Breaking down our 2021 Salary Settlement

To help clarify some of the implications and motivations of items in the new salary settlement, we’ve once again asked our chief negotiator (Bryan Tolson, this time) to provide some commentary. Below is the full text of the agreement with annotations, but first, here’s a quick, plain-language summary of the items in the agreement:

  • 1% scale increases each year for three years.
  • $85 for eye exams (for each person every two years).
  • A new compassionate care and bereavement leave policy that will provide:
    • A salary top-up (to 85%, for up to eight weeks) for members on a Critical Illness Leave or Family Medical Leave (minus Employment Insurance benefits received)
    • Four weeks of fully paid bereavement leave on the death of a spouse/partner, child, or step-child; one week on the death of any other immediate family member, such as a parent or sibling.
  • A deadline to start collecting faculty equity data, including on race and Indigeneity, and an update to the current salary anomaly review to identify and correct race-based anomalies once the data is ready. Corrections will be retroactive to May 1, 2021, and race and Indigeneity will be factors in future salary anomaly reviews.
  • A Memorandum of Agreement update so that faculty teaching all three terms in a year can now carry two weeks of vacation forward each year (up from one); for lecturers, these weeks will not expire until after their next non-teaching term.

Interpreting the agreement

Bill 124 limitations

Bill 124 limits public sector employee compensation increases to a maximum of 1% each year for a three-year period (our period is May 2021 – April 2024). Specifically, our average salary increase is capped at 1%, and our total “compensation entitlements” (total salary plus all benefits), is also capped at a 1% increase. (See the appendix at the end of this post for the language in the bill itself). Note that selective salary increases (merit) are not affected and will continue as usual.

Our bargaining team estimated that after the 1% scale increase, we had over $600 per member remaining for other items over the three-year deal. Our certified forensic accountant, Linda Robinson, led these calculations. Our actuarial costing, led by Mary Hardy from the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, shows the settlement items have a projected total increase in compensation entitlements of only $160 (items 5 through 8 generate no increase at all). This leaves room for additional benefit enhancements, particularly in the third year of the agreement, in which there is no additional spending as a result of this agreement beyond the scale increase.

The three-year term

1. Term of agreement: 1 May 2021 to 30 April 2024 (three years).

Three years is a typical term for our salary settlements, though they can also be for one or two years.  

Scale increases

2. Scale increase:
effective 1 May 2021           1.00%
effective 1 May 2022           1.00%
effective 1 May 2023           1.00%

All other faculty associations signing a deal under Bill 124 (eight by our count prior to February) have also gotten this 1% scale increase.

Vision care

3. The University will instruct the Pension & Benefits Committee (PBC) to provide FAUW members and their eligible dependents (the participants) with a basic vision care plan (the plan). The plan will provide a reimbursement of $85 per participant every two years for eye exams. This plan will be paid for by the University increasing its annual contributions to the health benefits plan accordingly. The plan will be retroactive to May 1, 2021 such that reimbursements for eye exams performed on or after this date can be claimed once the plan is activated.

If the proposed new basic vision care plan, or one providing higher vision care reimbursement levels, is not approved by the PBC, the net-new compensation entitlements shall be awarded instead as an equivalent amount of additional weeks of supplemental benefits under item 4 below.

We believe that $85 every two years approximates the cost of a basic eye exam. We hope that the School of Optometry will consider a discount for Waterloo faculty who use their clinic for vision care appointments. The School already gives Waterloo employees a 10% discount on vision hardware.

It’s technically up to the Pension and Benefits Committee to confirm this plan; the final paragraph is a ‘just in case’ clause that we do not believe will be used. We hope the plan will be in place by January 1, 2022, but it will be retroactive to May 1 of this year, so keep your receipts!

By my estimate, UW still looks to remain below the standard for overall vision care benefits in the sector. We know this isn’t a fully-fledged plan, but it’s a foot in the door. There is certainly room in year three, for example, if the PBC wanted to suggest an increase to vision care.

Compassionate care and bereavement leave

4. The University, as previously agreed at the Faculty Relations Committee (FRC), will form a policy drafting committee in accordance with Policy 1 to create a new FS policy on compassionate care & bereavement leaves.

A new compassionate care leave (CCL) supplemental benefit plan will become effective no later than May 1, 2022. Details of the CCL supplemental benefit plan are as follows:

Any FAUW member on an Employment Standards Act (ESA) Critical Illness Leave (minor child or an adult) or on an ESA Family Medical Leave will be entitled to receive 85% of their base pay less any Employment Insurance benefit the member receives for a maximum of 8 weeks. Members on either of the above ESA Leaves who are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) are required to apply for EI, but the benefit is not contingent upon receiving EI. A member can apply in writing to their Faculty Dean, who will determine whether to grant an extension to this 8-week arrangement and respond in writing to the member.

Enhanced paid bereavement leaves will become effective May 1, 2022. Details of the enhanced leaves are as follows:

FAUW members shall be entitled to 4 weeks of bereavement leave, with 100% of pay, on the death of their spouse/partner, child, or step-child, and to 1 week of bereavement leave, with 100% of pay, on the death of any other immediate family member, such as a parent or sibling. If a Member wishes to take a longer period of bereavement leave, they may apply in writing to their Faculty Dean, who will determine whether to grant an extension to the arrangement and respond in writing to the member.

The terms of the above plan may be amended or superseded by the terms of a new FS policy on compassionate care & bereavement leaves approved in accordance with Policy 1, provided the access to and levels of these benefits are not degraded.

Available compassionate care leave statistics from Stats Canada show that women take about 78% of the compassionate care EI leaves of absences in Canada, making this a significant equity issue.

Securing specific amounts and dates for compassionate care benefits in these negotiations was critical due to the unreliability of the policy development process. Faculty Relations Committee formally agreed in December 2019 to develop an FS-class policy on compassionate care and bereavement leaves, and this settlement now gives us a deadline and a push to get started.

Currently, FAUW members receive one to four days of 100% paid bereavement leave for the death of a family member. For bereavement leaves following the death of a spouse/partner or child, we will move to middle of the sector, with four weeks. For parents/siblings, the increase to one week leaves us tied at the bottom of the sector.

We thought it was important to make explicit that there is the possibility of an extension to all of these leaves, and to keep the process straightforward by identifying one person (your dean) to whom such requests should be directed. Our cost analysis for all of these leaves assumes that members taking them are always replaced with a full-time equivalent faculty member, which is not true in practice.

Once these items are implemented and the new Policy 14 on pregnancy and parental leave is approved (as we anticipate it will be at the April Board of Governors meeting), Waterloo faculty members will finally have a suite of equitable, family-friendly leave policies which we can all be proud of, and which we can continue to build on.

Race-based salary anomaly reviews

5. The University is currently developing an equity data collection strategy for all students, faculty, and staff, to further its commitment to addressing systemic racism within the university. Development of this strategy includes consultations with stakeholders that will inform appropriate use of data and potential limitations of use. The University agrees to a target date of the end of 2021 for initiating disaggregated data collection on faculty members’ race and Indigeneity.

As soon as responses are available and processed for at least two-thirds of FAUW members, the University will provide the raw disaggregated data on race and Indigeneity to the Salary Anomaly Working Group, who will use it to update the results of the 2021 Salary Anomaly Review to identify any race-based anomalies. If race-based anomalies are identified, they will be resolved and compensation will be retroactive to May 1, 2021.

The University remains committed to a five-year cyclical review of faculty salary anomalies that works to identify both individual as well as systemic salary anomalies, as agreed in a Joint Provostial-FAUW MoA executed on February 26, 2015. For the review that will begin in 2025, the University will broaden the original mandate of the Salary Anomaly Working Group to include the addition in bold:

“investigate all cases where faculty salary inequities, including but not limited to gender-based, racialized, and Indigenous inequities, may exist and recommend how such cases should be resolved using the Faculties’ existing anomaly funds; review the processes by which salary anomalies are currently identified and resolved in each Faculty;

establish a standardized university-wide process for the detection and resolution of all faculty salary anomalies that may arise in the future, wherever they may occur.”

FAUW has committed to taking meaningful action on policy and practices to work against systemic racism, particularly anti-Black racism, and we view this as one step toward that commitment. This builds on the existing work of the Equity Data Advisory Group and some of the responses to the last salary anomaly report, including from our Equity Committee.

When the time comes, I implore each of you to respond to the equity data survey and help us remind your colleagues to do so as well. There will be no retroactive race-based salary anomaly review if fewer than two-thirds of FAUW members respond to this future survey.  

Vacation exchange prior to retirement

6. Vacation Exchange Program:
The one-time salary adjustment of 2% in exchange for one week (5 days) of vacation for each year of participation is extended as follows.

a. The eligibility date is extended to 30 April 2030, for retirement on or before 1 May 2033.

b. The latest eligibility date for the Exchange Option shall be the Member’s 68th birthday, with a retirement date no later than the end of the academic term (i.e., either April 30, August 31, or December 31) during which she or he turns 71.

Extending the deadline for allowing the exchange is a routine matter in all of our salary settlements.

In the event Bill 124 is repealed or overturned

7. During the Term, by mutual agreement, the University and FAUW may agree to review the monetary provisions of this agreement should Ontario legislation change with respect to annual salary scale and/or annual total compensation limits.

This only becomes an option if there are changes to Ontario legislation controlling scale or total compensation. Even in that event, I believe there is a low probability of this actually being mutually agreed upon.

Vacation carry-forward for lecturers

8. Section 11.2.2 of the MoA will be revised to read as follows: [changes in bold]

“Vacation entitlement normally shall be used during the contract year in which it is earned. In exceptional circumstances with the prior written permission of the Department Chair, vacation entitlement may be carried forward for a maximum of one year. In cases where a Member is engaged in classroom/online teaching in every academic term of a contract year, the Member is entitled to the option of carrying forward two weeks of vacation entitlement to the following contract year, and the Department Chair upon receipt of written notification from the Member shall provide permission to carry forward said vacation entitlement for a maximum of one year. For lecturer members, all such vacation entitlement carried forward shall not expire until the end of the next contract year the lecturer member is assigned a non-teaching term, during which they are expected to use their carried forward vacation. All vacation entitlement must be used prior to termination or retirement.”

Your “contract year” is based on your own hire date. For a lot of you, this will be July 1, but for many lecturers in particular, it will be a different date. Don’t forget to arrange any carry-over before your contract year ends!

Normally, you can’t carry unused vacation time forward. But if you teach in all three terms, you can now carry forward two weeks (up from one). If you’re a lecturer, this carried-forward time doesn’t expire after one year as it does for everyone else; instead, it will expire only after you’ve had an adequate opportunity to use it—during a non-teaching term.

Teaching courses in three consecutive terms makes it impossible to take long blocks of restorative time away from work. This is exacerbated when lecturers go many years without a non-teaching term, and FAUW surveys of lecturer members suggests that 40% have never had a non-teaching term, despite being entitled to one every six terms under Policy 76 (this is based on preliminary results from the latest survey by the Lecturers Committee, which has an 80% response rate at the time of writing).

Under employment law, the University cannot prevent you from taking your vacation entitlement. Chairs and directors have a duty to work with you to ensure you are able to take your full vacation entitlement. FAUW believes that this includes regular non-teaching terms and not having to constantly work at overload levels in between those.

Should you have concerns about scheduling your vacation entitlements or using up vacation time before the end of your contract, our AF&T Committee is here to help.

Appendix: Bill 124

For any interested policy-oriented readers, key specific language from Bill 124 that restricts compensation increases includes:

“10 (1)  No collective agreement or arbitration award may provide for an increase in a salary rate applicable to a position or class of positions during the applicable moderation period that is greater than one per cent for each 12-month period of the moderation period, but they may provide for increases that are lower.”

“11 (1)  During the applicable moderation period, no collective agreement or arbitration award may provide for any incremental increases to existing compensation entitlements* or for new compensation entitlements* that in total equal more than one per cent on average for all employees covered by the collective agreement for each 12-month period of the moderation period.”

*Where compensation is defined as: “‘compensation’ means anything paid or provided, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit of an employee, and includes salary, benefits, perquisites and all forms of non-discretionary and discretionary payments; (‘rémunération’)”

For more about Bill 124, read the entire Bill or this summary prepared by law firm Goldblatt Partners

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