More than 650 faculty members at Thompson Rivers University are set to enter negotiations to renew a contract that expired last March.
And talks may have started on a rocky footing last month when more than 85 per cent of voting TRU Faculty Association members rejected a verbal offer from university administration.
Both TRUFA and administration spokespersons acknowledged the rejected offer, but neither side would comment further, saying they want to keep negotiations internal.
The provisions of the last contract remain in place until a new one is ratified.
Although no dates are set for further discussions, “we anticipate talks will continue in the next few weeks,” said TRU spokesperson Christopher Seguin.
The situation mirrors similar negotiations in major post-secondary institutions elsewhere in B.C.
Royal Roads University faculty accepted a verbal offer in October that gives its faculty two per cent wage increases for each of the new contact’s two years.
“The B.C. government has been clear that there is no new money to fund wage increases and there is no desire to download these costs onto families or future generations,” stated a B.C. press release announcing the Royal Roads contract ratification.
“The co-operative gains mandate provides public sector employers with the ability to negotiate modest wage increases funded from savings within existing budgets, not adding costs to taxpayers and ratepayers, and not sacrificing services.”
In other parts of B.C., negotiations have become acrimonious.
The University of British Columbia’s faculty association just rejected an offer for 0.4 per cent wage increase for 2012.
“Coming on the heels of two years of zeros, their offer amounts to an increase of 1.2 per cent over four years for our members,” stated a faculty association news bulletin.
“In the same time period, faculty at the University of Toronto received (across the board) increases of over nine per cent, not including improvements in benefits and other cost items.”
The University of Victoria faculty and administration just wrapped up mediation sessions and are awaiting the mediator’s report before deciding how to proceed.
Weighing in on the situation at TRU, UVic faculty association president Doug Baer said verbal offers are unusual in negotiations.
“It’s not uncommon that the administration will put something out there and say, ‘If you don’t accept in 24 hours or 48 hours or two weeks . . . we’re taking it back,’” he said. “But if that’s what the Thompson Rivers administration wanted to do, they could still have done it in writing.”