Will there be classes in September?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

For the majority of university students, September means returning to the class room after a few months of wage work. However, the students over at Trent might be asking their employers to let them stay on into the fall. The contract for some 300 faculty expires at the end of August. These faculty members are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees local 3908.

The Union and the University have until the end of the summer so come to an agreement on wage parity. According to CUPE the workers at Trent earn 20% less than faculty at other universities for doing similar work. The union wishes to create an agreement that puts Trent employees on an equal salary footing with employees at other universities. If an agreement between the University and staff can't be reached by the end of the summer. The stage will be set for a strike or lock out to begin just as students are supposed to return for the fall semester.

Our Trent, a website that works for accountability and transparency in the operation of Trent University does a yearly story on the salary of Trent's President Bonnie Patterson. In the 2007 edition the story notes that President Patterson's total salary (including benefits) has grown from $175k in 1999 when she became president to $309k in 2006. This represents a 76% increase over the past eight years. Yearly salary increases for Trent's President have come despite Trent falling in the Maclean's rating from #3 in 1999 to #10 in 2006.

Some might think it unreasonable for employees to ask for wages to be brought up to a level 20% higher than their current pay scale. However, Trent's Bonnie Patterson received a 20% increase in total salary over the past year. This 20% increase comes as Trent continued to fall in Maclean's rankings, as building projects run over budget, as historic buildings are demolished while students are away and as more issues are raised involving the misdeeds of the administration.

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