TO: All MUNFA Members FROM: The MUNFA Executive Committee DATE: August 20, 2007 SUBJECT: NEGOTIATING HISTORY
At the request of the university administration, MUNFA and MUN began negotiations towards a new Collective Agreement on April 11, 2006. At that time, the parties exchanged proposals on five of the six Articles to be opened: Articles 11 & 12 (Tenure and promotion for Faculty Members), Article 23 (Misc. non-tenure track appointments), Article 26 (Misc. Working Conditions), and Article 30 (Cooperative Education Coordinators). No proposals were exchanged on salaries at that time.
Currently, with the exception of a couple of clauses, Articles 23, 26 and 30 are essentially settled. The administration's proposal on Articles 11and 12 seek significant concessions from MUNFA as they apply to promotion and tenure for Faculty Members. The proposal would require those being reviewed for tenure, or for promotion to Associate Professor, to obtain letters of assessment from university peers outside MUN. Thus, the process would be the same as for those now seeking promotion to Full Professor. MUNFA has consistently argued against making career progress so onerous and burdensome without the administration offering some significant reciprocal benefits. This leads to the major issue still outstanding, Article 31, Salaries and Benefits.
On May 16, 2006, the MUNFA Negotiating Committee presented a proposal to the administration on Article 31, Salaries and Benefits. Very briefly, the proposal addressed two major concerns: the importance of MUN salaries remaining competitive with other comprehensive Canadian universities, and the elimination of salary inequities resulting from years of unfettered use of discretionary salary "market differentials." MUNFA's proposal would see most Academic Staff Members (ASMs) receiving an increase of up to 15 % with most of that in the first year of the agreement. It was not until we were in conciliation on March 21, 2007 that the MUN administration presented their proposal on Article 31.
Instead of replying to MUNFA's Article 31 - the appropriate response during negotiations - the administration's proposal completely ignored MUNFA's position. Their salary offer, in total, consisted of a meager 6% increase over four years, with no increase in 2005 and 2006. About a month later, the administration "sweetened" their offer by offering ASMs 1 additional salary step as of 11:59 pm on 31 August, 2009 - the last day of the agreement. In an effort to bring the parties closer, MUNFA asked the administration to consider reworking their offer to address - as MUNFA considers essential - current salary inequities. MUNFA received no response.
In September 2007, MUNFA will have been attempting to reach agreement - on only 6 articles - for over 16 months. We have exhausted the provincial labor conciliation process. We have been in a legal strike position since July 14. There have been no new offers from the university administration since last spring.
When negotiations were first set to begin, in the fall of 2005, salaries for ASMs at MUN were, depending upon rank, 10 to 15 % behind those at other comprehensive Canadian universities (according to Statistics Canada data). Many of the Canadian universities to which MUN is often compared, have signed new Collective Agreements since 2005. Most have settled for salary increases of 12 to 15% over three years. If ASMs at Memorial accept this paltry offer of 6% to 2009, it will mean that our salaries will lag behind those at other comparable Canadian universities by 25 to 30%.
How can this province sustain a first class institution with remuneration so much less than that of other universities? How will MUN retain the excellent faculty and librarians now employed here? How will MUN successfully recruit new academics when salaries and benefits are uncompetitive?
This labor dispute between MUNFA and the administration is about much more than just the health of our bank accounts. It is also about nothing less than the continued viability of Memorial University as a major Canadian university and the continued success of our students.