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Strike possible as U of R administration and URFA fail to reach new agreement

Despite four days of negotiations, University of Regina administration and U of R Faculty Association fail to reach a new collective agreement for academic staff.
Despite four days of negotiations, University of Regina administration and U of R Faculty Association fail to reach a new collective agreement for academic staff. File Photo / Global News

After 40 hours over four days of mediaton, the University of Regina administration and University of Regina Faculty Association (URFA) have not been able to reach a new collective agreement for U of R Academic staff.

Talks have been ongoing since April 2018 despite the collective agreement expiring in 2017. The lack of an agreement, could mean a strike before the end of the current semester.

“We were hopeful that with the assistance of the mediator we would be able to reach an agreement and avoid the possibility of job action,” URFA president Sylvain Rheault said.

READ MORE: U of R faculty vote in favour of a strike mandate

“Unfortunately University administration remains unwilling to come to an agreement that meaningfully addresses our core outstanding issues. With the mediation process now exhausted, URFA could be in a legal strike position as early as March 28th.”

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Rheault said in terms of money, they aren’t far off but are seeking more than that.

The UFRA are looking for faculty ratio that prioritizes research, pension contributions, compensation that keeps pace with the rate of inflation, equal pay for equal teaching and hiring sufficient permanent teaching staff to provide excellent teaching for students.

READ MORE: University of Regina Faculty Association may strike

“We believe the community deserves a university that fosters innovative research, provides quality instruction, and offers an exemplary working and learning environment for faculty and students,” Rheault said.

“We implore the University Administration to work with us to reach an agreement as soon as possible to ensure that a fair and reasonable contract is negotiated without having to resort to job action that would interrupt students and put the end of the semester at risk.”

In 2017-18 the university saw a multi-million-dollar cut to the operating grant in the provincial budget, money which would have been used to help cover salary and benefit costs.

READ MORE: U of R President says layoffs are necessary following Sask. budget

The university saw a zero per cent increase to the opening grant in 2018-19 and they anticipate another zero per cent increase in the 2019-2020 province budget.

In a posted bulletin, U of R administration said their four-year contract offer (June 2017 – June 2021), includes a $5.645 million increase for salaries and benefits. This includes a 3.75 per cent salary increase over the course of the contract; zero per cent for the first two years, 1.75 per cent in the third year and two per cent in the fourth year.

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According to the post from administration, the URFA’s contract request would require $7.697 million in additional funds with a six per cent salary increase, and sessional positions receiving 11-to-15 per cent in the third year.

Administration says they would not be able to meet those requests without a significant tuition increase.

The UFRA bargains for 1,400 full and part-time employees in seven bargaining units at the University of Regina, First Nations University of Canada, Campion College, and Luther College.

The collective agreement would cover faculty, instructors, laboratory instructors, librarians, and sessional positions.

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