FAUW appalled by job terminations, program closures at Laurentian

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.

March updates from the FAUW president and Board

Here’s the news from the March 4 Board meeting, starting with the pre-meeting president’s report and then an overview of the discussion at the meeting.

President’s report to FAUW board, March 2, 2021

– dan brown

There is so much to talk about from the past few weeks!

Our negotiating team has achieved a settlement with the university administration, including the 1% scale raises that are the maximum possible under Bill 124, an eye exam benefit, an expansion of bereavement leave and establishment of paid compassionate care leave, and more. One particular advance is that the administration has committed to using equity group membership data to assess whether there is a structural inequity in salaries for racialized and Indigenous faculty, and if so, correct it. I’m very grateful to our negotiating team: Bryan Tolson (chief negotiator), Mary Hardy, and Linda Robinson, for their steadfast efforts.

At February Senate, the make-up of the new committee to redraft Policies 76 and 77 to focus on teaching-stream faculty was approved. The committee will take advantage of the many years of work of the previous Policy 76 committee, while specifically examining working conditions, advancement, and hiring of teaching-stream faculty. FAUW’s representatives on that committee will be Su-Yin Tan and Kate Lawson.

We continue to work hard on the approval of Policy 14, the policy on parental and pregnancy leaves. We are still looking forward to it being presented for information at the March Senate meeting, and finally approved at the April Board of Governors meeting.

FAUW elections are underway! We are electing four at-large board members and one board position for a Lecturer. I’m hopeful we’ll have a diverse and competitive slate of candidates. The FAUW elections committee consists of Peter Johnson (chair), Heidi Engelhardt, Amanda Garcia, Laura McDonald, and Nomair Naeem. If you’d like more information about FAUW service opportunities, please contact one of them.

The UW issue over which I am most concerned these days is how fall 2021 teaching will work. Between concerns about the pace of vaccination for COVID-19 and worries about how many international students will be able to make it to Canada in September, I worry that we will have both a lot of on-campus teaching and a lot of remote teaching, in what will be the sixth term in a row disrupted by COVID-19. As I look toward the rest of 2021, I hope we can help build a compassionate workplace for our employees and a caring university for our students, but I am troubled by the degree to which we just don’t know what will happen. Obviously, most of the worst parts of this are outside the administration’s control!

Outside UW, I have been alarmed by the insolvency filing of Laurentian University on February 1. After years of what appear to have been remarkable financial mismanagement, that university filed for creditor protection. FAUW (in concert with OCUFA) has been lobbying provincial officials to pull Laurentian out of insolvency, or pull the provincial government into the proceedings. Several of us from FAUW, Renison and WLU met last week with MPPs from all parties to try to stress that this filing can’t be the first step in widespread bankruptcies of public institutions. I can’t predict whether that message is heard and acted upon, unfortunately.

What we discussed at the meeting

Continue reading “March updates from the FAUW president and Board”

FAUW stands in solidarity with colleagues at Laurentian, opposes creditor protection for the public university

The Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo stands in solidarity with our colleagues from the Laurentian University Faculty Association / Association des professeures et professeurs de l’Université Laurentienne (LUFA/APPUL), who are facing grave threats to collegial governance and collective bargaining. On February 1, Laurentian University entered creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), which allows insolvent corporations to renegotiate their debts and potentially make dramatic changes to their labour agreements as well.

This is not the first time a public university in Canada has experienced financial distress, but it is to the best of our knowledge the first time one has sought creditor protection in this manner. The appropriate pathway forward is not creditor protection; it is a combination of support from the Ontario and federal governments to put Laurentian on a sustainable footing and (if needed) the implementation of the process for handling financial exigency already built into LUFA/APPUL’s agreement with Laurentian’s administration.

The crisis at Laurentian is not the fault of the university’s employees, and they should not be suffering as a result of mismanagement. To the contrary, as is true of university faculty and staff across the province, they have been doing astonishing work under extraordinarily challenging conditions since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this situation only exacerbates their difficult circumstances. FAUW supports our colleagues at LUFA/APPUL.

Additionally, FAUW:

  1. Opposes the use of the CCAA: Laurentian has a cash-flow problem, but clearly has access to substantial resources, and can be backstopped by the Ontario government while it gets its financial house in order. Universities are public institutions, not companies that need protection from creditors. Allowing this to proceed will set a terrible precedent for other public institutions.
  2. Calls on the Ontario government to reinvest in universities in general, and Laurentian, with its bilingual structure and focus on educating Anglo-Ontarian, Franco-Ontarian and Indigenous populations, in specific. This is a manufactured crisis, and the means to handle the problem are in the hands of the Ford government.
  3. Deplores the financial mismanagement of the Laurentian University administration, which has burned through research accounts, retiree health-care premiums, and more while hiding the extent to which it was spiraling into financial disaster. We call for a renewed emphasis on transparency and collegial governance, and an examination of exactly what has transpired at Laurentian, so as to avoid similar mismanagement and crisis at other public institutions. The solution to crises of this sort is not more government oversight behind closed doors; it is more public and collegial oversight.

More information

FAUW supports Indigenous land protectors

In 2017, prompted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, University of Waterloo President Hamdullahpur announced the creation of an Indigenization strategy for the University. In the few years before, land acknowledgements had started to become a common practice across the University at public gatherings, on websites, and in email signatures.

On November 2, 2020, the University participated in Treaty Recognition Week for the first time by hosting a series of virtual events that covered, among other things, historical perspectives on treaty rights in Canada, and treaty rights from the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples including the Six Nations and the Mississauga of the Credit. 

These initiatives—the still-to-be-developed Indigenization strategy, land acknowledgements, and virtual education events—are not enough if the University does not follow through with concrete action.

The need for action and support for Indigenous Peoples is increasingly clear. Right now, land protectors on the territory of the Haudenosaunee of the Six Nations of the Grand River and across Canada, are under attack not only in the courts but also by local governments, settler residents, and the RCMP as they assert their treaty rights. The FAUW Indigenization Working Group recently marked the 236th anniversary of the Haldimand Proclamation with a blog post sharing the history of the Haldimand Tract as well as information about ongoing struggles for treaty recognition now taking place in Caledonia, ON, in Waterloo Park in Waterloo, ON, and in Mi’kMaq territory in Nova Scotia. The FAUW Board recently voted to support the land defenders asserting their treaty rights at 1492 Land Back Lane in Caledonia. The Librarians and Archivists Association of the University of Waterloo has also written a letter in support, and the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, of which FAUW is a member, has made a donation to the legal fund.

FAUW’s Equity Committee and Indigenization Working Group invite all University of Waterloo faculty to join in a fundraise-and-tweet effort to support the protectors of the Six Nations lands upon which the University is situated. We urge faculty to make contributions to both the O:se Kenhionhata:tie Land Back Camp now occupying Waterloo Park and to the 1492 Land Back Lane – Legal Fund. You may also choose to contribute to a supplies drive for 1492 Land Back Lane. We further urge faculty to ask the University to donate as well—if you’re comfortable doing so, you could even tweet the amount of your donation and a call for the University to match it. 

The FAUW Board has pledged the first $1,492.

Continue reading “FAUW supports Indigenous land protectors”

November 12 update from the FAUW Board

Here are the non-confidential highlights of the November 12 Board of Directors meeting, and the president’s report.

Items of interest from the meeting

  1. Anti-racism advisor. We’ve hired Kathy Hogarth as an anti-racism advisor to the FAUW Board. Kathy will be attending FAUW Board meetings for the remainder of this year as part of this role. There’s more about Kathy in Dan’s president’s report below.
  2. The status of Policy 76 – Faculty Appointments. As we discussed at the Spring General Meeting, the P76 drafting process has shown us that the way we’ve always drafted and negotiated policy at Waterloo is no longer working. Here’s the latest: The drafting committee submitted a document to the Faculty Relations Committee co-chairs (the FAUW president and the provost) in late summer, which the Secretariat was unable to adapt into a usable policy without more work and guidance from FRC. Policy 76 was initially opened for revision largely to address lecturer titles and spousal appointments. FAUW’s Board and Lecturers Committee are currently working on identifying FAUW’s priorities for P76, specifically on the topic of teaching stream faculty. What happens next, we’re unfortunately still not sure, but we will keep you posted. We know this is frustrating and we appreciate your extreme patience with this.
  3. 1492 Land Back Lane. The OCUFA Board of Directors unanimously voted to support Haudenosaunee land defenders at 1492 Land Back Lane by donating $5,000 to their legal defense fund. The Librarians and Archivists Association at UW has sent a letter in support of the organizers to federal and provincial ministers (and local representatives). The FAUW Board voted to issue a similar statement of support along with our Equity Committee and to donate $1,492 to the legal defense fund. We also discussed other potential avenues of support for the Six Nations of the Grand River and other Indigenous communities that we might pursue in the future (or to pressure the university to implement), such as scholarships or paying taxes to the Indigenous nations whose land we work on. For example, FAUW reps are hoping the University will financially support local Indigenous students (e.g. from Six Nations of the Grand River).
  4. Copyright. There will soon be a new notice appearing once a term on LEARN to remind you about some of the legalities related to uploading content. If you have questions about copyright related to your course material or your own work, email copyright@uwaterloo.ca — that email goes to a team of copyright specialists across campus.
  5. Declaring a climate emergency. The Climate Justice Working Group has prepared a draft climate emergency declaration for FAUW. This will go to the Fall General Meeting for discussion. If you’re a voting member, you’ll receive the draft in your agenda package by December 1.

Keep reading for Dan’s president’s report, including a Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental Leave) update and more about Kathy Hogarth.

Continue reading “November 12 update from the FAUW Board”

An opportunity to support the Wet’suwet’en people

A message from FAUW’s Indigenization Working Group:

In recent weeks, hundreds of scholars from around the world have signed on to an open letter expressing support for BC’s Wet’suwet’en people and calling on the Canadian Government and the RCMP to cease pipeline work on Unist’ot’en Territory. Read the letter here. If you so choose, you can add your voice as a scholar.

Note: the Indigenization Working Group is an ad hoc committee of FAUW. Its support of the open letter should not be construed as FAUW’s position. Visit our website to learn more about the working group and about Indigenization at Waterloo.

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”

News From Your Board: February 15 Meeting Recap

—Sally Gunz, past president

There were two key items on the agenda at our February 15 meeting.

First, the Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC), a committee of FAUW, presented a recommendation to change its name to the Equity Committee. The Board supported this recommendation and the change will be put to our Spring General Meeting for approval as it involves a change to our constitution.

Second, the Board was advised that, on February 12, Renison University College faculty members voted to create a new faculty association and constitution, the Renison Association of Academic Staff. This is the first new faculty association in Canada in many years and we passed a unanimous motion congratulating our Renison colleagues. More details of how the relationship between the two associations will play out will be available in due course.

Members of the brand-new Renison Association of Academic Staff

The balance of the meeting was spent addressing more routine matters, reviewing recent events, and planning future ones. The Board congratulated the Hagey Lectures Committee for a very successful event. We are planning a follow-up to the recent Council of Representatives meeting designed to hear more about matters of concern to members. Stay tuned for more on that soon. Finally, we continued a discussion on how we can enhance our role in advising potential faculty members in their decision to join the University.

News From Your Board – November 9 Meeting

—Peter Johnson, Faculty of Environment representative to the FAUW board

The FAUW Board got back to business on November 9, after an October filled with special events, including the FAUW 60th anniversary celebration. We had a packed meeting room, evidence of a healthy and energized board, and of the strength of our organization and importance of our mandate.

We started off with a report from our independent auditor on the financial health of the organization. In a year that has seen great change at the administration level of the University, FAUW maintains a strong and prudent fiscal position that is neither overburdensome to our members nor compromising of our ability to protect our members and advance collegial governance on campus. Congratulations to Dan Brown, treasurer, and many treasurers before him for maintaining this balance.

Board members discussed ways to support our colleagues at local colleges while they are striking to reduce reliance on precarious employment and to obtain the academic freedom that many university faculty enjoy. FAUW has made a financial donation on behalf of our members to support those on the picket lines, and we are currently investigating other forms of support.

As discussed at our 60th Anniversary event, one of the main benefits of our Memorandum of Agreement with the University is that, compared to traditional union-based bargaining, in which a new collective agreement is negotiated every few years, FAUW is in a process of continual negotiation with the administration over terms of employment. The only thing we negotiate in the upcoming round of bargaining with the University is compensation.

In the last round of bargaining, our negotiating team secured the salary anomaly review, changes to the Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement (FPER), and annual scale increases to salaries and thresholds. That settlement expires April 30, 2018.

Our lead negotiator for this round, Benoit Charbonneau (Pure Mathematics), attended this Board meeting to brief the group and discuss preliminary strategy. Undoubtedly there will be more to come on this front, as bargaining commences in December. Shelley Hulan (English Language and Literature) and Dave Vert (School of Accounting and Finance) are also on the negotiating team.

The Lecturers Committee raised concerns with apparent discrepancies across campus regarding lecturer eligibility for departmental or school service tasks. FAUW would like to hear from any lecturers who have been prohibited from serving on departmental or school committees, especially Departmental Tenure and Promotion Committees (DTPC) involved in making hiring or promotion decisions about lecturers, and chair/director hiring committees.

It Goes Without Saying

A message from the Status of Women & Equity Committee

In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, and in response to the initial executive orders (including the executive order which denies U.S. entry to all refugees for 120 days, citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen face a 90 day visa suspension, and Syrian refugees are denied entry indefinitely) many institutions, organizations and individuals have made statements condemning discriminatory and divisive statements, and supporting equity and diversity. January 21, Women’s Marches in Washington and world wide organized in protest of the proposed legislative changes. This week, University of Waterloo community members gathered to express sorrow, support, and join in prayers in response to the shooting at the Grande Mosquée de Québec.

It goes without saying that the Status of Women and Equity Committee supports equity and inclusivity.

Except it doesn’t go without saying. It shouldn’t. We should say it, clearly and repeatedly.

We won’t always say it in a timely manner, and we won’t always say it perfectly. We won’t always use the best words, or speak with great eloquence. But we should and will say it.

We support equity and inclusivity. We value and celebrate diversity, across all measures and intersections of identity. We will fight against discrimination in all its forms. We stand in solidarity with our fellow community members. And we are not alone.

Le Comité du statut de la femme et de l’équité de l’Université de Waterloo tient à adresser ses sincères condoléances aux familles des victimes et exprime son soutien et son entière solidarité aux blessés touchés par cette tragédie. The Status of Women and Equity Committee of the University of Waterloo send our sincerest condolences to the families of the victims and express our support and wholehearted solidarity to the wounded touched by this tragedy.