March 2, 2022
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) was successful in certifying a group of approximately 110 non-unionized employees in positions such as research associates, professional research associates, professional associates, and research scientists (barring some exclusions, such as VIDO employees, Supervisory Employees, those able to and holding research funding).
Following a certification settlement agreement between USask, PSAC and USFA, negotiations began in February 2021 for new employment terms and conditions for this employee group. Upon finalizing the new employment terms and conditions for this group of Research Associates, these new employment terms and conditions are then to be amalgamated with the PSAC-PDF/USask Collective Agreement.
Despite some good progress between the parties, negotiations saw significant gaps between the parties related to items such as job security, overtime provisions and compensation and benefits. This resulted in PSAC declaring an impasse in April 2021, which then triggered the assistance of an appointed Mediator from the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety. Though the parties were able to resolve a couple non-substantive items through mediation, key items remained outstanding. As per the parties’ certification settlement agreement, binding interest arbitration became the final step in concluding new employment terms and conditions for this employee group.
In October 2021, the parties underwent the interest arbitration hearing with an agreed-upon Interest Arbitrator. On February 11, 2022, we received the binding interest arbitration award, which is not subject to member ratification or Board approval. Two significant factors adopted by the Arbitrator in determining a first contract award were the principle of "replication" and to avoid introducing any "breakthrough clauses."
Highlights of the new employment terms and conditions include:
- Base Salary of $55,000 per annum, effective March 15, 2022;
- For those current Research Associates (RA) who earn less than the new minimum, they will maintain their existing salary level until that appointment is extended or a new appointment is obtained;
- Annual wage adjustments being applied beginning on Nov 1, 2021;
- 1.5%, 1.75%, and 2.0%;
- Six-month probationary period;
- Up to a 37.5 hour work week;
- Overtime exemption due to the professional nature of this group (time off in lieu may be approved by the supervisor);
- Supplemental Benefits of 21 weeks;
- Status quo being maintained on benefits provisions and 6 weeks' vacation allotment (with some stipulations for vacation usage);
- Status quo of qualification periods for Benefits, Salary Continuance, and Sick Time;
- Adoption of the posting and appointment practices currently established in the PSAC-PDF/USask Collective Agreement;
- Contract duration to be determined at the PSAC-PDF/USask collective bargaining table in order to ensure alignment between the PDF and RA groups.