SAC

Faculty & Staff Relations FAQs

What is a bargaining unit?
A bargaining unit is a group of employees represented by a single labour union. At the Mount, the majority of our employees are represented by one of four labour unions. Part-time faculty are represented by CUPE 3912. Full-time faculty are represented by MSVUFA. Non-academic employees are represented by NSGEU 81. Custodial and Steam Plant employees and Security and Switchboard employees are represented by IUOE 721.

What is a collective agreement?
A collective agreement is a written contract between the University and the labour union. The collective agreement applies to all members of the bargaining unit and contains the terms and conditions of employment. Collective agreements last for a pre-determined period of time. When a collective agreement expires, the University and the union must enter into collective bargaining to re-negotiate the agreement.

What is collective bargaining?
Collective bargaining is the process by which the University and the labour union negotiate their collective agreement. Under the Trade Union Act of Nova Scotia, both the union and the University must meet in a timely manner and negotiate in good faith.

How does collective bargaining begin?
Collective bargaining typically begins around the time an agreement expires. Either the University or the union can initiate bargaining by providing the other party with written notice.

What is conciliation?
Conciliation is the process of intervention in collective bargaining by a neutral third party knowledgeable in effective negotiation procedures. This third party is called a “conciliator” and their role is to assist employers and unions in reaching mutually agreeable solutions to outstanding issues. Conciliators are appointed by the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education (or a delegate) at the written request of one or both parties to collective bargaining. The conciliator assists the parties to resolve their outstanding issues, promotes a climate of non-adversarial dispute resolution, and suggests ideas/options for the parties’ consideration, but will not attempt to impose any settlement.

How does conciliation work?

The steps in the process are as follows:

  1. The union or employer files for conciliation through the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.
  2. Within two weeks of applying for conciliation, a provincial conciliator will be appointed. The conciliator will then be in touch with both parties to arrange meeting times.
  3. Multiple conciliation sessions usually take place. These continue until either an agreement has been reached or the conciliator declares an impasse.
  4. If an impasse is declared, the conciliator will then file a confidential report with the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education which triggers a 14 day ‘cooling off’ period during which no job action, such as a strike or lockout, can take place.
  5. A strike or lockout cannot legally take place until conciliation has concluded and the 14 day ‘cooling off’ period has elapsed. Prior to a strike or lockout taking place, there is also a requirement that the union or employer provide the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education with 48 hours’ notice of intent. Unions must also hold a successful strike vote prior to beginning a strike.

What is a strike vote?
A strike vote is a vote by members of the bargaining unit to give the union authority to call a strike.

What happens if the union votes to strike?
Should one of our bargaining units vote to strike, the University will be in communication with all those affected.