A Lost Opportunity: Report from the FAUW Representatives on the Policy 76/77 Drafting Committee

– By Su-Yin Tan and Kate Lawson

We are very disappointed to report that the latest effort to improve terms and conditions of employment for Definite Term and Continuing Lecturers has failed.

We are the FAUW appointees on the Policy Drafting Committee (PDC) that began work in March to revise Policies 76 Faculty Appointments and 77 Promotion and Tenure with regard to teaching stream faculty members; the administration appointees were David DeVidi (committee chair) and Kevin Hare.

We report here on the PDC procedures, FAUW objectives, and what happened over the past six months. (Note that confidentiality provisions in the Terms of Reference for the PDC mean that we can report only on public documents and on our own activities.)

We began the process believing that Lecturers at Waterloo deserve working conditions near or equal to those of teaching stream colleagues at other large non-certified Ontario universities (University of Toronto and McMaster University). UWaterloo is in very good financial shape and UW’s Lecturers are just as qualified as Toronto’s “teaching-stream professors” and McMaster’s “teaching-track professors.”

We entered into the PDC process having studied relevant policies at these “comparator institutions,” willing to prioritize our goals, and prepared for good faith and collegial discussions with the representatives of the administration. We are thus very disheartened that no agreement on any revised policies was reached.

Background

“Class F” policies at UW, including policies 76 and 77, are “University policies that concern exclusively the terms or conditions of employment of faculty members” (Policy 1) and are amended through a procedure described in Policy 1, section 4. The PDC’s remit was to produce revised policy 76 and 77 drafts and submit them to the Faculty Relations Committee (FRC) by August 31, 2021.

The only way for FAUW to improve our working conditions—outside of salary negotiations—is to follow Policy 1 processes, as confirmed by the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA), section 4.3.

Procedure

We were pleased with the agreed-upon Terms of Reference for the PDC: “The committee shall review and may recommend amendments to the two university policies, with attention particularly to the following specific issues pertaining to teaching stream faculty” (that is, “currently ‘lecturers’ and ‘continuing lecturers’”).

The “specific issues” noted in the terms of reference include:

  • Changes to existing ranks and titles, or new ranks and titles
  • Paths for the career progression/promotion/progress to higher ranks
  • A consideration of pertinent policies at “comparator institutions”
  • Processes to transition from definite term to permanent appointment
  • Opportunities to engage in research and scholarship
  • Eligibility for service roles and in collegial governance generally
  • Clarification of the “non‐teaching term” entitlement
  • Eligibility for sabbatical leaves

Using this list of issues and the FAUW objectives listed below, we drafted complete policy revisions and distributed these draft policies, along with the list of objectives, to the other PDC members at our first meeting in March. We were able to present our policy drafts to the PDC in June. After discussion, we revised the drafts to try to meet the needs articulated by the administration representatives; we presented those revised drafts in July.

FAUW objectives for policies 76 and 77

We developed these objectives through consultation with current Lecturers; through discussion at the FAUW board and with the FAUW Lecturers Committee; through a review of policies for teaching stream faculty at Toronto and McMaster, in addition to UBC and Simon Fraser University (another three-semester university); through discussions with faculty association representatives and teaching stream faculty members at those institutions; and through meetings with CAUT and OCUFA, while seeking policy advice when required.

Toronto and McMaster were deemed particularly relevant “comparator institutions” as their faculty associations are in Ontario and are also non-unionized. We hoped that they would provide models for the teaching stream that all parties could agree on.

Our specific aims were:

  1. Creation of Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream; Associate Professor, Teaching Stream; and Professor, Teaching Stream appointments (as at Toronto and McMaster).
  2. Promotion and tenure/continuing status procedures for these ranks that run in parallel with tenure and promotion in the existing professorial ranks (as at Toronto and McMaster).
  3. Language: “tenure” the preferred term, rather than “permanence” or “continuing.”
  4. Elimination of revolving-door definite-term appointments (after the fifth year, any subsequent reappointment would be a first probationary term—i.e., of a tenure-stream appointment, with subsequent renewal and tenure reviews).
  5. Elimination of two-years-less-a-day contracts (which have no benefit entitlements).
  6. Every sixth term a “non-teaching term” (NTT) with a reduction in teaching workload and a commensurate increase in professional/pedagogical duties (same expectation of duties as Toronto and McMaster, but with every sixth term a NTT rather than every third term).
  7. Sabbatical leave eligibility (as at Toronto and McMaster).
  8. Improved grant application eligibility.
  9. Improved collegial governance eligibility.
  10. Clarification of the ability to negotiate a change in assigned duties with the chair (e.g. inclusion of scholarship as an assigned duty; change of weighting for service duties, etc.).

With regard to item 5, FRC decided independently to revise the remit of the University Appointments Review Committee (UARC) in Policy 76. UARC will now automatically review appointments of more than two years and will, upon request, review appointments of shorter duration. This should address the two-years-less-a-day contract problem.

We did not expect to achieve all of our objectives at the PDC meetings. However, we were surprised that, after six months of detailed discussions and what we thought were several agreements in principle, only one relevant recommendation was forwarded by the PDC to FRC (addressing item 8 of our objectives, grant eligibility).

The other recommendations made by the committee concern items unrelated to teaching stream faculty (e.g., gender neutral language; updates in Policy 77 to refer to the revised Policy 14 Pregnancy and Parental Leaves and to biennial Performance Evaluations for tenured/continuing faculty).

Objectives that seemed close to agreement:

  • Items 1-3: new professorial titles and ranks in the teaching stream, in line with comparator institutions. The word “tenure” seems to have been acceptable, though this was unclear.
  • Item 9: teaching stream faculty eligibility to sit on DACAs, DTPCs, and FTPCs seems to have been viewed as reasonable.

We had hoped that the committee would make recommendations on item 9, but no substantial agreement was achieved.

The major sticking point

Modest financial support would have been necessary to achieve provisions for Lecturers that approach those already in place for teaching-stream/teaching-track faculty at Toronto and McMaster.

  • Item 6, that every sixth term be what we call a “true” non-teaching term, was deemed essential by FAUW. Only about 50% of current Lecturers have an actual reduction in teaching workload in year 2 (terms 4-6); others have a redistribution of term 6’s workload to terms 4 and 5;
  • Item 7, access to sabbatical leave, was deemed important and in line with comparator institutions.

These improvements in workload were connected with the issue of professorial ranks and titles.

We argued that tenure and promotion in the teaching stream should be based on strong teaching and on achievements in pedagogical and professional development and teaching leadership. We argued that these achievements were comparable to scholarship and are necessary to make professorial rank and tenure credible. Crucially, time is needed for teaching stream faculty members to do this work and such activities should be officially recognized as part of their workload. The “non-teaching term” is not a “non-working term” but a term devoted to professional and pedagogical development and teaching leadership.

Note that we based draft policy language on pedagogical and professional development and teaching leadership from policy language at Toronto and McMaster. Note also that teaching stream faculty at both Toronto and McMaster have access to annual non-teaching terms as well as to sabbatical leaves. In fact, all Ontario universities with teaching stream faculty grant them at least some sabbatical leave eligibility (except for OCAD University).

Where next?

The last Policy 76/77 PDC worked for six years. This PDC worked for approximately six months. Neither achieved improvements in terms and conditions of employment for UW’s Lecturers.

Deciding on the next course of action to address the legitimate aspirations of teaching stream faculty here at UW is crucial—for Lecturers in particular and for FAUW in general.

We have brought three solutions to the FAUW Board for discussion:

  1. Asking for a mediator for the P76/77 negotiation process.
  2. Restructuring our process for updating terms and conditions of employment.
  3. Modernizing our negotiating relationship with the administration.

Personal reflections from the PDC reps

Su-Yin Tan

Having followed the P76 revision process since it began in 2014/15, saying that this result is a bitter disappointment is an understatement. After six intense months, the fact that our reformed committee could not agree on any substantial recommendations on a new teaching stream is a testament that the policy development process and collegial governance model at UW are broken.

As FAUW representatives, Kate and I worked tirelessly, advocating for improved working conditions for Lecturers based on Lecturer feedback, data from comparator institutions, and the benefits to UW. The crux of the problem is the administration’s reluctance to invest in Lecturers.

Lecturers are the backbone of UW’s educational programs, we contribute important sources of revenue, and we continue to help UW to weather the storm of COVID-19 and to fulfill its strategic plan commitments. We deserve support and resources for professional development and to become better teachers and academics in our jobs.

The administration ultimately said no— this is not part of their long-term vision and they want to invest money and resources elsewhere.

Although the P76/77 PDC process has ended, I assure you that our efforts are far from over! I would like to thank Kate for her perseverance and dedication throughout this process—it was an honour to work with her. I wish that all professorial faculty were like Kate, who is the true exemplar of a “colleague”—someone who is willing to look out for others and to work together to improve conditions for all.

Kate Lawson

The policy revision process at UW is broken.

I was optimistic when Policy 14 Pregnancy and Parental Leave was passed last winter, believing that it—along with the agreed-upon Terms of Reference for revising Policies 76 and 77—meant that there was a genuine commitment by the administration to improve terms and conditions of employment for FAUW members in general and for Lecturers in particular.

I thought that the P76/77 PDC could reach an agreement. I thought that detailed policy proposals, argument, appeals to fairness, the Terms of Reference, policies at comparator institutions, the strategic plan (work-life balance, quality and innovation in teaching and learning), and FAUW openness to alternative solutions, would find a hearing and create a path to a resolution.

They did not.

Other policies, too, remain incomplete: Policy 33 Ethical Behaviour, Policy 57 Employee Accommodations, and a new policy on compassionate care and bereavement leave.

The University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) faced an almost identical problem in 2016. Their way out of an “antiquated and dysfunctional MoA” and “important academic policies frozen in time” was an agreement with their administration for a new two-track process: a “provision for good faith and full scope bilateral negotiation” and “third party facilitation and fact-finding when the parties are unable to agree on their own.”

Unless we get agreement for similar processes here at UW, I believe FAUW will continue to waste time and resources working for change within an “antiquated and dysfunctional MoA” and policies “frozen in time.”

On a personal note, let me say that it has been a distinct privilege to work with Su-Yin. I have nothing but admiration for her incredible work ethic, her dedication to consult with and to inform her fellow Lecturers, her creativity in problem solving, and her dedication to fair employment. UW faculty are lucky to have smart and dedicated Lecturer colleagues such as Su-Yin.

2 thoughts on “A Lost Opportunity: Report from the FAUW Representatives on the Policy 76/77 Drafting Committee

  1. Let me start by thanking Su-Yin and Kate for all of the time they spent advocating for lecturers. I am profoundly grateful for their work.

    Lecturers were not asking for UW to grant things that other instutions don’t have. The modest goal of modernizing the teaching stream to the same level at UofT and McMaster was extremely attainable. That lecturers have been carrying the university on their backs since March 2020 seems to be of no importance or relevance to the administration in these negotiations. We have been running marathon after uphill marathon and the university can’t even throw us a glass of water.

    There is clearly a fundamental problem with policy revision and negotiation of working conditions at Waterloo. It is unacceptable for policy revisions to take so long and for Terms of Reference to be so flagrantly ignored. My colleagues at other institutions are always incredulous when I explain to them how policy updates work here. A proper “collegial” relationship demands equal power dynamics; it’s obvious that FAUW (and therefore faculty) are negotiating from a position of significant weakness. The current state of affairs is an unequivocal disgrace. If, as I suspect, solution #3 is referring to unionizing, I hope those gears get in motion sooner rather than later.

    Like

  2. Su-Yin and Kate, thank you for your efforts. You went into the process prepared, and sought reasonable changes to the policy. Your efforts are appreciated. When reading your reflections the statement “this is not part of their long-term vision and they want to invest money and resources elsewhere” particularly resonated with me. It is not a surprise to me that you have found this to be true, but I am saddened nonetheless.

    Dr. X, I also agree with everything that you wrote.

    But a big question for me is how many others will see things the same way? In particular, how many of the faculty who are not Lecturers will be concerned at all about this? Will most simply see it as something only affecting Lecturers, and therefore sadly of little consequence to themselves, rather than a sign that the policy revision system is broken? I would like to believe there would be widespread support from faculty of all ranks to discuss this issue further, but I am not optimistic.

    So, Assistant, Associate, and Full Professors out there, do you care about what happened?

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