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CAUT Bulletin Archives

June 2000

Faculty at Queen's Receive Pay Increase

Queen's faculty will get a salary increase, but not as much as they hoped for, an arbitrator has ruled.

The 1999-2002 collective agreement at Queen's University provides for scale increases for 2000 and 2001 to be negotiated each year, with final offer selection arbitration in the event of an impasse.

Failing agreement at the table for the 2000 scale increase, the employer and the faculty association presented their positions to arbitrator Morton Mitchnick, on April 18, 2000.

In his ruling issued on May 11, the arbitrator chose the employer's final offer of a 1.7 per cent salary scale increase over the faculty association's 2.6 per cent. He noted that, "for a gap of so relatively small a magnitude, the number of fundamental issues raised by the parties' submissions is quite extraordinary."

The faculty association argued to use as a reference comparable occupations in the private sector -- where salaries are about 27 per cent higher than for Queen's faculty. The arbitrator rejected this position on grounds that "such comparison would have to properly take into account the significant differences in academic freedom and other working conditions (much of which is not easily quantified) between a job in the private sector, and holding a post in the university setting."

Grant Amyot, chief negotiator for the Queen's University Faculty Association, said, "It is demoralizing that at a time when the provincial economy is booming we have not been able to make salary gains this year similar to those in the private sector, or recover any of the ground lost in the early 1990s."

The arbitrator also addressed the issue of contributions to the pension plan. He noted comparisons of compensation appropriately include salary and benefits together. Where employers at comparator Ontario universities with defined benefit plans have taken contribution holidays, the savings are available for salary and other benefits. Queen's does not have these savings. It has a defined contribution plan (with a minimum guaranteed benefit) where the employer's contribution continues.

The arbitrator identified the PTR/Merit fund as "perhaps the most critical of the issues impacting the present determination." Here the employer and faculty association positions were diametrically opposed. Other arbitrations have accepted faculty association positions that increments are for experience or promotional growth and not germane to the scale award. Mr. Mitchnick concluded the situation was different at Queen's, because the amount of money going into the pool appeared to be a matter of negotiation from year to year. He accepted the employer's position that PTR/Merit should be considered part of the scale settlement.

Commenting on negotiations, Amyot said failure to reach a settlement meant "we could not improve benefits or make any special adjustments to correct the distortions that the active job market in some disciplines has introduced in our salary pattern, such as salary compression, salary inversion, and widening gaps between disciplines. We hope next year we will have better success."