There is no doubt that we have pay equity problems at the University of Alberta, and that these must be remedied. Unfortunately, the proposed “Memorandum of Agreement” before us is not the right remedy. It should be voted down so that our negotiating team can seek a revised, much fairer Gender Pay Equity agreement.
It is a very tough thing for female faculty who are full professors to have before them a proposed deal that would remedy many years of gender pay inequity for some while creating radical new inequities for others. They should never have been put in this position. Here is why everyone, no matter what their gender, status, or constituency group, should vote down the proposed remedy so that the negotiating team may seek a fairer set of remedies.
- The proposed remedies in the MOA are based on data that our negotiating team never saw. We have no assurance that the numbers on which the proposed remedies are based are accurate. A mere “report” from the employer in which it offered its interpretation of data it didn’t share is no basis upon which to reach any tentative deal, not even for the full professors to whom the employer is willing to offer an increase to base salary of 5.8%. That remedy may not be fair even for them.
- Pay equity analysis is a complicated business, and there are a variety of analytical models for assessing the state of inequity. In this case, the proposed remedy involves the least equitable solution, a rank-based model. Only one other association has agreed to such a model. The AASUA’s Salary Equity Task Force recommended more equitable models. Our expert members, who proposed superior models in the Salary Equity Task Force, need to have the opportunity to provide their analysis of the employer’s data and apply it to more equitable models for remedy as the foundation for a fair deal.
- The MOA provides its ongoing remedy (based on the employer’s numbers and model) for only one sub-category of our members (academic faculty full professors), a token one-time amount for associate professors and assistant professors, nothing for any other academic faculty, and nothing at all for our members who are not academic faculty. Even if we were to grant that the data are appropriate (which we’re not) and were to grant that the rank-based model is the best (which we don’t), the MOA’s failure to provide an ongoing remedy of 0.4% to base for associate professors and 1.2% for assistant professors is, along with its failure to provide any remedy for all other members, should be reason enough for everyone to refuse to ratify the MOA.
- Finally, there is a poison pill in this agreement. Clauses 12 and 13 of the MOA close the door forever to any claims or remedy for any gender-based academic faculty pay inequity that occurred before the effective date of this MOA. So, if subsequently we learn that the data were inaccurate or the rank-based model is flawed, there is nothing that can be done—nothing. The wording in the proposed agreement is unambiguous:
12. This MOA provides a complete remedy to any allegation or complaint that the Board has discriminated against any female faculty staff members as of the Effective Date through a lack of pay equity. (my emphasis)
13. AASUA agrees that it will not submit, file, cause to be filed, or promote, any claim, grievance, complaint, or action, of any kind, in any forum, for any pay equity dispute extinguished by this settlement, including any allegation or complaint that the Board has discriminated against any female faculty staff members as of the Effective Date through a lack of pay equity.” (my emphases)
In short, for members to agree to the MOA is for them to agree that the Association, our exclusive bargaining agent and the only body that could file a complaint, can play no role in pursuing remedies for female faculty members who may have or may be experiencing pay inequities that are not remedied by this agreement. Fifteen hundred dollars for “damages to dignity and self-worth” is no remedy for Associate Professors who have long been subject to a pay inequity; Associate Professors who may become Full Professors in the near future; or Assistant Professors who are already experiencing inequities — this even according to the employer’s numbers! — for which this MOA provides no remedy. The declaration at the General Meeting that individuals are free to pursue their own human rights suits outside the set of remedies in the MOA is not only obnoxious and an abdication of responsibility on the part of the Association, but would likely fail because of the MOA wording quoted above.
AASUA members deserve a pay equity remedy that is:
- based on agreed-upon and verified data,
- analyzed using an agreed-upon, equitable model by our expert members, with the full details spelled out in plain terms for all, and which
- provides a fair and adequate remedy for the inequity experienced by all our members.
The only way to achieve that now is to refuse to ratify this fundamentally flawed MOA and send our team back to the table with a message to the employer that we require a fair deal. The Association should assist our negotiators by creating an advisory committee of members who are expert in pay equity analysis to advise our team as it negotiates with the employer for a proper remedy for inequities experienced by members for far too long. We should not approve a deal that pits members against members, offers only partial remedies, and creates new inequities even as it permits the employer falsely to claim that long-standing and recent new inequities for female faculty members have now been fully resolved.
We need to send a clear signal to the employer that we require a fair gender pay equity agreement by voting “no” on this MOA.
Yours for a more democratic, more effective, member-run Association,