Labour deal approved

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The final stages of collective bargaining between the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (WLUFA) and the Wilfrid Laurier University administration have finally been completed, as the ratification of the deal was announced to the public on March 16. The new agreement will be retroactive from July 1, 2011 and expires on June 30, 2014.

“Well I’m very happy that it was ratified by both parties and that we now have a collective agreement finalized,” said Deb MacLatchy, vice-president: academic and provost at WLU. “We can focus now on the other activities important to the university and my office.”

With this ratification of the agreement by the membership of WLUFA and the university’s board of governors, some of the details of the deal have been released to the public. This includes a two per cent salary increase each year and targeted Ontario system adjustments for junior full-time faculty to realign them with the provincial average.

According to Judy Bates, the president of WLUFA, full-time staff may have to contribute a bit more to the pension plan.

“We do have a pension contribution increase … [from] seven to 7.5 per cent for our members,” Bates said. “These changes will take effect July 1 of 2012. The administration contribution remains the seven per cent.”

The most notable addition to the collective agreement, however, was the implementation of a professional teaching stream— an initiative that faced fierce opposition from WLUFA during negotiations.

“Their positions will have an emphasis on teaching, so they will be teaching a normal course load of six courses, [whereas] the normal for the rest of the faculty is four,” continued Bates.

She asserted that this is better than other universities in Ontario where some have their professional teaching stream teaching eight courses in one year.

MacLatchy felt that this will benefit the academics at Laurier. “This will allow us hire faculty who are going to be focused on not only teaching [and] excellence in teaching, but also in looking at pedagogy within various disciplines and how that plays a role in development of good teaching and learning practises,” she said.

The professors in this teaching stream, at least until June 2014, will be paid at the same rate as a conventional professor and will still be eligible for sabbaticals, tenures and promotions.

There was a unanimous decision made by the board to approve the agreement whereas 83.5 per cent of the WLUFA voted in favour as well. “It’s a good majority but it also indicates to the administration that there was quite a chunk of people who are dissatisfied and that’s always a good thing,” added Bates.

“Some professors are upset about it, we have tried to get improvements for faculty members at Brantford. Our data indicated that faculty members at Brantford are paid less,” Bates explained, adding that they also tried to get a larger salary compensation for all full-time faculty members. “We tried to get improvements in that but we were unsuccessful.”

MacLatchy said she was unaware of any dissatisfaction among some faculty members at Laurier.

Despite there being some dissatisfaction among some of the faculty at Laurier, Bates feels they came out with a reasonable deal.

“We would have liked to have done better. [But] I think given the fiscal constraints as they are I think we did quite well.”

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