A new agreement for St. Jerome’s contract academic staff

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The St. Jerome’s contract academic staff unit ratified their new three-year agreement last month. The overall theme of their bargaining campaign was fairness and dignity for contract academic staff. The outcome was successful, with significant improvements to the seniority system, longer job contracts of up to two years, access to new benefits and leaves, higher Record of Employment (ROE) hours per course for Employment Insurance (EI) reporting purposes, new compensation for training and service, and new supports for teaching, research, and professional development. The agreement also includes a reopener clause in the case that Bill 124 is repealed or successfully challenged.
On job security, members can now accumulate seniority points and earn seniority status more quickly, with the elimination of the one point per academic year cap. A member can achieve seniority status in two years (from four), while the expiry window for seniority points is expanded from three to six years. The new agreement also includes multiple contract commitments of up to 24 months, and a past practice of offering eight-month contracts where feasible will be reinstated. Furthermore, if a member teaches six courses per year over three years, the Dean must consider appointing that member to a definite term appointment in the full-time bargaining unit.
On pensions, members who hold multiple contract commitments and meet the University of Waterloo Pension eligibility requirements are now eligible. Pay in lieu of health benefits equivalent to three per cent of base salary for members who teach at least one course per term for three consecutive terms has also been secured. Members are also now eligible for paid sick leave of up to two weeks, as well as have access to the employee and family assistance plan. Record of Employment hours will be increased from 180 hours to 235 hours per course. As the Bill 124 moderation applied for term of the agreement, a one per cent increase per year was applied to stipends.
New forms of compensation for service were negotiated, as well as a new Contract Academic Staff (CAS) Fellowship Program for members with seniority status. The Fellowship Program allows a member to pursue research, course development, professional development, or any other activity of benefit to the member and the university, while receiving a stipend. Professional Expense Reimbursement (PER) funds are increased by $50 to $200 per course. In consultation with the union, members may also negotiate compensation for new on-campus course developments and for course updates.

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