The Faculty Association and the University had set aside this week (October 22-26) to continue negotiations towards a new Collective Agreement. Both parties had hoped that an agreement could be reached at this time, but unfortunately the parties are still far apart on a number of issues, key among which is the Across-the-Board (ATB) salary settlement. The University has offered an ATB salary increase of 0.4% on July 1, 2012, 0.4% on January 1, 2013 and 0.4% for July 1, 2013. Coming on the heels of two years of zeros their offer amounts to an increase of 1.2% over 4 years for our members. In the same time period, faculty at the University of Toronto received ATB increases of over 9%, not including improvements in benefits and other cost items.
The Faculty Association’s position is that we need to keep pace with the University of Toronto, the University of Alberta and other comparable institutions. An ATB offer of 0.8% and 0.4% is not going to do that. In fact, UBC’s offer appears to be lower than settlements at any other university in Canada. The Association has not adopted a take-it-or-leave it position on the ATB increase but we have indicated that we are looking for a settlement that lets us keep pace with U of T, and we believe that 5% and 5%, following two years of 0%, would accomplish that goal.
The University’s bargaining team has taken the position that UBC cannot afford to pay faculty salaries that keep pace with those at other Canadian universities. The Faculty Association is doubtful that this is true. We have no reason to believe that UBC is in severe financial distress, let alone that its financial situation is the worst of any university in Canada.
In addition, no agreement has been reached on any other issues, other than a handful of housekeeping matters. Among our proposals that the university has said no to is our proposal to raise Professional Development (currently the lowest in BC and among the lowest in Canada), our proposal to bring sessional salaries more in line with those at the University of Toronto, our proposal to bring eye care more into line with industry standards, and our proposal that in the event a member passes away while their dependent child is enrolled at UBC, the child would continue to be eligible for the tuition waiver. For a more complete list of our proposals to which UBC has said no check this previous post in our bargaining blog.
If the parties cannot come to an agreement prior to February 4, 2013 all outstanding issues will be put in the hands of the arbitrator, Colin Taylor, who will make a final and binding award. No further meetings have been scheduled between the parties between now and February 4. However both parties are available to meet for further negotiations should such meetings seem potentially fruitful.