February 15, 2024

NASA Bargaining Update: Timing, Transparency, and wage offers – 35% at another employer

Yesterday evening (February 14, 2024) your NASA Bargaining Committee met for the fourth time after hours to discuss proposals. The proposals included: wages, reducing class size, quantifying Chair downloads, and evening and weekend shift-differential pay.

When Will Bargaining Start?

We are currently waiting for dates for bargaining from NAIT. The bargaining committee has indicated to NAIT Management that it is fully committed to have the least amount of disruption to students’ learning and logistical demand of substitutions by being available for bargaining sessions during evenings and weekends in April, May, June, and throughout the summer months. NASA intends to serve formal notice to bargain in March to officially begin the process, and if NAIT does not put up any roadblocks we can begin in early April.

Does NAIT Disagree on the Value of Transparent Negotiations?

While union negotiations often operate behind closed doors, our plan is to be upfront with you about what’s happening at the table, what’s being proposed, and what is being counter-proposed. We have told NAIT that we want to allow NASA members to come and observe the proceedings. This can be called “open bargaining”. We believe this will be a good move for the NAIT community overall to demystify the process where your future working conditions are decided.

We have been running into some difficulty with NAIT on this matter who seem to believe that negotiations are better done behind closed doors and without the people whose working conditions are being debated being able to hear what is being said.

This is a new approach for NASA so we have been learning from other unions’ experiences. One union that has done open bargaining recently is Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 in negotiations with the City of Red Deer. Shauna got to speak with their President Steve Bradshaw who told us that the process was beneficial to their members who were much more informed and engaged. They also ran into resistance from their employer, but told the City of Red Deer that basically they have an obligation to negotiate, and that unions are not legally compelled to agree to confidentiality rules. After letting them know there could be a complaint against the City brought to the Alberta Labour Relations Board if they refused to negotiate, the employer backed down. Negotiations were then resolved successfully without a lockout or strike. We hope NAIT can see value in that positive experience and will agree to move forward on a transparent basis.

Wage Issues and a Precedent Set for a 35% Increase

We know the real value of NASA members’ wages has decreased as much as 17.25% from inflation since 2016. So catching up from that as well as meeting ongoing inflation would mean a proposed increase quite higher than you normally see in negotiations. The good news is NASA is not alone in seeing the need for significant wage catch up. The United Nurses of Alberta tabled their opening offer to Alberta Health Services last week which includes a 35% increase over two years plus a cost of living adjustment in the 2nd year. We expect to see similar ambitious offers from other public sector unions as they start their own negotiations. We know from our recent survey that there is strong support for a raise on top of inflation, so look for another short survey on wages after Reading Week to help us determine what that amount should be.

Bargaining Town Halls Start February 26th!

By now most of you should have received an invite to department level virtual town halls. Starting on February 26th, your bargaining committee member, NASA President, and Labour Relations Director will be holding virtual town halls to discuss the bargaining process, proposals that have been approved and or are being discussed and of course answering your questions. You will be provided with the proposals under consideration by the committee in your NAIT email before these town halls.This will be one of the last opportunities to provide feedback to shape ingoing proposals. With negotiations starting as early as April, we ask that any and all feedback be sent in no later than Friday, March 15 and you can email that to Trevor Zimmerman.

P.S., Please remember to provide NASA with your personal email and phone number at this link. As bargaining progresses, we will need to provide communications outside of NAIT’s systems.


NASA’s Bargaining Team