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.
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.
(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.
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.
That as of July 1, 1997, MUNFA members in the bargaining unit shall pay membership fees by payroll deduction at the same rate as last year, that is 8.5 mills (0.85 of 1%) of salary.
That as of July 1, 1997, MUNFA members who are excluded from the bargaining unit because of their status as clinical faculty or as administrators shall pay membership fees at the mill rate based on the median salary for their rank among all other members of the bargaining unit, minus CAUT Defence Fund dues and the MUNFA Strike Fund Levy.
That MUNFA fees shall include a $1.00 per pay period levy for the MUNFA Strike Fund.
That as of July 1, 1997, MUNFA members who are Laboratory Instructors shall pay a membership fee of $120.00 per year.
That as of July 1, 1997, MUNFA members who are Co-operative Education Coordinators shall pay membership fees at the mill rate of 0.85 mills (0.85 of 1%) of their salary, minus CAUT Defence Fund dues and the MUNFA Strike Fund Levy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(G97:005) MOVED (C.Dennis/N. Roy) that the meeting adjourn.