Friday, August 18, 2017

FAUW Weighs in on Bill 148 – Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act

Faculty association representatives from more than ten Ontario universities recently presented at hearings on Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, including FAUW's president, Sally Gunz. Her full presentation is below.

Presentation: Sally Gunz, President Faculty Association, University of Waterloo to Committee, Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, Kitchener, 18 July, 2017

My name is Sally Gunz. I am president of the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW). FAUW represents all faculty members at the university except those who are hired to teach by course only. I am a professor of business law and professional ethics in the School of Accounting and Finance, and have worked at the university since 1981. I speak in my capacity as president of FAUW.

Members of the public often think of university professors as well paid, privileged employees. And indeed many are. But few are aware of the prevalence of precarious work on university campuses. My focus is on Bill 148 as it affects the many faculty teaching at the University of Waterloo who are employed solely on the basis of limited term contracts. I note that the university is presently revising its faculty hiring policies and issues around precarious employment are the subject of formal examination.

As background: it is important to understand that there is wide variance in terms and conditions of employment for contract faculty. For example, at the University of Waterloo:
  • Lecturers are mostly hired on one to five-year contracts, but a limited number are hired on an ongoing basis. I focus here on the former.
  • Sessional Instructors are hired by individual course. A distinction here is between those who teach in order to complement another, often professional, career, or to provide post-retirement part time work; and those for whom it is their full-time employment. The goal for many is to become full-time professors. In the meantime, they piece together contracts at Waterloo and often elsewhere, in some cases over very extended lengths of time.

While unstable employment may be used to meet legitimate short term university needs, increasingly such positions are created and sustained in response to real or perceived funding constraints. As university costing models become more sophisticated and transparent, the pressure to maintain flexibility by using temporary positions for high-level teaching tasks appears to be increasing. Let me give you two examples from Waterloo.
  • Case 1: a lecturer hired on one-year contracts for approximately 10 years teaches a range of courses in one discipline. He has received a high-level teaching award and provides strong service to his department, yet his employment remains year-to-year and dominated by no security. 
  • Case 2: in a professional program, instructors are hired to teach multiple sections of courses, sometimes far exceeding a full-time load, but without the benefit of full-time contracts. This denies them a reasonable income, pension, or benefits. The university is reluctant to commit to full-time appointments despite the obvious teaching need in a program in which students pay significantly enhanced fees. 

The use of exploitive hiring exists across universities. The case examples I cite are common. Highly qualified instructors have no employment security, comparatively low pay, and in many cases no pension or benefits. Where educational institutions face funding pressures, the increased use of ‘flexible’ hiring options is virtually inevitable. And while Bill 148 says that no employee shall be paid a rate lower than a comparable full-time employee of the same employer, there are broad exemptions to this rule.[1] What Bill 148 can do, and what I, on behalf of FAUW urge you to do, is to make exploitive hiring options economically unattractive at universities.

To summarize: FAUW is pleased by much of what is in Bill 148. It strongly supports the recommendations OCUFA has made for improvements. In particular it would ask this committee to consider:
  1. Extending the equal pay for equal work provisions to include access to benefits.
  2. Amending Bill 148 to prevent the use of discontinuous contracts as a means of avoiding stable employment. 
  3. Extending the notice period for scheduling of employment to at least two weeks in recognition of the extensive prior preparation needed for assuming a teaching position. 


[1] This rule would not apply where there is a difference in treatment between employees on the basis of: (a) a seniority system; (b) a merit system; (c) a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (d) another factor justifying the difference on objective grounds.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

OCUFA's 2017 Policy Exchange report summarizes faculty recommendations for improving Ontario’s universities

Republished from OCUFA.
In May, OCUFA brought together representatives of its membership to identify the policy issues affecting Ontario’s universities that they view as most critical, and to draft recommendations for addressing them. The final report summarizing these consultations is now available online.

OCUFA regularly conducts research, produces papers and briefs, and hosts conversations on targeted policy issues affecting higher education in Ontario. However, the 2017 Policy Exchange conference provided a unique opportunity to have a broad and interactive discussion.

Over the course of the two-day consultation, participants explored issues relating to precarious academic employment, university funding, and university governance and accountability. Through a series of group discussions, they established a clearer understanding of these issues and the steps they believe should be taken to strengthen Ontario’s university sector.

The recommendations collected in the final report of the OCUFA Policy Exchange encapsulate the discussions from the two-day consultation and provide the basis for a policy vision for Ontario’s universities that reflect the goals of the 17,000 faculty members OCUFA represents. What stands out in these recommendations is the clear commitment that faculty share to preserve and protect the core teaching and research mission of universities, and the centrality of this mission to ensuring that our universities and province thrive.

Moving forward, OCUFA will use these recommendations as the basis for further policy work and advocacy. It is hoped that OCUFA members and policymakers alike will see these recommendations as a useful starting point and valuable contribution to policy discussions regarding Ontario’s universities.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Meet Lori Campbell, Director of the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre

On April 18th, the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre (WAEC) was awarded the 2017 Equity and Inclusivity Award. Kathleen Rybczynski, Chair of the Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC), described why the Centre was selected for this year’s award: “The Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre exemplifies community strength, and with tremendous success has established decolonized spaces that celebrate and share Indigenous knowledges. Developing networks within our campus and broader communities, the centre brings people together: supporting, educating, and working toward respect and reconciliation.”

FAUW asked WAEC’s new director, Lori Campbell, to introduce herself to our community. In this post, Lori tells us about her background, WAEC’s initiatives, and what we can do as faculty members to support Indigenous perspectives and projects.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Canada’s Fundamental Science Review: Good News for Basic Research!

—Heidi Engelhardt, FAUW Board of Directors

A comprehensive look at research in Canada

The report “Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research”, released April 10, 2017, is the culmination of a thorough look at the federal research ‘ecosystem’ in Canada. There is a lot to like here for the entire research community. Although the report was submitted to the Minister of Science, it goes well beyond STEM disciplines. Indeed, research was defined to include both science and non-science (‘scholarly inquiry’).

For this undertaking, the more important distinction was between investigator-led research focused on knowledge generation, versus ‘priority-driven’ research. The latter was defined as research with a tightly defined area of focus, oriented primarily to partnerships (with government, industry, business), or promoting knowledge translation, innovation, and commercialization. The primary focus was on investigator-led research supported by the three granting councils plus CFI, referred to as the four funding agencies.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

President’s Report to the 2017 Spring General Meeting

– Sally Gunz, FAUW President

This is the last official general meeting report of my term as president of FAUW. Technically, the changeover to Bryan Tolson is on July 1, 2017 but it will actually take place as of September 1 since Bryan is on sabbatical.

At this meeting the names of new FAUW Board members are announced. We had an excellent slate of candidates and all of us on the Board are particularly grateful to the new people willing to offer their services to FAUW. It has been my obsession in my role as president to ensure that FAUW is an association that genuinely seeks new people to join our ranks and, in time, take over key roles. There is also a learning curve to being on the Board so we do need some returnees at each election – terms are only two years and it would be sad to lose people just when they are really hitting their stride in terms of experience. I believe our present and new Board represent a good balance of experience and new voices.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Unveiling AccessAbility Services

—Jennifer Gillies, PhD | Manger, AccessAbility Services


AccessAbility Services (ASS) can be a bit of a mystery. The purpose of this post is to help break down the wall between AAS and rest of the campus and shed light on its purpose, function, and benefits.

Why does AccessAbility Services exist?

Offices that support academic accommodations for students with disabilities are present in every postsecondary institution in Ontario. The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development provides financial support and oversight of these offices. At the University of Waterloo, AccessAbility Services fulfills its mandate by collaborating with the university community to support equitable access to post-secondary education by designing academic accommodation plans and facilitating the implementation of accommodations.

The office is accountable to the Ministry concerning documentation requirements and service offerings, but it is also accountable to the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and the integrity and academic standards of the University.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission states that postsecondary instructors have a duty to accommodate students with disabilities. However, students’ medical information is private and needs to be reviewed and stored appropriately. Our office acts as a bridge: We receive and hold the sensitive medical documentation, and relay to you the ways you can fulfill your duty to accommodate. Essentially, our office is a faculty resource. We help you understand your duty to accommodate.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Call for Nominations for FAUW Board of Directors

The Faculty Association invites nominations for directors of the board – four at-large and one representing lecturers – for the term July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2019.

Eligibility

Only members as set out in the Faculty Association Constitution are eligible for nomination. Participating members are those regular and non-regular faculty and professional librarians who have opted in to FAUW membership. Learn more about becoming a member of FAUW.

Eligibility for directors-at-large
All members, including lecturers, are eligible to run and vote on these positions.

Eligibility for director representing lecturers
Only members holding lecturer appointments are eligible to run and vote on this position.

Hint: Check the Call for Nominations announcement in your email if you need a reminder as to whether you've opted in or not. If you can't locate the email, or you think it's wrong, please contact Laura McDonald.
The Faculty Association is strongly committed to representing the interests and concerns of its diverse constituency and membership. We especially welcome those who would contribute to the diversification of the association’s leadership.

How to submit a nomination

  1. Download a nomination form (PDF)
  2. Collect the required three signatures from members of FAUW. 
  3. Drop off or mail your complete form to the Faculty Association office (MC 4001) no later than 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 13, 2017. 

The role of the Board of Directors

The Board considers all matters concerning faculty relations with the University administration, University governance as it affects the association membership, and the Memorandum of Agreement. It also advises association representatives serving on the Faculty Relations Committee, where a wide range of issues related to employment and policy are considered. The Board normally meets biweekly on Thursday afternoons from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., September through June.

Service to the association is considered service to the University for the purposes of annual performance reviews, tenure, and promotion.

More information