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As identified in the May 5 update regarding job losses at Brock, officials from OSSTF and the University met on a number of occasions to discuss opportunities to address bargaining unit staffing reductions through attrition and redeployment where possible, as well as other creative solutions that may limit the potential effects of bumping.
The University and OSSTF have reached an agreement that is intended to further limit the impact of bumping. Both parties will discuss the agreement with affected bargaining unit members and supervisors over the next two weeks, and then provide a further update to this site in mid-June.
Brock’s Administration will recommend the University’s Board of Trustees approve a 2014-15 operating budget that opens the year by forecasting a $3.2-million shortfall, but commits to eliminating that deficit by the end of the fiscal year.
The budget plan was drafted in consultation with the Senior Administrative Council (SAC), the Council of Academic Deans (CAD), unit leaders, Senate (primarily though feedback received from Senate sub-subcommittees) and the Board of Trustees and its committees.
The budget plan recommends the $3.2-million shortfall on the condition that the University finds in-year mitigation measures that will ultimately achieve a balanced budget for 2014-15.
At the April 9 town hall meeting, the University announced that 86 positions would be eliminated from the 2014-15 operating budget. At that time, 40 positions had been eliminated through attrition and non-renewal of contracts, nine redeployment opportunities had been identified and 10 employees had seen their employment with the University come to an end. This left 27 positions to be addressed before April 30, and the University can now confirm that all employees holding one of these remaining positions has been informed.
Bargaining unit employees in affected positions are subject to the layoff and recall procedures as described in their respective collective agreement, which may include the right to bump.
Since the town hall meeting, the University and OSSTF have met on a number of occasions to discuss opportunities to address bargaining unit staffing reductions through attrition and redeployment where possible, and to discuss the feasibility of other creative solutions that may limit the potential effects of bumping. While those discussions will continue during the notice period (May 1 to July 31, 2014), based on the information available, we must note that other staff members may be impacted as a result of bumping rights being exercised.
In the event that bumping rights are exercised, with the exception of those employees who are currently on an approved leave, the University anticipates that all bumping will be complete by July 31. Once remaining attrition and redeployment opportunities have been exhausted, the focus of the discussions between the University and OSSTF will shift to the bumping process identified in the collective agreement, and employees and supervisors who are affected will be notified.
An update on progress will be provided by May 30.
The April 9 Town Hall presentation is now available for download as a PDF:
A video of the Town Hall is also available:
http://brockvideocenter.brocku.ca (Login required)
Brock University officials held a town hall meeting with staff and faculty members on April 9 to discuss steps being taken to cut this year’s operating deficit from $14.5-million down to $7-million, and also to talk about another tough year to come in 2014-15.
About 500 people filled the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre to near-capacity for two hours of a detailed presentation and an open question period. Another 250 in the David S. Howes Theatre watched the meeting live-streamed, and about 200 people logged on to view it via webcast.
The most significant impact has been in lost jobs, through a variety of measures including attrition, redeployment and layoffs.
Brock has been incurring annual operating deficits averaging $7 million for the past six years, offsetting much of the funding shortfall through increasing enrolments.
But with limited space left to grow, tuition rates capped at 3 per cent for domestic students, and domestic government funding cut by 1 per cent each year for the past two years, the University has experienced expenses in excess of revenue. Going into the next academic year, 61% of the University’s revenue is regulated to only increase 0.6%.
Brian Hutchings, Vice-President of Finance and Administration, said if Brock’s current operating model were left unchanged, the University would become insolvent as increasing deficits hit $20-million in 2014-15 and surge past $30-million the following year.
Like all Ontario universities, Brock has had to use millions in operating money to cover shortfalls in its pension fund; in 2013-14 that cost Brock $5.8-million. Other big hits were
· $4.8 million for utility bills, operating costs and debt repayment on the Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex;
· $2.5 million needed for deferred maintenance on other infrastructure; and
· $2.5 million in Ontario government funding cuts of various forms.
In the last year as the University sought to find new efficiencies, it introduced measures like a six-month delay on hiring, reduced administrative travel, encouraging employees to buy additional vacation and deferring non-essential equipment purchases.
But in an organization where nearly 70 per cent of its $300-million budget is personnel costs — salaries and benefits — Hutchings said job cuts are unavoidable. Brock is one of Niagara region’s biggest employers, with more than 5,500 employees in 2013.
The University has announced that 86 positions will be eliminated. So far 40 have been met through voluntary resignation or retirement, another nine full-time staff have been redeployed to existing vacancies, and 10 people have seen their employment with the University come to an end. So far all eliminated jobs have been from administration ranks. A review of the University’s academic programming is ongoing.
As it enters the 2014-15 fiscal year, the University will look for opportunities to address the remaining 27 positions through attrition, redeployment and, where necessary, layoffs. Despite these reductions, the University continues to be an estimated $5.67-million short of reaching its mandated target of a balanced budget in 2014-15.
Hutchings said the University has no choice but to change its operating model.
“Restoring our financial stability will not be easy,” he said. “Working together as a community, we will find ways to create some growth, and we will also make some difficult decisions.
“We will get it done, we will restore our financial health. But it will not be painless, and nobody is pretending otherwise.”
During the Town Hall, Brock also announced a new website brocku.ca/outlook has been set up as the main update centre for information regarding budgets, people impacts and collective bargaining with the union locals that represent University employees.