Full-time faculty, university begin contract negotiations

Photo by Matt Smith
Photo by Matt Smith

The Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association and the university have begun contract negotiations for their full-time faculty. The two groups met in late June to discuss protocol for the bargaining process, with the intent to exchange proposals in September.

“In order to prepare, what we’ve done is sent out surveys to our members, we’ve held meetings with various groups of our members, faculties, program chairs, coordinators, to get their feedback. We’re presently compiling that information into our priorities,” explained WLUFA president Robert Kristofferson.

After the list of priorities is assembled, it will be presented for approval, at which point they will be brought to the bargaining table.

In terms of the specifics of these priorities, Kristofferson and Allison Roberts, chief negotiator for the university, declined to speculate.

“The only thing I could say is I think Jim Butler has been very clear in his budget town halls about our concerns with pension sustainability, post-retirement benefit cost and the overall cost of salaries and benefits,” said Roberts.

In terms of the possibility of a fall work stoppage, Kristofferson looked to the history of universities across Canada. He said the prevalence of strikes as a result of contract negotiations are very rare overall.

“It’s not an outcome that either party desires to happen. So we want to avoid that.”

Roberts said it’s too early in the process to be concerned about a potential work stoppage.

“I think contingency planning is part of any negotiation process,” she continued. “You have to be prepared for the worst, especially when we’re going into bargaining in difficult financial times.”

Former WLUFA president Bill Salatka will be chief negotiator for the faculty association.

“My personal hopes are that we sit down, make some constructive decisions together with the university and arrive at a new contract,” Kristofferson said. “And just continue education as usual.”

Roberts brought up the recent staff contract negotiations – which just wrapped up at the end of June – as an indication for how she hopes faculty contract negotiations will go.

“It was a really nice style between us – great conversations and lots of problem solving,” she said. “So I’m looking forward to more of that at the full-time faculty table. No reason to think that it won’t be just as productive.”

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