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Media Release


NOSM Committed to Reaching Fair Collective Agreement with OPSEU Staff Unit

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) is committed to reaching a first collective agreement with the School's Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Staff Unit which fairly reflects the unique nature of NOSM and its workforce.

Since terminating mediation shortly after midnight early Monday morning, the now striking OPSEU Staff Unit has publicly identified wages, sick leaves and family leaves, hours of work, overtime, as major issues for the unionized employees.

Please see the following Questions and Answers, which provides information regarding employee wages, entitlements, and the working environment at NOSM.

NOSM has been, and continues to be, respectful of the bargaining process, and looks forward to returning to the table to continue discussions.

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The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is committed to the education of high quality physicians and health professionals, and to international recognition as a leader in distributed, learning-centred, community-engaged education and research.

For further information, please contact:

Kim Daynard                                      Nicole Lauzon
Director, Communications                  Executive Assistant, Office of the Dean
(705) 662-7171                         (705) 671-3874
Cell: (705) 507-4407                 nicole.lauzon@normed.ca
kim.daynard@normed.ca


Employee Wages, Conditions, and Entitlements
at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q1 How do you know that NOSM pays fair, equitable and competitive wages to the OPSEU Staff Unit members? 

A1 NOSM is committed to maintaining a competitive compensation program to retain and attract staff and faculty employees that is fair and equitable.

When the School was first created, the Hay Group helped NOSM set up a gender neutral salary structure which contains ten (10) pay grades and five (5) steps within each pay grade. An employee’s salary is based on the pay grade established for the position. Once placed at a step within a pay grade, an employee is eligible to progress to the next step on his/her anniversary date, assuming performance has been satisfactory.

As a result of concerns raised by employees in 2006, NOSM contracted the Hay Group to conduct a review of salaries offered to similar jobs in the two host universities, Lakehead and Laurentian. Based on the pay trend analysis, a 2% adjustment to base salaries was implemented in 2007.

From 2005-2008, NOSM employees received wage increases totaling 14.15%. Over this period, someone starting in 2005 at Step 1 and progressing to Step 4 would have also received step increases totaling another 12.6% resulting in an overall increase of 26.75% over the past 4 years. (NOTE: The last increase for this group was 3% for the period July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009.)


Q2 How does the Ontario government’s recent legislation and policy statements regarding Public Sector Compensation Restraint affect NOSM?  

A2 While non-bargaining employees in Ontario will see their compensation structures frozen for two years, NOSM non-bargaining unit employees will not get a pay increase for three years. (NOTE: the last increase for this group was 3% for the period July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009.)

With regard to bargaining unit employees, the government’s policy statement lays out a clear expectation that “new collective agreements will be of at least two years duration and provide no net increase in compensation for at least two years.” The fiscal plan provides no funding to NOSM for incremental compensation increases for new collective agreements.


Q3 What kinds of benefits do NOSM employees receive?

A3 NOSM’s regular full time employees receive benefits effective from the first day of employment, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

* Six months of 100% paid sick leave per illness.
* Tuition reimbursement for NOSM staff, their spouses, and dependents who attend Lakehead and Laurentian Universities.
* Three weeks vacation upon hire (with additional weeks granted when meeting years-of-service benchmarks), plus four paid personal leave days.
* 100% employer-paid life insurance.
* 100% employer-paid extended health care.
* 75% employer/25% employee dental plan.
* A defined contribution pension plan.
* Maternity and Parental Leave sub plans.
* An extra paid week of time off between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Q4 How does the NOSM benefits package compare to other Universities?

A4 NOSM offers a market competitive benefits package which was benchmarked against six Ontario universities, including Lakehead and Laurentian Universities.


Q5 Do eligible NOSM employees receive family leaves and other types of leaves?

A5 NOSM seeks to support its employees through flexible arrangements for the benefit of families by providing pregnancy, parental and paternity leaves. In addition, NOSM provides maternity/parental leave supplemental unemployment benefits. Employees also have access to 4 special leave days per calendar year for personal, compassionate or emergency reasons.


Q6 What are the hours of work for NOSM employees and when is overtime paid?

A6 The majority of employees at NOSM work 7 hours a day or a 35 hour work week, Monday to Friday.

Overtime in excess of 35 hours per week is compensated at 1 ½ hours for each hour of overtime worked. Overtime in excess of 35 hours per week and up to 44 hours in a work week is compensated as time-off-in lieu. Overtime pay begins after an employee has worked 44 hours in a work week. Overtime may be pre-authorized for work or service that is essential and the most appropriate and cost-effective way of meeting these needs.


Q7 How does NOSM help to create a positive working environment?  

A7 NOSM recognizes the importance of a positive and respectful working environment for all of its employees. NOSM undertakes periodic employee surveys to encourage employee feedback, with the last survey occurring in June. NOSM has also created working groups, which have included the participation of both staff and management, to focus on and find solutions to employee-identified issues. Open Town Hall meetings are held for employees on a regular basis to provide employees with opportunities to ask questions and provide comments.

An Employee Assistance Program is available to all NOSM employees, which provides confidential assistance to employees when facing difficulty in their professional or personal lives. As well, a Healthy Workplace Group encourages employees to participate in healthy living and working practices. The School has an Office of Equity and Quality which is open to all employees who wish to confidentially seek advice and/or find resolution to concerns.


Q8 Why is it taking so long for NOSM and the OPSEU Staff Unit to negotiate a collective agreement?

A8 Negotiations commenced approximately 10 months ago on October 14-15, 2009 in Sudbury. Negotiating a first collective agreement requires a particularly special consideration of language and articles, and this can impact the time required to complete a collective agreement that is beneficial both for the employer and its employees.

NOSM is committed to reaching a first collective agreement with the OPSEU Staff Unit which fairly reflects the unique nature of NOSM and its workforce.
 

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The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is committed to the education of high quality physicians and health professionals, and to international recognition as a leader in distributed, learning-centered, community-engaged education and research. 

Kimberley Larkin
Communications Officer 
Tel:     705-662-7243
Cell:    705-669-7943
Email:  kimberley.larkin@nosm.ca 

 

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