(Note: this article focuses on notable changes in the new Collective Agreement for ongoing academic staff. We will post an article about how the new agreement affects sessional academic staff in the Fair Employment Week edition of Academic Views, which will focus on issues facing sessionals.)
The Collective Agreement – ratified by academic staff members in June and took effect on July 1, 2022 – delivered several wins for Faculty Association members, even though both the bargaining team and the Association’s President were disappointed with some results.
“I salute our bargaining team for getting the best possible deal they could under the circumstances,” said Faculty Association President David Stewart. “Nonetheless, I have to say that, like most of you, I am deeply disappointed with the agreement that was reached.”
Stewart noted that the Government of Alberta imposed secret bargaining mandates on the Boards of Governors of Alberta universities that hampered the collective bargaining. The across-the-board salary increases the Faculty Association’s bargaining team attained were identical to the deals at our sister universities in Alberta.
This new agreement is for four years, beginning in July 2020 and ending in June 2024. However, the agreement was settled on a ‘go-forward’ basis beginning July 1, 2022. No across-the-board salary increases occur in the first two years (2020-2021 and 2021-2022); effective April 1, 2023, a 1.25% increase occurs, followed by a 1.5% increase effective December 1, 2023. Finally, an additional 0.5% across-the-board salary increase occurs retroactively to December 1, 2023; this is subject to a “Gain Sharing Formula” (see the Monetary Provisions for more details).
The floors of all rank salaries increased by $4,000. If your salary is close to the floor of the rank, it increased to the new floor on July 1.
Those who are promoted in the future will receive an additional 1.0 increment on July 1 following your successful application. This applies to anyone being promoted this year.
The vision benefit in the extended health plan increased so that the maximum combined benefit is $350 over a 24-month period for adults, while for children it is applied for each 12-month period. This is an increase for adults of about $160 over each 24-month period and $200 for each 12-month period for children.
The amount of sick time for continuing, contingent term, and limited term academic staff increased by 10 workdays to 60 days at 100% of salary and 70 days at 70% of salary (previously 60 days at 100% of salary and 60 days at 70% of salary).
Research and Scholarship Leaves (RSL) paid at 87.5% of academic rank salary have increased to 90% (RSLs paid at 100% were unchanged). This went into effect for people who were going on RSL as of July 1, 2022.
In addition, the “RSL Retirement Program” expands to include anyone over the age of 65 with three years of service, which means if you qualify for an RSL, you qualify to waive return service and immediately retire at the end of the leave if you are over 65. The deadlines are also being relaxed so that any requests won’t be unreasonably denied.
On the monetary side, the number of top-up weeks of parental leaves increased from 18 to 20. The two sides also agreed to a new streamlined process for parental leaves.
Leaves for Urgent Personal Reasons
The language for “Leaves for Urgent Personal Reasons” changed to allow Deans more discretion to grant leave beyond 10 days. We have also recognized this category as being the way to address leaves resulting from violence in the home.
The two sides agreed to strike new joint committees to review three issues that are important to academic staff: workload, benefits, and merit assessment. The merit assessment committee is to have an initial report by January 31, 2023, to try and make some changes in time for the next assessment cycle, while the other two committees report in November 2023 with the intent that their deliberations will lead into the next round of negotiations.
Renaming the Instructor Ranks/Stream
Instructor Stream ranks changed to Assistant Professor (Teaching), Associate Professor (Teaching), and Professor (Teaching), with the stream being referred to as the “Teaching-Focused” stream. This change is to the name of the ranks only; there is no change in duties, criteria, or other features of the ranks.
New COVID-19 MOA
While separate from the Collective Agreement, the two sides agreed to a new Memorandum of Agreement during negotiations related to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The MOA helps to ensure that academic staff aren’t harmed in tenure, promotion, or merit assessment process by consequences stemming from the pandemic that are beyond their control.