Minutes of the MUNFA General Meeting
Wednesday, April 9, 1997- 7:30 p.m.
HSC Main Auditorium


Sir Wilfred Grenfell College participated by teleconference.

The meeting was called to order by the Chair, John C. Bear, President of MUNFA.

The Chair noted that Information Bulletin 1996/97: 25 was distributed prior to the General Meeting. The reports of the Employment Equity Committee and the MUNFA Status of Academic Women Committee were distributed at the General Meeting.

  1. Approval of Agenda

    (G97:001) MOVED (B. Schrank/S. Tomblin) that the agenda be accepted as amended.
    Motion Carried

  2. Approval of Minutes of General Meeting Of October 22, 1996

    (G97:002) MOVED (C. Dennis/S. Tomblin) that the minutes of the General Meeting of October 22, 1996 be approved.
    Motion Carried

  3. Matters Arising from Minutes of October 22, 1996 General Meeting

    1. Cooperative Education Coordinators (CECs): Dr. Bear reported that the CECs are continuing to appraise the matter of their certification and will contact MUNFA when they decide on the next appropriate course of action.

    2. A-89-03 (Y-value): The Supreme Court hearing on the question of whether MUNFA's appeal of the Appeal Court's decision to overturn the Y-value arbitration decision (A-89-03) is moot, took place on 7 November 1996. A decision is still awaited.

    3. Sexual Harassment Hearing: A hearing has been conducted pursuant to the University Wide Procedures on Sexual Harassment Complaints', in which the subject of the complaint is an ASM. The hearing panel has reported and discipline may ensue; the Collective Agreement provides that such discipline may be grieved.
    4. Economic Benefits: It is the Executive's understanding that agreement has been reached between the Pensioners Association (MUNPA) and the administration regarding cost sharing of retirees' benefit premium insurance payments. MUNFA has requested detailed information from MUNPA. The MUNFA lawyer has been advised to suspend her assessment of this matter.

  4. President's Report

    Dr. Bear reported that the elections for the MUNFA Executive 1997-98 resulted in three new members joining the Executive: Clar Matchim (Business), Malcolm MacLeod (History) and Michael Skipton (Business). The elected positions to the Nominating and Balloting Committee have also been filled by acclamation: Chris Dunn (Political Science), Luise Hermanutz (Biology) and Stephen Tomblin (Political Science).

    MUNFA continues to be supported in the MUNFA office by Marian Atkinson (Executive Officer), Jill Diamond-Strong (Administrative Secretary) and Kim O'Reilly (Secretary).

    A number of variances to Collective Agreement--mandated procedures have been required, many of which facilitate late work by Promotion and Tenure Committees, often not the fault of the Committees or the Academic Staff Members involved.

    Several Association grievances have been filed, relating to the Policies and Procedures Governing the Appointment, Review and Tenure of Academic Administrators; the majority have been resolved through discussion with the administration, the ot hers have gone to arbitration.

    Association grievances on interference in the work of the Special Committees on Course Equivalence (Article 3.12) by the Vice-President (Academic), and on the improper conversion of three appointments in Engineering from contractual to probationary are proceeding to arbitration.

    A recent article in the "Communicator" indicated that the University has found' the resources to keep insured benefits at current levels. This was not their first position. The MUNFA Economic Benefits Committee polled the MUNFA membership, and ascertained very general dissatisfaction with the administration's proposal to reduce benefits. Work by the Committee and Executive helped to prevent this reduction.

    MUNFA reached an agreement with the administration regarding the reporting for Employment Insurance purposes of the work of sessionals. A course taught on a sessional basis is now reported as 15 hours of work per week for 16 weeks. In that qualification for EI is now on the basis of hours, not weeks, these values allow those teaching two courses to qualify for EI, and those teaching four courses to qualify as new or re-entrant claimants.

    The Executive and MUNFA representatives on both the Joint Employment Equity Committee and the Sexual Harassment Board are monitoring the merging of the Employment Equity Officer and Sexual Harassment Advisor positions into an Equity Officer position. We perceive an inclination by the administration to attempt to impose a general harassment policy, on the pretext of complying with the Federal Contractors' Program Employment Equity requirements.

    As you will hear, the MUNFA Pensions Committee has begun exploring alternatives to the governance of the MUN Pension Plan. There have been preliminary discussions by a committee including Executive and Pensions Committees members with representatives of other bargaining units on this matter. The Supplemental Retirement Income Plan (SRIP) and associated grievance have taken up some of the time and effort that would otherwise go into these discussions. MUNFA is seeking advice regarding alternative pension arrangements from Pink, Breen and Larkin in Halifax, a firm specializing in public service pension issues. The Committee referenced in Motion G96:13 has not yet been struck; the Executive is in effect working as a committee of the whole, in conjunction with the MUNFA Pensions Committee, to assemble information to allow this work to be done effectively. We have informally since October, and formally as of mid-February, asked for copies of the consultants' report on the basis of which the SRIP is allegedly justified. This information has been repeatedly promised, but not delivered. MUNFA is tracking amendments to the MUN Pension Plan, which have not yet been drafted.

    MUNFA has participated in lobbying efforts to get appropriate amendments made to the new Copyright legislation, now in the Senate.

    The Executive has been tracking the Tri-Council requirement that universities have policies with respect to Integrity in Scholarly Activity and Research. MUNFA will continue to monitor this item to ensure that such a policy is consistent with the Collective Agreement.

    MUNFA has provided input on MUN's Draft Computing Policy.

    The Executive made representations as part of a collaborative lobbying campaign for infrastructure for post-secondary education, undertaken by CAUT, AUCC, and the National Consortium of Scientific and Educational Societies. It appears that this lobbying effort was effective, in that some targetted funds have been allocated in the federal budget.

    MUNFA participated in the Promotion and Tenure briefing sessions in the fall of 1996. MUNFA views these sessions as useful; internal administrative correspondence suggests ambivalence on their part.

    Before Christmas there was considerable media coverage of the administration's attitude toward Freedom of Information requests; the Executive responded to questions raised by media and other individuals.

    MUNFA met with representatives of the administration, including the Vice-President (Administration and Finance), on 20 December 1996 and 22 January 1997. The first of these meetings was requested by the administration to discuss parking cost recovery, but ranged widely over topics of administration accountability and university governance before returning to parking matters. The second meeting, also requested by the administration, included the University's President, Vice-Presidents, several deans and the Director of Faculty Relations. Their concerns appeared to be that communication and trust should be improved, between the administration and MUNFA. MUNFA took the opportunity to explain the basis in experience of our distrust of the administration and its communications, to explain MUNFA's role in the University, and point out the disinclination of the administration to acknowledge this, to note our concerns about the administration's disrespect for collegial university governance, and to note our concerns about the administration's financial priorities and lack of openness on financial matters. We expressed regret at the disinclination of the administration to work with the rest of the university in the University's collective interest. The administration's response indicated dissatisfaction with MUNFA's insistence that the Collective Agreement be respected in detail, and surprise that MUNFA would have any position on university governance. MUNFA replied that its positions on both matters were entirely appropriate. The bulk of the administration's response was devoted to its financial accountability; discussion was inconclusive, however the administration seemed to appreciate that its stance in this matter is not generating positive publicity.

    Dr. Bear asked if there were questions and/or comments regarding his report.

    One member referred to MUNFA's repeated requests for copies of the consultants' reports on the SRIP. It was:

    (G97:003) MOVED (H. Gaskill/C. Penney) that MUNFA use the province's Freedom of Information Act to obtain copies of the SRIP consultants' reports.

    Motion Carried (unanimously)

  5. Treasurer's Report

    The Interim Financial Statement for 1996-97 and Proposed Fees and Budget for 1997-98 were distributed to the MUNFA membership prior to the General Meeting.

    (G97:004) MOVED (A. Redlack/A. Lonardo) that the following motions be adapted.

    Motions Carried

  6. Report from CAUT Defence Fund

    MUNFA has two trustees on the CAUT Defence Fund: Dr. W. E. Schrank (Economics) and Dr. J. Evans (Psychology). Dr. Schrank reported that membership in the Defence Fund has increased to 31 associations. The MUNFA October General Meeting minutes refer to a strike at Trent University. The strike was settled after two weeks. A loan of $160,000 was made by the Defence Fund to the Trent Faculty Association. The Trent settlement includes an explicit clause in the Collective Agreement that there are to be no pension holidays, and that no surplus will be taken out of their pension fund by the administration. Further, all early retirements at Trent are to be replaced.

    The strike at York University is ongoing. The CAUT Defence Fund has offered the York Faculty Association $1 million support. Dr. Evans has visited York during the strike and Dr. Bernice Schrank (former MUNFA Chief Negotiator) travelled there last week at the expense of the CAUT Defence Fund.

    Dr. Bernice Schrank reported that the York strike is now in its twenty-third day. The strike began with an abrogation of the Collective Agreement. There are two issues outstanding at York governance' and equity;' governance' would be interpreted here as academic freedom,' and equity' as salary compression.'

    In response to a question from Professor M. Graesser (Political Science), Dr. Bernice Schrank said the students at York were very supportive of the strike.

  7. Collective Agreement Administration

    1. Report from AF&G Committee: Professor Averil Gardner (Chair) presented a brief update to the Committee's October 1996 report. (The Committee's annual report is given in the fall of the year.) Nine new grievances have been filed, five individual grievances and four association grievances. Of the five individual grievances, one concerned the termination of a probationary contract. The other four relate to working conditions: restriction of access to a research facility, failure to honour a commitment for provision of computer equipment, retroactive levying of labour charges, and stoppage of an ASM's work orders. Two of the association grievances involve improper procedures in search and promotion. Another grieves the administration's implementing the Supplemental Retirement Income Plan (SRIP), and has been referred to arbitration.

      Since October, seven individual grievances have been satisfactorily resolved. Two of these--involving the termination of a probationary appointment and the levying of labour charges--are mentioned above. Of the remaining five, one involved a denial of promotion, one a teaching assignment, one a denial of a teaching remission, and one the imposition of discipline. The fifth was a class grievance filed in 1994 by a number of ASMs concerning their exposure in the workplace to hazardous material released by renovation in their building. A protocol was reached, satisfactory to both parties, which calls for advance warning of hazardous work to those affected, the immediate provision to MUNFA of the results of air qualify tests, and the offering, where possible, of alternative work space to those with reasonable grounds to believe that their work space or immediate surroundings pose a danger to their health.

      One association grievance has also been resolved since October, concerning improper procedures for the appointment of an Associate Director.

      There has been one arbitration since October, of an association grievance concerning the intervention of the Vice-President (Academic) in the process, mandated by the Collective Agreement, for faculty committees to establish course equivalencies for non-standard teaching formats. This arbitration took place recently, and we have not yet received a decision. An unusually large number of arbitrations (10) are scheduled or will be scheduled. Two of these are association grievances, one on the SRIP and one on improper appointment procedures. The remaining arbitrations are of individual grievances, most of which involve either improper imposition of discipline or the denial of teaching remissions which could be reasonably expected under the provisions of the Collective Agreement.

    2. Joint Association/University Relations Committee: The committee has met five times since the previous General Meeting. Items which have been addressed at joint include: special assignment of duties, early retirement, professional development trust fund accounting, Tri-Council research integrity policy requirements, MUNFA's repeated requests for university budget documents, the preparation of a calendar of Collective Agreement dates, information sessions for Promotion & Tenure Committees, a block registration arrangement for the Learned Societies meeting, advertising of the NSERC Chair of Women in Science and Engineering, and the administration's attempted closure of the university at Christmas.

    3. Report from Employment Equity Committee: A report from the MUNFA representatives on the Employment Equity Committee was distributed at the meeting. At present there are only two MUNFA members on this committee. One vacancy remains. The Employment Equity Committee was actively involved in the hiring of the Equity Coordinator, and has also reviewed two appointments of ASMs.

    4. Report from Joint Sexual Harassment Board: This report was circulated prior to the meeting. The Chair of the Board is Fred Anstey (Marine Institute). The Board has been involved in the hiring of the Employment Equity Officer, whose position combines that of the Sexual Harassment Officer and the Equity Officer. This new position will be evaluated by an independent evaluator and the report of the evaluator will be submitted to the Administration and MUNFA no later than August 1, 1998. There were three complaints of sexual harassment on the St. John's and Corner Brook campuses. One individual reported an incident of sexual assault and was advised to contact the police.

  8. MUNFA Committee Reports

    1. Report from Status of Academic Women Committee: Dr. A. Chandna (Chair) presented a report and distributed copies at the meeting. The Committee now receives copies of the minutes of the Sexual Harassment Board's meetings. The Dispatch has encouraged a regular column from the Committee. Two representatives from the MUNFA Status of Academic Women Committee, Ms. Elena Hannah (St. John's) and Dr. Savitri Chandrasekhar (Grenfell), attended the CAUT Status of Academic Women Conference in Halifax, October 24-26. The conference addressed three interrelated themes: systemic discrimination, part-time staff in Canadian universities, and inclusive teaching. Dr. Joan Scott was nominated to serve on the CAUT Status of Academic Women Committee. Members of the committee met with Sandra Chaytor (Equity Officer) to discuss the Compliance Review of April 1995, mandated by the Federal Contractors Program. The review requires a comparison of workforce data on MUN employees with comparable data from other Canadian universities, based on the 1991 Census. This will require extensive data collection and analysis.

    2. MUNFA Pensions Committee: The report of the Pensions Committee was distributed prior to the General Meeting.

      The amendments to the MUN Pension Act are in the initial draft stage, and will possibly go to the House of Assembly during its Spring sitting.

      In March of 1996, the MUNFA Pensions Committee was mandated by the Executive to explore possible alternatives to the current administrative structure of the MUN Pension Plan. A subcommittee was struck, which consulted other employee groups on campus, contacted other Canadian universities to obtain details of their plans, and presented a draft proposal to the MUNFA Executive.

      Many MUNFA members have expressed dismay and dissatisfaction with contribution holidays the Administration has recently taken. The MUNFA Pensions Committee has contacted Revenue Canada to determine the employer's obligations. The MUNFA Pensions Committee has estimated employer contribution holidays have cost the MUN Pension Plan between $13 million and $16 million since 1984 (the MUNFA Executive is confirming these numbers).

      In reply to questions from the floor, Dr. Bear explained MUNFA has engaged R. Pink of the firm of Pink, Breen & Larkin to provide legal advice regarding changing the governance of the Pension Plan so that it comes to be managed in the best interests of its members. Dr. Bear noted further that there has been no indication of the Provincial Government's position regarding the MUN Pension Plan.

      The Chair of the MUNFA Pensions Committee, Dr. R. Clark, explained that in addition to the impact of the SRIP on the Pension Fund, it is projected to go into an appreciable deficit because CPP contributions have been increased. The amendments now being proposed to the MUN Pension Act would result in Plan members making up this deficit.

      General discussion ensued, focussing on the apparent conflict of interest on the part of the senior administration in establishing the SRIP, expressing strong disapproval that this had been done to the detriment of Plan members and pensioners, and endorsing continued pursuit of this matter.

      Dr. Bear, in summarizing the discussion, reiterated the membership's direction to the Executive, via a vote earlier in the meeting, to seek background information on SRIP; indicated that the Executive understands the membership wish this investigation to continue diligently; and indicated that the Executive will continue work in this area as expeditiously and prudently as possible.

    3. Scholarship Committee: The MUNFA Scholarship Committee did not present a report. The membership were encouraged to contribute to the MUNFA Scholarship Fund.

    4. EAP Advisory Committee: A report of the EAP Advisory Committee was distributed prior to the meeting. The Advisory Committee has completed its work on its Policy & Procedures Document, and this has been forwarded to the Director of Human Resources. Corporate Health Consultants (CHC), which provides EAP services to the University, now has a local representative.

    5. Economic Benefits Committee: A report of the Economic Benefits Committee was distributed prior to the General Meeting. Members were referred to it, the hour being late.

  9. Other Business

    Dr. A. Rahman (Faculty of Engineering & Applied Sciences) asked if the Executive had any information regarding Marine Institute faculty members wishing to become MUNFA members. Dr. Bear indicated that the MUNFA Executive understands there has been some discussion of this at the Marine Institute, but that no formal representation has been made to MUNFA in this connection.

  10. Adjournment

    (G97:005) MOVED (C.Dennis/N. Roy) that the meeting adjourn.

    Motion Carried

    John C. Bear, Ph.D.
    President, MUNFA
    Approved at General Meeting October 14, 1997


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