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.

Friday: Solidarity Rally with CUPE 926 at Laurier

From the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA):

There will be a solidarity rally for Wilfrid Laurier University workers in CUPE 926 who are currently on strike this Friday, July 15, 2016 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The location of the rally is 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo.

CUPE 926 represents custodians, groundskeepers and tradespeople at the university. The dispute is centred on the employer’s attempts to remove contracting-out language from their agreement, and contract out custodial work, creating lower-paid, less-secure positions. The other key issue has been the claw back of post-retirement benefits. The administration’s very aggressive approach to bargaining has implications not only for CUPE 926 but for all faculty and staff at Wilfrid Laurier and across the province.

Read the letter from OCUFA president Judy Bates to Laurier president Max Blouw.
For more information about the rally from CUPE, you can phone 905.739.9739 or email: info@cupe.on.ca.

How You Can Support Faculty in Fort McMurray

Without question, everyone has been saddened and shocked by the stories and images of the wildfires in Fort McMurray. As widely communicated through the media, the best way each and every one of us can currently help is by donating to the Canadian Red Cross online or by texting REDCROSS to 30333.

Anyone interested in supporting this important cause can also offer help to the Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association (ACIFA) as ACIFA will be coordinating communication and relief offers from colleagues across the country. It is expected that ACIFA will provide some direct support to faculty members through the Keyano College Faculty Association.

Your generous help to support colleagues in Alberta going through this hardship will be very much appreciated. To inquire, please contact Doug Short, President of ACIFA at dougs@nait.ca, or the ACIFA office:

ACIFA
Suite 412, 10357 109 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5J 1N3
Tel: (780) 423-4440
Fax: (780) 423-4515
pam.anderson@acifa.ca
ben.turner@acifa.ca

Academics on Strike: Why FAUW Stands in Solidarity

As many of you may know, our faculty colleagues at Mount Allison University and at the University of New Brunswick have both recently been on strike for different reasons.  In such situations, FAUW stands as one with our hard-pressed colleagues in their efforts to improve and safeguard their working conditions.

Background

The Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers has just ratified an agreement on 6 February, which the Board of Governors has also ratified, putting an end to their strike/lockout situation.

At Mount Allison, colleagues have explained their situation thus: “Faculty are prepared to strike if necessary to protect Mount Allison’s academic mission and its role in providing a supportive community for intellectual development and academic excellence for faculty and students.  In our negotiations, we are fighting to protect existing provisions in the Collective Agreement that uphold academic freedom and collegial governance – provisions that the administration is trying to weaken.”

FAUW’s Position

At the Faculty Association’s Board of Directors meeting on 9 October 2008, in the midst of strikes at the University of Windsor and Brandon University (MB), the following motion was passed: “That, providing its financial situation is healthy, FAUW will send $1,000 and a letter of support from the president to faculty associations that have been on strike for a week, and that the Board will discuss additional donations if the strike continues.

Consequently, FAUW has sent a $1,000 cheque to each of the faculty associations mentioned above, along with a letter of support.

Why Offer Support?

Colleagues at unionized institutions have the same concerns as we do: to defend academic freedom, collegial governance, principles of equity in the workplace, and to establish a safe and positive working environment for all members.  When administrations at other institutions see fit to erode or abrogate any of the core principles of

“If these principles are not defended everywhere, they can be eroded anywhere, regardless of whether or not the faculty operate in a unionized environment.”

academic life that are FAUW’s duty to defend at UW, it is also our duty to offer support to our colleagues at those institutions.  If these principles are not defended everywhere, they can be eroded anywhere, regardless of whether or not the faculty operate in a unionized environment.  As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, we at UW have been extremely fortunate for having an administration that has not (yet!) deserved to work with a unionized body of faculty.

This situation prevails because there has been, by and large, a practical recognition of the importance of those principles that appears to be at the core of decision-making at UW.  We at FAUW are well aware of the potential precariousness of this situation – it depends largely on continuing good will and recognition of a positive common cause on both sides.  As we know, administrators change, and with such changes comes the risk of a degradation in operational relations between faculty and the administration.  Consequently, we are eager to support our colleagues who work in adversarial contexts elsewhere, since our own good fortune can by no means be taken for granted.  Should our own relations with UW’s administrators ever degrade to the point of both unionization and a strike, we would certainly benefit from being part of an established national network of support.

Moreover, colleagues at other institutions are just that: colleagues.  Any number of them may have been or may again be at some point your own departmental colleagues.  The expansion and transmission of human knowledge to future generations are our primary tasks wherever we work as academics and therefore our working conditions are a common concern.

None of the above implies that FAUW is considering a union drive at any point in the near future – we simply don’t need one.  That being said, in the current economic and social environment, it would behoove academics to support other academics in their efforts to fulfill our duties to society. Nothing less than the future of advanced human inquiry and cultural memory is at stake.