Missed the Waterloo Debate on Post-Secondary Education? Watch it Here

On Wednesday, May 16, a coalition of student and employee groups at Laurier, Waterloo, and Conestoga hosted a debate on post-secondary education issues with provincial candidates in the Waterloo riding. We’d like to thank Kimberly Ellis-Hale from the Laurier faculty association in particular for her leadership in organizing this event.

The participating candidates were:

  • Green Party: Zdravko Gunjevic
  • Liberal Party: Dorothy McCabe
  • New Democratic Party (NDP): Catherine Fife
  • Progressive Conservative (PC) Party: Dan Weber

You can watch a recording of the debate on the Laurier Students’ Union Facebook page (even without a Facebook account).

Don’t have time to watch? Here are a few highlights of what each candidate said about their party’s stance on key PSE issues. Note that this is hardly an exhaustive summary of the conversation.
Continue reading “Missed the Waterloo Debate on Post-Secondary Education? Watch it Here”

News From Your Board: April 19 Meeting Recap

There has been a long gap between our normal two-weekly Board meetings because we had our Spring General meeting on the 5 April and about that, you already know.

Not surprisingly, there was a lot to discuss, much of which was routine: recommendations for appointments to the University Tenure & Promotion Committee (UTPC), debriefing the Spring General Meeting and Bryan Tolson’s presentation to Senate about faculty hiring data (see the slides on our website), discussing representation from AHS on the Board, etc.

The interesting new topic was cycling on campus. There are some key people who have been strong advocates for biking and safe storage of bikes in particular. Johanna Wandel provided a summary of the current situation and a new pilot project that the FAUW will be supporting—we will share more about that soon. You’re also welcome to contact Johanna—and Parking Services!—with your thoughts on improving cycling on campus.

FAUW also agreed to provide financial support for an all-candidates debate (for the Kitchener-Waterloo riding only) that WLU has organized for May 16. Registration details will be posted on our website as soon as they’re available, and we encourage those interested to attend.

Finally, we are making progress on language in the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) about performance rating histograms. Our original goal for these proved unduly complex and we are working on revisions that will balance transparency, privacy, and feasibility. Recommendations are forthcoming. On a related note, it seems as if some departments still do not have addenda to their Faculty performance review guidelines as per the requirements of the MoA. Even the decision to defer to faculty-wide guidelines needs to be made by the department on a biennial basis (this time ’round, before October 15, 2018) and yet this does not necessarily always occur. Again, we’ll have more on this soon.

—Sally Gunz, past president

FAUW Execs Appeal to MPPs at OCUFA Queen’s Park Lobby Day

FAUW President Bryan Tolson (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Treasurer Dan Brown (Computer Science) lobbied at Queen’s Park on March 20, advocating for investment in the university sector, renewal of faculty ranks, and better working conditions for short-term and contract faculty.

Tolson and Brown were part of a team of 25 faculty members from across Ontario, brought together by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), which represents 17,000 faculty members and academic librarians at 28 universities across Ontario.

Tolson and Brown met with several MPPs from Waterloo Region and neighbouring Wellington County: Hon. Daiene Vernile (Kitchener Centre), Hon. Kathryn McGarry (Cambridge), Michael Harris (Kitchener-Conestoga), and Ted Arnott (Wellington-Halton Hills); they also met with legislative staff for Catherine Fife (Kitchener-Waterloo). Continue reading “FAUW Execs Appeal to MPPs at OCUFA Queen’s Park Lobby Day”

February 28 is OCUFA’s Bill 148 Social Media Day of Action

Adapted from a message from Ontario College and University Faculty Associations (OCUFA)

February 28 is OCUFA’s annual social media day of action. The day provides an opportunity for faculty, students, staff, and supporters across Ontario to get the issues of precarious work and fairness for contract faculty (sessionals and definite term lecturers, in Waterloo terms) trending on various social media platforms.

This year’s day of action will be use the momentum generated by Bill 148 to build more support for contract faculty in the lead-up to the provincial election in June.

The goal of the day will be to get as many people as possible to tweet and post Facebook messages to their provincial election candidates. The messages will highlight priorities for contract faculty at our institutions, the need to close gaps in Bill 148, how precarity for contract faculty can affect the quality of education, and where we go from here. Continue reading “February 28 is OCUFA’s Bill 148 Social Media Day of Action”

Join OCUFA at the $15 & Fairness Campus Assembly on September 15 and 16

Reposted from OCUFA, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, of which FAUW is a member.

OCUFA is part of the Fight for $15 & Fairness, a broad group that is advocating for better labour laws and a $15 minimum wage across Ontario. On September 15 and 16, the first ever $15 & Fairness Provincial Campus Assembly will take place at the University of Toronto. Faculty from universities across the province are invited to attend, and you can register here.

The assembly comes at a crucial time because Bill 148 will be considered in the legislature this fall. There will be discussions and workshops about how to win the strongest possible labour legislation, as well as how to advance the $15 and Fairness agenda on campus through collective bargaining and by uniting students, staff, and faculty. Achieving fairness for contract faculty will be a key focus throughout the agenda.

We hope you can join us! Register today. If you have any questions, or would like more information, please contact Brynne at bsinclair-waters@ocufa.on.ca or 647.226.7184.

FAUW Weighs in on Bill 148 – Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act

Faculty association representatives from more than ten Ontario universities recently presented at hearings on Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, including FAUW’s president, Sally Gunz. Her full presentation is below.

Presentation: Sally Gunz, President Faculty Association, University of Waterloo to Committee, Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, Kitchener, 18 July, 2017

My name is Sally Gunz. I am president of the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW). FAUW represents all faculty members at the university except those who are hired to teach by course only. I am a professor of business law and professional ethics in the School of Accounting and Finance, and have worked at the university since 1981. I speak in my capacity as president of FAUW.

Members of the public often think of university professors as well paid, privileged employees. And indeed many are. But few are aware of the prevalence of precarious work on university campuses. My focus is on Bill 148 as it affects the many faculty teaching at the University of Waterloo who are employed solely on the basis of limited term contracts. I note that the university is presently revising its faculty hiring policies and issues around precarious employment are the subject of formal examination.

As background: it is important to understand that there is wide variance in terms and conditions of employment for contract faculty. For example, at the University of Waterloo:

  • Lecturers are mostly hired on one to five-year contracts, but a limited number are hired on an ongoing basis. I focus here on the former.
  • Sessional Instructors are hired by individual course. A distinction here is between those who teach in order to complement another, often professional, career, or to provide post-retirement part time work; and those for whom it is their full-time employment. The goal for many is to become full-time professors. In the meantime, they piece together contracts at Waterloo and often elsewhere, in some cases over very extended lengths of time.

While unstable employment may be used to meet legitimate short term university needs, increasingly such positions are created and sustained in response to real or perceived funding constraints. As university costing models become more sophisticated and transparent, the pressure to maintain flexibility by using temporary positions for high-level teaching tasks appears to be increasing. Let me give you two examples from Waterloo.

  • Case 1: a lecturer hired on one-year contracts for approximately 10 years teaches a range of courses in one discipline. He has received a high-level teaching award and provides strong service to his department, yet his employment remains year-to-year and dominated by no security. 
  • Case 2: in a professional program, instructors are hired to teach multiple sections of courses, sometimes far exceeding a full-time load, but without the benefit of full-time contracts. This denies them a reasonable income, pension, or benefits. The university is reluctant to commit to full-time appointments despite the obvious teaching need in a program in which students pay significantly enhanced fees. 

The use of exploitive hiring exists across universities. The case examples I cite are common. Highly qualified instructors have no employment security, comparatively low pay, and in many cases no pension or benefits. Where educational institutions face funding pressures, the increased use of ‘flexible’ hiring options is virtually inevitable. And while Bill 148 says that no employee shall be paid a rate lower than a comparable full-time employee of the same employer, there are broad exemptions to this rule.[1] What Bill 148 can do, and what I, on behalf of FAUW urge you to do, is to make exploitive hiring options economically unattractive at universities.

To summarize: FAUW is pleased by much of what is in Bill 148. It strongly supports the recommendations OCUFA has made for improvements. In particular it would ask this committee to consider:

  1. Extending the equal pay for equal work provisions to include access to benefits.
  2. Amending Bill 148 to prevent the use of discontinuous contracts as a means of avoiding stable employment. 
  3. Extending the notice period for scheduling of employment to at least two weeks in recognition of the extensive prior preparation needed for assuming a teaching position. 

[1] This rule would not apply where there is a difference in treatment between employees on the basis of: (a) a seniority system; (b) a merit system; (c) a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (d) another factor justifying the difference on objective grounds.

OCUFA’s 2017 Policy Exchange report summarizes faculty recommendations for improving Ontario’s universities

Republished from OCUFA.
In May, OCUFA brought together representatives of its membership to identify the policy issues affecting Ontario’s universities that they view as most critical, and to draft recommendations for addressing them. The final report summarizing these consultations is now available online.

OCUFA regularly conducts research, produces papers and briefs, and hosts conversations on targeted policy issues affecting higher education in Ontario. However, the 2017 Policy Exchange conference provided a unique opportunity to have a broad and interactive discussion.

Over the course of the two-day consultation, participants explored issues relating to precarious academic employment, university funding, and university governance and accountability. Through a series of group discussions, they established a clearer understanding of these issues and the steps they believe should be taken to strengthen Ontario’s university sector.

The recommendations collected in the final report of the OCUFA Policy Exchange encapsulate the discussions from the two-day consultation and provide the basis for a policy vision for Ontario’s universities that reflect the goals of the 17,000 faculty members OCUFA represents. What stands out in these recommendations is the clear commitment that faculty share to preserve and protect the core teaching and research mission of universities, and the centrality of this mission to ensuring that our universities and province thrive.

Moving forward, OCUFA will use these recommendations as the basis for further policy work and advocacy. It is hoped that OCUFA members and policymakers alike will see these recommendations as a useful starting point and valuable contribution to policy discussions regarding Ontario’s universities.