Decision on bargaining unit to be announced at the end of March.
The Labour Relations Board’s hearings on the appropriateness of the proposed bargaining unit concluded on February 14th, with a ruling scheduled to be made after four to six weeks. By the end of March, Richard Longpre, vice-chair responsible for processing the application, will make a decision concerning the university’s arguments contesting the faculty’s description of the proposed bargaining unit. This will determine whether the vote conducted by the faculty will be counted, and if the vote is counted, whether the motion to unionize passes.
Grievances are not the driving factor for the formation of a union. According Dr. Chad Friesen, TWU professor of chemistry, “the primary motivators for [the staff] were to develop a culture that is conducive to success in teaching/research and creating an environment in which both students and faculty can flourish.”
TWU Associate professor of philosophy Dr. Myron Penner states, “The faculty who have indicated support for unionization at TWU have done so feeling that a unionized framework and a well-defined collective bargaining process will help the university make positive steps in a number of areas.” This includes “strengthening the Human Resources environment for faculty (especially with respect to dispute resolution, conflict management, and providing professional support for employees through processing conflict), protecting and enhancing benefits in collective bargaining, benefits and representation for part-time faculty, and defining and protecting tenure and promotion within the context of a collective agreement.”
Should the union be created, the Christian Labour Association of Canada assures there will be academic freedom, tenure and promotion, terms of employment, benefits, and compensation. A CLAC handout given to faculty states that “a legally-recognized faculty body will be able to determine the parameters of academic freedom at TWU and the ways it will be managed.” It secures that they “will provide the framework for faculty clearly to define tenure and promotion pathways that that reflect these two fundamental components of the academic endeavour.” In terms of employment, CLAC notes that “a collective bargaining agreement will outline specific details of faculty workload, [with] an opportunity to define the balance of research and teaching. Benefits will be enshrined in [the] agreement and made more widely available.” Lastly, the handout states that “legal certification will allow TWU faculty to work in partnership with the administration to address the issue of ethical wage parity in light of a faculty salary grid that is one of the lowest in Canada.”
The LRB ruling at the end of this month will help decide what direction the faculty at Trinity Western will take, either in forming a union or not.