At the end of October, members of the Lakehead University Faculty Association (LUFA) ratified their new three-year collective agreement following an extended period of negotiations. Regular member communications and the hard work of the negotiating team resulted in gains on members’ top priorities of compensation, pension reform, benefits, contract lecturer equity, and university governance.
The agreement includes salary and benefit improvements for all members, as well as specific adjustments for Contract Lecturers. The salary increases are one and a half per cent for 2023, three per cent for 2024, and three per cent for 2025. These increases apply to salary scales, floors and ceilings, Career Development Increments, overload, distance education and off-campus teaching, and stipends for Chairs and Directors. In addition, Contract Lecturers will receive flat rate increases to their base salary in 2024.
The agreement contains increases to member pension contributions and other changes necessary to pension reform.
Benefits improvements include an expansion in paramedical services coverage to include audiologists and kinesiologists, new coverage for hearing aids, and an automatic entitlement to any benefit enhancements for retired members. Contract lecturers receive an increase in their benefit account, and some members who have held a limited-term appointment for one year are now eligible for maternity and parental leave.
The new agreement marks a significant advancement in university governance. It explicitly acknowledges the role of faculty and librarian participation in selection of senior academic administrators including the Deans and University Librarian. New policies also ensures that faculty and librarians have a clear majority over administrators in search and renewal/review committees, and that the LUFA members elect their own representatives to the committees.
A noteworthy feature of the agreement is its expanded and improved language on academic freedom for librarians.
In early November, members of the NOSM University Faculty and Staff Association ratified a new three-year agreement, just hours before a strike deadline. Strong member support was reflected in a 100 per cent strike vote, as well as a successful letter-writing and communications campaign that garnered support from the local community and faculty associations across the country. With this backing, the negotiating team won solid wage and benefit increases, improvements to their working conditions and equity provisions, and avoid major concessions.
On compensation, members received a $1,250 increase to base salary from July 1, 2023, followed by a four per cent increase to scale, and scale increases of three per cent each in 2024 and 2025. The scale increases for each year will also apply to Progress Through the Ranks increments, as well as overload and overtime.
Benefits improvements include the inclusion of psychotherapy coverage, an increase in paramedical coverage as well as major dental coverage. A fund to assist retirees in purchasing fringe benefits will receive an employer contribution of $5,000 per year.
In gains for professional staff and librarians, the vacation for professional staff was increased to make it equal to that for faculty and librarians and the tuition reimbursement policy was updated to create equity across campuses for librarians and professional staff. A memorandum of agreement on alternative work arrangements for librarians and professional staff allows work off campus for librarians and professional staff, and a flexible work week for librarians (already available to professional staff).
A noteworthy equity gain was made in the requirement for immediate supervisors to adjust workloads if members from equity-deserving groups are assigned governance and administrative duties.