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PSAC Local 610
University of Western Ontario
1313 Somerville House
London, ON  N6A 3K7

General Inquiries:
519.661.4137 (p)
519.850.2998 (f)
psac610@psac610.ca

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Monday- Friday: 10am - 2pm

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Statement on the Goudge Review of Presidential Compensation Practices

When the Executive Committee of PSAC Local 610 first became aware of the terms of Amit Chakma’s 2014-2015 compensation package, our most immediate concern was not the legality of the contract in question, although the legal parameters of the package are certainly an issue we wished to see addressed.

Our primary concern was, and still is, that our community and our University continues to be plagued by major deficiencies in the governance, transparency, accountability, and communication. The pervasive effects of these issues are felt across the campus, and have an impact on the welfare of students and staff alike.

Indeed, among the groups most directly affected by these concerns are graduate student teaching assistants, and those markers, student assistants, and contract faculty on our campus who do not currently enjoy the rights and protections of union membership.

This body of workers, a group of educators and researchers who are committed to the labour of teaching, continues to struggle against job precarity, financial insecurity, lack of paid discipline-specific training, and working conditions that directly conflict with our ability to offer our undergraduate students the time and support they deserve. On Wednesday, the 7th of October, PSAC Local 610 entered into bargaining with our employer (the University) to negotiate a contract that will address these struggles with concrete, actionable, and effective strategies and language. It is our hope and, indeed, our demand that the University demonstrates its well-publicized reputation as a world-class research institution and leader in offering one of the best student experiences in the world by working with us to negotiate a living wage, improved training and benefits, and stronger protective language for the contracts of graduate teaching assistants. If the University can afford to support a compensation package that doubles our President’s already exceptional salary, we believe that they can afford to improve its support for the graduate teaching assistants who are and continue to be foundational to the success of the University of Western Ontario. If the University can afford $100,000 on public relations and legal protections since President Chakma’s compensation package was revealed to the community, we believe that our demands for a fair contract can be reasonably met.

In the Board of Governor’s statement on the Goudge Review of Presidential Compensation Practices, the Board suggests that the purpose of the Review was to “ensure the university is keeping current with governance practices and Western’s values.” These two components of life and labour at our university should never be considered as separate from one another. If the University’s values continue to be an extraordinary student experience and incredible opportunities for research and education, the governance practices of Western’s leaders—from who they choose to represent us at the highest levels governance to their priorities in the Strategic Plan to their communication practice—must consistently reflect those values. The practice of monetizing a President’s administrative leave was found to be both “not in line with the practice at most peer institutions” (from page 13 of the Goudge Report) and highly unusual given the alleged purposes of academic leave as a component of high-level administrative contracts. If the University is committed to its values, it must prove this commitment by committing to improving the working conditions of its graduate student teaching assistants and demonstrating integrity in negotiations that have a fiscal impact on this institution. The Chakma scandal may be in the past, but the context in which such a grave error in judgement was allowed to occur and be deemed acceptable by the Chair of the Board of Governors is a result of conditions and issues that continue to affect the lives of graduate students on this campus. The Goudge Review notes that “[the] Chair and the members of the Senior Operations Committee are in a sense outsiders to the community” (page 9). Until such time as graduate teaching assistants and other members of the community see actionable developments derived from sincere consultation, we have little reason to believe that these conditions will change in the immediate future.

PSAC Local 610 would like to draw attention to the implications of the Goudge Review, specifically that such decisions as monetizing President Chakma’s administrative leave make a strong statement about the disconnect between governance, leadership, and values. Moreover, we reaffirm our lack of confidence in the leadership demonstrated by Amit Chakma and Chirag Shah, and call on the University of Western Ontario to work openly, meaningfully, and in earnest to regain the trust of the faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate students who are the future of the University.

PSAC610 / SOGS COMMON INFO:

A significant portion of our members are also members of the University of Western Ontario Society of Graduate Students.