Frequently Asked Questions

The University of Prince Edward Island recognizes the critical role that faculty, sessional instructors, librarians, and clinical nursing instructors play within the University. The University remains committed to achieving a collective agreement with the UPEI Faculty Association (UPEI FA) that is consistent with other primarily undergraduate universities in the region and is in the best interests of our students.

It is essential that students and employees continue to monitor their university email accounts as that is the primary channel by which updates will be sent. In the event the UPEI Faculty Association initiates a strike, an email will be sent to all members of the University community. Please note that this is a fluid situation and plans are subject to change if necessary. Any changes will be communicated widely. 

While the collective bargaining process unfolds, students should continue to attend classes and labs, complete assigned work, and follow the University Academic Calendar for registration and fee payment deadlines.

Please find below a list of general Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding collective bargaining and negotiations at UPEI.

We also have prepared dedicated FAQ pages for various audiences:

Student FAQs

International and Graduate Student FAQs

Employee FAQs

If the information you are looking for is not reflected on these FAQ pages, please submit your question to communications@upei.ca 

 

What is a collective agreement?
What is collective bargaining?
How does the collective bargaining process begin?
As negotiations progress, will the University community be updated?
How will UPEI’s communications on this website affect negotiations?
What happens if UPEI and the Union(s) are unable to reach agreement on the terms of a new collective agreement through the collective bargaining process?
What is the role of a conciliator?
What happens if the conciliation process is unsuccessful?
What is a strike?
Will there be a strike during the 2023 Winter Academic semester?
Does the University intend to lock out faculty?
Will events and activities continue on campus if members of the UPEI Faculty Association are on strike?
Will all UPEI buildings remain open during a strike?
Is it legal to cross a picket line during a strike?
My child is enrolled at Campus Kids Daycare or Panther Day Camps. Will access be impacted by a strike?
In the event of an emergency on campus during a strike, will emergency response be impacted?
Where will I get information on how a potential strike will impact me?


What is a collective agreement?

A collective agreement is a written contract between an employer and a union providing the terms and conditions of employment that apply to all members of the particular group of employees represented by the union—this group is known as the bargaining unit.

What is collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the process by which the parties to a collective agreement renegotiate the terms of an existing collective agreement or negotiate a new collective agreement when the union has been recently certified.

The Labour Act of Prince Edward Island obligates both sides of a collective agreement to meet in a timely manner and to make every reasonable effort to negotiate in good faith with a view to concluding a collective agreement or the renewal or revision thereof.

How does the collective bargaining process begin?

To start the collective bargaining process, at least one party must give notice. This occurs either under the terms of an existing collective agreement under section 23 of the Labour Act of Prince Edward Island. The parties then set up dates to exchange and negotiate proposals.

As negotiations progress, will the University community be updated?

Yes. UPEI will provide updates to the university community through this web site as negotiations progress. These updates will be factual and respectful of the negotiations process and our obligations under the Labour Act of Prince Edward Island.

How will UPEI’s communications on this website affect negotiations?

Negotiations are a routine part of the life cycle of a collective agreement and a normal part of university life. The information posted on this website will assist the University community in understanding the process as it unfolds without interfering with the bargaining itself.

What happens if UPEI and the Union(s) are unable to reach agreement on the terms of a new collective agreement through the collective bargaining process?

If the parties are unable to reach agreement on all issues raised during negotiations, and are therefore unable to agree on the terms of a new collective agreement, either party (or both) may initiate the conciliation process by requesting the appointment of a conciliator by the Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture.

What is the role of a conciliator?  

The role of a conciliator is to assist the parties in reaching an agreement. The conciliator acts as a neutral third party by helping both parties work towards a mutually satisfactory solution and a new collective agreement. It is important to note that a conciliator does not have the authority to bind the parties or impose a new agreement on them. A conciliator is only able to make recommendations based on his/her observations and guide the parties through the process. At the end of the conciliation process, the conciliator must provide the Minister with a report.  

What happens if the conciliation process is unsuccessful?

From the Labour Act of Prince Edward Island:

"The parties involved may take a strike or lock-out vote if a conciliation officer appointed by the Minister has been unable to bring about an agreement between the parties, and fourteen days have elapsed from the date on which the report of the conciliation officer was filed with the Minister and a conciliation board or mediator has not been appointed under section 27 or section 34; OR a conciliation board or mediator has been appointed and has been unable to bring about an agreement between the parties and seven days have elapsed from the date on which the report of the conciliation board or mediator was filed with the Minister."

What is a strike?

The Prince Edward Island Labour Act gives unionized employees the right, under certain circumstances, to go on strike. Section 7 (1) (l) defines a strike as follows:

“strike” includes a cessation of work or refusal to work or to continue to work by employees in combination or in concert or in accordance with a common understanding or a slow down or other concerted activity on the part of the employees designed to restrict or limit output or service.

The action of a group of employees under this definition is considered to be a strike. During a strike, UPEI Faculty Association, Bargaining Unit #1 members will withdraw all of their services which includes teaching, student supervision, research and volunteer services. Being on strike is a pause in employment—think of it as an unpaid and unapproved leave of absence.

Will there be a strike during the 2023 Winter Academic semester?

The University and UPEI Faculty Association (UPEI FA) have been in collective bargaining since April 2022 and have completed both conciliation and mediation. The seven-day cooling off period ended February 8, which meant the UPEI FA was in a position to hold a strike vote, which was held February 13 and 14. The UPEI FA membership in bargaining unit #1 (faculty members, sessional instructors, clinical nursing instructors, and librarians) voted 83% in favour of strike. This means the UPEI FA bargaining team is in a legal position to go on strike at any time; however, the two Parties returned to talks on February 23, 24, 27, and 28. The University presented proposals during these meetings and is looking forward to the UPEI FA negotiation and executive teams’ response to its Taskforce and Continuing Teaching Stream proposals. Read Community Bulletin

In the meantime, we remain hopeful that the UPEI FA will not take their members on a strike; however, we are preparing in the event that this cannot be avoided.

Does the University intend to lock out faculty?

No. The University has repeatedly assured students and employees that it has no intention of taking action that would disrupt the 2023 Winter Academic Semester. The University is prepared to return to the negotiating table with the assistance of a mediator and has also offered to enter interest arbitration as a way to reach a settlement that is fair and reasonable to both Parties.

Will events and activities continue on campus if members of the UPEI Faculty Association are on strike?

Generally, on-campus events and activities planned for the 2023 Winter Academic Semester are currently expected to continue as scheduled. If extracurricular learning activities are conducted or supervised by striking employees, they cannot take place during a strike. Any changes will be communicated broadly. If you have specific questions, please contact event organizers.

Will all UPEI buildings remain open during a strike?

Yes, UPEI buildings will remain open; however, you may have to cross picket lines to enter the campus or campus buildings. 

Is it legal to cross a picket line during a strike?

Students, non-striking employees, and visitors are welcome to come to the University campus and can cross the picket line. You will be able to enter UPEI buildings and access student services during a strike. Please note that on the picket line are members of our University community, and we should all continue to be respectful of each other during this period of disruption. We encourage you to exercise patience and caution in crossing any picket line. 

All parties, including employees on strike and individuals crossing the picket line, are responsible for refraining from illegal behaviour. If you experience problems or are involved in an incident while crossing the picket line, please report this to your supervisor or Dean’s office.

My child is enrolled at Campus Kids Daycare or Panther Day Camps. Will access be impacted by a strike?

Access for parents, guardians, and caregivers of children entering and leaving the daycare building or the UPEI Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre will be maintained in the event of a strike. 

In the event of an emergency on campus during a strike, will emergency response be impacted?

Emergency response including police, fire, EMS, will not be impacted by a strike. UPEI Security Services will also continue to operate during a strike.

Where will I get information on how a potential strike will impact me?

The UPEI Labour Relations website contains all past updates and will also be where information is posted in the event of a strike. It is also important to check your @upei.ca email address frequently as this is your means of official communications with the University. Any critical information related to updates or changes in the lead up to, during, or after a strike will be sent to you via your @upei.ca email address.

 

Further questions?

If you have any further general questions about the collective bargaining process, we encourage you to consult the Labour and Industrial Relations pages on the Department of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture website.