‘Academic Views’

March 2020

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on March 2020 | Filed in Academic Views

 

A Message from Faculty Association President

Paul Rogers, President

The Faculty Association staff have been transitioning to working remotely for the past week. The Association office is now closed until further notice in keeping with the University directives to work remotely. We are receiving your emails and voicemail messages, and responding as quickly as we can.

As the situation with COVID-19 evolves, the health and safety of Association members and their families is our top priority. The Association has supported the Administration in moving classes online and now asking everyone who can work from home to do so. However, these decisions bring with them unprecedented challenges for many members. Given the diverse membership of the Association, the challenges and concerns we have been made aware of vary greatly. As members voice these concerns, we have been bringing them to the attention of the Administration and working toward solutions.

As we move toward social distancing and isolation, it is more important than ever to be mindful of our peers and our own well-being. In addition to the Homewood Health system, Staff Wellness is offering support by phone.

Please visit the University website for more information and ideas.

With so much attention being paid to the COVID-19 situation, concerns around the Government of Alberta’s 2020-2021 budget and the implications of this for the 2020-2021 University of Calgary (U of C) budget have, quite rightly, moved to the backburner for now. Nevertheless, I thought it worth providing some very brief comments on the Association’s perspective on both the Government of Alberta and U of C budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

First, the provincial budget:

  • As expected, this contained another round of cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant (funding the U of C’s general operations). The reported cut to the U of C’s Campus Alberta Grant is $26.7M which would represent a 6% cut from the prior year.
  • Combining the cuts represented in the two Government budgets (2019-20 and 2020-2021), announced over a period of a little more than 4 months, the U of C’s Campus Alberta Grant is down $59.6M or 12.4% in total. Such a large funding decrease cannot be absorbed without damaging the scope and quality of our teaching and research endeavours.
  • The new performance-based funding model was introduced, including Investment Management Agreements intended to “replace Comprehensive Institutional Plans and institutional mandates”.
  • The budget documents also note that government intentions include “developing a strategic direction and governance model for the post-secondary system, and focusing on the sustainability of institutions”. In connection to this, prior to the budget, the Government announced that it would be conducting a post-secondary system review and that a “Request for Proposals” would be posted in March seeking for an “experienced vendor” to analyze the post-secondary sector and assist in the creation of a new vision and long-term strategy for the PSE system in Alberta.
  • The budget “continues to call for tight controls on public sector compensation”, noting that “public sector compensation restraint is imperative”, and includes an anticipated reduction in staff of 398 (or 1.2%) across the post-secondary sector as a whole.

The issue of performance-based funding and Investment Management Agreements, mentioned above, remains somewhat unclear, with our current understanding being as follows:

  • The U of C has released no information on the performance measures that might be included in its Investment Management Agreement (IMA) with the Government.
  • The measures being included in the IMA for Alberta’s other leading research-intensive institution, the University of Alberta, together with their weighting, are apparently the following:
    • Total expenditure (40%)
    • Enrolment (40%) – split across domestic (25%), Indigenous (10%), and international (5%)
    • Administrative expense ratio (10%)
    • Non-Alberta sponsored research revenue (10%).
  • It has been rumoured that the implementation of performance-based funding and the IMAs may be delayed for a year.

Next the U of C budget:

  • Very little has been made public yet about the U of C’s 2020-2021 budget. Based on remarks by the Provost at GFC, the budget will be approved by the Board of Governors in March.
  • The 6% cut in the Campus Alberta Grant announced in the provincial budget is not much different from the 5% cut that was expected.
  • Student tuition fees for next year have been increased significantly (these were passed at a Board of Governors’ meeting in January).
  • Of critical interest to the Association is what the cuts will be to Faculties and to what extent these will be differential.

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Government Relations Update

Labour Relations Consultation

The Faculty Association was invited by the Ministry of Labour and Immigration to participate in a consultation around the Alberta Labour Relations Code. In our response, we raised several concerns about the current legislation which has Academic Staff Associations existing both under the Post-Secondary Learning Act (PSLA) and the Labour Relations Code. As an Association of Academic Staff within the University and under the PSLA, we see our mandate being beyond the limits of simply a bargaining agent. In addition to our role in bargaining and grievances, we are part of the collegial governance mechanisms of the University and strive to contribute to the wellbeing of the Academic Staff on that basis. In representing our members in discussions of policies at General Faculties Council and on various university committees, we are not simply taking the ‘union line’ but are trying to make sure that the voice of academic staff is heard at all levels. Sometimes our role is to ensure fairness and due process; in other cases, it is as a collector and conveyor of the views of our membership within the councils of the University. There is no other body that can effectively relay the views of the academic staff as a whole.

The establishment of the Association as a trade union for bargaining purposes was made by the previous NDP Government in response to rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada regarding the right to strike as essential to bargaining units, but the reality is that the Supreme Court’s requirements could have been met with far simpler changes under the PSLA. At the time of this change, the Association advocated for the simpler solution of amending the authority of the Association under the PSLA.

Given that the Association membership includes a large and diverse community of academics, including physicians, psychologists, social workers and others involved in clinical work, as well as many researchers who have laboratories that need to be regularly maintained, strikes and lockouts would not seem to be the best form of dispute resolution and binding arbitration would seem to be a better fit. Binding arbitration was the dispute mechanism prior to moving the Association under the Labour Relations Code. Binding arbitration had worked well in the past to preserve labour peace in the post-secondary sector, and we continue to believe it is a more effective solution that avoids disrupting the primary functions of the University (teaching and research) which would inevitably occur in the case of a strike or lockout. Therefore, we have advocated for a return to this system.

Given the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the right to strike as essential to bargaining units, there needs to be a provision that allows Academic Staff Associations to opt for strikes as the resolution mechanism if they choose under certain circumstances. However, this does not need to preclude binding arbitration as the preferred mechanism. One approach would be for the Association and Governors to agree to a resolution mechanism before bargaining begins. Knowing the mechanism for resolution (binding arbitration vs. strike/lock-out) prior to bargaining, affects the nature of the discussions at the bargaining table.

Another issue that was raised in our Labour Relations Code submission was the complex and ongoing issue of designation. This is the process by which membership in faculty associations is determined. The current system is ineffective and glacially slow. We have proposed that arbitrators be empowered to make decisions about the designation of academic staff upon submission by the Parties of the individual agreements. This would be a quicker and more elegant solution. Over time, a certain level of jurisprudence would form, but we would not be delayed by the processes of the Labour Relations Board.

The Faculty Association will continue to seek opportunities to engage with the Ministry of Labour and Immigration on these issues.

Outcomes-Based Funding

The Government of Alberta announced on January 20, 2020 the plans to introduce a new funding model for the Campus Alberta Grant (CAG). In addition to a reduction in the Campus Alberta Grant, a portion of the grant will be tied to outcomes agreed to by the Minister of Advanced Education and the University Administration in an Investment Management Agreement (IMA). The plan is to have the IMAs in place for April 1 and it will tie 15% of the University’s 2020-21 CAG allocation to the outcomes of the IMA. The IMAs will remain active until March 31, 2023 and the portion of funding tied to the outcomes will increase to 40% of the CAG allocation.

The Faculty Association has not been included in negotiating the terms of the IMA. In the spirit of Collegial Governance, the Association believes that it is essential that the finalized agreement is shared with members of the University community and that any data sources referred to in the agreement be open and transparent.

The Faculty Association made a submission to the Ministry of Advanced Education on February 21, 2020 regarding the new funding model. The submission focussed on three main points: (i) the Government should take more time to consider the implications of the proposed scheme and to identify an appropriate set of measures; (ii) the existing set of proposed measures is a poor fit with research-intensive institutions; and (iii) a scheme that can only reduce funding (not provide additional funds for excellent performance) is unwise and excessively punitive in the current context of large multi-year cuts in Government funding.

In the submission, the Association agreed that decisions about funding, resource allocation, and all other aspects of the post-secondary system should be evidence-based, but evidence needs to be carefully weighed and considered, and the risks of unintended consequences need to be fully explored before rushing to action. It seems that the Government is rushing, unnecessarily, to implement something that goes far beyond the election platform promise to measure post-secondary program labour market outcomes, without fully considering the context and implications of outcomes-based funding schemes.

Given that the U of C has already been dealt a 6.9% cut to its Campus Alberta grant for the current fiscal year (imposed after half the year had already passed) with an additional 6% cut announced for this year, introducing a funding scheme that might lead to additional cuts in funding is entirely unreasonable. The Government should take additional time, at least 12 months, before introducing any outcomes-based funding mechanism.

Alberta’s post-secondary system is structured via the six-sector model and is focused on the 5 adult learning system principles of accessibility; affordability; quality; accountability; and coordination. It is only following a thorough review of these principles and of the six-sector model that systematic changes should be made to Alberta’s post-secondary system and funding model. The introduction of an outcomes-based funding scheme is premature without a higher-level assessment of the entire system and how is it structured.

The U of C is one of two (along with the University of Alberta) leading research-intensive universities in Canada, ranking in the top 6 nationally in terms of research funding. The U of C and the U of A educate more than 80% of the students in the Comprehensive Academic Research Universities sector and attract more than 95% of the research funding of all post-secondary institutions in Alberta. Major research-intensive universities like the U of C have enormous impacts on the cities and provinces where they are located, not all of which can easily be measured in a few simple metrics. The research, teaching, and community engagement activities of the U of C help ensure the development of Alberta on social, cultural, and intellectual dimensions, as well as the economic dimension. The performance measures proposed in the consultation document from the Government do a very poor job of covering the range and richness of the value that the U of C provides to Alberta in return for the funds invested by the Government.

As a leading research-intensive university in Canada, the U of C is focused on high quality in everything that it does. In support of this focus on high quality, the U of C has for many years been tracking its performance on over 30 metrics that have been approved by its senior academic decision-making body, the General Faculties Council. How the U of C’s performance increases on these measures, most of which can be directly compared with the performance of the top 5 research universities in Canada, is closely monitored as the U of C implements its Academic Plan and its Research Plan. There is a great risk that the Government’s introduction of new metrics, unrelated to those that the university has focused on for many years as it pursues its mandate, will lead to a decrease in the quality of the work that the U of C does. Should the Government persist and impose unilaterally a set of measures that do not align well with the fundamental purposes of a research-intensive university, this would also constitute a significant infringement of institutional autonomy.

Several of the measures proposed by the Government seem unrelated to the fundamental purpose of a research university. Such institutions aim to educate students to become fully engaged, thoughtful, and critical citizens in a vibrant society, and with the knowledge to continuously develop and contribute no matter what technological, social, or economic changes they are faced with over the long term.

Additionally, some of the measures proposed by the Government seem to be in conflict or might lead to undesirable consequences. For example, if institutions are incentivized to reduce time to completion of degrees, this conflicts with increasing elements of work-integrated learning, which would lengthen programs. It might also lead to institutions reducing the number of students from underrepresented groups who might need additional time and support to complete their programs.

Another concern of the Faculty Association was that some of the measures that the Government proposed are not under the control of the U of C but instead are directly affected by government policy and actions. For example, the number of graduates who are employed two years after graduation as teachers, social workers, nurses, and others who are primarily employed in government-funded institutions, is likely dependent on government decisions (rather than upon anything that the University does).

The ability of research universities to function well rests firmly on stable and predictable funding. The necessary investment in the academic staff required to develop and deliver high-quality programs, and to design and undertake top-quality research/scholarship requires a long-term view. The introduction of an outcomes-based funding scheme that can only reduce funding fundamentally undermines this, and is likely to lead to increases in the proportion of teaching carried out by contract academic staff in highly precarious positions – this will damage the quality of the student experience as well as diminish an institution’s ability to fulfil its mandate for research and scholarship.

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Community Service Award


Faculty Association President, Paul Rogers, (right) presents the Community Service Award to Dr. Mea Wang (left).

This year the Faculty Association was pleased to confer its Community Service Award to Professor Mea Wang, an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science in the Faculty of Science. The Community Service Award recognizes an individual or group of academic staff members for their exceptional service to our broader community. In her academic role, Professor Wang’s research focuses on computer networking and cloud computing for the Internet of Things, and augmented and virtual reality. Professor Wang teaches core computer science courses including Computer Programming, Operating Systems, Computer Networking, and Software Entrepreneurship.

Beyond her work as an academic, Professor Wang works to build networks between mentors, teachers and youth in the Calgary community. This has significantly impacted Computer Science and Entrepreneurship education. From her first year as an Assistant Professor, Dr. Wang created and organized the first Calgary Computer Science Teachers Symposium in the Department of Computer Science. This symposium has been running semi-annually since 2009.

Professor Wang was a leader and Calgary region Ambassador for the Technovation Challenge between 2013 and 2019. Technovation is the world’s largest global tech entrepreneurship competition for female school students. The 12-week program offers students aged 10 to 18 years old the opportunity to learn the necessary skills including teamwork, problem solving, and communication to emerge as tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Professor Wang’s leadership in Technovation helped build a team of approximately 150 volunteer mentors across career stages and industries.

Her outreach activities have helped to balance the gender distribution in Computer Science and tech-based entrepreneurship while building connections between our University and the local and global tech sector. In doing so, this has contributed to a natural relationship between the Department of Computer Science, computer science educators, and the local and global tech industry. Her outreach work has benefited students from the Department of Computer Science as they engage in these programs, gain entrepreneurial skills and networks which have helped them to secure jobs in their field.

While Dr. Wang received the award this year, it is important to recognize all Faculty Association members, all members of the University community and all Calgarians who reap the benefits of the valuable relationships between academic staff and their fellow citizens.

The Association would like to thank the members of the Awards Committee: Committee Chair and Association Board Member, Justine Wheeler, from Libraries and Cultural Resources, Allan Ingelson from the Faculty of Law and Haskayne School of Business, Sharaz Khan from Haskayne School of Business, Meadow Schroeder from Werklund School of Education, and Kristin von Ranson from the Faculty of Arts.

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Financial Statements

The Faculty Association’s audited financial statements for 2018-2019 were approved by the Board of Directors on February 11, 2020. The audit was executed as required by the Association’s bylaws. The auditors found that there was excellent cooperation between management and other personnel, and that the audit numbers support the assurance that the Association is in good financial shape.

The financial statements for the fiscal year 2018-2019 are available here. If you have any questions, please contact the Association office.

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Dues are tax deductible

As you prepare your taxes, remember that your Faculty Association dues (which include your CAUT dues) are tax deductible. You can find these dues on your pay stub and in box 44 of your 2019 U of C T4.

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GAZETTE

Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program Vote

The Faculty Association membership voted to approve the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program. The ballots were issued on January 29, 2020 and the votes were counted on February 14, 2020. The results of the vote were as follows:

Yes: 294 (94.8%)
No: 16 (5.2%)
Total votes Cast: 310

No ballots were spoiled.

Number of ballots issued to ongoing members: 1852 – Voter turnout: 310 (16.7%)
Number of ballots issued to sessional members: 0

Election of President and Board of Directors Members

The Election Committee reports the following results for the election of Association President and Chair of the Board as follows:

David Stewart: 287
Mary-Ellen Tyler: 203
Total votes cast: 490

No ballots were spoiled; six were not counted as the voter could not be identified.

David Stewart was declared elected.

The Election Committee further reports the results for the Board of Directors election as follows:

Marie-Andrée Bergeron: 223
Marcia Epstein: 143
Hamid Habibi: 237
Kaela Jubas: 110
Ed Nowicki: 106
Jessica Shaw: 278
Francine Smith: 170
Melanee Thomas: 325
Trevor Tombe: 323
Justine Wheeler: 187
Ian Winchester: 147
John Wright: 150
Total votes cast: 478

No ballots were spoiled; six were not counted as the voter could not be identified.

The following members were declared elected to three-year terms on the Board of Directors: Marie-Andrée Bergeron, Hamid Habibi, Jessica Shaw, Melanee Thomas, and Trevor Tombe. Justine Wheeler was elected to a one-year term on the Board of Directors. In addition, it should be noted that Polly Knowlton Cockett was elected by acclamation to a one-year term on the Board of Directors in the designated sessional seat. </p

For both elections, the total number of ballots issued was 1852 to ongoing members and 615 to sessional members.

All of the new members take office as of July 1, 2020.

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March 2020

President’s Message

Government Update

Community Service Award

Financial Statements

Dues are Tax Deductible

GAZETTE

December 2019

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on December 2019 | Filed in Academic Views


It has been a very busy semester for the Faculty Association, and I’m sure it has been for you as well. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of good news to share in this edition of Academic Views. Below you will find information about the Provincial Budget, the University finances, and other issues that the Faculty Association is working on.

However, as the semester winds down, the holidays approach and bring with them time to rest and reenergise with family and friends. We hope that you take time to relax and enjoy the holidays.

From everyone at the Faculty Association, we wish you the very best of the season!

Paul Rogers, President

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Government Update

Following the release of the provincial budget, the UCP Government wasted no time in tabling Bills 20, 21, and 22 to enact various pieces of the budget changes.

Under the provincial budget, the total operating grant for Advanced Education will be reduced by about 12% over 4 years. Both the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary are getting a 6.9% cut to the ‘Campus Alberta’ grant (the operating grant) in the current fiscal year (the one that is more than half over). This is a reduction of almost $33 million for the UofC. Universities will be able to increase tuition by 7% per year on average for each of the next three years. A new funding model is coming in 2020-2021 that will likely be performance-based, though there remains uncertainty as to what the criteria will be. The overall goal is to reduce compensation costs at post-secondary institutions by 7.8%, although the Government says this will be mainly through attrition.

The current year Campus Alberta Grant cuts were supposedly based on each institution’s “ability to absorb” a cut. Specifically, the Government cut most institutions (the six institutions comprising the Independent Academic Institutions sector of the Governments six-sector model were not cut) by almost 50% of their five-year-average annual “surplus” (for fiscal years ending 2014 through 2018). While this might look reasonable at first blush, the method they used to determine the surplus includes donations to the endowment and unspent endowment income amounting to $190M, thereby dramatically overstating the UofC’s true operating surplus.

The budget does not directly address the wage reopeners that various unions, including us, are in the midst of, but there is a warning that “further reductions (in staffing) may be necessary to accommodate for awards through arbitration in 2019/20.” This warning is meant to place employee bargaining teams in the difficult position of choosing between higher wages and jobs.
The Government wasted little time before introducing Bills 20 and 21, which will enact much of the planned budget along with many other changes. It is difficult to capture all of the ramifications of Bills 20, 21, and 22 because they are omnibus bills, which means that they do many things simultaneously in a variety of different pieces of legislation. Some of the changes have a direct and immediate impact on members of the Faculty Association, while others may have longer-term and less clear impact.

Bill 20, the Fiscal Measures and Taxation Act, does a couple of things:

Eliminates new tuition tax credits and changes how tuition credits can be carried forward and transferred.

Modifies the Post-Secondary Learning Act by giving the Minister some power related to enrolment at institutions, transfers, and admissions. It is unclear what this means, but given their previous statements about consolidating programs, this could conceivably give the Minister the ability to close a program at one institution and move students to another with full credit at the receiving institution.

Bill 21, the Ensuring Fiscal Sustainability Act, does several things that impact our members and Alberta Post-Secondary Education:

Bill 21 gives the Cabinet the ability to terminate the agreement with the Alberta Medical Association. It also gives the Cabinet the ability to terminate any other agreement related to compensation matters under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act. This could include the AMHSP (Academic Medicine and Health Services Program) master agreement or individual agreements with our members under the AMHSP.

Bill 21 makes significant changes to the Alberta Labour Relations Code, including the rules regarding the use of replacement workers during a strike or lockout. It also gives more power to the Essential Services Commissioner to impose binding arbitration.

Bill 21 changes the Post-Secondary Learning Act by changing the limit on tuition fee increases for 2020 through 2023 and putting the cap for those years into regulations. It allows for changes to Alberta Student Loans with increases to the interest rate. This is in addition to the removal of tuition as a tax deduction in Bill 20 and will significantly increase the cost of post-secondary education to students and/or their parents. For our members who are recent graduates, this could also significantly increase their costs if they can no longer carry forward the costs of their tuition. These changes are expected to have a significant impact on the accessibility of post-secondary education in Alberta.

The Public Service Employee Relations Act is changed by reversing what the former government did regarding budget officers, systems analysts, and auditors. The former government made it so these types of jobs could belong to a union, so a number of people at the UofC were being put into the Alberta Union of Provincial Employess (AUPE) as a result.

Finally, and most significantly, Bill 21 creates a new Public Sector Employers Act that gives the government the power to issue directives to all public sector employers under their authority (including our Board of Governors), which the employer must follow in bargaining. This includes the term of the agreement, the fiscal limits the employer must operate within, and other directives. This new Act requires the Governors to provide a wide variety of labour relations information to the government to ensure they comply with the directives of the government. Further, the directives of the government regarding bargaining must be kept confidential by the Governors and cannot be disclosed to anyone without the consent of the Minister.

Bill 22, the Reform of Agencies, Boards and Commissions and Government Enterprises Act, does not have as much direct impact on the Faculty Association, but some sections might impact us or the UofC:

Bill 22 dissolves the Campus Alberta Strategic Directions Committee. This committee was composed of the Presidents and Board Chairs of each post-secondary institution and was to provide advice to the Minister regarding “Campus Alberta”.
The Employment Pension Plans Act is amended in a number of ways that we are still trying to decipher. These changes may have some minor effects on the Universities Academic Pension Plan (UAPP) and we will continue to investigate.

Bill 22 also removes the ability of the Local Authorities Pension Plan and Public Service Pension Plan to move their assets from the Alberta Investment Management Corporation’s (AIMCo) management and requires the Alberta Teachers’ Pension Plan to move its assets under AIMCo.

Bill 22 dissolves the Alberta Capital Finance Authority. While the government will continue to provide low-cost loans to local authorities (including the UofC Board of Governors), it will be done more directly by the government and not through this authority. This gives more direct authority over loans to the Minister.

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University Budget Cuts; We’re all in this together?

Given the cuts to the Provincial budget, the University Administration is making deep cuts to operations at the University.

One of the messages from the Administration is that we’re all one family and that we have to face these cuts together. However, academic staff have already been operating in an environment of significant fiscal austerity based on the actions of university Administration over the last decade.. The Governors’ bargaining teams have been relentless over the last 10 years in pushing for zero percent wage adjustments for academic staff. This, despite the university running operational surpluses that could have easily paid for cost of living adjustments. Administration’s behaviour here does not appear to have won the University any Government favour and instead has left its ‘family’ vulnerable in an already weakened position.

The result is that academic staff are underpaid when compared with the University of Alberta and other members of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities (U15).

Statistics Canada collects data on Academic Staff salaries across Canada. While the data is not yet complete for 2018-2019, it gives a good indication of how salaries for academic staff at the University of Calgary compare to academic staff at other universities in Canada.

In 2017-2018, the University of Calgary was 12th among the U15 universities and well below the average of those universities. In fact, the average of the U15 average salaries for 2017-2018 is 10 percent higher than the average for the University of Calgary. The Provincial Government claims that Alberta’s Public Service is overpaid compared to other provinces, but this is clearly not the case for academic staff at the University of Calgary.

If the current trends continue, the salaries of academic staff at UofC will continue to fall behind those of colleagues at other universities. In addition, the Government’s proposed two percent rollback would accelerate this and result in the University of Calgary at the bottom of the U15.

As the salaries for academic staff at UofC have not been keeping pace with the increased cost of living, members have already been realizing substantial losses to their purchasing power.

If we are truly all in this together, this issue will have to be addressed for the UofC to attract and retain academic staff. After all, the academic staff work tirelessly to drive the University’s mission with a direct impact on the student experience and the University’s ability to create, innovate, and discover.

We will be reporting to you further in the near future regarding the Wage Reopener Arbitration and upcoming bargaining cycle.

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USRI Grievance Arbitration

In June, the Association launched a grievance against the use of the Universal Student Rating Instrument (USRI) as a summative assessment tool and the administration’s use of it as evidence of teaching effectiveness in hiring, tenure, promotion, and merit processes. Association representatives met with the Provost in September and she has since denied this grievance. The Association’s Board of Directors has voted to proceed to arbitration.

The Association’s position is:

(1) the USRI does not measure the teaching effectiveness of an instructor. (There is excellent background information about this on the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations website — https://ocufa.on.ca/assets/OCUFA-SQCT-Report.pdf.)

(2) USRI student responses are subject to race, gender, age, and other prohibited grounds of discrimination, as well as other biases not stated in the Alberta Human Rights Act. Thus, the USRI is a deeply flawed instrument, which produces data that is inherently biased and if used to assess an instructor’s teaching effectiveness constitutes a breach of the instructor’s rights under the Alberta Human Rights Act and the protections against discrimination in the Collective Agreement.

(3) The use of the USRI by the administration provides student users with an anonymous opportunity to harass instructors and as such its use – as opposed to its application which is a breach under the Alberta Human Rights Act – is in breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act which requires that employers provide a safe workspace.

(4) Further, the protections against misuse of USRI results as contained in the GFC Academic Staff Criteria & Processes Handbook, providing that student evaluation is “one factor on which the evaluation of teaching shall be based (4.2.3)” and that “all information provided by the student should be taken into account when interpreting the results” (4.2.4) are inadequate to address this issue. Again, this is so given the fundamentally flawed nature of the instrument to provide assessment and that its use for that purpose is contrary to the Alberta Human Rights Act.

Therefore, given that the instrument cannot measure what it claims to measure, that the application of results from it offend the rights of Association members under the Alberta Human Rights Act, and its very use is a breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Association takes the position that USRI information should not be used in matters of hiring, merit assessment, tenure, and promotion.

We have taken the position that USRI results should only be used for formative purposes, provided only to the academic staff member affected.

In her response, the Provost says there is no evidence that the USRI is a violation of human rights. She argues that because it is in the Collective Agreement and the Handbook, it should continue and that the USRI Working Group is reviewing the use in the merit process.

Given the preponderance of evidence about the misuse of student ratings, we are disappointed in the Provost’s response. It is therefore with regret that the Association’s Board of Directors feels obligated to take this matter to arbitration.

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Faculty Guidelines

As members might have noticed, the Faculty Guidelines have not been updated in several years. These guidelines are often now in conflict with the Collective Agreement and other policies of the University.

Over much of the last decade, the Faculty Association and the Governors have been negotiating the processes related to tenure, promotion, and assessment into the Collective Agreement. This was finally achieved in 2017. During those negotiations, there was a moratorium on changes to what was then called the Procedures Pertaining to Appointment Promotion, and Tenure of Academic Staff (APT Manual) and the Faculty Guidelines.

Following the approval of the GFC Academic Staff Criteria & Processes Handbook in April 2019, there was no longer an impediment to the Faculty Councils updating their Faculty Guidelines. If members are being told that their Faculty cannot update its guidelines, this is not due to any actions from the Faculty Association. As there has been no effort to take positive steps to fulfil the requirement, the Association views this to be a violation of Articles 28 and 29 of the Collective Agreement and has filed a grievance with the Provost.

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Nominations for Board of Directors

The Faculty Association is seeking nominees to the Association Board of Directors and for President.
There are six (6) vacancies open for election on the Board of Directors; five (5) three-year terms and one (1) one-year term. The designated sessional seat is a one-year term and is also open for election. Nominees must be current members of the Association or have held a sessional position at some point since May 1, 2019. Nominations are also being accepted for the position of President and Chair of the Board of Directors. Any member nominated for President and Chair of the Board must have been a member who has served on the Board of Directors for at least one year during the previous five years, or
be a current member of the Board of Directors.

The deadline for nominations is Monday, February 10, 2020, at 4:30 p.m. Nominations must be received at the Faculty Association office by that time.

Nominations must be received in writing. Also required on the nomination form are the signatures of at least three members of the Association, as well as the written consent of the nominee. Nominations should be accompanied by a statement from the nominee of a maximum of 100 words, which will be circulated along with the ballots. No member may nominate more than two candidates.

Potential candidates should be aware that the Board of Directors meetings are regularly scheduled on Tuesday afternoons, approximately once per month from September to June. Additional meetings are scheduled as required. Board members are also regularly appointed to a variety of other Association, University, and external committees as representatives of the Association.

Please contact the Faculty Association office for a nomination form.

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Faculty Association Supports University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association

In solidarity, Faculty Association Board Member, Justine Wheeler, travelled to Prince George to support the University of Northern British Columbia Faculty Association in their strike. In addition to Wheeler joining the picket, the Faculty Association sent a $2,000 donation to support their efforts.

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Faculty Association Supports Local Food Banks

In lieu of holiday gifts, the Faculty Association donates to local food banks. The Campus Food Bank and the Calgary Food Bank each received a donation of $2,500 in recognition of the valuable support they provide during the holiday season.

WE WISH YOU THE HAPPIEST OF HOLIDAYS AND ALL THE BEST FOR 2020!

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Faculty Association Office Closurs

The Faculty Association office will close Friday, December 20 at 11 a.m. for the holiday season and will reopen on Monday, January 6. The Association’s voicemail will be checked regularly on days the University is open. Have a safe and happy holiday!

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Department Representatives

The following is a list of Department Representatives, by department, for the 2019-2020 academic year. If your department or faculty is not listed below, it is because the Faculty Association has not received information about the election of a representative from your area.

  • Art – Denis Gadbois
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – Quan Long
  • Biological Sciences – Marco Musiani
  • Cardiac Science – Stephen Wilton
  • Chemical and Petroleum Engineering – Pedro Perira Almo
  • Chemistry – Kevin Thurbide
  • Civil Engineering – Raafat El-Hacha
  • Classics and Religion – Irving Hexham
  • Clinical Neurosciences – Minh Dang Nguyen
  • Communication, Media and Film – Marcia Epstein
  • Comparative Biology and Experimental Medicine – Jason Anderson
  • Computer Science – Ben Stephenson
  • Critical Care Medicine – Brent Winston
  • Department of Medicine – Richard Haber
  • Economics – Trevor Tombe
  • Ecosystem and Public Health – David Hall
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering -Mike Smith
  • Emergency Medicine – Eddy Lang
  • English – Faye Halpern
  • Geography – Aaron Williams
  • Geomatics Engineering – Ivan Detchev
  • Geoscience – Dan Georgescu
  • Haskayne School of Business – Olga Petricevic
  • History – Annette Timm
  • Kinesiology – Reed Ferber
  • Libraries and Cultural Resources – Rhiannon Jones
  • Mathematics and Statistics – Berndt Brenken
  • Nursing – Cynthia Mannion
  • ODEPD – Shirley Voyna Wilson
  • Philosophy – Chris Framarin
  • Physics and Astronomy – Denis Leahy
  • Physiology & Pharmacology – James Fewell
  • Political Science – David Stewart
  • Production Animal Health – Michel Levy
  • Psychiatry – Chris Wilkes
  • Psychology – Kristin von Ranson
  • Radiology – Roberto Sotero-Diaz
  • School Architecture Planning and Landscape – Graham Livesey
  • School of Languages Linguistics Literature and Cultures – Elizabeth Montes Garces
  • School of Public Policy – Myles Leslie
  • Social Work – Yahya El-Lahib
  • Sociology – Naomi Lightman
  • Student and Enrolment Services – Lindsay Victor
  • Surgery – Elijah Dixon
  • Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning – Carol Berenson
  • Veterinary Clinical and Diagnostic Science – Alfredo Romero
  • Werklund School of Education – Darren Lund

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December 2019

Happy Holidays

Government Update

University Budget Cuts; We’re all in this together?

USRI Grievance Arbitration

Faculty Guidelines

Board of Directors Nominations

Supporting UNBCFA

Association Supports Food Banks

Association Holiday Closures

Department Representatives

October 2019

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on October 2019 | Filed in Academic Views

 

Fair Employment Week: October 7-11

The working conditions of contract academic staff (sessionals) are of both local and national concern, which is why the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) annually promotes and plays a coordinating role in Fair Employment Week (FEW). This year, FEW runs from October 7 to 11 and is a national event that raises awareness of the difficulties inherent in being a member of the contract academic staff. These academics are often on the front lines of attacks on academic freedom, quality, fair treatment, and the value of research.

Normally, sessional instructors at the University of Calgary are contract academics who are hired to teach individual courses; they are not expected to do research and they are not offered long- or short-term commitments beyond the individual courses. These academics often work for lower pay, and with the uncertainty of whether or not another short-term contract will be offered to them.

Last year, the CAUT published the first national survey on Contract Academic Staff in universities and colleges. A copy of the survey entitled “Out of the Shadows: Experiences of Contract Academic Staff” can be found online here. Some key findings from the survey include:

  • Between 2005 and 2015, there was a 79% increase in university teachers working part-time.
  • 53% of respondents want a tenure-track university or full-time, permanent college job.
  • 69% of survey respondents feel their working conditions need to change.
  • 45% of respondents reported that if they did not get their contract instructor pay, they wouldn’t be able to pay their monthly bills.
  • Two-thirds of respondents said their mental health has been negatively impacted by the contingent nature of their employment, and just 19% think the institutions where they work are model employers and supporters of good jobs.

The Faculty Association at the U of C was not surprised by these results and many of the responses to the survey reflect the anecdotal experiences of sessionals we have been privy to year after year. In March 2019 the Association took a snapshot of academic staff at the U of C which revealed that 24% of academic staff at that time held sessional positions. The number of sessional academic appointments in Winter 2019 was greater than the number of Associate Professors. In addition, over half of sessionals are female which is in contrast to statistics for ongoing academics. Sessionals are employed in every corner of the University and some Faculties employ more sessionals than continuing academics. In some cases the number of sessional instructors make up a third to over a half of academic staff in a Faculty.

Canadians are concerned about the increased reliance on sessional academics for instruction. According to a 2019 national survey commissioned by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) 52% of Canadians believe that a trend towards more reliance on sessional instructors is hurting the quality of post-secondary education.

It is important to emphasize the incredible dedication of sessional academics to their jobs since they are highly-qualified individuals who care deeply for the University and their students. However, the Association advocates for the Governors to create pathways for sessional academics to be appointed to continuing academic appointments when there are continuing staffing needs. The Association has always recognized that the concerns of contract academic staff should be the concerns of us all. Please let your colleagues and administrators know that the unfair treatment of sessionals at the U of C needs to be resolved.

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Sessional Travel Fund

Currently, as was negotiated by the Faculty Association, the University of Calgary is offering sessional travel grants to offset the cost of travel for sessional academic staff. Eligible Sessional Instructors can apply for up to $1,500 reimbursement. The joint committee, which includes Association and Governors representation, reviews applications twice a year with deadlines in the fall and winter semesters.

The deadline to apply for this round is November 7th, 2019, 4:00 pm. Application forms and procedures can be found on the UofC HR website. Additional information can be found in the Collective Agreement, Schedule B, Article 10.

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Call for Nominations for Faculty Association Community Service Award

The campus community is invited to make nominations for the Faculty Association Inspired Service Award – Community Service. [Deadline: November 8, 2019].

The Community Service Award recognizes members of the Faculty Association of the University of Calgary who have provided exceptional service to the community and gone above and beyond the requirements of the position. The members honoured have thus made outstanding contributions of personal time and effort for the benefit of others. New this year, a group that has been involved in the same project/initiative may be nominated as a group.

Special emphasis will be placed on those service activities that involve outreach to the community beyond the University and activities that go beyond the regular duties of the academic staff members. In this context, service may include volunteer work, as well as educational outreach or the application of research and other scholarly activities in the community.
Nominations will be accepted from any individual(s), whether or not they are a member of the Faculty Association.

A nomination form and list of past recipients can be found here.

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Meeting with Minister

Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President, and Sheila Miller, Association Executive Director, met with the Honourable Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education on September 17th.

Rogers and Miller stressed the importance of collective bargaining and raised opposition to interference from the Alberta Government, specifically Bill 9: Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act. When the rules governing the Faculty Association were moved into the Alberta Labour Relations Act, it left the Association without the guarantee of going to binding arbitration without the agreement of the Governors. Such an agreement with the Governors to go to arbitration for wages was pivotal in obtaining a collective agreement in the last round of bargaining and Bill 9 puts that at risk. For this reason, the Association filed a Statement of Claim against Bill 9 over the summer.

Rogers spoke to government funding and pointed out that the University has been fiscally restrained for a number of years already. He conveyed that there is not much left to cut without directly impacting the quality of teaching at the University. However, while salaries for academic staff at the University of Calgary have been falling behind those of other comparable universities such as the University of Alberta, the hiring of other personnel like management staff (who are not delivering courses) has been rising rapidly.

This meeting was the beginning of a dialogue with the Minister. The Association will continue to speak with the Minister and advocate for the academic staff at the University of Calgary.

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Retirement Planning Seminars

The Faculty Association had very high interest and attendance at the retirement planning seminars which were held in February and June 2019. The next retirement seminars will be held at the following times:

Thursday, November 21st – 9:00am to 11:30am (Main Campus)

Thursday, November 21st – 1:00pm to 3:30pm (Main Campus)

The seminar, which will be the same as the ones held previously, will include a presentation by Steve Preece and time for questions.

Steve is a Bachelor of Commerce graduate from McMaster University. He has been delivering financial workshops to the general public since 2012. As this is an educational program, there will be no promotion or solicitation of financial products. Examples and illustrations will be generic, without reference to specific products or services. All costs associated with this workshop are being covered by the Association.

The seminar may include general information about the retirement process at the University of Calgary and where to find that information in the recently updated policies. However, the seminar will not provide significant information or specifics regarding the academic pension plan.

What can you expect to learn?

  • Determine if you can retire early
  • Integrate your finances with your goals and values
  • Use new tax laws to your advantage
  • Properly allocate your assets within your retirement plans
  • Ask the right questions when evaluating insurance coverage
  • Discover how to maximize your income without unnecessary financial risk
  • Ensure your estate plan still functions properly under new laws

This seminar is open to any Faculty Association member who is planning their retirement. Early to late career members are encouraged to attend as many of the benefits of planning for retirement are enhanced by planning early.

As materials are prepared in advance for use in the workshops, only those who register prior to the date of the seminar will be permitted to attend. While we make every effort to accommodate all individuals, we are constrained by room sizes and encourage you to book early to ensure your spot. To register, please contact the Faculty Association office by email, faculty.association@tucfa.com or by phone (403) 220-5722.

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Upcoming Election: For Our Future

The federal election campaign is well under way, and the marathon will last until October 21. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has developed an election toolkit that focuses on four key issues affecting academic staff. More information from the CAUT can be found here.

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Update on Wage Reopener Arbitration

Bill 9, the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, which prohibits any wage reopener arbitrations taking place until after the end of October, came into force on June 28, 2019. As a result, the arbitration the Association and the Governors had scheduled for 30th September and 1st October did not occur.

After consulting with legal counsel, the Association filed a Statement of Claim against the Alberta Government. Note that a number of other unions in Alberta who have been impacted by Bill 9 are also taking legal action.

The Association and the Governors have re-scheduled the wage re-opener arbitration for the 2nd and 3rd of December.

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Faculty Association Supports Student’s Union Food Bank

There is increasing demand on the Students’ Union foodbank and they put out an urgent call for support from the community. In response, the Faculty Association stepped up with a $2,000 donation. The support from the Faculty Association will allow the foodbank to purchase food staples that will help feed members of the campus community.

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October 2019

Fair Employment Week

Sessional Travel Fund

Community Service Award

Meeting with Minister

Retirement Planning Seminars

Upcoming Election

Wage Reopener

Faculty Association Supports Student’s Union Food Bank

August 2019

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on August 2019 | Filed in Academic Views

 

Summer Update from the Faculty Association

Note from the Association President

This has been a very busy academic year for the Association, as we continue to deal with the implications of the movement of the Association under the Labour Relations Code as a union. Progress made includes revising the Association by-laws, updating a number of Association internal policies, and continuing to discuss “essential services” with the university administration.

As President of the Association, I serve as the Association’s representative on a number of ongoing UofC committees including: General Faculties Council (GFC); GFC’s Executive Committee; and GFC’s Academic Planning and Priorities Committee. While the work of these ongoing committees keeps me busy, there are two other areas of activity this past year that I wish to highlight:

• I served as the Association’s representative on the President Search Committee, whose efforts concluded with the announcement of the appointment of President Ed McCauley in November 2018. I am encouraged by President McCauley’s eagerness to learn about the concerns of academic staff (he attended a meeting of the Association’s Board in January, and is visiting all Faculty Councils as part of a “listening” tour), and look forward to learning soon how what he has heard impacts his plans for the university.

• I served as a member of GFC’s ad hoc committee on Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure, which concluded its work in April with GFC’s approval of a new “Academic Staff Criteria and Processes Handbook”. This is the culmination of many years of effort to amalgamate the relevant contents of the previous Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure manual and the General Promotion Committee manual into a single document, following the movement of the promotion, tenure, and assessment processes into the collective agreement. I must recognize, and commend, the sterling efforts of Association Associate Executive Director Don Kozak on this file. With this work completed, a working group has been established (by GFC’s Executive Committee) to review the new Handbook, and each Faculty will be revising its unit-level guidelines relating to appointment, promotion, tenure, and assessment.

I know from talking with many of you that you too have had a hectic year, and that your workload continues to grow annually, so please be sure to take time before the fall semester begins to enjoy what remains of summer with family and friends.

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Government acts to delay bargained wage reopener arbitration

In late May all academic staff were sent an email to inform them that the Government of Alberta had sought input from the Association on the Government possibly delaying public sector wage reopener arbitrations (the Association’s written response can be found at: https://www.tucfa.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/GoA_ATBF_Submission_2019-05-27-FOR-WEB.pdf).

Since then, the Government has passed Bill 9, the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, which prohibits any wage reopener arbitrations taking place until after the end of October. This means that the arbitration the Association and the UofC Board of Governors had scheduled for 30th September and 1st October will not now take place. The Association considers Bill 9 to be an unconscionable, and illegal interference in collective bargaining.

After consulting with legal counsel, the Association will be filing a Statement of Claim against the Alberta Government. Note that a number of other unions in Alberta who have been impacted by Bill 9 are also taking legal action. None of these claims will be heard in court until 2020, which will be after we learn what additional actions the Government of Alberta will be taking following the report of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s Finances, due in August, that will impact the Government’s budget and how it intends to deal with public sector unions.

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Dean surveys

The Faculty Association of the University of Calgary, in accordance with its policy concerning the Assessment of Deans (and equivalents), distributed a survey by campus mail to the academic staff members in three Faculties (Arts, Cumming School of Medicine, and Science) for assessing the Deans of these Faculties. The Association’s policy requires us to survey the membership partway through the appointment and again at the possible renewal point in the terms of all Deans. All academic staff members in these Faculties, as well as any academic staff members who have joint appointments involving any of those Faculties were invited to submit their responses. Thank you to all of those academic staff who took the time to fill out the surveys. The results of these surveys are shared with the respective Deans and the Provost and Vice-President (Academic) subject to response thresholds in the policy. In all cases, once the surveys reach a threshold for distribution, all quantitative results are provided to Faculty Association members. The results of these were sent out to the membership by email in April.

Feel free to contact our office if you have any questions or concerns about this process.

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Updated Code of Conduct

The updated University Code of Conduct came into effect on July 1, 2019. There are a number of changes that have implications for Academic Staff members. University HR has assembled a series of frequently asked questions that might help members to better interpret the new rules in the Code. [See: https://www.ucalgary.ca/hr/code_conduct_faqs]

The Faculty Association will monitor how the new rules are enforced and will be available to help members to navigate them. There may be questions that you have for which you want to remain anonymous. As communication with the Faculty Association is confidential, the Association may be able to get clarifying advice from HR or the administration while maintaining your anonymity.

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Faculty Association representation

The Faculty Association would like to remind its members about the right to representation under the Collective Agreement. One of the key purposes of the Faculty Association is to protect academic staff interests through its work to resolve conflicts between members and the administration. From time to time academic staff members may contact the Association for confidential advice. Many conflicts can be resolved informally at an early stage by the academic staff member with the advice of the Association and do not require Faculty Association representation. However, when there are situations that escalate which have the potential to lead to discipline, the administration is required to advise you of your right to have a Faculty Association representative attend with you. In other situations, such as resolving conflicts, a Faculty Association advisor may also be useful. We have been concerned that not all Heads, Deans, etc. have been appropriately advising members of your rights for advice/representation.

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Membership emergency fund

The Faculty Association administers a Member Emergency Fund to help individual members under emergency circumstances due to a sudden loss or decline in remuneration from the University.

The Member Emergency Fund is not intended to be used in cases where normal remuneration is inadequate for an individual’s expenses. Rather, this fund is available when there is an unexpected drop in remuneration, or when a personal emergency arises. This fund is not intended to replace the normal assistance available from government or other agencies.

In addition to current members, individuals who have held sessional, limited term or contingent term appointments which have recently terminated are eligible to apply. Relief may be provided as a grant, an interest-free loan, or as a combination grant/loan.

For more information on the Member Emergency Fund, please contact Faculty Association Executive Director Sheila Miller, by phone, (403) 220-5722 or by email, faculty.association@tucfa.com.

All inquiries will be held in the strictest confidence.

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GAZETTE

Faculty Association Board of Directors

Eight members of the Board of Directors had terms that ended on June 30, 2019. Six of these members responded to the Association’s call for nominations and were acclaimed to return to the Board, five to serve for three-year terms beginning July 1, 2019 [John Baker (Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy), Kent Donlevy (Werklund School of Education), Tish Doyle-Baker (Faculty of Kinesiology), Karen Then (Faculty of Nursing), and Mary-Ellen Tyler (School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape)] and one, Polly Knowlton Cockett to serve a one-year term as the sessional member of the Board.

The Association thanks departing Board members Michael Sideris (Schulich School of Engineering, Department of Geomatics Engineering) and David Stewart (Faculty of Arts, Department of Political Science) for their valued service to the Association.

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Financial statements for 2017-2018

The Faculty Association’s audited financial statements were approved by the Board of Directors on January 29, 2019. The audit was executed as required by the Association’s bylaws. The auditors found that there was excellent cooperation between management and other personnel, and that the audit numbers support the assurance that the Association is in good financial shape.

The financial statements for the fiscal year 2017-2018 are available here. If you have any questions, please contact the Association office.

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CAUT dues changes

A minor change in CAUT dues took effect on July 1, 2019. These dues are calculated by applying a mil rate to the national average salary at each rank. While the mil rate remains unchanged at 1.50, variations in the national average salary result in slight changes to the dues amounts. The monthly amounts are as follows:

CAUT Membership Fees 2019-20 (2018-19)

Professor $18.80 ($18.41)

Associate $15.16 ($14.83)

Assistant $12.26 ($12.00)

Part-time/Sessional $3.84 ($3.81)

The amount paid to the CAUT Defence Fund remains the same for 2018-19 at $5.50 per month.

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August 2019

Note from the Association President

Government acts to delay bargained wage reopener arbitration

Dean surveys

Updated Code of Conduct

Faculty Association representation

Membership emergency fund

 

GAZETTE

Faculty Association Board of Directors

Financial statements for 2017-2018

CAUT dues changes