collective Agreement must be respected by the University,” said Mike Eklund, President of the UOITFA.
In Kaplan’s discussion of his decision he noted that “This overall conclusion is reinforced by the discriminatory effect of the rule with its unfortunate effect of largely precluding tenured faculty from collegial governance. Faculty members enjoy academic freedom and that includes the right, as provided for in this collective agreement in Article 16(b)(iii), to stand for election to the BOG. There is nothing about being on a 100% research leave that is inconsistent with BOG service. The actions in the late winter/early spring of 2018 precluding tenured track faculty members with already approved research leaves, or faculty members who were entitled to a research leave and who anticipated taking one, from BOG service was not fair, reasonable or equitable.”
“We are really happy with this decision,” said Eklund. “We want to fully support those Members who wish to participate on the BOG and be able to do so, regardless of whether or not they have tenure. We trust that this decision will now allow that to happen.”