The unionized faculty and St. Michael's administration finalized their first-ever labour contract in early October.

St. Michael's faculty reach contract deal

  • October 11, 2012

Theology professors and librarians at the University of St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto have a new deal.

After a 10-day break in negotiations, unionized faculty and St. Michael's administration finalized their first-ever labour contract in early October.

"What we ended up with is something that reflects the uniqueness of the University of St. Michael's College and upholds the best of what we have in our sector across Canada," said theology professor Michael Attridge, who participated in the 18 months of negotiations on behalf of 18 members of the faculty association.

The sticking point in negotiations had been how and when the college would declare programs and courses redundant. The union feared a system which would allow administration to unilaterally cancel programs and lay off faculty without regard to tenure. The administration proposal was a threat to academic freedom, Attridge said.

"Tenure and permanent status guarantees the integrity of academic freedom," he said.

Under the new agreement, faculty members will sit on committees that decide when budget realities at St. Michael's require that programs be trimmed. They will also sit on separate committees that decide which programs should be cancelled. Faculty will not have a majority vote on either committee.

"What we've put back in place is the collegiality of the governance of the institution," Attridge said. "Members of our association will participate in that decision making."

Theological faculty association members primarily deliver courses to graduate theology students of the Toronto School of Theology, a consortium of three Catholic and four Protestant theological schools at the University of Toronto. The St. Michael's faculty also teach a small number of undergraduate classes.

A statement e-mailed to The Catholic Register from the St. Michael's College administration called the agreement "a solid working document within which the parties can continue to conduct their collegial relationship."

The agreement covers three years from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2014.

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