An update about things that aren’t COVID-19

—Bryan Tolson, FAUW president

Our regular updates about FAUW Board activities have been supplanted by our COVID-19 messages recently, but now that those have slowed, here’s an overdue update on some other things we’ve been working on (and also more pandemic developments). I hope you can all find a few minutes to read this and get up to date on FAUW’s activities and efforts on your behalf.

Thank you to everyone who attended our Spring General Meeting on April 7 and to those who asked questions. I think it went well under the circumstances and attendance was great, with over 100 people tuning in. Much of the content of this post is from my president’s report at that meeting, but there are a few new points as well.

New FAUW Board members

We welcomed some new Board members this term. Jordan Hale replaced Sarah Brown as our liaison from the Librarians and Archivists Association, and we have two short-term replacements for members on leave: Brian Kendall (taking Vivian Choh’s Science seat) and Alfred Yu (replacing Pat Lam as a director-at-large). 

Congratulations to our newly elected Board members starting their term on July 1: Joel Dubin (AHS), Kate Lawson (Arts), Alfred Yu (Engineering), Peter Johnson (Environment), Nomair Naeem (Math), Heidi Engelhardt (Science), and Narveen Jandu (at-large). We were pleased to see high voter turnout this year: up to 65% of eligible members voted for these positions. Thanks again to everyone who ran in this election.

Policy drafting

Policy drafting committees have had no support from the Secretariat since March 12 (their office, like most, has had to triage). FAUW’s position is that if a drafting committee deems it appropriate to continue their work, then they should do so. Some committees have been working and it seems support from the Secretariat is now starting to come back.

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The hot topics at FAUW and OCUFA this month

What FAUW is talking about

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Ranjini Jha was appointed to the Pension Investment Committee.
  7. 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.
  8. 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

  1. 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).
  2. 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’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.

6 Things FAUW is Working on Right Now

We’ve got a lot more going on, but here are six items we discussed at the January 15 Board of Directors meeting.

1. Explaining the salary changes for lecturers

Our first meeting of 2019 kicked off with an update from Benoit Charbonneau regarding the report of the Working Group on Salary Structure. As announced in December, the working group recommended changes to the salary thresholds for lecturers. We’re working on a public report explaining the changes and how they affect you.

2. An important reminder: Mental health training counts as professional development

In light of the PAC-SMH Report and Recommendations on mental health and wellness, we want reiterate that mental health training for faculty counts as professional development and can be reported on annual performance reviews in the same way as other professional development activities.

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11 things we talked about at the November 8 Board meeting

We think it’s important that our members know what we’re doing on your behalf. So we report on the non-confidential business from every Board meeting here on our blog.

The November 8 meeting covered the status of policy 76, the free speech policy, weekend teaching, new faculty representatives on University committees, and more. Here are 11 things you might want to know about:

  1. The University will be creating a G-class policy to meet the Ontario government’s free speech requirements. FAUW does not have a role in the development of G policies, but we will keep you posted as much as we can.
  2. The Board and administration are talking about exceptional circumstances that might warrant hiring people specifically for weekend or overseas teaching, and how we might keep tabs on such hires.
  3. Members of the Renison Association of Academic Staff are voting this week on a service agreement between RAAS and FAUW, which outlines the membership dues that RAAS will pay to FAUW and the services and supports that RAAS and its members will receive in return. If they approve it, our members will vote on it at our general meeting on December 4.
  4. The Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) has been running for two years. High usage and largely positive feedback have confirmed the need for the program. We’re also hearing that people want more long-term services within the program, which is currently designed to offer short-term solutions. The utilization rate is almost 17%, which is considerably higher than the expected 10%. We have requested information about how this might affect the cost if the contract is extended next year (which it likely will be). If you would like to share feedback about the program, please comment below or send it to Katie Damphouse.
  5. We announced in our last post that we’re looking into arranging for new faculty members to access medical services on campus. We’ll be surveying members hired in the last few years soon to help us make the case for this.

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News From Your Board: January 18 Meeting Recap

Peter Johnson, director for the Faculty of Environment
As winter term gets fully underway, the FAUW board met to share updates and discuss a number of important files.

First up was an update from lead negotiator Benoit Charbonneau. Meetings continue with the administration to find suitable common ground. If we don’t reach a settlement by February 1, we move on to mediation.

Next, Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC) member Nancy Worth brought forward terms of reference for the committee that refine and formalize its operating procedures and relationship with FAUW.

FAUW President Bryan Tolson and staff member Laura McDonald briefed the board on an academic freedom event that FAUW is planning with the administration. We are pleased with President Hamdullahpur’s plan to hold a campus-focused discussion to celebrate and bring clarity to the issue of academic freedom. You will receive an invitation to this event shortly.

Next we discussed what data the Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) collects about graduate student completion times, and to whom this data is provided. The GSPA wants to know if faculty members would find it helpful to receive this data, for self-reflection and so we can identify errors. Discussions are ongoing.

We had an extended discussion about FAUW’s participation in the University-wide Excellence Canada exercise. So far, we have not seen a clear role for us to play, but discussion will continue at the Council of Representatives meeting on February 13.

In a moment of reflection, the Board assessed our progress on the goals we generated at our September retreat. While some key goals have seen substantial progress, there are still tasks ahead for the Board and broader FAUW community, including a survey of our membership.

As always, we finished with a reminder of upcoming events, which you can find on our website.

And, as always, we welcome your feedback on any of the above issues. Leave a comment below, or get in touch with a Board or Council member!