Faculty begrudges deal

By Natalie Sit

Professors have a new collective agreement with the university. The arbitrated agreement gives faculty a 3.5 per cent increase in the first year and a 3.75 per cent increase in the last year of the two year agreement. The Board of Governors originally proposed an increase of 3.25 per cent, followed by 3.5 in the second year. The University of Calgary Faculty Association wanted a nine per cent increase in the first year and then a further five per cent increase in the second year.

TUCFA President Dr. John Baker found the salary increase very unsatisfactory.

“It’s particularly disappointing because the arbitrator gave us less than the University of Alberta got in their settlement which is particularly disturbing because in Edmonton, house prices are $30,000 on the average less than they are here,” said Dr. Baker. “So when you are trying to attract new faculty, this is one of the factors that they look at.”

The U of A faculty reached an agreement, without arbitration, and received a 13.5 per cent increase over three years. U of C Associate Vice-President Human Resources Margaret Hughes said the bargaining team offered four and 4.25 per cent for two years to move closer to U of A’s agreement but there would have to be changes in three areas: market supplements, sessional instructors and mandatory retirement at age 65.

“The faculty association for their own reasons, representing their members, were not prepared to do that,” said Hughes. “They wanted the money but without the other changes. But if you look at the arbitration award, the arbitrators specifically say ‘the absence of a mandatory retirement policy at the university must be taken into account in comparing its salaries at the U of A.’ We could meet the same thing the U of A offered if we had the same flexibility to raise the money that they have in the provisions.”

However, Dr. Baker was stunned by administration’s proposal to include mandatory retirement.

“Not only is mandatory retirement provisions by legislation discriminatory on the basis of age, but also because we’re having difficulty in attracting faculty,” said Dr. Baker. “One of the attractions senior administration has constantly been saying in presentation to the government, that they can trumpet, is we have no mandatory retirement. When they’re trying to attract people, say in their mid-fifties to a senior position, ‘look you can continue to research and teach until you’re comfortable moving on to other things.’”

According to Hughes, mandatory retirement allows administration to forecast the university’s staffing needs more accurately.

“Through mandatory retirement, you are losing senior people, usually your highest paid people and you are replacing them with more junior people at a lower salary,” said Hughes. “You can count on that kind of turnover so I know what the savings are going to be. But if you have a steadily growing number over 65 years of age, you simply can’t rely on those turnover savings to be able to pay higher wages.”

Another area of contention was the wording in Article 23 of the agreement, which covers the conditions of sessional employment. Dr. Baker believes the university tried to “take the teeth out of it.” However, the arbitrator ruled in favour of the faculty association and did not change the wording.

“It’s the faculty association’s view the primary teaching should be done by people who are in regular ongoing position, with a commitment to the university and the students,” said Dr. Baker. “They should be in positions which are research positions because we’re supposed to be integrating research into our teaching. Sessional instructors are not paid to do research.”

Hughes contends sessionals do research, and it is sessionals that allowed the U of A to offer a higher amount to faculty because the flexibility they offer in financial situations.

“It depends on how you define research,” said Hughes. “There’s a lot of research that goes on to keep up to date in your fields. They bring that research to the classroom and it is different compared to what your research chair brings.”

Students’ Union President Matt Stambaugh believes an agreement like this will make it difficult to recruit professors at current salary levels and a provincial recruitment and retention envelope is needed.

“It wasn’t a healthy deal,” he said. “But it was a fair deal in light of budget restrictions.”

Leave a comment