Margaret Jackson

SFUFA members get retirement choices

June 14, 2007

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By Diane Luckow

Margaret Jackson is breathing a sigh of relief that she won’t have to close the door on her career just yet. The professor of criminology is among almost two dozen SFU Faculty Association (SFUFA) members who turn 65 this year. And for the first time, they can choose whether or not they wish to retire.

That’s because SFU has abolished mandatory retirement at age 65 for members of SFUFA, which represents professorial appointments, researchers, librarians, archivists, lecturers and lab instructors.

Jackson was pleased to learn that the SFU administration reached an agreement with SFUFA that is effective now, rather than waiting for the B.C. government’s planned January 1, 2008 edict to eliminate mandatory retirement at age 65. With six others, she represented the ‘Class of ’07’ — the faculty members facing retirement this year — during retirement negotiations.

"It’s great to be able to continue," says Jackson, who only began teaching as a professor at age 41. Now, she says, she has a bit longer to accumulate a pension and to finish off research projects.

Under the new agreement, SFU still recognizes normal retirement as the first day of September succeeding a SFUFA member’s 65th birthday. Now, however, those members may choose to continue working full-time, take full retirement or opt to reduce their workload over a three-year period, with a flexible reduction schedule and a corresponding reduction
in pay. Faculty members due to retire this year must make their retirement choices by June 30.

Pat Hibbitts, VP-finance and administration, says it is advantageous to offer SFUFA members the opportunity to work past age 65, particularly in these challenging times for recruitment. Although, she adds, "we want to have a variety of ages of individuals in the workforce and hopefully this will not skew it in favour of the older employee."

Glenn Chapman, SFU professor of engineering and president of SFUFA, estimates that 40 percent of eligible members will be interested in either continuing full-time work or participating in one of the reduced workload options.

Of those faculty association members voting, 88 percent voted in favour of the agreement.

Hibbitts says SFU will seek similar agreements with the Administrative and Professional Staff Association, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Poly Party.

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