Contract and Benefits Committee Update

Written by Cory Bishop, this article originally appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of The Beacon.

At the 2015 StFXAUT AGM a motion to amalgamate the Handbook Committee and Salary and Benefits Committees was approved. The Committee, composed of Cory Bishop (Biology; Chair), Suzanne van den Hoogen (Library; Secretary), Stephen Finbow (MSCS), Joanne Tompkins (Education), Chris Byrne (Philosophy), Donna McDougall (Nursing), John McKenna (Psychology; former Chair of Salary and Benefits), Iker Gondra (MSCS) and (not least!) Mark Fuller (Business Administration) represents a good cross-section of the AUT membership. During the summer, the CBC has met three times to begin a major homework assignment meted out by AUT President Brad Long. This assignment has been undertaken in preparation for the next round of collective bargaining, which (believe it or not) is expected to occur Spring 2016. The primary objective of the CBC is to develop a slate of issues that will form the basis of items negotiated for the 4th Collective Agreement (CA). In keeping with previous efforts by our colleagues we have taken two main avenues.

The first is to generate a list of issues that have arisen, either as a result of items that were identified in previous consultations, but were conceded during the last round of negotiations, or that have arisen as a result of attempts to implement the current CA. Collectively these issues form the foundation of our growing list of “identified issues.” So far, we have consulted formally with Charlene Weaving (HKIN; Chief Grievance Officer), Bruce Sparks (Art; Joint Committee), Denton Anthony and Sasho McKenzie (Business Administration, HKIN; Benefits Governance Committee), the AUT Executive Committee, and Kris Hunter (Biology; Lab Instructor). On a special note we are committed to drafting language around workplace diversity, equity, and harassment, with an eye for language that ensures provision for all members of a workplace that upholds the highest ideals without abrogating our obligations to academic freedom. We have also received unsolicited suggestions from several members on various and sundry items; keep them coming!

The second avenue, well underway, is to mine Collective Agreements from 9 comparator institutions (Acadia, Bishops, CBU, UNBC, Lethbridge, Mount Alison, Mount St. Vincent, Saint Mary’s, and UPEI) for information about numerous elements of our compensation package and working conditions. In addition to wage, benefit and pension comparisons, we are documenting such items as teaching load, compensation or course release for Chairs and Coordinators, the degree to which guidelines for adjudicating tenure and promotion are explicit and ‘best-practice,’ retirement incentives, market supplement language, credit for Honours and Graduate instruction, and the like. We are conducting this exercise, as appropriate, for all constituencies in the AUT.

Over time, as a result of this iterative process of bargaining collectively, we hope to be able to codify the concerns and aspirations of our members, in the ultimate service of strengthening our collective capacity to deliver on our mission of excellence as an institution of higher learning. In the coming weeks, the CBC will formally seek input from you, in the form of a survey, and follow up visits with individuals, self-identified groups, or departments. These consultations will really help us to get a sense of the issues of highest importance to you. In order to give our eventual negotiating team the strongest and most unequivocal mandate to negotiate on your behalf, we urge you to participate fully in this consultation process. All members of the CBC and the Executive will have our ears open during this upcoming academic year. We want to hear from all members!