University of Toronto Librarians negotiate historic changes to policies

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Librarian members of the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) recently concluded six years of negotiations with the university to update the Policies for Librarians (PFL) that define librarians’ working terms at the University of Toronto, replacing the previous PFL in place since 1978.

The PFL now contains language recognizing the integral role of librarians in advancing the University’s mission and in collegial processes. The three areas of responsibility of librarians (professional practice, research and scholarly contributions and creative professional activities, and service) have been defined and made consistent with workload and career progression policies and procedures. Enhanced procedures that ensure greater fairness, job security protections and professional development gains were also won.

Criteria and procedures for appointment, permanency, and promotion have been made consistent and now align with the three areas of librarian responsibilities. Librarian job postings will now be included on U of T’s main Careers page along with faculty and other staff postings. Enhanced procedural protections have been put in place for permanency and promotion reviews: candidates may request a delay in the review process based on the Human Rights Code; and the  denial of permanent status or promotion now requires written reasons to be provided to the candidate, to which they may respond before a final recommendation regarding permanency is made.

New language enshrines a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion as guiding principles for recruitment, appointment, and promotion, with a new mechanism of conditional appointments introduced to support these goals.

Job security provisions have been strengthened, with the removal of the financial exigency clause allowing the Administration to terminate the appointment of a permanent status librarian for reasons of “financial exigency” or “fiscal stringency.” Termination with cause has been more clearly defined.

Contractually Limited Term Appointments (CLTAs) have  gained improvements to their terms and conditions of employment, including job security. These include:

  • clarification of normal rank and duration of appointment
  • a fixed timeline for notification of contract renewal
  • a clear definition of termination with cause
  • enhanced termination and severance pay where non-renewal occurs for reasons other than dismissal with cause

CLTAs are eligible to apply for permanent status stream postings, with CLTA service to be considered in applications, and if successfully appointed, in the timeline for their permanent status review.

In a change due since Scholars Portal first began posting positions funded by the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) via the University of Toronto Libraries system in 2001, two new Letters of Understanding (LOU) address terms and conditions of employment for Scholars Portal librarians. Scholars Portal librarians on CLTAs have gained improvements to job security and terms and conditions that mirror those of other CLTAs, including the eligibility to apply for permanent status stream positions and to have CLTA service counted in applications and if appointed, in the timeline for permanent status review. In addition, Scholars Portal Librarian III and IVs on CLTAs with at least three years of continuous service at the University will automatically be granted a recurring term appointment (Scholars Portal Recurring Term Appointment Librarians or SPRTALs).

In a historic win, the right of full-time and part-time librarians to take Research or Study Leaves is now enshrined in the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between UTFA and the University of Toronto (that serves in lieu of a collective agreement). Under the five-year LOU, this will also apply to SPRTALs.

In another gain for professional development, a five-year LOU contains a commitment by the University to provide permanent status stream librarians with opportunities for secondments for up to 18 months. At the conclusion, the librarian shall normally return to their previous jobs. Secondments may be used to develop or contribute particular expertise for projects or to temporarily replace a librarian while, at the same time, providing an opportunity for career development. CLTA vacancies may also provide opportunities for secondments. Such opportunities shall be circulated to all UTL librarians.

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