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 sixteenth 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 eighth dealing with matters still in dispute.
We have two proposals for the tuition fee waiver benefit in Article 7.08 of Part 2 of the Collective Agreement: allowing spouses to qualify for the waiver and protecting the waiver for faculty member dependents enrolled at the University should the parent die during the student’s enrollment.
Currently the tuition fee waiver only applies to members and dependent children. Members are entitled to up to 12 credits a year, dependent children are eligible for up to 120 credits in an undergraduate degree program. In our face-to-face meetings and bargaining surveys many members asked us to modify the Collective Agreement so that the tuition fee waiver would apply to their spouses/partners.
Our first proposal is to allow members to transfer their tuition fee waiver to their spouses. This is not an increased benefit, but simply a change in who in a member’s family may receive the benefit. We think this is a very good family-friendly proposal. It has very little cost, and would help with recruitment and retention. We made the same proposal in the last round and the University strongly objected, arguing that “it is very difficult to cost” the proposal.
The second proposal concerns what happens to a dependent child who is enrolled in a degree program using the tuition fee waiver benefit, and the member tragically dies. Currently, the child loses the waiver. We proposed that in such circumstances the dependent child be allowed to maintain the benefit after the death of his or her parent. We are not proposing that dependent children have access to the benefit and be allowed to start a degree program after the death of a parent. We simply proposed protecting those students already registered in a degree program at the University at the time of their parent’s death.
When we went to interest arbitration in 2012, this was one of the issues we put to the arbitrator. The University stated in their brief to the arbitrator that it would cost the University $750 per year in total if it were to maintain this benefit for all enrolled students who lost a parent. The arbitrator did not make a ruling on any issues other than salary increases during that arbitration. During this round of bargaining, once again the University has not agreed to our proposal. We will once again put this issue before the arbitrator. The cost to the University of providing this benefit is so minimal that we are puzzled that this matter was not resolved during this round of bargaining.