Give and take helps Brandon
By Paul-Mark Rendon
Things are back to normal at Brandon University as the Brandon University Faculty Association has come to terms with administration.
A tentative agreement was reached Nov. 11, ending the strike which began two days before, but had to wait a week to be formally announced, as both sides took one last look before ratification.
Dennis Anderson, president of Brandon University, said he was pleased with the agreement. "With the help of skillful mediation, responsible authorities approved the agreement.
"From the administration's standpoint, the major issue was financial, as there has been a reduction in grants from the provincial government," Anderson added.
Bruce Forrest, BUFA negotiator, said the agreement represents a great deal to faculty, both financially and academically. "The four-year contract gives teachers an average [salary] increase of one per cent each year."
The contract also ensures more senior faculty will be first in line for promotions, regardless of the experience newer faculty bring to their positions, Forrest said. "For people who have been here longer, we have recovered several increments we lost in the past."
Academically, the language in the contract is significant to faculty, as a new "right to privacy" clause was included.
The clause gives faculty the right to keep confidential files, research and teaching material. "One of the big things we always thought we had was the right to private material, but it wasn't enshrined in the agreement, now it is," Forrest explained.
Michael Elves, president of the Brandon University Students' Union, said although students are glad to see the issue resolved, he is still apprehensive of loopholes which could allow for tuition increases. "This contract was something affordable and within the budget, but it is not a guarantee that tuition won't go up," Elves said.
Forrest disagreed with this assumption. "There is nothing in this collective agreement that should warrant the raising of tuition fees," he said.
Relations between faculty and the administration remain unclear, Forrest added. "We're still in a wait and see mode."
Elves said relations could be described as civil. "As a whole, it was never confrontational. Things seem fine, it was agreeable throughout," he said.
"It was a matter of give and take, where by and large, level heads prevailed."