Part-time Sessional Benefit and Pension Issues

Categories: Bargaining Updates 2014, Pension, Sessionals

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 twenty-first 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 thirteenth dealing with matters still in dispute.

This blog pertains to a proposal that the University has made in at least the past three rounds. It concerns Part 4 Article 2.03(f)(ii) which reads: “The following benefits are available to members of the bargaining unit with appointments of at least 1 year and 50% workloads and to Sessional Lecturers with appointments of at least 4 months and 50% workloads.” The problem with this provision is threefold. First, the definition of 50% workload changes from Faculty to Faculty. Second, summer sessional appointments are typically less than 4 months (even though courses taught during the Summer term are equal in contact hours to similar courses taught during the Winter term). Consequently, someone in Arts teaching two sections in the Summer term is ineligible for benefits, but in the Winter term the same person teaching the same two courses would be eligible. Third, if they teach less than half time, they get no pension contribution. In Arts, teaching one course in the Fall term, one course in the Spring term, and two in the summer generates no pension contribution, but teaching two courses in the Fall term, two in the Winter term, and none in the summer would generate pension contributions. Two different distributions within the year of the same amount of work, and same salary, but one is eligible for pension contributions and the other not.

To deal with the first situation, we proposed that a full-time workload should be defined as three courses per term, in all Faculties. This is also consistent with our proposal to standardize the minimum salary scale for all Faculties based on the 15 credit definition of full-time. The University’s position on this is a firm “no.”

To deal with the second situation, we proposed that if an amount of work would qualify for benefits in the Fall or Winter terms, the same amount of work would qualify for benefits in the Summer term. We had quite a bit of discussion about this proposal at the table, and were making some progress, but thus far the University has not agreed with our proposal, and it was not part of their “financial package.”

Members may remember our previous blog about our pension proposals (May 22, 2014). If not, we take this opportunity to point out again that in a defined contribution plan, such as we have at UBC, pension contributions are simply part of total compensation. It is grossly unjust that a member’s total compensation would be less if the work is spread thinly over the year than it would be if the work was concentrated in one or two terms. On this issue the University’s position is also a firm “no.”

These are inexpensive proposals that relate to fundamental fairness and equity between members. It’s not clear why the University is unwilling to solve these problems, but thus far the problems remain unresolved. These three benefit issues may head to arbitration, unless the University has a change of heart sometime before the arbitration.

Next up on the blog: History Behind Annual “Lump-sum Payment,” Part 1

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