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University of Waterloo -- Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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Thursday, January 25, 1996

Faculty association votes yes

Members of UW's faculty association voted yesterday, by a margin of more than two to one, to invite professors and librarians to sign union cards. If 40 per cent of eligible people do sign, the Ontario Labour Relations Board will conduct a certification vote.

The vote at yesterday's closed meeting of the association was 143 in favour, 62 opposed, 1 abstention, says an announcement issued by Jeff Shallit of the computer science department, who is secretary of the faculty association. Shallit's statement called the vote "an historic step forward for the rights of faculty members".

He also said:

Over two hundred of the approximately 290 members of the unincorporated Association were in attendance. . . . After about forty-five minutes of discussion, where speakers both pro- and anti- certification were heard, secret ballots were distributed at about 5 PM. Members then voted on the following enabling motion: "that the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo proceed to obtain membership cards and apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board for certification." . . .

The next step in the certification process is for membership cards to be signed by members of the bargaining unit (regular and non-regular faculty and librarians) requesting a certification vote to be held by the Ontario Labour Relations Board. A total of 40% of the bargaining unit must sign these cards to proceed to the second step, which is a secret ballot vote of members of the bargaining unit. The secret ballot vote would be ordered and conducted by the OLRB. Certification would take place if a simple majority of those voting vote in favour.

Over the next few weeks, canvassers will contact faculty members and librarians to request that they sign membership cards to proceed to the voting step. The Faculty Association, University of Waterloo (unincorporated) strongly urges faculty and librarians to sign the cards. . . .

The objective in seeking to certify is to obtain fair, effective and democratic representation in negotiating terms and conditions of employment. . . . Voluntary negotiations over the past several years, both for policy revision and the Memorandum of Agreement, failed to strengthen and protect the legitimate rights and interests of members, because the Board of Governors and the Administration could, and did, simply refuse to agree to improvements.

Writing the 1996-97 budget

A "central reinvestment fund" of around $3 million to help departments adjust to their budget cuts and then move off in "new directions" will be part of UW's financial picture in the coming year. Provost Jim Kalbfleisch announced the fund at yesterday's meeting of the senate finance committee, and outlined what's being done in the wake of provincial funding cuts and the Special Early Retirement Program.

The meeting talked about how UW will handle the budget cuts that will have to happen as of May 1. Kalbfleisch said the cut will likely be about 7 per cent across campus, but it will be "later in the spring" before that figure is precise. Not all departments will lose exactly 7 per cent -- deans and associate provosts will decide which departments should cut more and which can't afford to cut that deeply.

Many departments will be able to handle their cuts entirely through early retirements. Yesterday's meeting spent some time discussing the complex formulas that determine how much money a department gets to keep from the salary of a staff member or faculty member who retires. The rest of the salary goes into the central budget, where it will help to pay for the lump-sum severance payments those 340 new retirees will get.

And some of the money that's transferred to the central budget will go back to departments through the reinvestment fund. Rules for the fund haven't been written yet. Kalbfleisch said that even if all departments start out even, suffering a 7 per cent cut, the effect of the new fund will be to produce differential cuts, based on decisions that are made about UW's priorities. "There needs to be some mechanism to move budget around, and we haven't had that in a number of years," the provost said.

By late next week, departments should get figures on what their 1996-97 budgets look like after the early retirements but before the cuts start.

Kalbfleisch said the lump-sum payments, plus benefit costs, for 340 early retirees are now expected to total $13.5 million, which he's hoping can be written off over several years. (That's in addition to about $35 million coming out of the pension fund.)

"Because of the good uptake," he said, "there is the possibility of some replacement hiring in critical areas, and some of that will get started immediately." Recruitment ads for faculty positions in chemical engineering, for example, are already appearing in print this week.

"Unbiased" pension information

Since the Special Early Retirement Program was announced, the human resources department has been "inundated" with calls from financial planners who want to advise the 340 staff and faculty who will be retiring. "We will not endorse any one company," says David Dietrich of HR. He's advising each retiree to "compare apples with apples" in looking at the various forms of pension and the possibility of cashing out of the UW pension plan altogether. He said a letter will be going to each of those 340 people shortly, inviting them to a session at which unbiased information about retirement financing can be made available.

Mathematics awards banquet

The faculty of mathematics holds its annual Awards Banquet tonight in the Festival Room, South Campus Hall. Guests will eat chicken prosciutto with spinach in puff pastry, hear remarks from dean Jack Kalbfleisch, and applaud a large range of scholarship and award winners. A few of them:
George Barnard Statistics Prize -- Rishi Kapur
R. A. Wentzell Award -- Chi H. H. Cheng, Frances Gmach
Fejer-Aczel Award -- Dejan Delic, Craig Kaplan
Andersen Consulting Scholarship -- Leo Chan
Douglas T. Wright Experience in Japan Award - Wai Tong Matthew Leung
Rees-Botzang Endowment Scholarship -- Christopher Ingram
Pure Mathematics Book Prize -- Todd Parsons
Master of ceremonies for the awards presentations will be Ron Dunkley, who was recently honoured with the Order of Canada for his many years' work as organizer of the Canadian Mathematics Competition.

Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
(519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
credmond@watserv1.uwaterloo.ca

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