Dr. Scott Moir
CBUFA Bargaining Team
The University has received your September 16, 2022 news release, “Cape Breton University Faculty Association (CBUFA) Votes for Strike Action”.
While the University believes that the collective bargaining process should be transparent to all parties and that both bargaining committees can communicate, within the legal parameters outlined by Nova Scotia labour law, we take exception with a number of the characterizations in this release.
Cape Breton University is committed to the collective bargaining process and achieving a negotiated collective agreement with CBUFA. We have always come to the table ready to negotiate.
CBU was well prepared for bargaining. When collective bargaining opened in early July, the parties exchanged proposals, with CBUFA proposing changes to 18 articles and CBU proposing 12. Meetings of the bargaining teams occurred on July 8, July 18, 19, and 20. CBU provided a fulsome response to the CBUFA proposal on July 20, and vice-versa. CBU again indicated it would respond to the CBUFA monetary proposal once non-monetary issues were fully discussed.
CBU did not abandon negotiations. On August 9, the fifth day of bargaining, CBU tabled a revised Teaching Scholar proposal that modernizes teaching, enhances research and we believe is of overall benefit to the entire community, and that addressed concerns raised by the CBUFA bargaining team during the July meetings, including the addition of language that limits the overall number of Teaching Scholars. In response, the CBUFA bargaining team said they could not proceed further and would have to consult with their membership. With that, the scheduled discussions of August 10 were cancelled by agreement of the parties.
On August 18, we sent you a summary of our Teaching Scholar proposal outlining the rationale for this critical proposal and its benefits to CBU, CBUFA, our students and the Cape Breton community at large. We were eventually able to connect on September 6. At that time, you indicated you would provide a response following a consultation with the membership, which was scheduled on September 9. I reached out again on September 13. We subsequently received a response from you on September 16, a full 29 days from our letter of August 18.
We understand summer is a busy time and delays will be encountered as we accommodate planned holidays. The rate of progress during these negotiations has not been due to CBU’s unwillingness to negotiate or lack of preparedness. The University believes that the issues that are on the table are critically important for the success of the entire CBU community and has, and will continue to, take time to discuss all of them.
The Evolution of CBU
We believe that our proposals, including the Teaching Scholar proposals, will assist in recruiting and retaining the best faculty, serve to enhance the Cape Breton community, and improve the future prospects for our students. As you know, CBU is unique in Canada, given our extremely large proportion of international students. We are proud of that; the benefits to the University and our Cape Breton community are enormous. Simply put, this proposal acts as a critical tool to bring Cape Breton University into the future. It is not a step back.
As we outlined in our August 18, 2022 letter, Teaching Scholars will enhance the student experience and bring more stability to our programs with extraordinarily high enrolments of international students. Faculty who become Teaching Scholars will benefit from more, not less, job security with a shift to continuing positions instead of limited term contracts. Teaching Scholars will also benefit all faculty by ensuring more stability in high-risk programs, thereby providing the financial means to ensure greater stability and capacity for existing programs with proportionately more domestic students.
Our Teaching Scholar proposal, to which we are committed, will provide:
- continuity of faculty staffing to enhance the student experience (and enhanced job security for CBUFA members)
- an opportunity to stabilize international enrolment at CBU with all it brings to our community,
- enhanced focus on the scholarship of teaching to the benefit of all CBU students,
- enhanced job security to current CBUFA members serving high-risk programs with career progression availability, and
- greater stability and capacity to enhance other programs with high enrolments of domestic students (programs that are largely delivered by CBUFA members) thereby obviously enhancing our important institutional research activity.
To summarize, CBU has always been and remains committed to coming prepared to negotiate, CBU did not abandon negotiations, and CBU has prepared and revised, after hearing your concerns, its proposal for Teaching Scholars, which increases stability, capacity and modernizes teaching at our University.
The University believes and remains optimistic that a negotiated collective agreement can be achieved, if both parties work hard and focus on the key issues. Unfortunately, CBUFA’s characterization of the important issues at hand is not helpful in achieving that mutual objective.
We look forward to making great progress together.
Gordon MacInnis, FCPA, FCA
Vice-President, Finance & Operations