2022 Mil Rate Referendum Information & Background
In December 2021, the members who attended our Ordinary General Meeting voted almost unanimously in favour of holding a membership-wide referendum on increasing our mil rate from 6 to 6.5 in July 2022, and from 6.5 to 7 in July 2023. I’m now writing to remind you about the context and rationale for this proposal, along with information about how this proposal would affect you as members.
Rationale for Proposal
The primary rationale for this proposed increase is that the FA has had a significant increase in demand for membership services over the last 18 months, which means we need to increase our membership services capacity and our capacity to seek legal advice, as needed. Membership services are any services related to ensuring members are protected under the collective agreement and provided with advice and support on all employment related matters. This support and advice can be related to a range of issues, including but not limited to salary evaluation, RPT questions or difficulties, the need to pursue medical or family status accommodations, questions related to academic freedom, decisions about retirement/graduated retirement, need for support and advice if facing possible discipline from the administration, harassment or discrimination concerns and other issues. See our most recent membership services report for more details regarding the increase in demand for membership services, which are related both to COVID and to the FA’s increased communication with our members, which has led to a greater recognition of how we can help you, and resulted in what seems to be a long-term increase in demand for FA membership services.
This increase in demand is very positive, as it demonstrates that we are more fully serving you, our members. At the same time, this demand increases staff workload and thus staff costs. It also means that it is more likely the FA might need to go to legal arbitration to protect individual members and our rights as faculty members and librarians if we can’t come to agreement with the administration on a particular case or policy. Arbitration can be very costly ($50,000 to $80,000 per arbitration). We are also co-funding with UVic administration a popular mentorship program that helps our members take the steps needed to apply for promotion. We will need more course releases for faculty mentors to increase the mentorship program’s capacity in order to ensure it can fully serve our members.
I’m sure many of you will recall that, in 2018, the FA was authorized by the membership to temporarily increase the mil rate to 8 in order to increase our defence fund. After 3 years of a mil rate of 8, the mil rate was reduced to 6 in July of 2021, as scheduled. Currently, the defence fund is sitting at about $1 Million, which puts us in a better position than we were in previously. It means that the University will have to take us more seriously in our upcoming bargaining. However, the increasing load on membership services and thus the increased potential for arbitration could deplete this fund quickly, since arbitration costs are paid out of the defence fund, as are legal and other expenses related to bargaining. At the current mil rate of 6, it will be far more difficult to keep the defence fund at its current level (after drawing from it during bargaining or, more likely, due to the pursuit of arbitrations outside of bargaining), let alone grow it at a rate that matches rising costs.
The FA Executive Committee and Representative Council are committed to being proactive in their advocacy and support for members. We want to sustain the FA in order to keep up with the rising needs of our members for our support, representation and advice, and we want to maintain, at the very least, what we have been able to secure with our defence fund. Neither of these things are possible at a mil rate of 6.
To put into perspective the cost to each of you as members, an increase in the mil rate from 6 to 7 for someone with an annual salary of $100,000 will amount to an additional $100/year in deductions from their pay (or $8.30 a month). Of course, we understand that members must be careful and deliberate with how they allocate their money. This is why we are proposing a moderate increase, first to 6.5, and then to 7, which will be less than what members had been contributing prior to July 2021 when the mil rate was still at 8.
For your convenience, we have prepared a document that illustrates how these proposed changes to the mil rate would affect take-home pay and the Association’s yearly budget.
We have also prepared a table that illustrates where our Mil rate stands in comparison with other relevant Faculty Associations.
Background & Context
Our Bylaws require that any changes to the Association’s mil rate must be proposed to Council by the Executive Committee, who then may recommend the proposal to the membership. The membership must then approve a final ratification vote at a General Membership meeting. Any changes to the mil rate must be ratified by two-thirds majority of Members via a mail or electronic ballot.
At the 2020 OGM, a motion was raised and passed by members directing our FA Council Representatives to hold consultations within their units on the current state of the mil rate, which is currently at 6, after having been at 8 from July 2018 to June 2021.
We are very grateful for the work our council representatives did in holding these conversations, gathering feedback, and providing thoughtful and careful discussion on the issue. The result of these conversations, along with ongoing analysis on the current and future needs of the FA, was that both the Executive Committee and Representative Council recommended an increase in the mil rate from 6 to 6.5 as of July 1st, 2022, and an increase from 6.5 to 7 as of July 2023. This proposal was approved for final ratification by members at the December 2020 OGM.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact Nathan Todd, membership services advisor. We would also like to remind you that FA President Lynne Marks will be available to answer any questions you may have at the upcoming information and Q&A sessions.
Information Session: 11:00am to 12:30pm on Wednesday, February 9th, 2022 (Zoom Link is here)
Drop-in Q&A: 3:30pm to 5:00pm on Friday, February 11th, 2022 (Zoom Link is here)
Drop-in Q&A: 2:00pm to 3:30pm on Wednesday, February 16th, 2022 (Zoom Link is here)
If you would like a calendar reminder, please send an email to [email protected] to receive an Outlook calendar invitation.