QUFA's Talks with Administration
Dear QUFA Members:
In response to the University's financial situation QUFA has been meeting with the administration on two matters - retirement incentives and the faculty salary model.
The Principal attended meetings of the Joint Committee to Administer the Agreement (JCAA) on March 5th, April 8th and April 15th. The first proposals appeared at the April 8th meeting when the administration gave us a short bullet point list of suggestions they wanted us to consider. The bullet points included "early retirement incentive" and "salary cost containment". There was little additional detail about the suggestions provided at that meeting.
QUFA responded at the next scheduled meeting (April 15th) that we were prepared to discuss their proposed "Early Retirement Incentive" but only if the incentive was offered fairly to all qualifying Members and that we develop a phased-in retirement program for the longer term. Ever since the ending of mandatory retirement, QUFA has been advocating for a phased-in retirement program similar to the ones that exist at several other Ontario universities. It was agreed to establish a joint working group to discuss the retirement issue. That group has met twice - April 22nd and April 24th. Talks are progressing well and we hope to reach agreement early in May.
The administration's principal "salary cost containment" suggestion was for unpaid "Q days" with the goal of saving $2 million (approximately 2%) from the faculty wage bill in the coming year. The administration has been saying that the wage bill is unsustainable. QUFA has responded by saying that we are ready to discuss the faculty salary model and find ways of better dealing with salary compression and inversion, merit pay, progress-through-the-ranks and starting salaries. During the last bargaining round we signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA June 2008) for a joint committee to review the salary model, particularly merit, career development, senior abatements and junior increments, and to recommend changes. At the April 15th meeting we told the administration that if the long- term sustainability of the faculty wage bill is the issue, then this joint- committee should get underway immediately as that was the place to discuss salary related issues.
QUFA also indicated that we saw no problem if individual faculty wished to make voluntary donations to support their units (as some already do). Administration has yet to take any steps on this suggestion, so we have posted information and links on the QUFA website. (http://www.qufa.ca)
QUFA has taken a long-term perspective at the meetings asking administration what effects their suggestions will have on the academic mission of Queen's and we have challenged the Principal's position that reduction of "the wage bill" in addition to all the unit cuts is the only strategy to address the current financial situation. If the motivation behind the administration's proposal is to gain short-term access to ready cash, then the administration should demonstrate that they have exhausted all other sources before even considering cutting salaries and threatening layoffs. Remember that the University has already announced that 54 full-time faculty positions in Arts and Science, Applied Science and Law that are anticipated to become vacant through retirement or resignation over the next three years will not be refilled. This will result (conservatively) in a saving of over $6.5 million from the faculty wage bill.
We look forward to discussing these issues with you tomorrow at the Spring General Meeting. The meeting will be held in Kingston Hall, Room 201 at 11:45am.
April 27, 2009