Volume 94, Issue 90

Tuesday, March 13, 2001


NEWS

USC gets the budget blues - "Conservative" figures go to council tomorrow

Ex-U of T profs sue for equality

Toronto university plagues by unfortunate incidents

New Web site says no ixnay on the apsternay

Amnesty report sours celebration for Women's Day

Arizona U studies psychics' abilities

Drunk drivers, knives, and crack, oh my!

Ex-U of T profs sue for equality

By Erin Conway-Smith and Raj Suppiah
Gazette Staff

Former female professors and staff at the University of Toronto who "worked hard for their money" want some financial recognition for what they call the inequality of the past.

Between 66 and 88 faculty members and librarians who retired from U of T prior to 1991 launched a class action lawsuit yesterday, seeking back-wage compensation and additional pension payments.

Phyllis Grosskurth, one of the plaintiffs and an English professor emeritus who retired in 1989, said she and retired emeritus physics professor Ursula Franklin spearheaded the suit after accomplishing little through letters and negotiations.

Letters sent to former U of T president Robert Prichard went unanswered, Grosskurth said. "We were stonewalled in meetings," she said, adding both she and Franklin have had ineffective meetings with current president Robert Birgenau.

According to the statement of claim filed by the plaintiffs, under their lawyer Mary Eberts, the number of female professors seeking compensation range between 60 and 88, along with 20 female librarians who also retired before 1991.

"Retiring in 1989, [Grosskurth's] final average salary was [approximately $70,000] and her pension was [approximately $28,000] per annum. Male colleagues with comparable records earned considerably more and have superior pensions," the statement reads.

"It has been very difficult to organize this," Grosskurth said, adding she has spent hours going through old directories in order to gather the names of the retired women who could act as potential members of the suit.

Rhonda Love, president of U of T's Faculty Association said the organization was sympathetic to the concerns of the plaintiffs. "The faculty association supports the women in all their efforts," she said. Love said the UTFA is fighting for similar concessions outside of the courtroom.

"Currently, there are negotiations between the faculty and the administration regarding salary and pension benefits," Love said.

The negotiations include a special proposal on increased pensions for staff members that are particularly disadvantaged, she said, adding Grosskurth and her colleagues fit into this category because they received extremely low pensions.

According to the statement of claim,

The statement of claim also confirmed that in 1989, under the Ontario Equal Pay Act, U of T agreed to conduct a salary review and adjusted the salaries of female faculty members. However, the plaintiffs were not included in the pay adjustments because they had retired prior to 1991.

"Pensions of retired faculty members are part of the negotiations," said U of T spokesperson Judy Noordermeer, who would not comment on the suit itself, but added contract negotiations with the UTFA hope to address the issue.


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Copyright The Gazette 2000