Looking ahead to a busy fall – Association priorities and activities

by Faculty Association | Filed under President's Message, September 2015.

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

As the 2015-16 academic year begins, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to all of our new colleagues. While the summer months are generally filled with all manner of scholarly activity and preparation for classes, I hope everyone, new and returning, had a chance to spend some restorative and energizing time; time away from the multiple and increasing demands of academic employment.

Here’s a brief overview of the coming year, beginning with items internal to the university, and then moving to the provincial and national scenes. The assessment process and tenure and promotion process are both currently underway. As most of you will know, these were conducted together in the past, but were recently separated into two distinct processes. The process for tenure and promotion is now included in the Collective Agreement, with the process for assessment still continuing under old rules while bargaining of an improved process continues. This recent change may still provide some confusion, and we are working hard to make sure things proceed as smoothly as possible and to avoid anyone being disadvantaged by the recent changes. This requires a great deal of Association time and effort to answer individual inquiries and provide representatives to sit on all of the various committees in all Faculties. More information about assessment can be found here: http://www.tucfa.com/?p=3949. The tenure and promotion agreement can be found here: http://www.tucfa.com/?page_id=111.

Bargaining of the assessment process is scheduled to continue this year. It is everyone’s fervent hope that this can be concluded soon. The work of the Agreement Review Committee (ARC) is also expected to move forward. This is a committee jointly appointed by the Board of Governors (BofG) and Faculty Association (FA), which is designed to meet regularly to review and discuss possible changes to the Collective Agreement. Based on those discussions, the committee brings recommendations to the BofG and FA for consideration during bargaining. We expect to begin bargaining a new Collective Agreement with the Board of Governors fairly soon, as our current agreement expires on June 30, 2016. You will hear more from our Principal Negotiator, Eileen Lohka, on all bargaining issues.

In past years, the Association has participated in Fair Employment Week together with our national organization, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and faculty associations across the country. Member associations organized events on campus to raise awareness about issues confronting sessionals. This year, CAUT has invited member associations to focus our energy on one day, Fair Employment Day, to coincide with World Day for Decent Work, on October 7, 2015. In a campaign to highlight Contract Academic Staff issues, CAUT is inviting sessionals to submit images – selfies, pictures, creative images or videos – that illustrate life as an academic on contract. These images can be sent to johnson AT caut.ca no later than October 7, 2015, 5 p.m. EDT. A selection of the best images will be posted on the CAUT website and Facebook page. For more information: www.fairemploymentweek.ca.

Our Association will mark Fair Employment Day by continuing our practice of awarding travel grants to Sessional Instructors, who remain ineligible to apply for University travel funding. More information regarding applications for this funding will be available shortly.

The Association will be honouring one of our members with a Community Service Award. I strongly urge you to consider making a nomination for this award. The deadline for nominations is October 23, 2015. For more information:http://www.tucfa.com/?p=3951.

On the provincial front, you have until September 14 to provide our new Government with feedback and comments regarding the provincial budget: http://alberta.ca/budget.cfm. The deadline is a bit short, but I encourage as many of you as possible to participate in this process. As academics we definitely have specific budgetary concerns that should be included in the Government’s deliberations and decisions.

And finally, another call to make your voices heard, this time on the national scene. Federal government policies clearly have an impact on many aspects of our work as academics, but especially on what funding is available for what kinds of research. For more information about how federal politics matter to us as academics, please read: http://www.tucfa.com/?p=3947.

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