VIUFA Bargaining Bulletin 2015 #1

March 12, 2015

This is a confidential Bargaining Bulletin for VIUFA members.
VIUFA and VIU have had about 50 hours of meetings to date; the proposal packages have been exchanged and many of the items have been canvassed. Progress has been made on some items on which both parties have some interest; however, the Employer and the Faculty Association are some distance apart regarding what will make a fair settlement. For example,

• The Employer thinks it is fair to offer 5.5% wage increases over 5 years – barely above 1% a year and, by the way, that includes the first year at 0%. We say anything less than the cost-of-living index is a slide backwards in real salary.

• The Employer thinks our financial exigency language should be gutted: according to their proposals, there should be no required notice period to the union if they think they want to cut faculty jobs in order to balance the budget – in other words, no time for the union to look at University expenditures and propose other means to save money. Indeed, they propose eliminating the language that binds them to budget accountability in times of layoffs. We say that would leave us no better off than the old days of unjustified layoff notices every year.

• The Employer wants the President and the Vice-President Academic and Provost to have rights to a VIUFA faculty position when they leave their current roles.

• The Employer wants us to switch our drug options to the BC Provincial Pharmacare Formulary. We say talk to members of unions who have made the switch if you want to find out whether that is an equivalent benefit.

• The Employer wants members to pay more for their extended health benefits: $100 deductible (up from $25), and the member pays 20% of the costs past the deductible rather than the current 5%. We say that is a cost directly to our members for their drug, ambulance, and outside-Canada emergency medical needs, mostly to be paid from our after-tax dollars. Check out how much more it will cost you each year:

• $50 total costs. Now you pay $26. Proposed: you pay $50. Extra cost to you: $24
• $100 total costs. Now you pay $29. Proposed: you pay $100. Extra cost to you: $71
• $500 total costs. Now you pay $48. Proposed: you pay $180. Extra cost to you: $131
• $1000 total costs. Now you pay $74. Proposed: you pay $280. Extra cost to you: $206
(Note: emailed bulletin had incorrect figures when total costs were above $1000; in fact, extended health benefits in this category are $1000 insurer paid after the first $1000.)

Other issues that have been discussed, and on which we are seeking gains, are:
• Enabling more sections of scholarly activity/curriculum development release, and greater transparency regarding released sections
• Summer work – to be paid at the full rate, and count towards regularization, just like other work; and give faculty the option of working in the summer when they want it and demand permits.
• Parking issues: allow part-time faculty fair option for part-time parking, and options for those who must use their vehicles for VIU business
• The Employer has made proposals for implementing faculty evaluation. The Union recognizes that self-directed formative evaluation results must remain in the hands of the member.
Right-of-First-Refusal issues for non-regular faculty are also on the table; on the significant issue of conceding that ongoing work should be regular work, the Employer has as yet been silent.
Issues yet to be fully canvassed:
• Workload issues, including: chairs; 32-hour workloads; work supervising student research; non-regular instructors developing a course; and fractured workload to load members to the maximum;
• Overtime for non-instructional to be time-and-a-half
• Post-65 Benefits

Meanwhile, in other parts of the sector…

UNBC faculty are on strike over salary; the government considers them part of the mandate, but the faculty say “No” to the 5.5% over 5 years.
A “Template Table” agreement was signed February 7, binding the signatories (not us – seven of the FPSE locals who are part of the Common Agreement, and who agreed to bargain together their shared provisions) to take the template to their members for ratification, after negotiating local provisions. It is fair to characterize the Template Agreement as in line with the BC Government mandate. At least one of the unions at the table did not even sign it. It is certainly far from reflecting VIUFA’s goals for this round.
Capilano FA is contending with layoffs such as we at VIU saw in 2011. Their membership voted to conduct a strike vote. At least one other local in the FPSE sector also has a strike vote scheduled.

Next Steps:

VIUFA and VIU continue to meet – our next meeting is tonight (Thursday March 12), and we have meetings on Friday and Sunday. Occasionally we call on the VIUFA Contract Negotiating Committee for a “check-in” regarding issues that arise, as we are doing today. We continue to push for the gains our members need in order to have reasonable working conditions and fair compensation.

–Gara Pruesse, Chair, VIUFA Bargaining Committee