U of A contract proposal would reduce pay retroactively, require staff to repay ‘overpayments’

Via Edmonton Journal

A new contract proposal for non-academic staff at the University of Alberta would see retroactive wage rollbacks and require staff to repay “overpayments.”

Postmedia obtained a summary of the contract proposal for the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASA), which outlines an across-the-board reduction of three per cent on all salaries, wage rates and pay scales effective March 31.

“‘Overpayment’ in the period from March 31, 2021, to the date of implementation of the agreement ‘will be reconciled on a repayment schedule as agreed by the parties, provided all overpayments are fully reconciled no later than March 31, 2022,’” the summary states.

The proposal outlines a number of salary range reductions for positions such as accounting clerk, administrative coordinator, entry, intermediate and senior administrative support, classroom lab technologist, journeyman electrician and maintenance service worker.

The salary cuts range from 0.3 per cent to 25.9 per cent.

However, the proposal outlines that employees in these positions would have their salaries or wages “red-circled” on the date of ratification. Therefore, they would not be reduced beyond the proposed three per cent cut across the board.

Following the three per cent cut, wages will remain frozen except for step-based performance increments. The proposed contract would be for a five-year term, expiring in March 2024.

A spokesperson for NASA declined to comment at this time, and said they want to respect the bargaining process.However, in a statement, the University of Alberta said contract proposals recognize the university’s need to bring salary and benefits in line with current markets and financial realities of the institution.

“We recognize that all members of the U of A community are working hard to address current crises; however, to sustain our excellence in teaching, learning and community engagement, our financial reality needs to be recognized in all of our activities, including collective bargaining,” the statement reads.

The university also noted this will be a “very challenging” round of bargaining.

“Through negotiation, we seek an agreement that mitigates job loss and balances the value we place on the critical work of support staff with the financial realities faced by the university.”

The proposed wage cuts to non-academic staff come as the university attempts to grapple with provincial funding cuts over the last few years.STORY CONTINUES BELOWhttps://22fdde825b61815b959dbe60e064a2f0.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html?n=0In Budget 2021, the U of A’s funding was reduced by 11 per cent, or approximately $60.1 million. The cut, combined with those in 2020-21, means the university has had a $170-million reduction in provincial funding over the last two and a half years.

The university is also anticipating an additional $54 million reduction in 2022-2023 for a total funding reduction of $224 million.

In total, Budget 2021 cut spending to post-secondary institutions to $5.04 billion from $5.47 billion in 2021-22.Last year, the university launched a restructuring plan to address funding shortfalls and, in October, it was announced that 650 jobs would be cut by 2022. Those positions are on top of about 400 jobs already cut in the 2019-20 school year through layoffs, attrition and retirement. The university has also proposed tuition increases to 12 undergraduate and graduate programs, ranging from 17 per cent to 104 per cent for students beginning their programs in the fall of 2022.