‘Academic Views’

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