Letter from UTFA Vice President, Salary, Benefits, Pensions and Representative on UTFA Council

Prof. Downes, UTFA Council Rep, has given permission for us to share with you this letter he has written to inform his constituents in the English Department, September 30, 2012:

University of St. Michael’s College Bargaining:
Our colleagues (and fellow UTFA members) at the University of St Michael’s College have reached an impasse in negotiations with their employers (the University of St Michael’s College). Money is not the issue. The Administration is insisting on language in the settlement that would dramatically expand the administration’s unilateral authority to lay off tenured faculty and permanent status librarians for reasons of program redundancy. The faculty and librarians at St. Mike’s have taken a principled stand against this effort to undermine job security and collegiality. The administration, however, walked away from the bargaining table last week and are refusing to negotiate any further. A strike or lockout is less than two weeks away. If you think that tenure as you and I know it is safe as houses, you will probably ignore what is going on at St. Mike’s. But if you can begin to see the day when administrators, pressured by politicians and by advocates of public sector austerity, start to close programmes and lay off tenured professors on the basis of decisions made without collegial consultation, then you might want to lend your support to the faculty and librarians at St. Mikes. Please consider writing to the President of St. Michael’s College University, Professor Anne Anderson, to express your concern and to ask that the administration return to bargaining as soon as possible:  anne.anderson@utoronto.ca.
You can read an article on the impasse in the Catholic Register:       http://www.catholicregister.org/news/toronto-gta/item/15133-st-mikes-faculty-on-cusp-of-strike
Provincial wage freeze legislation: UTFA and the administration reached a 3-year agreement this summer (extending our contract through June 30, 2014). This settlement  might make us complacent about the Liberal proposal to freeze public sector compensation and benefits for two years. But we shouldn’t forget i) that wage freezes are effectively cuts equal to the inflation rate, and such losses cannot be recovered unless settlements above the inflation rate are achieved in later years (i.e. cloud cuckoo land). The word “freeze” does not adequately convey the effective cut we will all be taking and which will, of course, hit the lower-paid members of the University hardest of all. When the Rae government imposed a wage freeze in 1993 (The “Social Contract”), a Low Income Cut-Off was included that made workers earning below $30,000 a year (roughly $41,000 in today’s dollars) exempt from the legislation. There’s no such proposal this time around even though many public sector workers earn very small incomes.; and ii) such legislation is part of a broad-based attack on the public sector and on the principles of good-faith collective bargaining. This legislation belongs to the discourse of public-sector “austerity” that is very much part of a particular political agenda and which some of us might want to question. The government suggests that they will save about 2 Billion dollars with this wage freeze, an amount that will only begin to cover the cost of the cuts to the Corporate Income Tax rate included in recent provincial budgets. Please consider lending your support to actions and initiatives designed to oppose the legislation (you may, for example, want to let your MPP know how you feel about the legislation). UTFA will be providing more information on the proposed legislation in the next few days.
Best,
Paul
************
Paul Downes
Vice President, Salary, Benefits, Pensions
University of Toronto Faculty Association
Associate Professor
Department of English
University of Toronto
170 St. George Street
Toronto, ON M5R 2M8
Tel.: 416.978.5044
paul.downes@utoronto.ca
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This entry was posted in Academic freedom, Academic governance, Academic Librarianship, Uncategorized, University of St. Michael's College, University of Toronto. Bookmark the permalink.

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