Oct. 29, 2020

Postdoctoral Association and University of Calgary ratify three-year collective agreement

First collective agreement aims to strengthen relationships

The University of Calgary’s Board of Governors, Human Resources Governance Committee and the Postdoctoral Association of the University of Calgary (PDAC) have ratified a first collective agreement, taking effect Jan. 1, 2021 and expiring Dec. 31, 2023.

Bargaining between UCalgary and the PDAC began on April 20, 2020, with all parties coming to the table with thoughtful and meaningful discussion. Given that this was a first collective agreement between the parties, a significant amount of work was required to formalize processes and procedures for this important group of researchers. An agreement in principle was reached after significant discussion with the formal ratification process ending in early October.

First agreement brings PDAC in line with other university staff groups

With the ratification of this first agreement, postdoctoral associates will now have access to many of the same employment benefits that other university employee groups have. Postdoctoral associates will now enjoy access to more personal leave days, parental leave top-up payments and casual illness leave, and tuition support for themselves and their families.

As well, postdoctoral associates will also take part in a formal annual performance evaluation process and will now have access to a grievance procedure should a dispute arise over an interpretation of a collective agreement article.

Changes to appointments and funding

The parties agreed to a revised process for when postdoctoral associates receive external fellowship funding. The new process will allow postdoctoral scholars to retain their associate appointment in a reduced form in addition to their new fellowship holder appointment. This change allows postdoctoral associates to retain their employee status and benefits contained in the new collective agreement. This change benefits both the university and postdoctoral associates by better incentivizing the acquisition of additional research funding and removing disincentives for the same.

“Postdoctoral scholars contribute vital energy and capacity to UCalgary’s research enterprise,” says Dr. William Ghali, vice-president (research). “This agreement formalizes the collective voice of the postdoctoral scholars, and ensures postdocs receive professional supports and benefits.”

PDAC pleased with agreement

The PDAC represents approximately 548 postdoctoral associates who work across all faculties and departments at the university. Those who participated in the electronic ratification voted 94 per cent in favour of this agreement.

Andrew Beaudin, president of the Postdoctoral Association of the University of Calgary, says this first agreement “is an important achievement for postdoctoral scholars at the University of Calgary. This agreement will help improve the lives of postdoctoral scholars who, for the first time ever, will have guaranteed access to many of the same workplace protections and benefits as other employee groups at the University of Calgary. 

"PDAC is also excited that this will be the first agreement between a postdoctoral association and a University’s Board of Governors to be implemented in Alberta since postdoctoral scholars were added into the Postsecondary Learning Act in May 2017.”

The collective agreement will be posted soon on the Human Resources and PDAC websites.