Thompson Rivers University’s law professors want better compensation and they say their union should do a better job of fighting for them.
On Thursday, a dozen professors with TRU’s law department filed a complaint with the Labour Relations Board alleging the TRU Faculty Association represented them in bad faith or in a discriminatory manner, according to LRB information officer Guy Pocklington.
TRU law Prof. Micah Rankin, who signed the complaint’s cover letter, declined to provide the document to The Daily News or comment on the matter.
It’s the latest episode during a difficult year for the law school, which saw founding dean Chris Axworthy resign in July over wage disputes.
Law professors are typically paid higher wages than their counterparts in other departments and the same is true for TRU.
TRUFA president Jason Brown said the law professors are already the most highly paid at the university.
He suggested that their expectations were unreasonable.
“We represent a whole variety of faculty,” said Brown. “Any one faculty can come to TRUFA and say, ‘We want a better salary than the rest of the people.’ If we were to say, ‘Yeah that’s a great idea we’re going to do that,’ and forgot about the rest of the people, then they would file a (complaint) against us.”
The law school is the only TRU department receiving market supplements, which reflect what the individual would be paid in the labour force. Most other Canadian universities offer market supplements to more than one department.
TRUFA and the law school disagree over whether those payments should go to all professors or solely to tenured ones.
Brown said he sympathizes with the professors and agrees they should be paid more — as should all TRU professors.
TRU profs gets an average salary that’s 20 per cent less than the rest of B.C.’s research universities. And B.C.’s professors receive 20 per cent less than the cross-Canada average.
But the TRU law faculty is pointing to the wrong culprit, said Brown.
“It’s a problem with the B.C. government not funding us properly.”
It’s a disappointing situation because TRUFA has “a proud tradition” of representing all the university’s faculty and wishes for a return to solidarity.
“We hope the law professors see it’s in everyone’s best interests for the union to stick together.”
Dr. Alan Shaver, TRU president, said the situation is not indicative of a dysfunctional department. He said the law professors are an excellent group dedicated to “the important mission of the school.”
“That is to make great students become great lawyers.”
The Labour Board has six months to determine whether the complaint has merit, said Pocklington.