No strike for MRU; Agreement ratified
By Alex Luong, Staff Writer
Mount Royal University (MRU) and the Mount Royal Faculty Association (MRFA) have ratified a new collective agreement for the period of July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2024 on Feb. 18, 2022.
According to the report made by the mediator, Lyle Kanee, the terms both parties agreed upon were compensation and benefits, clarity, job security, tenure and promotion. However, there were topics that required more discussion and analysis like workload and the appointment categories such as Senior Lecturer. Kanee recommends that both parties establish a task force to review these topics.
The contract also includes a total of 3.25 per cent increase in salary over the course of the contract period. The first will be effective on April 1, 2023 and it will be an 1.25 per cent increase. The second increase in salary will be effective on Dec. 1, 2023 and it will be a 1.5 per cent increase. Then on Feb. 29, 2024, an additional increase of 0.5 per cent will be applied.
The total costs of benefits such as dental and extended health care will be shared between the Board and the MRFA members. The total contribution of an individual member will not exceed 20 per cent of the total costs of the dental and extended health care premium. The total cost of benefits premiums for life insurance is paid 100 per cent by the Board.
“There was a sense of relief among many faculty, and certainly among students, that we had found a way to reach a new collective agreement with the university,” MRFA president Lee Easton said to CBC News.
The Students’ Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU) also played a hand in the negotiations. According to Easton, SAMRU’s words and actions drew attention to the need for more flexibility in bargaining. SAMRU said during the bargaining process, they were in constant communication with faculty officials for updates while urging the party to find common ground in recognition of student struggles, course changes, tuition increases and more.
The strike had many students anxious including Ian Parsons who posted on Reddit, expressing that the teachers, educators and mentors of MRU should take students like himself into consideration in regard to the new agreement.
“I need you to be made aware that I am not alone on campus, I need you to know that lived experiences have taught those with disabilities to suffer in silence lest we be made an example of. I have the benefit of graduating at the end of the semester so while these changes won’t affect me, they will have an enormous impact on those who will come after and that is why I’m sticking my neck out to make my voice as a student heard now,” Parson said on the post.
SAMRU Representative Executive Council President Spirit River Striped Wolf said that he and his team “are happy that students can continue their semester uninterrupted and without the anxiety of not knowing what would happen to them if a strike were to occur.”
Elsewhere in Alberta, the University of Lethbridge (U of L) is on its second week of the strike after failed negotiations with their administration and more than 600 days without a contract. The U of L’s Board of Governors say they are in less of a position to meet the salary demands of the faculty members on strike. This is due to the reduction in the operating fund of U of L by 5.1 per cent for the year of 2022 and 2023. Both sides have claimed that the other side is not willing to return to the bargaining table.