RFA contract talks back on

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By Jessica Aldred

They may be on speaking terms, but Ryerson’s faculty and administration don’t appear to any closer to resolving their contract problems.

Although negotiations between the Ryerson Faculty Association (RFA) and administration have resumed, John Morgan, RFA’s chief negotiator, says talks remain tense and may threaten to drag into next spring if the two sides can’t come to an agreement.

“The parties are still sporadically meeting, trying to work towards an agreement,” said chief negotiator Michael Dewson, Ryerson’s v.p. faculty.

Faculty has been working without a contract since June 30.  Talks broke off in the beginning of September and only resumed a couple of weeks ago.  On Nov. 18, both sides agreed to a March negotiation deadline before going to an arbitration panel to settle any disagreements.

Until then the old contract, which doesn’t allow for any strike or lockout action, will remain in place.

The major obstacles are incremental pay increases and better benefits.  Morgan said the association wants a contract that would give faculty comparable pay and benefits to those earned at university such as Trent, brock and Lakehead.  Although both sides were unwilling to discuss the current figures being debated in October the RFA said they wanted their maximum salary to increase to about $100,000.  The highest salary a professor can now earn at Ryerson is $84,482.  At Brock, the highest salary is about $104,000.

Meanwhile, both sides agree faculty morale is suffering as they enter their sixth month without a new contract.  “It’s hard to quantify morale,” said Morgan, “but every faculty member who has approached me has expressed a rapidly growing feeling of alienation from the administration.”

Three weeks ago, the RFA gave administration a faculty compensation package outlining the cost of salary and benefit increases and a professional development fund.

But administration returned the proposal last week with an analysis that Morgan says showed “severe differences” with the RFA’s calculations.

Morgan says administration calculated the RFA’s proposed pay increase would cost the school 3.5 to 4 per cent more than projected by faculty.  But Morgan says the administration’s number crunching is suspect.  “They are giving us false and misleading numbers,” he said.

The RFA sent these figures back to administration for recalculation and expects a response soon.

“Everyone is keen to see it resolved,” said Dewson.  “It’s troubling to faculty and to us [administration] that it’s gone on this long.  I’d personally like to see this situation resolved very much.”

Both sides have agreed if the dispute isn’t settled by spring, it will go before a three-member arbitration panel.  The RFA and administration have each selected one member, who both selected a chair.

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