MAUT Newsletter   |   McGill Association of University Teachers  |   June 2018

MAUT New President Greeting

 

Dear Colleagues,

 

We distribute this summer edition of the MAUT Newsletter to all faculty members, not just MAUT members, because we think it contains several items that are of equal interest to those of you who are not members (yet). This is also an opportunity to inform you about MAUT’s activities on your behalf. For a good summary of the full range of issues and concerns MAUT has been working on during the past year, please have a look at Past-President Alenoush Saroyan’s 2018 annual report.

 

Wishing you all a great summer,

 

Axel van den Berg,

MAUT President


 

Is There a Better Way to Sustain CFI-Supported Infrastructure?

 

At present, we are strongly encouraged to build full five-year extended warranties into our CFI requests. These are usually 4 years worth of costs which range between 8-12% of purchase price/year. On a $1,000,000 instrument, that works out to an average of $400,000 that goes right back to the instrument maker. In some cases, this is a necessary investment- for instruments that require significant repair and maintenance in the first five years. An example of this would be a two-photon confocal microscope we obtained with CFI funding that required replacement of a $200,000 laser just before the 5-year warranty expired. In other cases, for more robust instruments, this money could be better spent by not taking a five-year extended warranty and investing funds dedicated for that purpose in a bank at McGill which could be used to support and sustain all of McGill’s CFI-funded infrastructure in the long term.

 

The current model essentially gives a significant portion of our CFI funds to instrument makers who bank those funds for their own uses and we essentially pay large amounts for insurance we never use and lose after five years. Usually these companies are not Canadian, so it amounts to a direct transfer of money to them rather than to the stated purpose of maintaining our instruments. By lobbying for a pool of funds to sustain our instruments over longer terms, we can best decide how to manage risk depending on the type of instrument. Essentially, current CFI policy results in a great deal of wasted money, increases demand for replacement instruments which they would rather fund then repair current systems. Worse, most of that money goes out of the country. McGill would be doing Canadian scientists a great service buy lobbying for locally run infrastructure stewardship programs.

 

We need to solicit information from McGill researchers as to their experiences with extended warranties for different types of equipment and begin some accounting of how much of this CFI investment is actually wasted under the present rules. What I am asking for now is for any of you to send me anecdotes regarding your own experiences and some sense of what you think about McGill building its own pool of money to sustain our equipment. You can email me directly at: terence.hebert@mcgill.ca.

 

Terry Hébert,

Professor, Pharmacology and Therapeutics


 

Support our First-Generation Students

 

As outlined in a recent email to McGill faculty from the Associate Provost Angela Campbell and Lisa Overholtzer (Faculty of Arts), McGill is currently embarking on the development of a series of programs to support first-generation students. MAUT strongly supports this initiative and we encourage our members to participate. As an initial outreach effort, McGill staff who identify as being the first in their family to graduate from university are invited to participate in a welcome mixer on August 28th at 4:30 pm at Thomson House. The event will be attended by Principal Fortier, Provost Manfredi, and Student Services staff from various units to discuss campus supports and peer mentoring opportunities.

 

To read more about the specific academic, financial, and psychological challenges faced by first-generation students (who disproportionately come from low income backgrounds and racialized groups), a research report prepared by SSMU is available here. If you are interested in participating in this initial first-gen event, please RSVP to the Office of the Provost by August 14th.

 

Nathan C. Hall,

MAUT VP Communications


 

 

Faculty-Student Intimate Relationships & Conflict of Interest

 

In response to an open letter from the students with support from a large number of academics, the Provost in consultation with members of senior administration released guidelines on May 16  requiring disclosure of such relationships. In May, Senate approved the formation of an Ad hoc Committee on Conflict of Interest for Faculty-Student Intimate Relationship, that will report in 6 months (November 2018). The faculty committee members include D. Titone (Science), J-J Lebrun (Medicine) and B. Lewis (Arts). If you wish to provide any feedback on the topic, please forward your input directly to the Committee members for consideration.

 

Susan Gaskin,

MAUT Council Member



MAUT Kids & Co. Survey

 

MAUT is currently conducting a brief survey of all McGill staff to assess opinions concerning an existing agreement between MAUT and Kids & Company daycare guaranteeing child care availability for members, and to evaluate member satisfaction with services provided. All responses are anonymous and will be reported to MAUT Council in aggregate in Fall 2018 to inform future negotiated agreements with daycare providers.

 

To participate, please click the following link before July 15th: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/maut_kidsco. Your feedback is appreciated!

 

Become an MAUT Member

 

To join MAUT and continue to be informed of or participate in our professional development and advocacy efforts for faculty and academic staff at McGill, please download an application form or email membership.maut@mcgill.ca with any questions. Thank you for your support!

 

Nathan C. Hall,

MAUT VP Communications


"Thank-an-MP" Campaign

 

The 2018 federal budget included good news for Canadian researchers by way of a substantial increase in Tri-Council funding. If you are, or have been, supported by NSERC, SSHRC or CIHR, we at MAUT strongly encourage you to show appreciation for the increased funding to your local Liberal MP. 

 

To assist in preparing a letter of appreciation, please feel free to download a completed letter template (English version | version française) that requires you to add only the name of the MP and your name (feel free to modify to make it more personal). You can find your Liberal MP's name here (if your riding is not listed under "Quebec", your MP is not a Liberal and a modified letter is required), and note that no postage is required for letters to MPs.

 

Thank you in advance for your support of this effort to express our appreciation for this notable investment in Canadian science! This was indeed good news, but maintaining links to your MPs by thanking will help to continue engagement going forward. We won a battle, but the war to sustain research funding goes on.

 

Terry Hébert,

Professor, Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Ken Hastings,

Professor, Neurology and Neurosurgery


AMURE Collective Agreement: What You Need to Know

 

Researchers who employ research staff under the AMURE collective agreement (Research Assistants and Research Associates) should be aware that a new collective agreement is expected to take effect the week of June 18, 2018 covering the 5-year period since the expiry of the last agreement (in March 2016). Since the expiration of the previous contract, AMURE members have not received a raise. Part of the agreement includes a pay increase for the last two years. Back pay will be covered by the university, however, starting July 1 2018, PIs grant funds will be responsible for the higher salaries. In essence, 3 years' raises (2016, 2017, and 2018) for Research Associates and most Research Assistants (i.e., those hired before March 2016) will now appear at once. PIs can expect the hourly wage (and wage-linked benefits) to increase by approximately 15% (depending on the position (step) of their employee on the salary scale). Thus if the number of hours worked per week after July 1 remains the same as before July 1, the total weekly pay will increase by approximately 15%. Note that a reduction of hours could be a possible remedy for the increased costs and the employee may still be able to retain full benefits; please talk with your HR representative to learn more.

 

The new collective agreement includes further increases in 2019 and 2020, which are more marked (4% higher) for Research Associates than for Research Assistants. PIs should be aware and budget accordingly. Note also that additional salary increases may yet take effect when pay equity settlements for the 2010 and 2015 exercises, still pending resolution, are finalized. 

 

MAUT is concerned about the impact of sudden increases in the financial commitments of research grant funds whose budgets are generally fixed over a multi-year period at the time the grant is awarded. We have sought, and will continue to seek, ways in which the university might mitigate the negative impact of such increases on research productivity. If you feel that the July 1 increase will present difficulties for your research program we urge you to write to the Provost, with copies to your Dean and the Vice Principal Research and Innovation (and to MAUT), so that the administration is fully aware of the impact.

 

Ken Hastings,

Professor, Neurology and Neurosurgery

Nate Quitoriano,

MAUT VP Internal

Thomas Duchaine,

MAUT Council Member


 

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