Some offered practical suggestions for Lecturers like Dr. X who teach three terms a year:
Post online content instead of class instruction for two weeks. How would chairs feel about this? What about students who listen to the online content and then email with a question or ask for help? Would the answer “I’m on vacation and will get back to you” be satisfactory?
Get someone else to cover your classes for two weeks. This sounds great, except … who would that be? Would you regularly take on extra work to “cover” for a colleague on vacation?
Take a holiday during fall break and reading week. Since many faculty use the “break” to mark or to prepare, a holiday at this time would take very careful planning. And some faculty have been called out for not being available to students or for not answering work emails during these times.
It’s also worth noting that Lecturers are far more likely than Professors to be held to the requirements of Memorandum of Agreement 11.2.3: “Vacation shall be scheduled at a time or times which are mutually satisfactory to the Member and the Department Chair.”
But some replies to the blog, both in the comments and elsewhere, hinted that vacations weren’t really the “done thing.”
Do academics even take vacations?
A recent meme suggests that eschewing vacations is a particularly North American phenomenon.
Could the “American” attitude also be the normal academic one? Do we dismiss the very idea of taking time away from our jobs?
If so, what are the costs of an academic culture that values, not just work, but overwork? What, for example, are we modelling for (and expecting from) our graduate students if “no vacations” is the accepted norm? Is this healthy—physically, socially, psychologically?
Here are the updates from the June 3, 2021, FAUW Board of Directors meeting.
Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) change
On June 1, the University Board of Governors approved an update to Policy 76 that changes the threshold for which appointments need to go through UARC—it will now review appointments “longer than two years,” rather than “two years or longer.” As we reported last time, this will remove the primary reason for two-years-minus-one-day appointments. We asked the deans to add an extra day to all two-years-minus-one-day appointments and have heard from three that they are doing so. Two faculties don’t have any such appointments, and the sixth is discussing the issue further but we expect that to be resolved soon.
This extra day comes with significantly improved benefits, including dental coverage, better sick leave, long-term disability coverage, access to the Employee & Family Assistance Program, eligibility for the new pregnancy and parental leave policy, and tuition benefits under Policy 4 (for employees) and Policy 24 (for employees’ children). It can also have implications for retirement benefits eligibility.
We’re excited that the University equity survey will be going out soon. We encourage you to participate in it. This survey is what will provide the Salary Anomaly Working Group with the data needed to run the race-based salary anomaly review that we negotiated in our latest salary settlement. There is a lot of information about the survey and how the data will be used on the Equity Office website.
Mario Ioannidis is representing FAUW on the new return-to-campus working group. This group has representatives from the Staff Association, Occupational Health, the Safety Office, Human Resources, and Plant Operations, among other units, and meets every other week. They are informing institutional guidelines (e.g. classroom capacity) for a staged return from now through January 2022, and applying a change management framework to this return. The group recognizes that returning to campus significantly affects faculty members.
Mario and Johanna Wandel met with Plant Operations. Plant Ops started upgrading HVAC systems (of which there are more than 300) as soon as campus emptied out last year. They are using MERV 13 standard air filters throughout campus and we’re working with them on getting detailed data to members about the rooms they use.
Tenure and promotion 2021
We are asking the University to ensure that departmental and faculty tenure & promotion committees (and external referees) take the effects of the pandemic on teaching and research into account when reviewing tenure and promotion files this year.
Dr. X is a Lecturer at the University of Waterloo who teaches three terms a year. They are finding it difficult to take their four weeks of annual vacation entitlement, to be scheduled in blocks at least one week long.
Can you help Dr. X find four one-week blocks of vacation time in the 2021-22 academic year? Share your results in the comments below.
Considerations and constraints
Dr. X has an exam scheduled on April 23; marking the exam and submitting final grades will take approximately four days.
Dr. X would like to attend their sister’s wedding in BC on July 3.
Dr. X’s family has been offered a cottage rental from August 8–21; Dr. X would like to join their family.
Dr. X has been assigned a new course in fall 2022 and needs time to prepare it.
Workload is a complex issue. For Lecturers, it intersects with vacation access because—as you saw with Dr. X—teaching three terms a year leaves very little time for meaningful vacation.
It is true that Waterloo is a three-term university, unlike many of our comparator institutions. It is also true that UW has enjoyed the flexibility of assigning work to Lecturers in all three terms. But what if flexibility means a lack of access to vacations? Can teaching workload be assigned more fairly?
What is clear is that teaching-stream faculty members deserve to take the annual vacations that allow us all a chance to rest and relax, to connect with family and friends, and to come back to work refreshed. Work-life balance is something we hear a lot about these days. Teaching faculty at UW deserve this balance as well.
To help clarify some of the implications and motivations of items in the new salary settlement, we’ve once again asked our chief negotiator (Bryan Tolson, this time) to provide some commentary. Below is the full text of the agreement with annotations, but first, here’s a quick, plain-language summary of the items in the agreement:
1% scale increases each year for three years.
$85 for eye exams (for each person every two years).
A new compassionate care and bereavement leave policy that will provide:
A salary top-up (to 85%, for up to eight weeks) for members on a Critical Illness Leave or Family Medical Leave (minus Employment Insurance benefits received)
Four weeks of fully paid bereavement leave on the death of a spouse/partner, child, or step-child; one week on the death of any other immediate family member, such as a parent or sibling.
A deadline to start collecting faculty equity data, including on race and Indigeneity, and an update to the current salary anomaly review to identify and correct race-based anomalies once the data is ready. Corrections will be retroactive to May 1, 2021, and race and Indigeneity will be factors in future salary anomaly reviews.
A Memorandum of Agreement update so that faculty teaching all three terms in a year can now carry two weeks of vacation forward each year (up from one); for lecturers, these weeks will not expire until after their next non-teaching term.
Interpreting the agreement
Bill 124 limitations
Bill 124 limits public sector employee compensation increases to a maximum of 1% each year for a three-year period (our period is May 2021 – April 2024). Specifically, our average salary increase is capped at 1%, and our total “compensation entitlements” (total salary plus all benefits), is also capped at a 1% increase. (See the appendix at the end of this post for the language in the bill itself). Note that selective salary increases (merit) are not affected and will continue as usual.
Our bargaining team estimated that after the 1% scale increase, we had over $600 per member remaining for other items over the three-year deal. Our certified forensic accountant, Linda Robinson, led these calculations. Our actuarial costing, led by Mary Hardy from the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, shows the settlement items have a projected total increase in compensation entitlements of only $160 (items 5 through 8 generate no increase at all). This leaves room for additional benefit enhancements, particularly in the third year of the agreement, in which there is no additional spending as a result of this agreement beyond the scale increase.
It’s been a while since we’ve provided an update from the Board of Directors. Here’s a run-down of (almost) everything we’ve been working on since January. Our committees have also been very active this year and we’ll report on more of their work soon. Feel free to ask for more details in the comments or by email.
In no particular order:
1. We announced the lecturer salary threshold increase. This was a big win for lecturers. In case you missed it, here’s the gist: When your salary passes each threshold, your merit increase is reduced by a certain amount to slow down your rate of increase once you’re in that higher salary bracket. [Learn more about how this works.] The lecturer thresholds were too low, so lecturers were hitting them earlier in their careers than intended. Last year, we negotiated for a Working Group on Salary Structure to fix that, and they did. The Lecturers Committee held a packed celebration at the Grad House on June 11.
2. We cleared up a vacation issue for lecturers (and other faculty, but mostly lecturers) with a small change to the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). Any member engaged in classroom teaching in all three terms is now entitled to carry over one week of vacation, for one year. You just have to notify your chair. Carrying forward one week or more of vacation was already (and still is) allowed for all members “in exceptional circumstances.” A formal announcement of the precise change is coming later this month.
3. We approved a change to the MoA that addresses issues with expense deadlines. Namely, we added more clarity on deadlines and Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement Plan in general and the submission cycle is essentially shifted earlier to provide a reasonable amount of time for processing and approvals. A formal announcement of the precise change is coming later this month.
4. We participated in two separate provincial government consultations about 1) a cap on public sector wage increases and then 2) faculty simultaneously collecting a salary and pension. We are developing another formal response document for the end of the month to an additional government consultation session in late June on the potential for the Minister to write a regulation prohibiting collecting a salary and pension. We will share in some way with members after it is submitted. Thanks to all members who have engaged with us in providing useful feedback.
5. We supported faculty who teach Undergraduate Communication Outcomes Initiative (UCOI) courses in pushing back against an announcement about class sizes that contradicted Policy 40 (on the role of chairs). FAUW wanted to see appropriate (and required) levels of consultation and now believes such consultations are occurring.