The last meeting between the University’s negotiating team and the Faculty Association’s team was Thursday, February 2nd. As a result of that meeting, negotiations have now stalled.
When the Faculty Association negotiates a new Collective Agreement with UBC, one of the issues that often seems intuitive and straightforward is actually an important part of our work to help our members: a General Wage Increase (GWI). There are four main factors that contribute to the core importance of negotiating a strong GWI.
The Association proposal remains, as it always has been, to provide a general salary increase sufficient to keep pace with inflation and the general state of salaries elsewhere. In particular the Association’s position has always been that on salaries, we should rank at, or just below, the University of Toronto. This latter goal is an important and long-standing objective of the Association. UBC is one of the most profitable, if not the most profitable, university in Canada. It can easily afford to pay salaries comparable with those at the University of Toronto. There is no financial justification for UBC to rank so far down the national salary rankings.
As members who have had the time annually to peruse the University’s audited financial statements will already know, UBC had another very profitable year in Fiscal 2015, with a budgetary surplus of $49 million, of which $31 million was the surplus on operations.
The Faculty Association and the University were in interest arbitration in the middle of February, because the parties had not been able to reach agreement on an appropriate salary increase for the period 2014-2016. The Association relied on Article 11.02e of the Collective Agreement to argue that a general wage increase (GWI) of 3% and 3% was in order. The University relied on the provincial government’s Public Sector Employer Council (PSEC) mandate to make its arguments for its position of a GWI of 0% and 0.9%.
In our previous blog we discussed how contingent productivity payments instituted in the 2004/06 bargaining round disappeared in the 2010/12 bargaining round. There were two such payments, one predicated on fundraising, which was converted into the annual lump-sum payment, and one predicated on Tri-Council research grants. The question remains, what happened to the contingent “research grant” productivity payments? These were payments, equal to 1% of “regular salary” that would be made in a lump sum at the end of the contract year, contingent on Tri-Council grant funding exceeding the preceding year’s by a certain amount.
Members who have joined UBC within the past ten years may wonder about Part 2, Article 5 (Lump Sum Payment) of the Collective Agreement, which states that on June 30 of each year all members will be paid a lump-sum amount equal to 1% of their “regular salary.” In other words, a small percentage of our annual salary compensation is “held back” from our bi-monthly paycheques and paid out in a lump sum at the end of the contract year. How did we come to such an unusual arrangement?