Professional Development Funds

Categories: Bargaining Updates 2014, Professional Development Funds

While the parties have agreed on many issues there are a number of issues still in dispute. On some of these issues the parties are likely to engage in further discussion that might lead to resolution, others will have to be decided by an Arbitrator. Please note that any items agreed to at the bargaining table will not be implemented until the interest arbitration is complete. This is the seventeenth in a series of blog posts to discuss both the matters that have been agreed to and those that are still in dispute, and the ninth dealing with matters still in dispute.

In every bargaining round the benefit issue on which we get the most comments from members in person and in our survey is the Professional Development Fund. No wonder. Our PD is the lowest in British Columbia, and among the lowest in Canada.

At SFU the PD Reimbursement benefit is $1,910, at UVic it’s $1,670 and at UNBC it’s $2,000. At Royal Roads faculty members have access to two funds: “Each April 1st, each full-time Faculty Member will have $1,200 deposited in his Personal Professional Development Account.” But, there are additional funds available as well: “On April 1st of each year, for each full-time Faculty Member the amount of $2,500 will be placed in the Professional Development Pool.” Faculty have to apply for funds from the pool (maximum $3,000) and not all applications may be fully funded.

Of course, then there is the University of Toronto, which is our most relevant comparator. In their last round of bargaining the UofT and the Faculty Association agreed that the Professional Expense Reimbursement Allowance (PERA) “will be $1600, except for Pre-Tenure and Pre-Promotion Teaching Stream and Pre-Permanent Status Librarians for whom PERA will be $1850.”

So where does UBC stand? $1,100 except for non-continuing Sessional Lecturers for whom it is $25 per credit taught ($75 for each three credit course).

Our proposal is to raise the PD Allowance to $35 per credit for non-continuing Sessional Lecturers and $1,750 for everyone else. UBC has not agreed with our proposal. Instead, it provided us with a proposal to “an increase in the Professional Development Reimbursement Fund from $1,100 to $1,200 of Professional Development reimbursement per year for Faculty Association Members, excluding Sessional Lecturers without continuing status” on the condition that we accept a general wage increase offer of 5.1% over 5 years. This salary increase is even lower than the Province’s proposed mandate and we would still have the lowest PD in the Province.

Because we cannot agree to a five-year deal with a general wage increase well below inflation our PD proposal will be put before the arbitrator.