March updates from the FAUW president and Board

Here’s the news from the March 4 Board meeting, starting with the pre-meeting president’s report and then an overview of the discussion at the meeting.

President’s report to FAUW board, March 2, 2021

– dan brown

There is so much to talk about from the past few weeks!

Our negotiating team has achieved a settlement with the university administration, including the 1% scale raises that are the maximum possible under Bill 124, an eye exam benefit, an expansion of bereavement leave and establishment of paid compassionate care leave, and more. One particular advance is that the administration has committed to using equity group membership data to assess whether there is a structural inequity in salaries for racialized and Indigenous faculty, and if so, correct it. I’m very grateful to our negotiating team: Bryan Tolson (chief negotiator), Mary Hardy, and Linda Robinson, for their steadfast efforts.

At February Senate, the make-up of the new committee to redraft Policies 76 and 77 to focus on teaching-stream faculty was approved. The committee will take advantage of the many years of work of the previous Policy 76 committee, while specifically examining working conditions, advancement, and hiring of teaching-stream faculty. FAUW’s representatives on that committee will be Su-Yin Tan and Kate Lawson.

We continue to work hard on the approval of Policy 14, the policy on parental and pregnancy leaves. We are still looking forward to it being presented for information at the March Senate meeting, and finally approved at the April Board of Governors meeting.

FAUW elections are underway! We are electing four at-large board members and one board position for a Lecturer. I’m hopeful we’ll have a diverse and competitive slate of candidates. The FAUW elections committee consists of Peter Johnson (chair), Heidi Engelhardt, Amanda Garcia, Laura McDonald, and Nomair Naeem. If you’d like more information about FAUW service opportunities, please contact one of them.

The UW issue over which I am most concerned these days is how fall 2021 teaching will work. Between concerns about the pace of vaccination for COVID-19 and worries about how many international students will be able to make it to Canada in September, I worry that we will have both a lot of on-campus teaching and a lot of remote teaching, in what will be the sixth term in a row disrupted by COVID-19. As I look toward the rest of 2021, I hope we can help build a compassionate workplace for our employees and a caring university for our students, but I am troubled by the degree to which we just don’t know what will happen. Obviously, most of the worst parts of this are outside the administration’s control!

Outside UW, I have been alarmed by the insolvency filing of Laurentian University on February 1. After years of what appear to have been remarkable financial mismanagement, that university filed for creditor protection. FAUW (in concert with OCUFA) has been lobbying provincial officials to pull Laurentian out of insolvency, or pull the provincial government into the proceedings. Several of us from FAUW, Renison and WLU met last week with MPPs from all parties to try to stress that this filing can’t be the first step in widespread bankruptcies of public institutions. I can’t predict whether that message is heard and acted upon, unfortunately.

What we discussed at the meeting

  1. Policies 76/77 (Faculty Appointments/Tenure and Promotion): As Dan shared in his president’s report, Senate has approved the new drafting committee for changes to policies 76 and 77 regarding teaching stream faculty, including FAUW reps Kate Lawson and Su-Yin Tan. The Board has been developing objectives for them in collaboration with lecturers and the Lecturers Committee. Lecturers, you’ll hear more about this at the town hall on March 30.
  2. Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental Leave): The Board discussed what we hope will happen for members who are on a policy 14 leave or will be as of April 6, when we are expecting this policy to be approved. If you are in that situation, we encourage you to contact the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee.
  3. Lecturers Committee: The Board voted to add an agenda item to the Spring General Meeting to make the Lecturers Committee a standing committee of FAUW, in recognition that we expect this committee to continue long-term. The committee was established as an ad-hoc committee in 2015 (the same year we established a lecturer-specific seat on the FAUW Board). Since that time, the Board and the committee have worked together to raise awareness about the role of lecturers at Waterloo and to improve their working experience, achieving such improvements as raising the salary thresholds in our 2018 salary settlement, and arrangements for faculty teaching back-to-back terms to have early exams and more vacation carry-over. We’ve also advocated for lecturers to be eligible for more service roles and committees and are have been prioritizing teaching faculty in Policy 76 revisions since the beginning of that process.
  4. FAUW Equity Data: The Board recently approved new elections procedures including asking candidates if they are members of any equity-seeking groups, and identifying priority groups for recruitment efforts and tie-breaking. We’ve now also voted to collect the same data for current Board and committee members, to set a benchmark and provide data on which to base the priority groups for future elections.
  5. Faculty mental health: We had a brief brainstorm about how we might be able to support faculty mental health right now, and the pros and cons of surveying members about how they’re doing and how we might be able to help. The general consensus was that everyone is over-surveyed at the moment, but we welcome suggestions for things FAUW could implement or advocate for to make your life a little easier right now.
  6. Librarians & archivists: Waterloo is the only U15 school where staff policies apply to librarians—at 13 of those institutions, librarians are members of their respective faculty associations/unions. Archivists are considered under the faculty collective agreement at most universities in the U15, but are staff members at others. The Librarians and Archivists Association of the University of Waterloo (LAAUW) is holding an internal vote as to whether or not to pursue membership in FAUW.
  7. Return to campus: The university administration is starting to prepare for a return to in-person classes and blended teaching models, and we are starting to ask whether faculty members can be obliged to teach in person. We heard about one unit that is taking a collaborative approach to making decisions about course assignments and formats, based on instructor preferences and needs. Certainly, global vaccination rates will be another factor, vis-à-vis international students.
  8. Board membership: We bid adieu to chief negotiator and past president Bryan Tolson, who is stepping down from the Board next week. Bryan has been a pillar of FAUW for many years and we will miss him dearly. If you know Bryan, we encourage you to send him your congratulations for all he’s accomplished with FAUW!

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