URFA bargains with the U of R


author: taylor balfour | news writer

how eclectic! / jeremy davis

 Another successful year for English Department Conference

The University of Regina Faculty Association’s [URFA] contract with the University of Regina is ending, and bargaining over the future is now underway. 

According to URFA’s website, the organization is “made up of 1,400 members working to advance the academic mission of the University of Regina, Campion College, Luther College, and the First Nations University of Canada,” and “include faculty, sessionals, and administrative, professional and technical (APT) employees.” 

In URFA’s September Newsletter, they stated, in regard to their bargaining negotiation, that “although agreement has been reached on a number of housekeeping items, there are many proposals still unresolved that signal a concerning shift in the employer’s priorities away from research.” 

“The employer’s proposal also continues to ignore key issues such as job security for sessional members, and their position on compensation does not keep pace with inflation.” 

Then, in later Oct., URFA released a statement directed toward U of R sessionals in which they explained that “in recent bargaining sessions,” the University Management has stated that they want to “eliminate peer review in tenure and promotion decisions,” and “wants 20 mandatory letters from your former students to support your career progress.” 

URFA also reports that the university has “rejected standardized teaching hours, offered 0 per cent, 0 per cent, 0.5 per cent, 0.5 per cent in salary adjustments over four years, wants to eliminate merit, wants to eliminate preference completely for sessionals,” and “wants a lifetime cap on sessional teaching (30 courses and you are done forever).” 

“We have many bargaining units in our association, and the U of R academic bargaining unit is the one actively bargaining. Those who are out of contract at the moment are just kinda on the back burner,” said Sylvain Rheault, the president of URFA. 

Rheault also discussed URFA’s current plans.  

“First, we need to do what’s called a strike vote,” he says. “It doesn’t mean we’re going on strike, it means we have first to go into a process of mediation.” 

“In terms of how we see professors, we see someone who’s well-rounded, who has mandate for teaching, research, and as well doing some community work, so we see professors as well-rounded in all aspects of academic work.” 

“We also think that sessionals are important members and that they should be treated fairly, that they’re not like disposable people.” 

Dr. Thomas Chase, Provost and Vice-President (Academic), in a statement released in regard to URFA, stated that “recent media reports suggest that the University of Regina wishes to limit the academic freedom of faculty, and weaken tenure provisions. Neither of these is the case.” 

The release also stated that the university present a “draft language” to URFA as what they called a “starting point.” According to their release, “URFA indicated that it does not wish to proceed with such a discussion. The drafts were therefore off the table prior to the media report.” 

“We believe that, in an institution founded on close and critical examination of issues, including those that govern our own procedures and protocols, such a discussion has a place at the bargaining table.” 

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