Following the resolution of the long labour dispute between TRU and the TRU Faculty Association (TRUFA), both sides are confident that they can find a way to cooperate in the future and repair the damage that has been done to their working relationship.
“We’ve settled on what we could agree on, and what we could agree on were things like the distribution of the 5.5 per cent [salary increase over five years]. One of the things we did is we increased the pay rates for the sessional instructors and so their salary by the end of the agreement would have seen a total of an 11 per cent increase,” said TRU President Alan Shaver.
TRUFA President Tom Friedman said that his union was originally bargaining for sessional instructors to receive the same pay as other faculty, but that he was happy with the improvements that were made.
Although many contentious issues were resolved during the contract bargaining, both sides said that they were constrained by the provincial government’s bargaining mandate and still had things to work on.
At the centre of the newfound cooperation promised by both sides is a committee on best practices which will have representatives from TRU’s administration and faculty association.
“In order to address some of the things we couldn’t agree to, we set up a best practices ad hoc committee made up of deans and chairs of departments and it’s going to look at how we assign and distribute the academic duties within the university,” Shaver said.
“If there’s a willingness to address these with the needs of departments and programs in mind then I think it can succeed. From the faculty association perspective, we’re more than willing to commit to this,” Friedman said when asked if the committee could address the issues that remain outstanding after bargaining.
According to Friedman, university governance issues, particularly unilateral decision making by administration, remains an issue in the eyes of TRUFA members, but he’s still hopeful that the problems can be solved.
“Our proposals at bargaining would have seen faculty playing a larger role in [decision making] and transparency on the part of administration decisions. If this committee’s recommendations go at least part way towards what we’re looking for then we’ll be pleased and our members will feel that their voices are going to be heard,” Friedman said.
Friedman also said that the strained relations and improper resolution of grievances between the administration and the faculty needed to be addressed.
“We have a strong need to create a better labour relations environment on campus and I’ve made it clear to senior administration that TRUFA is willing to start repairing some of the damage that I think has been done over the last couple of years,” Friedman said.
“It will take some open-mindedness and we’re approaching this with open minds and I’m optimistic that as we sit down and spend more time talking about how we can address the needs of the faculty and the needs of the administration, that we can start to work more closely as a team.” Shaver said.