‘April 2015’

Provincial election and budget

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Provincial election and budget | Filed in April 2015, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

As I’m sure everyone is aware, the long-awaited provincial budget has been announced, followed by the call for an election. During the period leading up to the budget, the University’s Executive Leadership Team was active in developing a strong case for our funding needs. On multiple occasions, the President and Provost championed the University of Calgary specifically, as well as joined their counterparts in demonstrating the needs of the post-secondary sector in general.

While this budget is not as bad for the post-secondary sector as was expected, it still contains a 1.4% cut to provincial grants for the coming year, to be followed by a 2.7% cut the following year. However, with the election call falling closely on the heels of the budget announcement, I am very concerned about what that could mean for post-secondary institutions, as it could be much worse than what we are facing in the recently-announced budget.

During the campaign period, I encourage all of our members to raise any concerns you have about post-secondary funding with candidates seeking election. Our provincial association CAFA (Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations), has designed a survey on post-secondary education issues which may be helpful to compare the parties’ platforms with regard to post-secondary education. All of the political parties running in the provincial election have been invited to respond. You will find the questionnaire posted on the CAFA website (http://www.ualberta.ca/CAFA/) and responses will be posted there as they receive them. You may wish to use the questionnaire as the basis for your own questions at all-candidates forums or in discussion with candidates on the doorstep.

You might also find this online tool both interesting and useful for finding out how your own views compare to those of Alberta’s political parties: Vote Compass http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/votecompass/alberta2015.html.

For further information about candidates, where to vote, eligibility requirements, etc. please visit: Elections Alberta http://wtv.elections.ab.ca/.

Whatever your concerns or political leanings, I strongly encourage you to get informed about the issues and cast your ballot on May 5.

What does a Grievance Advisor do?

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on What does a Grievance Advisor do? | Filed in April 2015

– By Mary-Ellen Tyler, Faculty Association Grievance Advisor –

From time to time, I have been asked “what do you actually do” as the Faculty Association Grievance Advisor?  This is more of a conundrum rather than a simple question!  Most of the work done by the Association under the rubric of ‘Grievance’ is completely invisible and has little to do with the formal Grievance process. The Association allocates considerable time and resources to the Grievance portfolio – so I think it is important that our membership understands why dedicated resources for grievance related work are needed.

Technically, this work is covered by Article 24 (“Grievance and Arbitration“) of the Collective Agreement.  There are two types of grievances: individual and policy.  Individual grievances involve a dispute between an Association member and the Governors. In such situations, the Association has carriage of the grievance and brings it forward on the individual member’s behalf.  This is part of the Association’s duty of fair representation under the provincial Post-Secondary Learning Act, and is not an area the Association can ignore.

The reason for an individual grievance may be brought forward to the Association’s attention by an academic staff member, or it could be initiated in response to disciplinary action by the Governors under the Collective Agreement, Article 20 (“Discipline“) defined as “… a counselling letter, a written warning or reprimand, a suspension without pay, or a recommendation for dismissal”.  Further, “Reasons for all discipline must be given in writing to the academic staff member with a copy provided to the Association“.  This language could lead you to believe that Grievance work starts only when disciplinary letters are received or when a Grievance is filed.  However, the Association puts a lot of time and effort into trying to prevent situations from getting to this formal Grievance stage.  It is this pre-disciplinary action stage that is actually the biggest share of the Association’s Grievance work.  As there is usually ‘history’ behind formal Grievance, the Association does everything possible from the first time we are aware of a problem, complaint, or inquiry from one of our members to prevent the issue from proceeding to the formal disciplinary action and Grievance stage.  This ‘invisible’ work is done by the Association’s Executive Director and other professional Association staff.

The Association’s ‘duty to represent’ its members certainly has natural justice and legal dimensions; but it is more often the more informal human relations dimensions that are equally (if not more) important at the ‘invisible’ stage of Grievance work.  It is in this pre-formal Grievance phase that the need for the Association’s resources is greatest.  This is where we focus our efforts on trying to find fair resolution using various combinations and forms of communication, interpersonal relations, conflict mediation, negotiation and peer advising.  One thing I think the Faculty Association can be proud of is the success we have had, under often trying circumstances, in finding resolutions that reduce, if not prevent, formal Grievance and Arbitration.

The second type of Grievance, or Policy Grievance, arises when there is a dispute between the Governors and the Association.  This type of Grievance is not about an individual, but a general dispute about actions or policies that allegedly contravene the Collective Agreement or other overarching legislation.  There are many hours of ‘invisible’ work put in by the Association to have these types of disputes resolved before they get to the level of a formal Grievance.  Again, ‘history’ behind these issues and again, the pre-Grievance phase often represents the largest part of Grievance work. Ultimately, it is the Association’s intention to do what it can to fairly resolve disputes informally.

For obvious reasons of confidentiality I cannot provide any details of specific cases, but I can tell you there are always a number of cases in various stages of completion including awaiting responses from central administration and human resources. While there are a handful of formal Grievances, we have over 100 active files where we are seeking information, providing advice etc.

I want you to know that when you contact the Faculty Association office you will reach a professional staff member who will treat your call or e-mail with the utmost confidentiality.  Faculty Association employees work for the Association and are not employees of the University of Calgary.  The Association has strict protocols in place to ensure that elected Faculty Association officers such as myself as Grievance Advisor are not informed of and do not have access to any confidential personal information without your consent. Similarly, Grievance Advisors such as myself, are not informed of and have no information about issues in their home departments and faculties and are not involved in either pre-Grievance or formal Grievance work related to their home departments and faculties.

Also, please don’t forget that while Grievance work goes on at both the invisible and formal stages other work does not stop. The Association continues to be involved with, among other things, supporting members going through tenure and promotion processes, bargaining terms of the Collective Agreement, Association governance, sending out general member communications, conducting internal research and financial reporting. Elected officers and Grievance Advisors such as myself still continue with academic duties related to teaching, scholarship and research, and graduate supervision.

Although it has become a tired cliché – it really does take a ‘team effort’ to manage the workload involved in Grievance. The experience of the Association’s professional staff and the other elected officers with Grievance experience is an invaluable resource to our members.  I know I could not do the job of Grievance Advisor without their involvement and advice.

Finally, to summarize, the nature and timing of the invisible or pre-grievance work we deal with is unpredictable in so far as we never know when it is going to appear on any given day in any given week. The number of telephone, e-mail, drop-in inquiries or complaints that we can receive on any given day is hugely variable.  There is no way of knowing at first contact just how much time may be involved and required to deal with each individual case.  Therefore, I hope this article has convinced you, as Association members of five things:

1.  Grievance work is an iceberg – very little of it is actually visible;
2.  This invisible work at the pre-formal Grievance stage reduces, if not prevents, unwanted discipline,Grievance and Arbitration cases;
3.  The workload involved is unpredictable both in its nature and timing – and confidential;
4.  This work requires dedicated resources on an ongoing basis if we are to maintain our successful record of finding fair and timely resolutions; and finally …

5.  You will probably regret ever asking a Faculty Association Grievance Advisor what they actually do!

Faculty Association representation

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Faculty Association representation | Filed in April 2015

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. In some cases, the administration has advised our members to bring an academic colleague. Note that a colleague is not the same as a Faculty Association advisor, as they would not be trained to advise you of your rights under the Collective Agreement or labour law. A copy of the Collective Agreement can be found here.

CAUT analysis of Bill C-51

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on CAUT analysis of Bill C-51 | Filed in April 2015

What does C-51 Mean for Academic Freedom and Campus Free Speech?

Bill C-51, the federal government’s Anti-Terrorism Act, has raised concerns about the potential impact on the basic civil liberties of all Canadians. The proposed legislation would establish criminal offences that infringe upon the right to free expression. Security agencies would be granted unprecedented and intrusive powers to monitor and share information about Canadians, with no increase in oversight or accountability. While much of the focus of the debate has rightly centred on the infringements on civil liberties generally, the legislation will also affect academic freedom and free speech on university and college campuses.

The analysis can be accessed on the CAUT website here.

Promotion Review Committee membership

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Promotion Review Committee membership | Filed in April 2015

As per the Tenure and Promotion agreement, recommendations for promotion to Professor or Teaching Professor and any appeals of promotion or transfer recommendations shall be reviewed by the Promotion Review Committee (PRC). The membership of this committee as jointly appointed by the Provost and Vice-president (Academic) and the Association for the 2014-2015 academic year are as follows:

Dru Marshall – Provost and Vice-President (Academic)

Voting Members
Nigel Caulkett – Department of Veterinary Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Julie Deans – Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cumming School of Medicine
Richard Dyck – Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts
Barrie Nault – Haskayne School of Business
Elena Braverman – Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science
David Este – Faculty of Social Work

Faculty Association Representatives (non-voting)
Sandra Hoenle – Department of Linguistics, Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Arts
Justine Wheeler – Libraries and Cultural Resources

A copy of the Tenure and Promotion Agreement can be found on our website here.

Board of Directors election results

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Board of Directors election results | Filed in April 2015

The Association received six nominations to the Board of Directors. As there were seven vacant spots open for election, the following members have been elected to the Board by acclamation as per the Association’s by-laws with terms beginning July 1, 2015:

  • Eileen Lohka (French, Italian and Spanish)
  • Rob Malach (Haskayne School of Business)
  • Liza McCoy (Sociology)
  • Peggy Patterson (Werklund School of Education)
  • David Scollnik (Mathematics and Statistics)
  • Dan Wulff (Social Work)

The designated sessional seat, a one-year term, was also open for election. The Association received no nominations for this position.

New Board of Directors member

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on New Board of Directors member | Filed in April 2015

The Faculty Association would like to welcome Professor Nigel Caulkett from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Veterinary Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences to the Board of Directors. Professor Caulkett has been appointed to a one-year pro-tem position starting July 1, 2015.  For a full list of current Board of Directors members click here.