Newsletter – February

Colloquium

Volume 10, Issue 3

Editors

President – Liz Mathewson

George Fogarasi

Victoria Maystruk


Table Of Contents



Demand Setting Meeting: When and How

Our local demand setting meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 11th.  We want to provide you with an overview of how the agenda will flow for the meeting.  

The meeting will be set up as a Zoom Seminar rather than a Zoom Meeting.  This format has been recommended by Locals who have already held their demand setting meeting.  We need to be interactive with the ability to write on a shared document your recommendations for local demands, the ability to edit and then select our top demands.  Following this, we will prioritize our top 10 before sending our list to the bargaining team. 

Shawn Pentecost (Algonquin College) and Jonathan Singer (Seneca College) from our bargaining team will attend our meeting to provide a link between L352 and the bargaining team.   

You will be invited to a Zoom Seminar which will require you pre-register with your non-workplace email address.   

If you are unable to join the demand setting meeting on Thursday, you still have a chance to contribute.  The local demands must be approved at the meeting on Thursday.  Following approval, we must rank our demands and determine our top 10.  This will be done through surveymonkey following the meeting on Thursday. 


College Faculty Demand Setting Information: What’s it all about?

On November 20-21, 2020, college faculty held our provincial Pre-Bargaining Conference. Delegates, alternates, and observers representing faculty from all 24 Ontario college union Locals discussed key issues facing college faculty and students in the midst of the pandemic. These discussions were driven by a shared commitment to strategic organizing and engagement around bargaining priorities.  This Pre-Bargaining Membership Survey captures the outcomes from that conference.

All Full-time and Partial-load Professors, Instructors, Counsellors, and Librarians were invited to share their thoughts in a pre-demand setting survey.  Feedback from this survey will be shared on Feb 11th at our Local Demand Setting meeting. 

Six overarching and intersecting themes captured the topics that the Pre-Bargaining Conference delegates indicated were important potential areas for contract improvements:

  • Intellectual Property Rights 
  • Shared Governance and Academic Freedom
  • Job Security and Precarious Work
  • Workload
  • Equity
  • Wages and Benefits

Each of these key themes is described in more detail later in this article. The list of themes is neither exhaustive nor exclusive. You may have particular additional topics or themes that you wish to identify.  In addition, it is important to note that equity is the lens through which all priorities and language will be considered by the bargaining team, as our strength as faculty is in our solidarity, and equity is a core union principle.

Survey results went to the elected CAAT-A provincial bargaining team, who summarized the results. This summary will be brought to the Local demand-setting meetings on February 11th.   We strongly encourage you to attend our Local demand-setting meetings to help determine bargaining priorities for our Local.

Job Security
Full-time faculty work has been eroding ever more quickly due to several college practices.  Academic work is being unbundled and assigned to support staff and administrators; non-full-time faculty are receiving multiple stacked contracts instead of access to full-time positions. In some colleges, coordination duties are assigned outside the bargaining unit; counselling and other faculty work (e.g., curriculum development, preparation of courses for online delivery) are given or contracted out to private interests; and international initiatives infringe on faculty rights and protections.
**Faculty work includes all services provided by professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians.

Precarious Work and Staffing
The overreliance on contract vs. full-time positions has continued to increase over the past few years, and precarious faculty have been the hardest hit in terms of job loss and worsening working conditions due to the pandemic.

Coordinators
Coordinators face varying workloads and expectations, shaped in part by the number of students within programs, the number of full-time and non-full-time professors, and external accreditation responsibilities. This can result in inconsistency in the recognition and payment of the coordinator role.

Wages and Benefits
Our personal and financial health and wellness have been highlighted by the challenges presented by COVID-19.  Nonetheless, the Ford government has imposed legislation (Bill 124), limiting to 1% the wage and benefit gains public servants can bargain.  This legislation is subject to several Charter challenges and may be overturned in the future.  Given that, we need to consider our current potential for gains to wages and benefits as limited, yet plan for the possibility that this legislation could be overturned.

Benefits
One of the areas that we have seen come under attack in public sector bargaining is benefits. Preserving the benefits we currently have is vital, and there may still be opportunities for future benefit improvements.  

Wages
Wages impact many life decisions, including financial planning, retirement, etc. The comparator groups for CAAT-A have been established as high-school teachers and university professors. Our salary grid steps have remained unchanged since the 2005 Collective Agreement, and access to the top-step is limited for some faculty members. 

Workload

Standard Workload Formula (SWF) and Online Delivery
The workload of full-time professors and instructors has expanded to include increasing responsibilities regarding student accommodations, research, and administrative tasks that are not typically reflected on our Standard Workload Form (SWF). The result is that not all work done by professors and instructors is captured on the SWF and is, therefore, volunteer work. Teaching faculty are also experiencing much higher demands on their time for student engagement, new learning platforms, and community outreach.

Colleges have been applying pressure to deliver an increasing number of courses online or in a hybrid (i.e., blended) format. Further, you have likely had to convert at least some of your existing courses to emergency remote/online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our current workload formula does not sufficiently address the amount of time needed to properly develop, prepare, teach, and evaluate such courses. 

Workload Complaints Process
All workload issues are to be directed informally to each college’s Workload Monitoring Group (WMG) and, failing resolution, to be referred to a Workload Resolution Arbitrator (WRA). The process is meant to be an informal process, with no outside legal representation present.

Partial-Load Workload Issues 
It is widely understood that the pay and working conditions of partial-load faculty are not equitable to those of full-time faculty.  Following the 2017 round of negotiations, there were two Provincewide committees created in order to address pay equity, staffing ratios, and workload.  These were struck down by the incoming Ford government, leaving these central issues unchanged.

Counsellor Workload Issues 
Counsellors have varying workloads and expectations in their duties, including student caseload, nature of work (personal counselling, career counselling, academic advising, special needs accommodations, etc.) and professional accreditation responsibilities. This can result in workload inconsistencies.  In addition, there has been a marked increase in students who require supports for their mental health needs, a trend that has been further exacerbated by the pandemic.

Librarian Workload Issues 
While Fleming does not employ a Librarian, our bargaining team is committed to equity across all groups represented by CAAT-A.  Librarians across Colleges may have varying workloads and expectations in their duties and time allocated to their work. There is no clear definition of what counts as a librarian’s work, and no requirement for a manager to meet regularly with librarians. There is also a trend in many colleges to reduce or eliminate librarians as faculty positions, and/or to outsource services.

Equity

Many Colleges are using the language of decolonization to discuss how their plans address ongoing issues related to anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, along with other systemic oppressions.  However, there is a disconnect between these statements and the application of the principles and practices that would result in meaningful change for faculty.  In addition, there is a lack of accountability and meaningful action contained in our Collective Agreement, in regard to equitable hiring and retention, and prevention of bullying and harassment.  

Improved Representation for Members 
One of the elements necessary for a strong Collective Agreement is enforcement. Representing you, the member, is the central enforcement function of the Union Local Executive. However, the ability for Locals to fully represent their members and enforce the existing provisions in the Collective Agreement is being read in an increasingly limited manner by administrators.  

Representation occurs at two levels:

Individual

  • Regular or group grievances, including arbitration

Collective

  • Union grievances (i.e., patent violations of the Collective Agreement that adversely affect the rights of faculty) and 
  • College or provincial committee work (e.g., Joint Union-College Committees, Workload Monitoring Group, Divisional Executive Committee). 

Senior management at Fleming along with Arbitrators have increasingly interpreted our current Collective Agreement to restrict collective representation. Strict limits are being imposed on the scope of the violations Union Locals can grieve on behalf of their members.

We look forward to your take on these and other issues at our demand set meeting on February 11th.


Protecting Your Collective Rights

By Liz Mathewson

This is the third and final article in a series providing members with an overview of the grievance process and your union support in the event of a violation of your Collective Agreement (CA) rights and protections. 

In the previous articles in this series, I provided an overview of the complaint and grievance stages under Article 32 of the Collective Agreement (CA).  In this article I will review the Arbitration procedure.

In the event that your grievance could not be resolved, you have the right to have your grievance heard by an arbitrator.  Following receipt of the college’s grievance decision, you have 15 days to notify the college of your decision.  You will also notify the Chief Steward who will file your grievance with OPSEU and the scheduling committee.  The scheduling committee will provide dates which will likely be 3 to 6 months following referral to arbitration.  

Members are supported at arbitration hearings by both their stewards and OPSEU grievance officers or a grievance lawyer.  The lawyer will work with the member prior to the arbitration hearing to seek additional information and to prepare the member for the arbitration.  Carriage rights remain in place during arbitration, and the lawyer will follow the member’s direction in the event of an option between a  mediated settlement, or a hearing.

While all stages of the grievance/arbitration process can be stressful, members will be supported by their stewards and OPSEU.  Arbitration may take only one day to hear all evidence; however, in some complex cases, evidence is heard over multiple days, which can take months or even years.  When the lawyers and the arbitrator agree the evidence has been heard, the arbitrator will make a written decision on the case.  


Supporting our Community

At the December LEC, Local 352 executive voted to send increased donations to our three local United Ways (Cobourg, Haliburton/Lindsay, and Peterborough). Traditionally we donate $200 to United Way Peterborough and $50 to United Way Cobourg. This year, we choose to send $500 each for United Way Peterborough, United Way Cobourg, and United Way Kawartha Lakes. The additional capital is being reallocated from our monthly LEC meeting budget which we haven’t used from March-December.

As well, we voted to continue our annual support of the ReFrame film festival by sponsoring a movie that aligns with the local’s values – this year we were matched with the movie Influence. Thank you to all of you who participated in the ticket raffle!


The Ghost in The Machine: Why Intellectual Property Matters

The internet blipped for a moment with the news that a dead professor was teaching an online course.

It’s a morbid situation but speaks to how the cold corporate logic of educational institutions strives to save money by canning our lectures and replaying them to students (or, in not only Ontario’s case, selling them to other institutions to “maximize commercialization” of our intellectual property).

You can die but keep teaching? This is an absurd and obscene example of why intellectual property matters.  We are in a bargaining year. Last time, our strength and solidarity won us academic freedom. It, like intellectual property rights, is not an abstraction. These are at the heart of what is taught and how it is taught. It is at the heart of quality education.


Upcoming Events

February 11, 2021: 2:30 – 4:30pm — Demand Setting Meeting

Check your personal email for the link to register. If you need to add your personal email to the union mailing list — please email: lizlocal352@gmail.com.

March 1, 2021 — LEC Meeting

The Union Stewards meet on the first Monday of the month to discuss issues of concern. Please let a steward know if there is anything you would like discuss.
List of stewards


Private Life Is Private

On Friday afternoon, my department received this email:

If you could please identify any external organizations you are involved with and specifically identify if you serve as a Fleming representative at those organizations.”

I am a member of PFLAG and Narcotics Anonymous. Recently, I joined Toastmasters and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. I may or may not be a member of the Green Party, NDP, Liberals or Conservatives.

I am a proud member of Peterborough Weight Loss Meetup, the Knights of Columbus, the Anxiety Disorder Association of Ontario, Peterborough Outdoor Adventures and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. I may join CARN (Citizens Against Radioactive Neighbourhoods) to fight nuclear pelleting at the GE plant.

I am a polyamorous polytheist member of the United, Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal and Unification churches as well as the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association. I am a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Peterborough Girly Book Club, the Kawartha Lakes Couples Swingers Club and the Christian Heritage Party of Canada.

Inspired by the New Sincerity movement, I have applied to join an Adult My Little Pony Group.

I am in the Bohemian Club, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, MENSA, the John Howard Society, Food Addicts in Recovery, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, the Order of the Occult Hand, the Dill Pickle Club, the Extreme Ironing Bureau, the Ancient and Noble Order of Gormogons, the Concrete Canoe Club and the Trilateral Commission.

I am a member of Adult Children of Alcoholics, Real Property Investments Networking Group, the National Leather Association International and the Animal Liberation Front. I am a member of SWAPO and the Bhutan Tiger Force. I volunteer for Fatah al-Intifada and the La Lèche League.

I am not a Fleming representative on any of these organizations.

I might belong to a mosque. I might belong to a synagogue. For all you know, I might not be here if it were not for Alcoholics Anonymous.

And this. I am a member of OPSEU Local 352, proud to work with my Sisters and Brothers at Fleming College.

A Special Offer

Johnson Insurance would like to thank the members of OPSEU 352 for their hard work and dedication and for making a difference every day. Johnson is donating $20 to OPSEU 352 for each quote provided to OPSEU 352 members between Feb 1– Mar 31. #JohnsonInsurancePartner

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