The University of Regina Faculty Association reached a settlement of its academic contract with the administration on Dec. 21, 1998. The agreement was ratified by the membership on March 1. This was the first time negotiators at the University of Regina reached a settlement prior to the expiry of an existing agreement.
The three-year contract provides for salary increases of 1% on May 1, 1999; 2% on May 1, 2000; and 2% on May 1, 2001. Also on May 1, 1999, dental benefits will be extended to family members and an extended health care plan will be introduced for members and families. The definition of a spouse has been expanded to include same-sex couples for the purposes of benefit provisions. Religious holidays have been broadened to recognize non-statutory holidays. Provisions for maternity and parental leave benefits will be changed to allow for employment insurance benefits to be supplemented to 90% of salary up to a total of 25 weeks.
Full-time equivalent (FTE) sessional instructors and FTE English as a Second Language Teachers (ESL) will convert to the instructor category. The sessional instructor category will be eliminated and the ESL members will be covered under the URFA academic agreement. There was previously a contract specific to ESL that did not afford members the level of protection they are now guaranteed in the academic contract. In essence, this will increase the number of full-time employees as well as provide benefits and a level of job security to those long-term sessionals.
The sessional lecturer category will continue to exist; however the intention is to return to using the category in the way it was originally intended -- for limited employment of people who can provide a specific level of expertise for the delivery of an occasional course. A normal limit of nine credit hours (or three courses) per year will be reached after an initial phase-in period ending May 1, 2002.
The university also reaffirmed its commitment to maintain the number of instructor positions at a level of no more than 10% of the total probationary and continuing appointments within the ranks of professor, associate professor, assistant professor and lecturer. Initially the 10% limit will exclude a proportion of the number of newly created instructor positions, but this will be reduced according to a formula agreed upon between URFA and the university.
There are a considerable number of language changes throughout the agreement, not least of which is a new article that deals with intellectual property. The article reflects the recognition that intellectual property is owned by the member or members who create it, unless some other agreement is reached with the university prior to, or in the process of, the property being created. An academic freedom and responsibilities clause, based on the CAUT model clause, has also been included for the first time.
There is new language to address the unforeseeable impact that instructional and information technology may have on members, and to deal with the fair and equitable distribution of workloads. This includes the recognition that courses taught by means of distance education will be weighted as 1.5 times a normal course for the purposes of determining workloads.
Various procedures have been clarified and criteria adopted for performance review and all new appointments.
The faculty association also agreed to the inclusion of a campus promotion committee to review members seeking promotion to the rank of professor.
With the ratification of this contract, URFA now administers six contracts with its four employers.
Patricia Fleming is Executive Director of the University of Regina Faculty Association.