FACULTY FIGHTS FOR BETTER DEAL

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By Shannon Higgins

Ryerson professors are paid less and work more than faculty at other Ontario universities, says the Ryerson Faculty Association, and they’re vying for a better deal.

The RFA has agreed upon an opening bargaining position after a members’ meeting last month, and is negotiating a new collective agreement with Ryerson’s Board of Governors before the current contract runs out on June 30, 2008.

Dave Mason, RFA president, and Ian Sakinofsky, chair of negotiations, are bargaining with Michael Dewson, vice provost faculty affairs.

“We’re still not paid at the same level as colleagues in other universities. We are decidedly below the middle of the pack and well below the other Toronto universities,” Mason said. The RFA is concerned with salary differences between men and women and wants to eliminate salary raises based on merit, which Mason says traditionally favour white men over minorities.

Mason said President Sheldon Levy and Dewson agree Ryerson faculty is being stretched thin with heavy workload expectations. “In terms of research and workload, we want to bring Ryerson faculty up to sector norms that are comparative to their colleagues at other universities,” he said.

Mason is also asking for more representation in the contract for department chairs and directors who can be assigned management duties. “Chairs are in some sense a part of the grievance procedures and a lot of them find it very uncomfortable to sit on the Board of Governors side during arbitrations,” Mason said.

Meanwhile, an informal agreement dicussed at Senate will help alleviate time constraints placed on professors to mark final assignments and exams. “The reasonable, but not ideal, agreement will give faculty some guaranteed time to mark and students more time to study,” Mason said.

The RFA represents 750 full-time faculty members and boasts an increase in activity under Mason’s leadership. The last two years have seen the RFA in arbitration ten times more than the previous 20 years combined.

Mason is hoping for a fast resolution. “Most of the issues won’t be contentious … but the devil’s in the details in working out how that translates into contract language.”

This year is Sakinofsky’s sixth negotiation. “50 per cent [of RFA members] responded to the survey and we’ve had some kind of input with the vast amount of our membership,” he said. Negotiations began last Friday and meetings are scheduled for the next six weeks. Dewson looks forward to meeting with the RFA but declined to comment due to the “nature of negotiations.”

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