Dear Fellow Colleagues,
We met yesterday with the administration’s bargaining team, and I am sorry to report that we were not able to make the progress we had hoped leading into four days with the provincially appointed mediator – which will be Wednesday and Thursday this week, and Tuesday and Thursday next week.
We filed for a ‘No Board’ on February 4, and so conciliation is now mediation. These mediation dates are leading up to a strike deadline of Saturday morning February 23rd, at 12:01 am.
I will try to report again at the end of the week on how these next two days go – we are scheduled to be in bargaining for 32 hours over two days this week, and so most of our attention will be focussed on making progress at the bargaining table. We attempted yesterday to engage in some issues that seem to us to be straightforward, particularly around equity. Despite what seems to be a commitment to Equity, Diversity and inclusion (EDI) over the past several months and as emphasized on Twitter by President Murphy the same day, the administration is not willing to extend that to our collective agreement aside from a continued commitment to explore equity through our Committee on Employment Equity, thereby pushing concrete initiatives into theoretical discussions deferred to some unspecified future.
We had a full day and were able to use almost all of it at the table, and did reach agreement on Article 24 – Discipline and made some progress on others.
As I indicated in the last update, we are trying to share with you analysis on the benefits comparisons that they shared with us last week. The comparator universities that they put forward are: Brock, Guelph, Queen’s, McMaster, Nipissing, Ryerson, Toronto, Waterloo, Wilfred Laurier and York. Many of you will be familiar with the benefits enjoyed by faculty at those institutions. As far as we can tell – and they have thus far not been willing to share the actual report, just a presentation based on the report – they have focused on one or two benefits where we do compare favourably, like short-term disability (STD) and the employer’s contribution. According to their data, we are essentially at the norm for STD, and are a bit better in terms of cost sharing and the employer’s contribution, meaning the employer pays 100% of an inadequate benefit plan. Our view on the latter is that good cost sharing on inexpensive and insufficient benefits doesn’t mean that much.
They also shared analysis on our benefits that would not be acceptable in any way to any of you – especially those of you with even the most basic statistical background. For example, their presentation indicates several times that we are the median of a sample size of N=1. That is no joke, or #JokesOnU We are still waiting for agreement to share the fuller report on which their presentation was based.
Regarding those comparators, and as you might suspect, we do not fair well with the actual benefits provided. In almost every category and in every way to do the comparison, we rank last or very near the bottom. Even factoring in our Health Care Expense Account (HCEA), which has been used as a reason why we are well-off benefit-wise, we can not see how it is possible to rate us at or even near the median. While we are above the median for Acupuncturists, since six of the comparators do not cover this, we lag behind on most standard benefits provided by other universities.
I will also add that we have conducted a review of the expenses of benefits (including pension) based on UOIT’s own data as provided to COU through the CUDO database. The graph below shows how much of UOIT expenses go to benefits compared to those eleven comparators. Clearly there is long way to go in improving pension and benefits at UOIT.
This is not the only issue that remains to be resolved at the table and we expect them to engage on workload, compensation and outstanding non-monetary issues like collegial processes and equity in hiring and promotion, fair treatment of all faculty members, and other priorities outlined in our member-approved mandate.
As I have reported earlier at the Pension and Benefits Townhall, the Administration has enjoy huge surpluses over the past 8 or 9 years, about $27 million in the past two years alone.
We hope that we can get them to reconsider their priorities and focus on the quality of our students’ education and the teaching, research, service, and other activities that our members provide. We look forward to continue advocating for these principles at the bargaining table.
One way we can maintain pressure away from the bargaining table is through our Avert a Strike Email Campaign. You can help us avoid a strike by taking action: go to www.uoitfa.ca/take-action/ to send a message to UOIT’s top administrators to tell them to negotiate a fair deal to avoid a strike. Please share this with your family and friends, your colleagues, students and any other interested members of UOIT’s community so they can also help us avoid a strike. The more messages we can send to the UOIT Administration, the greater chance we can avoid a strike. During the last round of bargaining we were able to send almost 1000 messages to the Administration which helped us avoid a strike.
Bargaining Team Members:
Mike Eklund, CNO, Professor, FEAS
Bin Chang, Associate Professor, FBIT
Sue Coffey, Associate Professor, FHS
Ana Duff, Academic Associate, FBIT
Qusay Mahmoud, Professor, FEAS
Elita Partosoedarso, Associate Teaching Professor, FHS
Ruth Simpson, Associate Teaching Professor, FHS
Christine McLaughlin, Executive Director, UOITFA
Chelsea Bauer, Executive Assistant, UOITFA