This post focuses on the top bargaining issue for most of us: the Faculty Association’s proposal for a general wage increase in response to current inflation trends.
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.
A Lecturer is defined in the Collective Agreement as a person holding an appointment without review for a term of twelve (12) months or less with responsibilities limited to teaching and related duties. Those related duties may include administrative responsibilities normally undertaken by faculty members (i.e., not work normally undertaken by administrative staff). The university has proposed adding service to the duties of Lecturers, something to which the Association is not opposed in principle, although we recognize that with additional responsibilities should come additional compensation.
The purpose of the general wage increase (GWI), as Arbitrator Taylor put it, is “to keep pace with inflation and the general state of salaries elsewhere.” [2013 arbitration decision, UBC vs UBCFA, paragraph 111, page 51]. The Collective Agreement Part 1, Article 11.02eii)actually refers to two different price inflation rates: changes in the Vancouver and Canadian Consumer Price Indices. However for purposes of analysis and prediction it is sufficient to look only at a single index. We explain our proposed general increase below.
Salary increases to individual members fall into two categories: General Wage Increases (GWI), and Progress Through the Ranks (PTR). GWIs are intended to protect members against inflation and maintain salary comparability with faculty at other universities of comparable academic quality and size. PTR is intended to reward individuals’ career advancement. The provisions of Progress Through the Ranks are contained in Part 2, Sections 2.02 through 2.05 of the Collective Agreement.
As part of its general wage increase offer the University has made what must be described as a most peculiar proposal. Their proposal is that on May 1, 2016, in addition to the general wage increase they have proposed, our salaries will also be increased by 50% of the amount by which the Economic Forecast Council forecast underestimates real (inflation adjusted) GDP growth in 2014. They also proposed similar forecast error increases on May 1, 2017, May 1, 2018, and May 1, 2019. This will take some explaining.
On June 5 the Faculty Association and UBC exchanged proposals for a general wage increase (GWI). The University has proposed a five-year agreement with a GWI of 0% in 2014/15, 0.9% in 2015/2016, 1.4% in 2016/17, 1.4% in 2017/2018, and 1.5% in 2018/19. The Association has proposed a two-year agreement with a GWI of 3% in 2014/15 and 3%.
Last week the University contacted the Association and suggested they were prepared to make a new offer in the week of December 10. Although we started meeting with the University at the beginning of the week, unfortunately, it turned out that they were not, in fact, prepared to make an offer until today.
One of the primary objectives of this round of bargaining is to bring our salaries back in line with those of other Canadian universities of comparable academic quality and size.
The Faculty Association and the University had set aside this week (October 22-26) to continue negotiations towards a new Collective Agreement. Both parties had hoped that an agreement could be reached at this time, but unfortunately the parties are still far apart on a number of issues, key among which is the Across-the-Board (ATB) salary settlement.
In May 2012 Maclean’s magazine published an article comparing median faculty salaries at Canadian universities for 2010/2011. The data were provided by Statistics Canada’s Centre for Education Statistics through the University and College Academic Staff Survey.
The salary structure of every university in Canada comprises, to a greater or lesser extent, two major components; across-the-board increases (Bargaining Blog 2012 – Salaries at Comparator Institutions) previously discussed), and progress through the ranks (PTR), which at UBC is also called the career advancement plan (CAP).
What is our primary objective in looking at a salary increase for 2012-2014? Our primary objective is to achieve a sufficient across-the-board (ATB) salary increase to protect the entire salary structure of our members from the effects of inflation, and to ensure that salaries at UBC maintain pace with salaries at other Canadian universities of comparable academic quality and size.
Some members have been asking if the University and the Association had reached agreement on any of the money issues that were on the table during bargaining before the deadline for submitting issues to interest arbitration arrived (Article 9.05b of the Collective Agreement). The short answer is no.
Our Collective Agreement has a technical expiry date of July 1st, 2010. Don’t panic. There’s nothing to worry about if we don’t reach agreement by that date. We have what’s called an “evergreen clause” (Article 26 in the Framework Agreement) in our Collective Agreement, meaning that it remains in force until such time as we reach a final agreement.
We recently received an email from a member, saying that there were rumours circulating that the Faculty Association had been offered a general rise in salary at the bargaining table, and we had turned it down. This rumour, of course, has caused concerns among our members.
Salaries in most jobs are characterized by seniority-based pay systems. This is partially to account for increasing productivity over time, but primarily it is designed to defer compensation from the early part of the employee’s career to the latter part.
As of our last bargaining session (April 27) the Association has not made any concrete salary or benefit proposals to the university (Proposals 9 and 10). We hope to be in a position to do so at our next bargaining session (May 26).