Passing vote for CAS

Graphic by: Kate Turner

Graphic by: Kate Turner

The tentative agreement for the renewed contract for Contract Academic Staff (CAS) has now been ratified.

On Nov. 26, the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (WLUFA), who represents CAS, and the university came to a tentative agreement after meeting with a mediator.

While this meant that the university, for the time being, had avoided a CAS strike or lockout, the agreement still needed to be ratified by CAS and the board of governors.

Kevin Crowley, acting assistant vice-president: communications, public affairs and marketing, explained that CAS held ratification votes on Dec. 2 and 3 in Brantford and Waterloo. There was also a ballot box available in Toronto. 82.1 per cent of CAS members who voted, voted in favour of the agreement.

According to Crowley, the board of governors unanimously voted in favour of the agreement.

“There were quite a number of changes,” commented Crowley. “Probably the most important one was the wages.”

Accordingly, CAS members will see a 1.5 per cent wage increase in each year of three years: 2013, 2014 and 2015.

“In the first year there was also a one-time only $70.00 payment per course. For every half credit course an individual taught, they got a $70.00 payment.”

Crowley also noted that there was an increase in research funds that CAS members will be able to access.

“The other thing that CAS wanted was increased benefits,” he added. “Now I know that WLUFA has been saying that they don’t get benefits, but in fact they do get benefits and they wanted to enhance those benefits.”

He explained that CAS members currently receive four per cent of their wages in lieu of dental and health benefits. They are also able to access a tuition break for themselves and their family.

“I think that some people were disappointed that we didn’t make any headway on benefits,” explained William Salatka, WLUFA president, in terms of the discussion that was had around the tentative agreement at the CAS meeting for the ratification vote. “CAS teach over 50 per cent of the students and yet they have no benefits.”

But Salatka touched on another point that was included in the agreement.

“There’s a trial of what they call a standing appointment. So it might give CAS members some greater job security.”

He explained that this guarantees a CAS member three courses a year for five years. Only some members are eligible, however.

As well, there were some changes to the hiring procedures and evaluation of prospective CAS members.

In terms of how CAS members felt about the wage increase, Salatka explained that  “obviously they would like it to be larger.”

“But that wasn’t really a focus as much as it was for things like standing appointment and the lack of benefits.”

“It was a fairly normal process,” Crowley said of the negotiations.

“Overall, the university is pleased with this settlement. The current economic climate for universities isn’t good these days… So the settlement reflects the current economic climate, I think.”

The contract will last three years, is retroactive to August 31, 2013 and will run until August 31, 2016.

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