MUN faculty members prepare for job action as talks with administration reach impasse

Posted: January 29, 2023 1:26 pm
By Beth Penney

Memorial University’s faculty association says MUNFA members and the Job Action Committees at both St. John’s and Grenfell campuses have begun final preparations for strike action.

In a statement Sunday afternoon, MUNFA says its bargaining team remains at the table today in an effort to reach a deal before the strike deadline. However, at the moment, an impasse has been reached.

The university is holding a media availability at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. NTV News will provide more details as they become available.

MUNFA released the following statement Sunday:

“Despite MUNFA members delivering a historic strike vote on Jan. 18, the MUN administration’s positions on crucial bargaining issues have moved only marginally in more than a year — since the beginning of collective bargaining. MUNFA members have clearly communicated that it is unacceptable to compromise on the issues of improvements for contract faculty, a commitment to collegial governance, and the continuation of existing benefits; these are all integral elements of a fair deal for MUNFA members, and a fair deal for the university as a whole.

“Because of the administration’s unwillingness to negotiate on these issues, it appears that no more can be achieved until after our membership demonstrates its strength on the picket lines. MUNFA’s bargaining team remains at the table today in an effort to reach a deal before the strike deadline, and is ready to negotiate if the administration indicates it is ready to do so, but at the moment, an impasse has been reached. It seems clear that MUNFA members will be on strike starting Monday, Jan. 30.

“MUNFA members and the Job Action Committees at both St. John’s and Grenfell campuses have begun final preparations for strike action.”

University administration responded with a statement of its own, calling on MUNFA to present its offer to faculty members for review:

“The offer on the table represents substantial improvements in terms of salary, increased benefits for term appointments, enhanced parental leave and increased compensation for teaching extra courses,” said Dr. Neil Bose, interim provost and vice-president academic. “We call on MUNFA leadership to take this offer to its membership for consideration before moving forward to strike action that will disrupt the semester for students.”

Highlights of the university’s current offer include:
• Increasing its salary offer to 12 per cent over four years. For example, a faculty member who is today receiving the average tenure-track salary would increase from $137,300 to $164,084 (includes applicable step increases) by September 2026.
• Providing an additional 20 weeks of supplemented parental leave, which tops up Employment Insurance maternity benefits to full salary for 52 weeks in total.
• Increased compensation for teaching additional courses: rate increases immediately by 24 per cent from $5,144 to $6,360 effective September 2022, going up to $6,749 by September 2025.

Additionally, the increased benefits for those on term appointments include:
• Full $2,000 signing bonus for all term appointments who taught for any period in the 21/22 or 22/23 academic years. Memorial offered this $2,000 bonus to all MUNFA members but the union declined.
• Adding an additional paid month to each term appointment, allowing time to prepare their courses.
• Providing for course remission in recognition of service for teaching appointments.
• Annual professional development and travel expense allowances increase by 125 per cent to $1,800 for teaching term appointments.

“MUNFA has not moved on its demand for a salary increase of 14 per cent over four years,” the university said in its statement. “Memorial is proposing changes to health benefits for retirees, that are consistent with the benefits already in effect for all other Memorial employees and public sector employees, and which do not impact current employees. MUNFA would not agree to that proposal.

“MUNFA has also noted that collegial governance remains an outstanding issue. The university strongly upholds the collegial governance of our bicameral system (Senate and Board of Regents). MUNFA as an entity is seeking greater input in areas currently in the purview of the Board of Regents. Faculty members are currently involved in all aspects of academic matters including the hiring of all academic staff from their peers to senior leaders. Additionally, the university has requested that faculty representation be added to the Board of Regents when the provincial government updates the Memorial University Act.”

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