The highlight of the fall general meeting on December 7 was definitely Jay Dolmage’s audio glitching and getting stuck in a loop of him saying “bleak, but” as he tried to provide an update on the employee accommodations policy. (Jay later summarized in the chat: “PDC 57 has some reason to be optimistic that we can move this along in the new year.”)
“Bleak, but…” turns out to be a good summary of how members seem to be feeling about the role of faculty in governance at Waterloo. Policy development keeps stalling, faculty feel like senate meetings are rubber stamping sessions, and we don’t really get a say in a lot of university guidelines and academic processes that affect our work.
But there’s cause for hope. The administration agrees that the policy development process isn’t working, and we’ll be talking about how to fix that as soon as we see how the new Policy 76 process works out. There’s some real desire and momentum right now among members to find better ways of doing things, whether that’s a revised Policy 1 (the policy on policies), moving more items into the Memorandum of Agreement, or considering certification. And, most importantly, a whole lot of faculty members are interested and engaged with these issues and offering some great suggestions. Now we just need to make them happen. Some ideas we’ve heard recently—at this meeting or otherwise—include:
Regular open discussions about hot issues
Mobilizing faculty senators—maybe meeting in advance of senate meetings
Better tracking of member suggestions and Board follow up
Negotiating a workload policy
Solidarity with other employee and student groups at UW
Improving APRs (the process for these is governed by the MoA, but standards are currently set by each Faculty and department)
A member engagement committee to build networks and identify opportunities for members to work on issues
And, of course, the internal governance review that will be starting soon
Yesterday, Laurentian University announced that as a result of on-going insolvency processes, 58 undergraduate programs and 11 graduate programs will be closed. As part of these closures, approximately 100 Laurentian professors were dismissed from their jobs, effective May 15. Additionally, on April 1, Laurentian unilaterally cancelled its federation agreements with Thorneloe University, Huntington University, and the University of Sudbury, placing those institutions in financial doubt, as they cannot issue degrees.
This terrible outcome for our colleagues at Laurentian, who are represented by the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA/APPUL), was caused by a panoply of catastrophic errors, but chief among them are an unwillingness by the government of Ontario to properly fund universities and to backstop Laurentian during this crisis; the refusal of the Laurentian administration to take advantage of the financial exigency clause in the LUFA/APPUL collective agreement (which the faculty association urged them to use as early as 2017); and the financial sloppiness of a university that consistently proposed balanced budgets while in fact reporting annual losses for the bulk of the last decade.
FAUW stands in solidarity with our colleagues at Laurentian University and its federated institutions. We will continue to advocate for the provincial government to restore Laurentian to financial health and to establish a stable funding base for it and other Ontario universities. We call on universities, including our own, to confirm their support for their federated university colleges. We deplore the total inaction of the provincial government, particularly its Minister of Colleges, Training and Universities, Ross Romano, who has dodged his responsibility to manage this crisis since February.
We will discuss the Laurentian situation further at our general meeting on Friday, and consider a motion of solidarity with LUFA/APPUL at that meeting.
Happy new year! Our big priority for this term is to keep moving forward on policy development and research professor representation. Here are some of the smaller (and not-so-small) things we talked about at the January 16 board meeting:
OCUFA’s court challenge. OCUFA has voted to join ten unions representing more than 250,000 Ontario workers to launch a coordinated Charter challenge against the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act—formerly Bill 124—this is the legislation that forces our pay raises to be small for three years.
TheFAUWAppreciation Award. We’re starting to consider suggestions for this year’s recipient(s) of the FAUW Appreciation Award, which recognizes people from across the University who have gone above and beyond to improve the lives of faculty members.
Professional licensing fees. We’re doing an environmental scan about how professional licenses are handled across campus. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of variation in terms of who needs to be licensed, how many people in a unit need to maintain their license, and who pays for it. For anyone who doesn’t know what we’re talking about, professional programs (e.g. planning, optometry, engineering) typically need a minimum number of faculty members to hold professional licenses in order to maintain the accreditation for their school/department/program.
The switch from Scantron to Akindi. You have at least three options for digital grading solutions, including Akindi, UW’s new go-to “multiple-choice exam processing service.” One of our board members recommends Crowdmark as a way to reduce your workload. We’re exploring the possibility of hosting a lunch & learn on digital grading systems—let us know in the comments if you’d be interested. Learn more and register for Akindi training on the IST website.
We’re working on identifying standard teaching workload expectations in each department so we can better advise members. We started gathering data on this at the October 29 Council of Reps meeting.
Speaking of which, we are still missing Council members for: Accounting & Finance, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Physics & Astronomy, and Systems Design Engineering. If you’d like to be your unit’s rep, send us an email.
The Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour) drafting committee finished its public consultation on October 18. FRC will review all the feedback and give direction to the drafting committee about changes to make by November 11. We expect a final version back to FRC for approval on December 19. In particular, FAUW heard impassioned feedback about the policy’s silence on student-supervisor relationships. This was instead covered in draft guidelines. The Board voted on October 24 to ask that this be included in the policy itself.
The Lecturers Committee had an insightful meeting with David Rose, new chair of the Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) drafting committee and Benoit Charbonneau (chief negotiator for FAUW) about policy 76 and implications for lecturer salary equity.
FAUW President Bryan Tolson met with the faculty reps on the joint health and safety committees about how those committees can advocate more explicitly for faculty safety issues.
Ranjini Jha was appointed to the Pension Investment Committee.
We’re starting to plan events for next term. Some topics we’re looking at include preparing for retirement, definite term contracts, the teaching scheduling process, and meet-ups for early-career faculty and out-of-town and bike commuters.
The University is currently negotiating its third Strategic Mandate Agreement with the province. Currently, 92% of UW’s operating funding is based on enrolment, but the new performance-based funding model will bring this number down to about 33%, with the rest dictated by to-be-determined performance indicators. FAUW is more concerned with rejecting this funding model as a whole than getting into the details about which indicators UW should be using. If you want to learn more about how the model works, here’s a presentation from OCUFA (PDF) that breaks it down.
What OCUFA is talking about
OCUFA = Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
Now that the provincial legislature has reconvened, Bill 124 (the one that will cap salary increases at 1%) will likely pass in November, and then there likely will be a court challenge, likely by CUPE (the Canadian Union of Public Employees). It’s still unclear if the legislation will apply to anything outside of base salary (e.g. benefits spending, merit increases).
Bill 100 (the one that allows the government to reduce/eliminate the salary of faculty members collecting a pension) is already law; we’re just waiting to see if they will use it. OCUFA will file a charter challenge if needed.
OCUFA’s advocacy day at Queen’s Park is coming up on November 6. We can’t make it this year, but you can follow along on their Twitter account when the time comes.
FAUW sent a written submission to the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) on July 31 regarding proposed MTCU regulations that would reduce the salary of university sector employees who are collecting a pension.
The proposed changes discriminate on the basis of age.
The net savings to either the University or the province are not clearly established.
Many scholars over age 71 provide more funding and jobs through their research programs than would be freed up by their retirement.
Because university faculty start their careers later, they cannot be compared against other sectors on the basis of retirement age.
The regulations would disproportionately disadvantage women and members of other equity-seeking groups whose career advancement is often further delayed.
The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has a higher percentage of sitting MPPs age 71 or older than the University of Waterloo has of faculty age 71 or older.
Thank you to the many members who provided feedback on this issue and shaped our response, included in full below.
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.
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.
At Waterloo, the provincial government pays only 1/3 of our salaries!
Pensions are simply deferred compensation, and, roughly speaking, half of the pension we collect at Waterloo comes from our own contributions.
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).
Any Canadian employee working at age 71 or older is forced by federal law to start taking their pension.
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.
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.
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 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”→