Newletter – May 2020

Colloquium

Volume 9, Issue 4

Editors

Liz Mathewson

George Fogarasi

Victoria Maystruk


Table Of Contents



Emergency Remote Pedagogy

As we begin a new semester, I’m amazed by the effort put forward by faculty ensuring our students complete their studies at this unprecedented time. This semester will be alternative delivery; it appears the fall semester will begin the same way. Even with uncertainty, faculty continue to redesign their teaching while they exploring new technology. Fleming faculty continue to be leaders in academic planning and redesign. In addition to redesigning curriculum, teaching, supporting students and ensuring program quality is not compromised, faculty juggle their own isolation, fear, family commitments and in some cases, illness.

We rely on the expertise and collaboration of our support staff colleagues. Without support from the LDS Team, D2L, Webex, IT, student services, the testing center, school administrative assistants, and all support staff, we would not have completed the semester as successfully as we did.  Thank you for your ongoing support!

Over the past week, the LDS Team provided a Teaching and Learning week consisting of high quality, timely and truly inspiring workshops delivered collaboratively between the LDS Team, faculty and support staff. The participation this year exceeded that of any previous offering and the union offers a huge shout out to the organizers and facilitators.

Moving into the spring and fall semesters we know the crisis is not over. This crisis makes us entirely rethink traditional processes. That means redesigning the entire curriculum, and like any redesign, the process must occur in stages. The first and perhaps the most critical stage is the development of alternative delivery for all courses.  Without this, the college has little to offer students.

Any curriculum development represents huge amounts of work, but transitioning from face-to-face to alternative delivery is particularly time consuming. It is not something that can be done quickly, easily or last minute. Over the spring semester the college will be relying, once again, on your expertise to redesign and deliver courses, and create Boot Camps to ensure when face to face classes resume, our students will be positioned for success.

What does the future hold?

Everyone is asking the same questions: answers are prefaced with the uncertainty of what the next semester or even the winter 2021 semester will look like. We know that as soon as safely possible, some face to face activities will resume. These include Boot Camps to convert Grade Defers to a final grade. Possibly small lab groups or applied activities on or off campus will be part of the reintegration plan. Many programs need placement in a community organization (some are struggling with staffing resources, lock down and layoffs)

Faculty are in the best position to be creating the future at Fleming. We know our students, our profession, our community partners, and our potential employers.

What ideas do you have for the future of Fleming?

Many of our contract faculty and graduates are facing unemployment or under employment; what added credential could Fleming offer to bring underemployed members of our community back into the workforce? There will certainly be an increased need for health and safety training in all employee groups: are we going to lead that training?

Will high school students choose to repeat grade 12 for free rather than pay for their first semester at college in alternative delivery? If so, what can Fleming offer these students? Maybe with increased academic upgrading or a broader offering of dual credit courses we could support our current high school graduating class with innovative curriculum to bridge them to their chosen career.

Are we reaching out to the high schools to work collaboratively in supporting our future students?

We are all aware of the impact to college revenue as a result of the Canadian borders closing. Providing alternative delivery to international students will minimally lessen the impact; however, we need a transition plan. What will happen when the borders open?

At a recent Town Hall, we heard that the fall semester will “cost the college” millions of dollars. This message has been delivered at all colleges. What exactly does that means? First, it is not exactly a cost, rather a net loss due to a loss in revenue.

'beautiful [but deadly] square knot by woodleywonderworks, on Flickr' title='beautiful [but deadly] square knot by woodleywonderworks, on Flickr'
beautiful [but deadly] square knot” (CC BY 2.0) by woodleywonderworks

Teaching Must Be Done by Faculty

An arbitration decision on May 8th, 2020 addressed a grievance about tutors doing faculty work. The case involved La Cite employing ‘tutors’ to run online courses.  The tutors were hired as online contractor and the Union grieved that they must be classified as CAAT-A (academic bargaining unit) members.

The college was ruled against in this important arbitration decision.

Getting this decision was a long and risky endeavour. The initial grievance was filed in 2014. We must be proud of the members who stood up and fought for what we know to be in the best interest of quality education.

The arbitration notes that: “The central fact stressed by the employer is that the tutors do not present the course material to the students; the on-line platform does.” Make no mistake, the deskilling of our work is a constant threat in the interest of cost-savings. In the last round of bargaining, the employer wanted to create a new “facilitator” category within the bargaining unit. Professors would create the material and “facilitators” would deliver it.

Since the tutor role at Fleming is quite different from that at La Cite, it doesn’t affect the classification of Fleming tutors.  It does solidify our position that anyone assigned to deliver instruction — online or face-to-face — at Fleming College should belong to Local 352. We will continue to stand up for quality education.

Find a PDF of the full arbitration verdict here

Your Union Executive Extends Term of Office

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, OPSEU has passed a resolution allowing union locals to extend the term of office for stewards until a time where a General Membership Meeting can be called and elections held. The election of stewards requires a formal vote. An electronic vote needs OPSEU approval; even with approval, our vote would fall during the July-August vacation period when we risk not reaching quorum. At the May Local Executive Committee (LEC) meeting a motion was passed to extend the term of office for stewards in Local 352 until we can hold elections. I am very please to announce that all existing stewards have agreed to remain in their role supporting the membership and our collective agreement rights. In the event you need to reach a steward, the following document contain a list of non-workplace email addresses.

Steward Emails (PDF)

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Update from Academic Planning Committee (APC)

As soon as the decision was made to move from face to fact to alternative delivery, the college formed the APC. Members of APC are predominantly faculty, with representation from Learning and Design Services, IT and student services. The mandate is to identify and resolve college wide issues and barriers to alternative delivery and provide guidance to the Senior Management Team (SMT) as we change focus from winter to spring-summer and fall delivery of our programs. Over the past two-months APC has achieved the following:

The creation of the Boot Camp model for completing applied learning outcomes
A college-wide understanding of Grade Deferred and Withdrawal ( W) status
Collaboration between faculty, LDS and IT in the training and use of technology including advanced features of D2L, WebEX and Respondus

Each meeting allowed faculty and support staff an opportunity to raise day-to-day concerns resulting from the alternative delivery of courses and services to students.

Update from Boot Camp Taskforce

The Boot Camp Taskforce (BCT) consisting of faculty, support staff and a chair was formed to create a college-wide framework for Boot Camps to ensure that non-academic components were considered in the planning stages. The Taskforce will identify issues and barriers in planning for Boot Camp delivery. The BCT will provide support to faculty developing their respective Boot Camp curriculum and will act as a liaison between faculty teams and the Academic Planning Committee.

Accomplishments to date:

  • Boot Camp Guidelines: a newsletter providing an overview of the Boot Camp Model
  • Boot Camp Checklist: a checklist for all faculty to track the non-academic components of their Boot Camp
  • Course Outline Addendum: an addendum template for Boot Camp outcomes, activities and evaluation methods to be added to the existing course outline. The addendum will outline for students the requirements for moving a Grade Deferred to a final grade
Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

Local 352 Updates

Bridging of Benefits for partial load members

As the winter semester drew to a close and spring-summer contracts for partial load faculty were rescinded with only the  hope that there would be some work to be offered over the next semester, many partial load faculty were anxious about bridging their benefits.  Partial load faculty can bridge their benefits between contracts provided the college can make a commitment that they anticipate offering a partial load contract in the  future.  The union local requested the college make a commitment given our anticipation of fall workloads will include Boot Camps.  The College did agree to the union’s request and where appropriate, partial load were able to bridge their benefits.  Bridging does require the member to pay the full premium each month.

Compensation for panel appeal preparation contract faculty

The union local raised a concern with the college that contract faculty were working without compensation in preparing for panel appeals.  This preparation work is time consuming,  often involves remarking of assignments or test; and addressing statements by students that may not be accurate.  Initially, the college was prepared to pay contract faculty their meeting rate for this academic work.  The union countered the offer by requesting the non-teaching rate for the appeal preparation and the meeting rate for the panel meeting.  The college has agreed; therefore, contract faculty who are required to prepare for a panel appeal will be paid.

SWF deadline for Fall 2020 workloads

On May 7th 2020 the college asked if Local 352 would consider an extension to the SWF deadline for fall 2020 workloads.  Based on Article 11 of the CA the deadline for SWFs should be May 15th, however the college requested an extension until June 10th.

Local 352 cannot agree to the college’s request for a local agreement extending the Fall 2020 SWF deadline until June 10.  The union believes that agreeing to this delay is not in the best interest of our membership — such an agreement would prevent the members from exercising their rights and protections under the CA, including their right to grieve.

OPSEU members have carriage rights. These rights must be considered in every decision made by the Local.

“With OPSEU, you have carriage rights. This is important because it means you own your grievance. We hope you will never need to file one, but it’s important to know that if you ever do, YOU are in the driver’s seat 100 per cent of the way.

OPSEU members don’t operate under a grievance committee structure – that means that nobody else decides if your grievance is “worthy” of being put forward. You will be fully supported by OPSEU in pursuing your grievance until there is a resolution, or until you are satisfied.”  source: https://opseu.org/information/choose-better-service/

It was your local exectutives position that if we entered into a Local Agreement to allow the college to miss the May 15th SWF deadline, we would have voided your right to grieve. It is our position that we do not have the authority to sign away your grievance rights. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that clarifies a right within the collective agreement does not take away your fundamental right to grieve.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

So you’ve won academic freedom, what are you going to do with it?

by Martin Devitt, Local 242

For years, faculty have been forced to do more with less. Respectful protests within our system have had little effect. The increasing corporatization of the colleges, along with the proliferation of administrative positions, have made our working conditions more challenging, and also de-professionalized faculty as the true experts in our fields. As we take on more and more responsibilities, we must still uphold the quality of what we do.

With the additions of Article 13.02 – 13.05 (the articles on academic freedom) to our 2017 – 2021 College Faculty Collective Agreement, we now have a protected ability to speak out; however, it is not a passive safeguard like so many of our other rights. Rather, academic freedom is a call to action to fully and actively exercise our rights and expertise. For example, academic freedom gives faculty, the content experts, the right and the responsibility to decide how best to educate and evaluate students.

Consider some of the actions of faculty since academic freedom was enshrined in our latest collective agreement:

Despite pressure from managers, publishers and even colleagues, faculty have fought for the right to determine the type of evaluation and the materials used in their classrooms. Academic freedom ensures that course outcomes are evaluated in the manner deemed most appropriate by the faculty.

Program faculty have come together to write letters describing how poor management decisions, such as increasing class sizes, overusing technologists and contract faculty, and utilizing supplemental testing, have led to a decrease in the quality of education for students. Bringing such issues to light can help parents, students, and community members understand more clearly the reasons why faculty are speaking out against management’s operation decisions.

Faculty have filed grievances on arbitrary grade changes by management. Faculty have openly criticized some of their institution’s unjust policies and practices, such as Durham College’s restriction on speech during the provincial election. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) joined with our Divisional Executive in condemning this policy and the College had to respond.

Whether in your day-to-day teaching or in college-wide practices and policies, we as faculty now have the right—and indeed the duty—to speak up and defend the integrity of our profession, and what we know to be best for our students and communities. The forces of management have shaped the increasingly corporatized environment in which we teach. Academic freedom gives faculty the power to correct these injustices. If you have an issue concerning academic freedom, contact your union local representative to find out how you can take action.

Global Solidarity: What’s Next?

We are part of an unprecedented act of global solidarity, sacrificing so much to save the lives of strangers. There is a lot of interesting speculation about what the world will be on the other side of this.

Some governments have stepped up, listened to medical experts, and are showing leadership. I’ll never forget the day Doug Ford said that if you have to choose between food and rent, choose food. Fortunately for Canadians, governments at all levels have shown leadership.

The safety and wellbeing of citizens now takes precedence over profit.

The vaunted marketplace and private sector is hobbled and has next to nothing to offer. In fact, it can be part of the problem: corporate greed dictated that Personal Support Workers get part-time hours so benefits aren’t paid (sound familiar?). Like contract faculty working in different colleges, they had to work in different nursing homes.

Look what happened. A disaster.

“When for-profit corporations buy up long-term care facilities, the first thing they do is look for ways to make money – which means cutting corners on resident care and paying staff as little as possible,” observes OPSEU’s First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “That’s why caregivers need to hold down two or three jobs. And that’s one reason care homes have seen such appalling rates of COVID-19. Our seniors, the people who built this country, deserve better, much better.”

Suddenly, there is pressure to make this kind of care a public service. In fact, front-line public service emloyees are suddenly valued as heroes, as are people who drive trucks and work in grocery stores. One post-Covid narrative is that we will honour and pay these people decently. It won’t all be about the pursuit of profit at all costs.

Another possibility is that it will be. We went into debt! We can’t afford this! We have to make cuts! Austerity might come back with a vengeance. President Maureen Adamson noted in the first Town Hall that she is reluctant to run a deficit in order to invest in quality education: the college needs provincial permission to do that.

So, where’s it going to go? Nobody knows. But it doesn’t just happen. Human choices create our world.

What’s it mean for us? Vigilance, solidarity, and an ongoing commitment to quality education. Remember Colleges Ontario invoking “AI and the gig economy”? Get ready for more. Things like a PD session lead by somebody in the United States pushing a product he is selling. It seems innocuous but is part of a larger move to privatize education.

There will be more and more of this corporate pressure. Naomi Klein calls this “The New Screen Deal”– click to read “How Big Tech Plans to Profit from the Pandemic” to learn more.

Remembering Kathleen Barnett

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Kathleen Elizabeth Barnett on May 1, 2020 at the Peterborough Regional Health Center.

Kathleen was born in Arcola, SK. on February 13, 1964. She was the eldest of the “four K’s” born to Louise and Manford Barnett. Kathleen was known for her passion for teaching, language, reading, writing and literature. She held herself to a very high standard and dedicated countless hours preparing for her classes, teaching and marking papers.

Her students and those she tutored were a very special part of Kathleen’s life. Kathleen taught communications, general education and English courses at Fleming College since 2003. In addition to her teaching, she began tutoring in 2017 and provided learning support services. Kathleen was involved in curriculum development for Oxford University Press. She taught a literacy, numeracy, and basic skills program for adult learners with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. Kathleen was also an instructor, lecturer and professor at Centennial College, Trent University and University of Lethbridge.

Throughout Kathleen’s life she was often found with her nose in a book or e-reader. She loved movies, live music and stand-up comedy. She was unbeatable at Scrabble and an expert at trivia. Kathleen had a huge heart and cared greatly for creatures big and small. She loved her cats Afra and Sapho. She had unlimited compassion for the less fortunate. She loved cooking for others which often included visiting speciality stores to find the exact ingredients. This was followed by hours of preparation and a delicious gourmet meal.

Kathleen will be missed by her friends, colleagues and students at Fleming College. Our memories of Kathleen, however, will last forever.

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