UBC Has the Money – Don’t Be Fooled by the Messaging

Categories: Arbitration, Bargaining Updates 2012, Salary Increases

You will have noticed increases on your October 15 paycheque, as the University paid out the salary increases they owed you for 2012-2013. The increases they owe you for 2013-2014 will likely start to show up on the December 15 paycheque.

You may also have started to hear complaints from your Heads and Deans that now they have to scramble to take more money out of their budgets in order to pay for these increases. If so, you are not alone. We have started to hear this canard so frequently and so consistently that it is starting to sound like an orchestrated message.

Perhaps this would be a good time to review how we got here. In December 2012 the University made a “final” settlement offer of a 2% general wage increase for each of 2012 and 2013. The bargaining team found the offer to be less than what could be expected under Article 11.02 of the Collective Agreement.

In our view it is the University’s academic purpose that is its primary business, and not its property development business or any of its other ancillary businesses. In our view, a view validated by the arbitrator, Faculty Members, Librarians and Program Directors are central to the University’s primary purpose and should be regarded and paid as such.

We briefly explain how Arbitrator Taylor reached his decision in this blog. When the arbitrator made his award he concluded that 2.5% and 2.5% fell well within the University’s ability to pay. The University has maintained, and continues to maintain, large surpluses each year as the following exhibit shows. bargaining2012_blogexhibitAHow the money is spent reflects choices. For example the choices reflected in the recent budget to make investments in communication and marketing and the flexible learning initiative may or may not have been good choices, but they were just that: choices. Those choices divert money that could go to faculty salaries.

The alleged budget deficits in faculties and departments are artifacts of the choices the university makes. The exhibit below, taken from a Board of Governor’s presentation in January 2013, shows those choices. bargaining2012_blogexhibitB

It is no more true to say that salary increases to keep faculty salaries competitive with the University of Toronto are responsible for budget deficits than it is to say the deficits are caused by the flexible learning initiative or the apparent need to maintain a large administrative structure. “Deficits” (notwithstanding that the reality is of a long history of surpluses) are caused by a series of decisions, not one decision in isolation.

We respectfully suggest that you push back to your Heads and Deans against the idea that the University does not have the money to fund the arbitrator’s award.  The academic side of UBC should not be treated like an under-performing division at a retail operation. Contrary to what might be deduced from some of the choices the University has made with its budget, the academic side, with faculty at the lead, is central to UBC’s mission and should be the first, not last, priority in budgeting choices. If your Dean is not willing to fight for resources to pay faculty appropriately, and simply caves to the University’s demand that Deans, rather than the University, fund the salary increases, then who is going to fight for resources for you?

Please speak out to your deans and heads and ask them who they represent! Their answer should be faculty.

If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact the Association.