Faced first with a refusal to negotiate by the administration and then with the lowest of salary offers, the Association of Professors of Bishop's University has approved a policy of non cooperation and job action to take effect immediately.
Among other things, recommendations include resignations by chairs of departments, non-attendance at senate meetings, unavailability for registration for the winter session, refusal to offer extra courses, and suspension of pledges to the financial campaign. The association has also adopted a framework to ensure that, wherever possible, student interests will be protected.
Bishop's three-year contract expires in July 2000, but included a salary re-opener that could be exercised by either party on July 1, 1999. An annual clawback of 1.1 per cent over the same period was agreed to and Bishop's faculty are currently returning the third yearly payment of that clawback.
The opener clause was signed in the hope future improvements in Bishop's financial situation could accommodate any necessary redress of faculty salaries. This improved support has materialized in the form of special grants from the provincial government, and in the additional context of a newly adopted policy, which offers generous pay increases for senior administration. Consequently, the association felt completely justified in reopening the question of faculty salaries.
This action was met with surprise by the administration and they initially refused to negotiate. They are now offering, by their own characterization, "minimalist" increases which do not come close to the legitimate demands presented by the association. Even within this meagre offer they are seeking to discriminate against long-serving faculty by proposals to alter the overall scale in favour of the lowest ranks. And all this occurs in a larger context: faculty at Bishop's have not only demonstrated cooperation and self-sacrifice in the period of recent austerity and retrenchment but also remarkable generosity by gifts to the university's current financial campaign.
Early indications regarding the job action are of massive support and solidarity. This issue in fact has united the faculty at Bishop's in an unprecedented way.
Meanwhile, negotiations are continuing and the association is hoping a just and reasonable settlement will be achieved.
David Seale is chief negotiator for the Association of Professors of Bishop's University.