2011 Markety Survey Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the market survey?

2. What was AAPS’ role in negotiating the most recent market survey?

3. Does UBC collect data on every position? If not, how will UBC know if my position is at market or not?

4. What was at stake in the most recent mediation process in September 2013?

5. How were the job families selected for adjustment?

6. How will market adjustments be paid for?

 

1. What is the market survey?

Market surveys are a common method for both the public and private sectors to ensure that employers are compensating their employees at a competitive rate. UBC’s market survey is based on comparing the salaries of their job families with similar or equivalent job families from a list of comparator employers listed in the Collective Agreement. The comparator market is comprised of other Universities and public sector employers of comparable size and complexity to UBC.

In the first Collective Agreement between UBC and AAPS in 1995, the parties agreed to a binding commitment to pay our members at the 50th percentile of the comparator market.

The most recent compensation review, undertaken for UBC by Mercer, determined that our members were 10% out of market (i.e., 10% below the 50th percentile) on average.


2. What was AAPS’ role in negotiating the most recent market survey?

The provision in the AAPS Collective Agreement has been an issue of contention between the parties. While UBC has treated the agreement as a “guideline”, AAPS regards this as a legal collective bargaining commitment. Despite agreeing to compensate our members at the 50th percentile in 1995, our members consistently fall behind that benchmark.

In the most recent market survey, undertaken in 2011, our members were close to 10% out of market on average. The University offered $2M (which was determined by AAPS to be insufficient to address the market gap) and presented an implementation model that did not follow accepted principles and standards in the field of compensation.  In response, AAPS filed a grievance. After UBC refused to table a monetary offer in bargaining until the grievance on the market survey was settled, the parties agreed to a mediation process. After 5 days of mediation in December 2012, the parties struck an agreement for $4M on the market survey. This was in addition to the two 2% General Wage Increases (GWI).


3. Does UBC collect data on every position? If not, how will UBC know if my position is at market or not?

In an institution the size of UBC, it is not feasible to survey every family. Accepted compensation practice suggests that where a particular level in a job family is not surveyed, an average of those levels surveyed is used. If, for example, the data reveals that certain levels in a job family are out of market by 7%, it could be assumed the levels not surveyed are also 7% off market. While not a precise science, it is an accepted method for determining market levels. In those situations in which no data is collected (or available) for an entire job family, a ‘proxy’ job family is used that sufficiently resembles the day-to-day duties and responsibilities of that job family.


4. What was at stake in the most recent mediation process in September 2013?

AAPS and UBC agreed upon a settlement of $4 million in December 2012. The $4 million has been allocated as follows:

$1 Million – January 1, 2013

$1 Million – January 1, 2014

$1 Million – July 1, 2014

$1 Million – December 1, 2014

The first installment was implemented using UBC’s model. However, AAPS negotiated that the implementation methodology for the final three installments had to be mutually determined. It was important to AAPS that any settlement include a binding provision on the implementation model, and the parties agreed to refer disagreements to Arbitrator/Mediator Mark Brown. One of the key sources of disagreement between AAPS and UBC during the grievance was UBC’s implementation methodology which appeared to be arbitrary and not in keeping with accepted professional standards for market adjustments.

During the summer of 2013, the parties agreed to hold a one-day mediation on September 20, 2013, to settle on an implementation model. Substantial progress was made during the mediation, and AAPS was pleased that UBC brought forward a significant proposal that largely addressed our concerns and that followed established compensation practices. In November 2013, Arbitrator Brown determined that wage-impacted benefits were included in the total $4M cost of market adjustments, contrary to AAPS’ position on this matter. After further negotiation on a number of complex details the parties reached an agreement on the implementation plan for the remaining $3M.


5. How were the job families selected for adjustment?

The implementation methodology proposed by AAPS was based upon recommendations from an independent compensation consultant, contracted by AAPS, who developed an implementation strategy based on three basic principles; i) Triage—those job families most out of market would be adjusted first ii) Internal Equity—all levels in the job family must be considered in order to ensure the integrity of the salary scale iii) Proxy Measures—in order to guard against the assumption that no data means that a job family is at market (which has been a UBC practice) we followed compensation best practice in order to ensure that all job families were considered.

It should also be noted that in order to avoid any conflict of interest, no AAPS Board or staff were involved in selecting which job families were selected for adjustments. We relied entirely on the advice of our professional external consultant. 


6. How will market adjustments be paid for?

UBC has sent out a communication to Heads, Deans, and Senior Administrators indicating that adjustments will largely have to be funded by departments and units, with central funding for some departments. 

While AAPS appreciates the challenge these adjustments may pose for certain departments and units, it is a critical point of principle that UBC, as one of Canada’s leading research and higher education institutions, pay competitive salaries for its valued management and professional staff. Under our binding Collective Agreement, UBC can and should honour its very modest 20-year old commitment to pay our members at the 50th percentile of the comparator market. Unfortunately, even with $4M in market salary adjustments for 2013 and 2014, many of our members still fall below market—several job families and levels remain at 7% below market.

While we are also cognizant that UBC, like any public sector organization, faces fiscal challenges the fact of the matter is that UBC is in an advantageous position relative to just about any other post-secondary institution in Canada. UBC has access to a consistent stream of revenue through its real estate development, UBC is not facing any of the pension liabilities that most public sector employers in Canada are facing, and UBC has a well-established and well-funded endowment. UBC can and should honor its commitment to pay our members fairly as agreed upon in collective bargaining.