Here are some of the key issues with which I have been involved during the past month.
The parties met on January 24th and finalized the composition of the committee established by Letter of Understanding #33—Workload Best Practices. The purpose of the committee “is to explore current practice of workload planning and allocation across all departments of the University, with the objective of identifying principles that can be applied and adapted effectively for departments across the University.” Three department Chairs and three Deans will serve on this committee: Andrea Sullivan (Nursing), Lloyd Bennett (VPA), and Tom Haag (Trades & Tech) along with Sandra Vermeulen (Arts), Tom Dickinson (Science) and Airini (ED & SW). The committee will scan existing workload planning and allocation across campus and
Some of the concerns that will be raised by TRUFA include the ratio of tripartite to bipartite faculty and how that ratio is currently meeting the needs of the disciplines; the ratio of tenure-track/tenured faculty to contract faculty particularly in relation to “ongoing” work vs. the need for flexibility in workload allocation; workload (teaching loads, research and service obligations); and the most pedagogically appropriate weighting factors in workload for the delivery of high quality education and to ensure student success.
In addition to Workload Best Practices, the parties discussed the appointment of an interim Associate Dean for Williams Lake and decanal access to course evaluation data. The interim Associate Dean has now been appointed for a period not to exceed July 2019 during which an ongoing Associate Dean selection process will be initiated. The interim AD will report to the Dean of Trades and Technology in Kamloops. Faculty in Williams Lake will continue to belong to the Faculty or School Councils in their discipline areas, but the new WL administrator will provide academic leadership to the campus including having an important role in WL budget allocations.
In terms of course evaluation data, the Memorandum of Settlement to a TRUFA grievance on student surveys specifically gives Deans the right to request results for a faculty member. However, they will not be automatically granted access to all data. Decanal requests for such results are expected to be accompanied by a logical rationale.
The parties will next meet on Tuesday, February 27th.
As an ex officio member, I attended the January 25th meeting of the TRUFA stewards’ committee. This committee operates under strict rules of confidentiality, but I can report in general terms about the issues raised.
Performance Reviews—stewards ensure that mandatory performance reviews under Article 7—particularly those required to grant Rights of First Refusal to Sessional faculty—are conducted in a timely way.
Initial Salary Placement—newly hired tenure-track and Limited Term Contract (LTC) faculty often have questions about their placement on the TS salary scale. Stewards work to investigate these questions and take action when necessary. New faculty have the right to appeal their initial salary placement within a six month period of appointment (Article 22.214.171.124.1 of the Collective Agreement).
Phased Retirement—Article 16.4 allows for a one- or two-year period of reduced workload prior to retirement. Stewards are sometimes asked to investigate whether the rules are being enforced appropriately.
“Unqualified” Sessional Pay Rates—if faculty are hired without meeting the posted qualifications for the position, they are paid on the “unqualified” Sessional scale. The departmental appointments committee determines whether or not the posted qualifications are met, and some faculty approach stewards for information and to request investigation of this issue.
Workload Issues—stewards have been asked to investigate whether additional work required within one discipline falls under the normal teaching responsibilities of Article 10.3.2.1 or fall under “curriculum development” referred to in Article 10.3.2.13.
To access the TRU / TRUFA Collective Agreement, go to trufa.ca/publications, and click on “Collective Agreement.”
To contact a TRUFA steward, click here: http://trufa.ca/directory/committees/stewards-committee/
On February 24th, delegates from all 19 FPSE locals gathered in Vancouver to start planning for the next round of negotiations. Delegates heard presentations on the history of provincial bargaining and the lessons learned and the work done by the BC Federation of Labour’s public sector coordination committee. Special guest presentations were made by Jennifer Whiteside of the Hospital Employees Union, Glen Hansman, President of the BC Teachers’ Federation, and Alison Hearn, former President of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association, who spoke about major gains realized for contract academic staff. The remainder of the day was spent starting to develop bargaining priorities for the post-secondary education system, and considering what strategies would be most effective in reaching our goals.
All the collective agreements in our system expire on March 31, 2019. On the strategy side, a lot will depend on how the new provincial government structures post-secondary bargaining. As you may recall, with the exception of TRU, all colleges and Special Purpose Teaching Universities unions negotiate with their institutional employers under the umbrella of the Post-Secondary Employers’ Association (PSEA). TRUFA negotiates with TRU administration, but under the broader umbrella of the Public Sector Employers’ Council (PSEC).
During the past four rounds of bargaining, the provincial government—through PSEC—has established a negotiating mandate, a maximum compensation package offered to employees. You may recall such mandates as “0-0-2”; “Net Zero or cooperative gains”; ”2 + 2”; and—the most recent—“economic sustainability.” At this point we don’t know what the 2019 bargaining mandate might be, but it’s certain that government will attempt to limit public sector gains, particularly since unions will be advocating for major gains in light of the fact that most public sector employees—including TRUFA members—have seen their salaries fall below the inflation rate and fall below counterparts throughout Canada.
Although TRUFA will certainly negotiate directly with our employer, our bargaining—to a large degree—will be influenced by the work of our colleagues at other institutions who may form a common bargaining table.
TRUFA delegates in addition to myself were Lloyd Bennett, Salary and Working Conditions Committee (SWCC) chair, Mike Looney (chief steward) and Melissa Svendsen (deputy steward).
Launch of FPSE produced volume “Whose Land is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization
On Thursday, March 15th, a provincial launch of this important work will be held at Emily Carr University in Vancouver. In response to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the initiative of the TRUFA Human Rights Committee, chaired by our colleague Nicole Schabus (Law), FPSE is releasing the book formally in March. Contributors to the volume come from across Canada and are leading indigenous activists. It is hoped that this work can contribute to a better understanding of how we can move beyond colonialism and work toward a decolonized indigenization of our universities and, more broadly, our society.
TRUFA will be hosting a local launch of this book during the week of March 19th. Stay tuned for details.
If you have questions about any of these issues, please contact me.
Submitted in solidarity,
Tom Friedman, TRUFA President