So far in 2019…

It’s been a while since we’ve provided an update from the Board of Directors. Here’s a run-down of (almost) everything we’ve been working on since January. Our committees have also been very active this year and we’ll report on more of their work soon. Feel free to ask for more details in the comments or by email.

In no particular order:

1. We announced the lecturer salary threshold increase. This was a big win for lecturers. In case you missed it, here’s the gist: When your salary passes each threshold, your merit increase is reduced by a certain amount to slow down your rate of increase once you’re in that higher salary bracket. [Learn more about how this works.] The lecturer thresholds were too low, so lecturers were hitting them earlier in their careers than intended. Last year, we negotiated for a Working Group on Salary Structure to fix that, and they did. The Lecturers Committee held a packed celebration at the Grad House on June 11.

2. We cleared up a vacation issue for lecturers (and other faculty, but mostly lecturers) with a small change to the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). Any member engaged in classroom teaching in all three terms is now entitled to carry over one week of vacation, for one year. You just have to notify your chair. Carrying forward one week or more of vacation was already (and still is) allowed for all members “in exceptional circumstances.” A formal announcement of the precise change is coming later this month.

3. We approved a change to the MoA that addresses issues with expense deadlines. Namely, we added more clarity on deadlines and Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement Plan in general and the submission cycle is essentially shifted earlier to provide a reasonable amount of time for processing and approvals. A formal announcement of the precise change is coming later this month.

4. We participated in two separate provincial government consultations about 1) a cap on public sector wage increases and then 2) faculty simultaneously collecting a salary and pension. We are developing another formal response document for the end of the month to an additional government consultation session in late June on the potential for the Minister to write a regulation prohibiting collecting a salary and pension.  We will share in some way with members after it is submitted. Thanks to all members who have engaged with us in providing useful feedback. 

5. We supported faculty who teach Undergraduate Communication Outcomes Initiative (UCOI) courses in pushing back against an announcement about class sizes that contradicted Policy 40 (on the role of chairs). FAUW wanted to see appropriate (and required) levels of consultation and now believes such consultations are occurring. 

Continue reading “So far in 2019…”

Assigning students research on social movements and marginalized groups

From an extractive to a relational approach: Craig Fortier shares tips for instructors in all disciplines assigning projects directed towards the study of marginalized groups or social movement organizations.


For over a decade, I checked the email for No One Is Illegal-Toronto, the migrant justice activist group with whom I organized. Almost daily, we would receive messages from students (mostly university, but sometimes high school or college) asking to conduct an interview. Or perhaps for basic information about the organization that could be found on our website. Or even a master’s or PhD student who wanted to “study” our movement for their dissertation. In fact, many of our individual organizers who were publicly recognizable figures received personal emails of the same nature—some at a rate two or three times that of the group email account!

At first, we would try to conduct as many interviews as possible. Our logic was: The more people who know about this issue, the more people who will join our movements and mobilize. But it quickly became clear that many of the students (and, if we are being honest, most of the professors who were telling students to come speak with us) were seeing the activity as a learning exercise for themselves and not as a means of connecting and building tangible (and reciprocal) relationships with social movements.

They also didn’t seem to understand the nature or the structure of community-based organizing. And, it wasn’t just No One Is Illegal. Talk to any active social movement group (from Black Lives Matter to the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty) and they will tell you the same thing: They are inundated with requests from students and teachers for information. At the time I was organizing, No One Is Illegal made the decision to develop a clear and proactive policy around research. The experience of developing that internal policy shaped and guided my own academic work and assignments as I entered the academy.

I’m now an assistant professor of Social Development Studies at Renison University College and I teach courses that are directly related to the study of social movements. It’s now my turn to try to put the principles developed in organizing spaces into practice in the academy—to ensure that we aren’t burning out campus organizers like the Indigenous Students Association, RAISE, UW Base, WPIRG, the UW Women’s Centre, etc. who are mobilizing to bring about the world we wish to see. This is the world that I teach about in my classes, but it is a world that is only actualized through on-the-ground mobilizing.

Where you come in

While this post is specifically about my experience teaching courses on social movements, I think that there are a lot of lessons that can be taken from them for professors assigning projects directed towards the study of marginalized groups, whether it is a mining engineering assignment that takes into account Indigenous peoples as stakeholders, a biology course on the health determinants in a migrant community health centre, an accounting course studying the social and environmental impacts of a particular innovation in business or any other discipline where you are relying partly on information from marginalized communities.

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FAUW’s response to Ontario consultations on public sector compensation

The Ontario government is conducting consultations to explore “tools to manage compensation costs” such as “legislated caps on allowable compensation increases that can be negotiated in collective bargaining or imposed in binding arbitration.”

FAUW attended an in-person consultation on May 3 and submitted a written response to the Treasury Board Secretariat last week. We’re hearing that the proposed legislation in question may be introduced this week (though the deadline for consultation submissions was only last Friday), in which case it could come into effect as soon as next week.

We don’t know yet whether or how this law will affect existing or future agreements, but we’ll keep you posted.

Take-aways from the 2018 CAUT Aboriginal Academic Staff Conference

Karen Sunabacka is an Associate Professor of Music at Conrad Grebel University College. This past October, FAUW sponsored her to attend the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ Aboriginal Academic Staff Conference.

The 2018 conference theme was “Advancing Indigenization,” and plenary topics included: new Indigenous scholars, advancing Indigenous academic staff, Indigenizing the academy, Indigenous knowledge, and the state of Indigenous Studies programs in Canada.

After the conference, Karen sat down with FAUW’s Indigenization Working Group to share her reflections on the conference. She was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us to share with members of our broader community.

What were your expectations or hopes going into the conference?

As a Métis scholar and musician, I was hoping to meet other Indigenous academic staff and hear how Indigenization was going at other institutions in Canada.

What was your biggest take-away?

Indigenization means different things to different groups of people. I was surprised to learn about the differences between the ways University administrations tend to think of Indigenization and the ways individual faculty and/or faculty groups are approaching Indigenization. Faculty are looking at ways to incorporate Indigenous Knowledge into the curriculum, they are thinking about incorporating Indigenization into different ways of teaching, and they are looking at organizational structures and how to differently arrange the University structure as a whole (some talk about this as “Decolonizing” the University). Whereas Administrations tend to think of Indigenization as simply having more diversity of faculty, staff, and students.

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What the Okanagan Charter means for Waterloo faculty

Dan Brown, FAUW Treasurer

In October, 2018, President Hamdullahpur signed the Okanagan Charter at a mental health forum about the status of the 36 recommendations of the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) report. At our general meeting in April, we heard from Campus Wellness about some of the ways the Charter is being implemented (download the general meeting slides).

Let’s dig a little deeper into what the Charter is and how it might affect faculty at Waterloo.

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FAUW’s response to so-called “double dipping” legislation (updated)

– Bryan Tolson, FAUW President

“The Ford government is giving itself the power to force post-secondary institutions to reduce the pay of any employees who are also receiving a college or university pension.”

CBC News, April 15

I hope you are all excitedly preparing for a nice holiday weekend with family and/or friends. I am trying to, but this news story, “Ford government stopping university, college profs from ‘double-dipping,’” is getting in my way. Lines like “this includes the power to reduce pay to zero” make me pretty unhappy. Then some of the comments on the story make me just plain grumpy. (For those interested in the legal details, the story refers to the language in Bill 100, pages 116-17.)

This new (proposed) legislation is a serious escalation in the public relations battle the Ford government has decided to wage against Ontario faculty. Any guesses what the Ford government thinks about sabbaticals or tenure? With that in mind, we need to defend ourselves and our profession, and we need your help to do that. Here are four talking points you can use in conversations with your family and friends this weekend and beyond.

  1. At Waterloo, the provincial government pays only 1/3 of our salaries!
  2. Pensions are simply deferred compensation, and, roughly speaking, half of the pension we collect at Waterloo comes from our own contributions. 
  3. The average starting age of faculty at Waterloo is somewhere between 35-40 years old. Think about what that means in terms of the pension implications of such a late career start (not to mention the wait-time to start collecting a career salary).
  4. Any Canadian employee working at age 71 or older is forced by federal law to start taking their pension.
Continue reading “FAUW’s response to so-called “double dipping” legislation (updated)”

Update on UCOI class sizes memo

FAUW wishes to update the membership about a matter that is currently in progress. On February 20, the Provost issued a memo to various administrators about increasing class sizes from 25 to 40 for Undergraduate Communications Outcomes Initiative (UCOI) courses taught by English or Communication Arts as stand-alone courses, effective as soon as possible. That’s a 60% increase.  

For those unfamiliar with UCOI, these are the courses that were recently created to replace the English Language Proficiency Exam (ELPE).

FAUW has heard from its members in affected units (both those offering the courses and those in other Faculties whose students take them) that they are deeply concerned about the following, among other, issues:

  • the lack of consultation with academic units and instructors prior to issuing the memo;
  • the increase in workload that instructors will experience as a consequence of the increased class sizes;
  • the risk that some definite-term positions created for the purpose of offering these courses will not be renewed;
  • pedagogically, the impossibility of delivering the courses’ intended learning outcomes with larger class sizes.

FAUW is concerned about unilateral changes to faculty terms and conditions of employment. We are also concerned that the process in this case seems to violate some aspects of Policy 40 (“The Chair”) and Policy 45 (“The Dean of a Faculty”).

Continue reading “Update on UCOI class sizes memo”