Membership Services FAQ

Membership Services FAQ

What does the Membership Services Office do?

We advocate for our members’ interests and work to uphold their rights under the Collective Agreement. We do this by providing information and advice, addressing workplace-related concerns with the University, and by providing representation to members in the grievance process.Close Article


 
Who should I contact if I have a workplace-related concern?

If you have a workplace-related concern, please contact our Membership Services Office.

Email: msofa@uvic.ca

Phone: (250) 472-4892 Close Article


 
What types of workplace-related concerns can the Membership Services Office assist me with?

We can assist you with any concerns you have about the terms and conditions of your employment, particularly as they relate to the Collective Agreement.

Workplace-related concerns include such things as:

  • Career Progression
    • Appointment
    • Reappointment
    • Promotion
    • Tenure
    • Retirement
  • Compensation and Benefits
    • Salary
    • Leaves
    • Health benefits
    • Pension
  • Workload
    • Teaching assignments
    • Committee participation
  • Work Environment
    • Discrimination
    • Harassment
    • Bullying
    • Accommodations
  • Academic Matters
    • Academic Freedom
    • Scholarly integrity
  • Discipline
  • When should I contact the Membership Services Office about a workplace-related concern?

    Immediately. It is always better to involve the Membership Services Office early, even if our involvement is limited or you decide you don’t want to take any action. Reach out to us even if you are unsure whether the issue is important enough to receive advice or support. A Membership Services Advisor can help you understand your rights and obligations as an employee and help you decide the best way to deal with a workplace-related concern.

    Some matters happen predictably each year because of set processes with specific timelines in the Collective Agreement. For example, concerns related to merit evaluations start to appear in January when the evaluation process begins, and then increase in volume in early July when salary notices are distributed.

    The most important thing to keep in mind is that the Membership Services Office can help you decide if a concern is worth pursuing. As soon as you ask yourself if you should contact the Membership Services Office, you should contact us. Close Article

 

How long does it take for the Membership Services Office to respond to an enquiry?

Our goal is to respond to all new enquiries within 24-48 hours, depending on current volume. Often we are able to respond the same day. Close Article

 
How confidential is my enquiry?

Confidentiality is central to the work of the Membership Services Office and we are legally obligated to protect your privacy under the Personal Information Protection Act. All enquiries are held in strict confidence by default. Our support can involve the discussion of specifics with Faculty Relations, the Association’s Advising and Dispute Resolution Committee (ADRC), the Association’s President, or legal counsel. However, we will not discuss the specifics of your enquiry without your consent.

We retain information about member enquiries for the purpose of identifying trends and patterns in workplace-related concerns. Any personally identifying information related to an enquiry is protected and will not be shared. Aggregate information about the nature of issues and their frequency may be shared with Faculty Association committees and in semi-annual reports to the membership. Close Article

Who is responsible for making decisions about my issue?

If you use the Membership Services Office for advice as you work towards informal resolution with the Administration, you will retain complete control of the process. If an informal resolution deviates from the terms of the Collective Agreement, it  may require the consent of the Association. The Association is responsible for making its own decisions regarding participation in such resolutions, and may refuse to consent if doing so could compromise the interests of the membership as a whole.

If you are interested in representation in the form of a grievance, you can request that the Association file a grievance. The decision on whether or not to grieve will be made by the Advising and Dispute Resolution Committee, based on advice from the Membership Services Office. Close Article

What happens if I don’t agree with a decision of the Association?

We have policies in place to provide an appeal mechanism when you disagree with a decision regarding grievance or arbitration. An appeal of a decision not to file a grievance or not to refer a grievance to arbitration is usually made to the Executive Committee.Close Article

What is a grievance?
A grievance is a formal dispute between the Association and the University about the interpretation or application of the Collective Agreement. The only parties to a grievance are the Association and the University. Grievances are almost always filed by the Association with the University, but the University is able to file a grievance as well.

A grievance must include a reference to the context of the dispute, the provision or provisions of the Collective Agreement that apply, the specific application or interpretation that is being contested, and the remedy being sought for any specific harm that may have been caused by misapplication or misinterpretation of the agreement.Close Article

 

Who decides when to grieve or arbitrate?

In most cases, grievances will be filed within 60 working days of the Membership Services Office becoming aware of an issue. However, some grievances have shorter timelines specified in the Collective Agreement. Once a grievance has been filed, there is a mandatory informal resolution period before a grievance may be referred to arbitration. Once that period has expired, the Association or the University may refer the grievance to arbitration at any time, unless the grievance is settled or withdrawn.Close Article

 
How long does a grievance take?

There is no simple answer to this question. A grievance can last from one week to two years. The specific facts underlying a grievance has a significant impact on the time between filing and resolution.

Within a month of requesting that the Association file a grievance, you will know whether the Association intends to file it or not. If a grievance is filed, it will be filed within 60 days of the issue first coming to the Association’s attention.

If a grievance has a reasonable prospect of informal resolution by way of settlement agreement, it may take weeks or months to finalize. Implementing the terms of the agreement may also take months or years depending on the complexity of the settlement and if there are any disputes over terms of the settlement.

If a grievance gets referred to arbitration, it may take a couple months before arbitration dates are set and then a few months to wait for those dates to happen. Additional time may be required if a longer hearing becomes necessary or the arbitrator takes a long time to render a decision.Close Article

Can I bring my issue to both the Membership Services Office and the Administration (i.e. EQHR)?

Yes. However, it is only the Association that has a legal obligation to prioritize the interests of members in seeking resolution. There are many supports available to members through various units within the University, and you are encouraged to take advantage of those. However, keep in mind that support provided by the Administration is provided with a view to minimize the University’s liability. As such, they may not be motivated by a concern for what is best for you.Close Article

 

What happens if I don’t agree with a decision of the Association about my issue?

The Association has a duty to represent its members fairly. If you have exhausted your appeals within the Association and believe that the Association’s decisions have been unfair to you, you can make a complaint to the Labour Relations Board under Sections 12 and 13 of the Labour Relations Code.Close Article

 
What is an arbitration?

An arbitration is a legal proceeding, similar to a trial, with a third-party decision-maker who receives evidence and argument from both parties before making a decision.Close Article

Will the Association pay for my private legal fees?

No. The Association only pays for its own legal fees. If you decide to retain your own legal counsel, you do so at your own cost.Close Article