President’s report to FAUW board
– dan brown, March 16, 2021 [updated March 22]
This was our last meeting in winter; the equinox on March 20 marked the beginning of spring. I hope you’re appreciating the longer days.
I am very pleased that the President announced his support for Policy 14 at the March Senate meeting. The only remaining step is the policy’s approval at April’s Board of Governors meeting. This policy marks a milestone in moving Waterloo into being a better employer of parents of small children. When combined with the bereavement and compassionate leave improvements announced as part of our salary settlement last month, we will have a proper suite of such benefits for our members. Thank you to the drafting committee for their steadfast work on this project.
Jay Dolmage (chair of FAUW’s Equity Committee), Laura McDonald (FAUW’s Communications Officer) and I met with the team of external reviewers of the Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion office. The review team will be working on this project for the next couple of months, and my expectation is that their eventual report will primarily be advisory to Waterloo’s new president. With equity and inclusion being so much a focus of FAUW’s work right now, we’ll be watching very closely to see what comes from this review.
FAUW elections are going to begin soon! I’m so excited to see who will run and be elected to our board. The Elections Committee hosted a well-attended volunteer recruiting event on March 9. We will also have openings on all of our working groups and committees this spring as well.
This is the first FAUW board meeting in seven years without Bryan Tolson on our board; he’s stepped down as Past President after so many years of service as President, Past President, Vice President, Chief Negotiator, FRC member, and board member. Bryan has led FAUW through a tumultuous time, with humour, grace, and excellent strategy, and I’m going to miss him very much. In particular, I’m grateful for his work on both Policy 14 and as Chief Negotiator, and I wish it had not turned out that both of those issues had come to a peak of work at the same time.
This isn’t really FAUW-related, per se, but I was recently interviewed on Instagram Live by The Glow Centre, Waterloo’s LGBTQ student centre, about what it’s like to be an older (oh, dear) LGBTQ professional. I enjoyed everything about spending time with the students, but it especially reminded me just how much I learn from students whenever I spend time with them. Even with the challenge of this (endless!) pandemic, I hope you’re all getting reminded of just how lovely, and thought provoking, our students all are.
Notes from the Board discussion
- Fall term planning. We talked about what we know so far about how each Faculty is approaching the fall and returning to more in-person teaching. We’ll be getting into this more at the next meeting, so now is a good time to talk to a Board member about this! So far, most of the discussions about fall term are happening either in the Faculties or at Dean’s Council, neither of which we participate in. We’ve asked for the committee on timetabling, which we do participate in, to be restarted.
Some best practices you could consider taking back to your unit that would ease the burden on everyone this fall include not assigning new course preps, and not demanding that instructors with a heavy teaching load teach a mix of in-person and online courses.
It is our understanding that the usual accommodation process will apply, so if you anticipate needing an accommodation related to teaching in person, we recommend talking to your health-care provider about documentation soon. Accommodations do not have to be limited to having no teaching.
- Our 2021 spring general meeting. We set the agenda for the April 16 general meeting, which includes (among other things) the 2021-22 FAUW budget, the climate emergency declaration (about which we had a preliminary discussion at the 2020 fall general meeting), and election results. We also expect a fair bit of discussion about the fall term. We invite you to bring suggestions as to how the University could support you, both in the fall and before then, for which we could advocate. All voting members will receive a link to attend the meeting.
- Anti-Black racism event. We are considering inviting a speaker to talk about anti-Black racism in the academy. Feedback about the University’s Black History Month event shows that there is an appetite and need for more discussion about this issue.
- Long-term disability premiums. These are increasing quite substantially on May 1, due to a 30% increase in LTD claims over the last year. The committee is investigating options with other insurers (the contract with Canada Life is month-to-month, so if a cheaper provider can be found at some point, this change might be implemented fairly quickly). The other option would be to change the terms of the coverage, which currently are quite generous relative to comparators.
- New health benefits coverage. Canada Life has confirmed that there will be a combined annual maximum of $4,000 for continuous glucose monitors and flash glucose monitors. In vitro fertilization coverage will only be available to employees who have exhausted provincial coverage. Ontario requires patients to be less than 43 years old, and the same limit will apply to UW’s plan. The lifetime maximum under the plan has been set at $30,000 per member. The Pension & Benefits Committee also recommended to the Board of Governors that the vision care coverage FAUW negotiated in our 2021 salary settlement be added for all employees (that’s $85 per participant—FAUW members and eligible dependents—every 2 years for eye exams, in case you’ve forgotten). If you have questions about these coverages or any other aspects of the plan changes, you should contact HR for relevant information before incurring expenses.
- Salary anomaly review. The Salary Anomaly Working Group has submitted its report. It is with the FAUW President and the Provost now. Members whose salaries are being corrected will hear about that soon.
- Committee appointments. Heidi Engelhardt will be the new FAUW representative on the Academic Integrity Advisory Committee.
- Policy 31 – Travel. We had a first look at changes to this policy and will discuss it at the next meeting.