Newsletter – October 2020

Colloquium

Volume 10, Issue 1

Editors

President – Liz Mathewson

George Forgarasi

Victoria Maystruk


Table Of Contents



President’s Corner

By Liz Mathewson

I am confident I am not alone in saying “where did September and October go?”  However, we are all well aware of where the time went, and the challenges faced by faculty, counsellors, and our students, as we launched a new semester.  With input provided by faculty and counsellors, the union provided the college with a robust list of start-up issues and their impact on teaching and learning this semester.  You have now heard from Linda Poirier VPAE, through both the town-hall and a recent email communication, that the college is aware of these issues and has a plan to ensure the January start up is not faced with the same issues.

Faculty continue to participate in a bi-weekly meeting with Linda, IT and deans to discuss ongoing issues; we have managed to resolve many issues quickly as a result of these discussions.

We continue to see the professionalism, resilience, innovation and unwavering dedication of faculty and counsellors as we face another semester of alternative delivery.  Regardless of whether we are in a COVID second-wave, or in a first wave that never ended, faculty and counsellors are responding daily to  ensure our curriculum maintains the highest quality, and our students are supported to a level they have become accustom.  Support staff, as our college partners, have unquestionably demonstrated professionalism and unwavering commitment to student success while working through a stressful employment stability process.  

The college remains closed with the exception of a few onsite courses, and the union sends a huge shout out to the faculty and support staff who are running those courses under the strict guidelines of public health and social distancing.  

Union Leadership:

Due to COVID restrictions, Local 352 does not have the capacity to hold face to face meetings to the level of quorum; therefore, we are unable to hold local elections.  OPSEU has approved that local stewards and officers can continue in their role until a time when elections can be held.  To that end, the Local Executive Committee (LEC) passed a motion to continue in our elected positions.

Pre-Bargaining:

When I look at the calendar I am reminded that at this time in 2017  we were heading to the picket line.  I think about setting up the strike office on Lansdowne St, picket lines at each entrance to the college,  but mostly I am reminded of the solidarity and commitment of the membership in ensuring we negotiated a collective agreement that protected the rights of ALL academic employees. 

Our CA expires next October, and pre-bargaining has already begun.  Over the next month we will elect our bargaining team, and locals will submit local demands for consideration.  We will be providing all updates to members through non-work place email addresses, which is why we are asking for your home email. Your union leadership is committed to bargaining, and will work with the College’s Employer Council to reach a negotiated settlement for a new academic contract.

We continue to use mailchimp to distribute union information and will send a number of test emails over the next few weeks to ensure we are keeping you informed.


Protecting your CA Rights

By Liz Mathewson

This is the first in a series of articles outlining the grievance process, or Article 32.  The first article outlines the complaint stage in the grievance process.  

Unfortunately, there may come a time when you believe you need to file a grievance in response to a violation of the Collective Agreement (CA).  Grievances can be filed by individuals, or by groups of individuals impacted by the same CA violation.  Grievances formalize a complaint when the complaint cannot be resolved between the member and the employer at the informal or complaint meeting.

Grievances can arise from a clear violation of the CA, or from a violation of a past practice in the workplace. The latter can be the basis for a grievance, particularly where the contract is silent or unclear. Where a past practice has been violated by management, an employee may have a valid grievance. The only relevance of past practice is to clarify (but not to alter) the collective agreement where it is ambiguous or unclear. 

To be considered as a past practice, the circumstances must meet the following:

  • It must have been repeated over an extended period of time; 
  • It must have been accepted explicitly or implicitly by both workers and management, e.g. by verbal agreement or in writing, without either side formally objecting; or
  • While violating the contract, neither side demanded that this part of the contract be enforced.

Complaint Stage:

It is the Local’s desire that complaints be resolved between the faculty and their supervisor; however, you are never alone during this stage of the process.  Your steward will support you and provide as much advice  as you request.  

If you believe you have grounds for a complaint:

  • keep detailed notes and save all email discussions. 
  • contact a steward for advice and support.  Together you will review the language in the CA related to complaints and grievances.  Article 32 outlines the process including timelines.
  • book a complaint meeting with your supervisor within 20 days following the circumstances giving rise to the complaint.  When booking a meeting be clear that this is a complaint meeting and refer to Article 32.  Your complaint does not have to be as a result of the action of your supervisor. Your complaint may arise from a decision that was made by another department such as Human Resources.  Regardless, your complaint is always heard by your supervisor.  
  • during the complaint meeting, keep notes.  After the meeting, email the supervisor a summary of the conversation from your perspective, and ask the supervisor to correct anything that is unclear or may have been misinterpreted.  Add any additional information you believe will clarify your complaint.

The supervisor must provide a response within seven (7) days following the complaint meeting. Ideally, your complaint will be resolved by your supervisor providing you with an acceptable resolution. You should share the resolution with your steward to determine if the complaint has been resolved to your satisfaction,  or whether you want to move the complaint to the grievance stage.

In the next article, I will review the grievance process.


Partial Load Registry

By Liz Mathewson

As you may be aware, the Academic Employees’ Collective Agreement contains seniority language for partial load faculty (see Article 26.10 – 26.10 E).  According to this language, if you are interested in being considered for a partial load contract in a given calendar year, you must register your interest with the College prior to October 30 of the preceding year.

Therefore, to register for the Partial Load Registry for the calendar year (January – December), you must complete the following steps anytime between January 1 and October 30 in the preceding year:

> Login to Evolve and go to My Self Service > Payroll and Compensation > Register for Partial Load.  For step-by-step instructions on how to do this, follow these steps.

Once you have registered, you have the ability to withdraw your registration by returning to the same page.  Please complete your registration and/or withdrawal prior to October 30.

If you experience difficulty registering, please email Michelle Bozec (Human Resources) prior to October 30th requesting Michelle to register you, and to provide you with a screen shot for your records.

Important Notes:

  1. The registry will close at midnight on October 30.  You will not be eligible to register for the following calendar year after October 30.
  2. Registering for a partial load contract does not guarantee that you will receive a partial load contract.  Registering shows you are interested in receiving a partial load contract.  If the College decides to offer partial load contracts, you must also meet at least one of the qualifying criteria in Article 26.10 E to be considered for a partial load contract

Ontario’s Vision for Curriculum: Can It and Sell It?

By George Fogarasi

Miss the classroom? Nuances of mood and tone interpreted and instantly responded to. Jokes shared, confidence boosted, connections made. The human heart of teaching and learning. We do our best to approximate this from a distance, but it’s not the same.

How’s online learning look to the Ontario government? An opportunity to make money. Consider this pre-pandemic government press release about their plan to “maximize commercialization” of intellectual property.  

Tucked into mumbo-jumbo about “today’s knowledge-based economy,” “venture capital” and ideas reaching their “full economic potential” is this:

  • Review current commercialization capacity inside Ontario’s postsecondary education sector; and
  • Recommend strategies for improved generation and commercialization of research and intellectual property. 

How convenient, all that online material just waiting for eager customers in Phoenix, Dubai or Shenzen, perfectly in line with a corporate model of education. But the cold calculus that equates learning to widgets in, widgets out is about more than selling our work. De-skilling and standardized content can debase what happens in our classes.

In Collective Good Over Private Profit, J.P. Hornick observes that in this pandemic, “The over-reliance on recruiting international students to make up for years of government funding shortfalls now means that $1.15 billion dollars in Ontario college tuition” is “at risk, particularly as travel restrictions are imposed.”

Hornick continues: “To maintain international-student enrolment levels (which at some colleges account for more than 50 per cent of all student enrolment), the pressure will increase to provide low-cost online learning that can be accessed from anywhere. The temptation to rely on prefab curriculum will be strong.

Relying on private companies may seem like an easy, short-term solution to providing new curriculum and addressing funding shortages, but it doesn’t address the larger issues that will arise down the road when the standardized content becomes increasingly disconnected and irrelevant, and a professor is reduced to little more than a replaceable curriculum delivery agent. The erosion of both quality education, and quality employment both within and outside the education sector, will accelerate dramatically.”

There is much at stake as we consider a new round of bargaining. The academic freedom we won last time is extremely important. Watch for what the employer wants to do with this and with intellectual property rights. It’s at the heart of quality education.


Winter SWFs

By Victoria Maystruk

Winter workloads are being built and full-time faculty should expect to receive their SWFs (Standard Workload Forms) in the next few weeks. (Workloads are required to be given to FT faculty no later than six weeks before the workload lakes affect. 11.02 A 1 a)

All of the minimum requirements for a SWF are spelt out in Article 11 of our CA: https://opseu.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/2017-2021_academic_collective_agreement_final_eng_signed_website.pdf.  Article 11 specifies rules regarding prep, delivery and evaluation time.  It also specifies the minimum time allowance that appears ‘below the line’ on a SWF.

Although the requirements for a SWF may feel overwhelming at first there is still a lot of room for negotiating your workload with your Chair/supervisor.  Each semester your supervisor should speak with you about your workload before generating your SWF.  You may wish to request the addition of PD time below the line, development time for courses or time to pursue projects that may be of benefit to the College.

If you are not in agreement with your SWF once it is created, you should speak to your supervisor about desired changes.  If you and your supervisor can not reach agreement on your SWF during these discussions you can request that it is reviewed by the College Workload Monitoring Group (WMG).  
If you have questions about your workload please don’t hesitate to speak to your supervisor or a union steward about your SWF.

Timelines:

Agreement to the SWF or a meeting with your supervisor to discuss potential changes to the proposed SWF must occur within 5 days of receiving the SWF. 

Development Time:

Currently Fleming has a locally developed practice of using the Curriculum Development Calculator for determining the minimum amount of time that should be given for course development work. This calculator was developed as a joint venture between the union and management several years ago. It takes into account the level of development work being done and the length of course being developed.  The development calculator is available for download from the union website: https://flemingfacultyunion.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/copy-of-curriculum-evaluation-spreadsheet.xlsx.  Please note: the calculator provides a minimum baseline for development.  Additional development time can always be given when required.  

Question to Ask Yourself About Your SWF:

(Taken from Local 350 – Georgian College: https://local350.ca/academic-contract/swf-calculator-checklist/

  • Does it reflect the number of courses and sections you are actually teaching?
  • Does the number of students listed under class size reflect the number of students typically registered in your class?
  • Is there anything unusual about your workload that might merit/require special consideration under Article 11.01 G 2 which deals with “atypical circumstances”.
  • Does it reflect all your additional work for the College, including regularly scheduled meetings and committees?

Upcoming Events

Until October 26, 2020 – Watch Professor Precarious for free.

Sponsored by your Local 352. Check your email for the password. More information is provided at https://flemingfacultyunion.org/2020/10/21/searching-for-professor-precarious/

October 27, 2020: 3 – 4pm — Coffee Time with Your Union.

Join the stewards of Local 352, Academic Union at Fleming College on Tuesday October 27th. Watch your email for an invitation to join. This is an informal meeting of union members. If you have specific questions you would like us to respond to please email: lizlocal352@gmail.com. There will also be opportunities to ask question during the meeting.

** We are hoping to make these monthly events **

October 30, 2020: Midnight

Deadline to signup for the 2021 partial load registry


What’s Old is New Again

The focus on capturing our intellectual property and putting it online makes this article from the past more timely than ever, especially in a bargaining year: https://www.opseu558.org/how-faculty-said-no-to-the-gig-economy/

We’ll have more article on academic freedom and intellectual property in next month’s newsletter. (Yes we’re hoping get another newsletter out to you next month).

If you have thoughts, articles or feedback — please let us know.

Until then, be well and take care!

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