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New CCPA report highlights growth of precarious work on campus

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On February 8, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report about precarious work in Ontario’s postsecondary education sector. The main finding is that more than half of workers in the sector show signs of job precarity.

The report draws on Labour Force Survey data, and supplements it with qualitative data about the impacts of precarious work. The scope is broad, including both support staff and academic workers on college and university campuses. The main findings include:

  • 53 per cent of postsecondary workers in Ontario experience one or more indicators of precarious work: juggling multiple jobs, more temporary work, and more unpaid work.
  • The biggest trend has been a significant shift from permanent to temporary work on campuses since the late 1990s.

“There was a lot of concern raised about the impact it’s actually having on students too. We’re looking at working conditions, but those working conditions are also learning conditions.” – Erika Shaker, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives quoted in the Toronto Star

The report points out that postsecondary institutions are well-placed to take on a leadership role in pushing back against the rise of precarious work. It also notes the limitations of available data and motivates for better data to understand and track trends in our sector.

In addition to the report, the CCPA has produced a blog post and multimedia presentation highlighting the report’s findings. The report has also been covered in the Toronto Star.

Help spread the word about this important report by sharing it on social media and sending it to your colleagues.


This article originally appeared in OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week, please subscribe.

OCUFA’s 154th Board of Directors meeting

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On Saturday, February 3 and Sunday, February 4, OCUFA held its second Board of Directors meeting of the 2017-18 academic year. Over the weekend, board members discussed the organization’s current priorities – good jobs and vibrant universities, university funding, and capacity building – with a focus on the postsecondary issues that will be receiving the most attention in the lead-up to June’s provincial election. During a special lunchtime reception on the Saturday, board members and colleagues celebrated the winner of OCUFA’s Lorimer Award, which recognizes those who have improved the terms and conditions of employment of Ontario university faculty through bargaining.

Priorities

OCUFA’s priorities for the 2017-18 academic year were developed to strategically align with those issues most likely to gain traction with the public and political parties in the lead-up to the provincial election, which is less than four months away. In addition to good jobs and university funding (which are discussed in detail in OCUFA’s 2018 pre-budget submission), capacity building has been identified as an important means through which OCUFA can support the work of local faculty associations. University governance also continues to be a serious concern.

Good jobs and vibrant universities

One of OCUFA’s established long-term goals is a postsecondary education system where every academic job is a good job with fair compensation, reasonable workloads, access to benefits, and job security. Good jobs are essential for fostering vibrant and dynamic universities. This year, OCUFA is focusing on three opportunities for improving the terms and conditions of employment at Ontario’s universities: fairness for contract faculty, faculty renewal, and pensions.

Fairness for contract faculty

In recent years, substantial progress has been made raising awareness about the challenges faced by contract faculty at Ontario universities. At least 10 faculty associations participated in last fall’s Fair Employment Week, and the hope is that even more will participate in OCUFA’s third annual Social Media Day of Action in support of Fairness for Contract Faculty on February 28.

Unfortunately, there are many gaps in the new labour law protections, but momentum continues to build for fairness for contract faculty. With both OCUFA and the Fight for $15 & Fairness campaign pushing for strong protections, this promises to be an important issue in the coming election.

After Bill 148: Promoting fairness for the precariously employed

Following the passage of Bill 148, there has been a great deal of discussion about the improvements the legislation has made to Ontario labour law, as well its gaps in coverage for faculty and academic librarians. In a discussion moderated by Frankie Cachon (Chair of OCUFA’s Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee), panelists Jeff Tennant (Chair of OCUFA’s Collective Bargaining Committee), Kimberly Ellis-Hale (a contract faculty member of the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association), and Daniel Sheppard (a lawyer from Goldblatt Partners) considered the implications of the new law for faculty associations.

There has never been a better time to be advancing fairness for contract faculty, whether through advocacy work or at the bargaining table. As part of the presentation, faculty associations were encouraged to participate in the Fairness for Contract Faculty Social Media Day of Action on February 28 and plan a pre-election event on campus.

Faculty renewal

Over the past decade, the pace of full‐time faculty hiring has fallen dramatically behind growth in student enrolment. This means fewer full-time faculty have been available to carry out the core research and teaching functions of the university. OCUFA continues to advocate for a provincial faculty renewal strategy, and has been engaging in ongoing discussions with staff in the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development to ensure this priority remains top of mind, regardless of who forms government in June.

Pensions

OCUFA has worked with sector stakeholders for several years on an initiative to build a new voluntary jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP) for Ontario’s universities. The University of Toronto Faculty Association, Queen’s University Faculty Association, and University of Guelph Faculty Association are currently working to finalize a JSPP intended to provide a secure and sustainable pension option for interested university faculty associations and staff unions in the province. As the pension environment shifts, OCUFA will continue to organize workshops and meetings to help all member associations reach their pension-related goals and expand their capacity to communicate pension issues at the local level.

University funding

OCUFA has held a long-standing goal of increasing public funding for universities to support high-quality postsecondary education in Ontario. Over the past several years, the provincial government has been leading a process to update and streamline the university funding formula. Of concern is the government’s intent to tie university funding to performance according to a series of metrics. OCUFA will be focused on securing increased public funding for Ontario’s universities and pushing back against the move towards performance-based funding as part of our election advocacy work. In addition, OCUFA continues to advocate for more meaningful faculty consultation as part of the strategic mandate process through which these metrics and targets are being negotiated.

Capacity building

Ontario’s university faculty face serious challenges in their workplaces, including too few faculty to do the work, and too many precarious jobs at underfunded universities. OCUFA continues to support member associations with capacity building strategies that can be leveraged to build stronger unions and a university labour movement able to more effectively tackle these problems. Member engagement is an ongoing process and this year’s election provides an excellent opportunity for member associations to be active on campus and mobilize their members.

Ad hoc committee on collegial governance

OCUFA members have held longstanding and growing concerns regarding administrative structures at Ontario’s universities and the erosion of collegial governance. In response, OCUFA is forming an ad hoc committee to collect data on existing university administrative structures and practices, articulate a vision of how collegial governance ought to function, and identify a set of best practices that will achieve collaborative, democratic, and transparent administrative structures at our universities.

Update on 2018 provincial election advocacy

During the meeting, members were given a detailed presentation on OCUFA’s advocacy plans in the lead-up to the provincial election on June 7. The presentation included an overview of OCUFA’s advocacy priorities: increased public funding for universities and good jobs for all academic workers, an update on a province-wide poll and press conference tour being organized for March, and OCUFA’s plans to produce analyses of political party positions on issues of importance to university faculty. Board members were encouraged to plan their own on-campus events to lobby local political candidates, highlight faculty priorities, and strengthen relationships with other groups on campus.

Presentation from Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath

The board meeting featured a presentation from Andrea Horwath, Leader of Ontario’s New Democratic Party. Horwath provided an overview of the NDP’s positions on key postsecondary issues, with a focus on those of importance to university faculty, including increasing university funding, reducing student-faculty ratios, and ensuring contract faculty are better protected through provincial labour law. She also provided an overview of the NDP’s other priority issues, such as introducing pharmacare coverage for all Ontarians and bringing Hydro One back under public ownership. Following her presentation, Horwath answered several questions from Board members about university funding, performance metrics, and how an NDP government would address precarious academic jobs. All three parties were invited to have a representative present at the meeting.

Celebration of 2017 Lorimer Award recipient, Linda St. Pierre

Finally, a special luncheon ceremony celebrated the recipient of OCUFA’s Lorimer Award, Linda St. Pierre. Established in honour of Doug and Joyce Lorimer, who were instrumental in advancing faculty association collective bargaining in Ontario, the Lorimer Award recognizes individuals who have worked to protect and promote the interests of Ontario’s academic staff through collective bargaining. Linda has played a pivotal role in fighting for fairness, equity, and better working conditions for both full-time and contract faculty at Laurentian University.

The next OCUFA Board of Directors meeting will be held May 12-13, 2018.

This article originally appeared in OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week, please subscribe.

Social media day of action to support fairness for contract faculty set for February 28

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On February 28, faculty, staff, and students from across Ontario will participate in OCUFA’s annual social media day of action in support of fairness for contract faculty and other precariously employed campus workers. In the lead-up to the provincial election in June, it will be an exciting opportunity to build upon the momentum generated by the advocacy and organizing work that led to recent improvements to Ontario labour law.

Everyone is invited to participate. On the day of action, you’re encouraged to use social media to tag your local election candidates in a tweet or post and highlight:

  • the priorities for contract faculty;
  • the need to close gaps in Bill 148; and
  • the steps candidates should take to show their support.

In addition to candidates, you’re also encouraged to tag your university. Make sure to use the hashtag #Fairness4CF for maximum impact.

For more information on how to get involved, contact OCUFA’s Engagement and Campaigns Coordinator Alexandra Pinosa at .

This article originally appeared in OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week, please subscribe.

Laurentian professor honoured with Lorimer Award for outstanding work advancing faculty rights

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TORONTO – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is pleased to announce that Linda St. Pierre is the recipient of the 2017 Lorimer Award. This honour recognizes individuals who have worked to protect and promote the interests of Ontario’s academic staff through collective bargaining.

“Linda has played a pivotal role in advancing faculty rights at Laurentian,” said Rahul Sapra, Vice-President of OCUFA. “She has spent countless hours fighting for fairness, equity, and better working conditions for both full-time and contract faculty. Her years of experience and keen strategic instincts have made her an extraordinarily effective advocate for her members.”

The Lorimer Award was established in honour of Doug and Joyce Lorimer, who were instrumental in advancing faculty association collective bargaining in Ontario. Winners of the award all share the Lorimers’ commitment to advancing Ontario’s university system through strong faculty associations and fair collective agreements.

In her time as Chief Steward and Chief Grievance Office for the Laurentian University Faculty Association, Linda has negotiated seven collective agreements and made major gains in academic freedom, workload reduction, collegial governance, compensation, and privacy protections.

“OCUFA is extremely proud to recognize the exceptional individuals whose commitment to the bargaining process is improving the working conditions of professors and academic librarians,” said Gyllian Phillips, President of OCUFA. “High-quality education and vibrant campus communities are built on the foundations established by these collective agreements. Through the Lorimer Award, we recognize the outstanding contributions and leadership of those who work tirelessly to ensure faculty have the protections and resources they need to thrive.”

Linda St. Pierre will receive her award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 3, 2018.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 28 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.

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For more information, contact:
Ben Lewis, Communications Lead at 416-979-2117 x232 or
OR Mark Rosenfeld, Executive Director at 416-979-2117 x229 or

OCUFA makes recommendations for 2018 Ontario Budget

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Government commitment to robust public funding for postsecondary education is essential to support high-quality accessible education for Ontario students, continued strength in research, and fairness for contract faculty. With this in mind, OCUFA’s recommendations for the 2018 Ontario Budget seek to preserve the quality of university education in Ontario through increased public investment and government leadership on key issues impacting faculty working conditions.

As part of the consultation process, OCUFA President Gyllian Phillips presented the priorities of Ontario’s faculty and academic librarians to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on January 16 in Sudbury. On January 22, OCUFA Vice-President Rahul Sapra made a second presentation to the Minister of Finance in Toronto.

OCUFA is recommending that the Government of Ontario:

  1. Increase per-student public investment in Ontario’s universities to support a return to 2008-09 funding levels by 2020-21.
    Since 2008, per student funding in Ontario has been declining and trailing the rest of Canada. It is time to break from years of stagnated funding and meaningfully invest in postsecondary education. A sensible plan should begin with investments to return Ontario to 2008 university funding levels, coupled with long-term investments to close the gap with other provinces.
  2. Ensure that the renewed funding model does not link performance metrics to funding. Instead, available data should be used to develop policies that will support university educational quality and research outputs.
    The government’s planned shift to allocate a portion of university funding based on performance is counterproductive as it will, by design, create inequities in the system. Funding allocation mechanisms should not be structured in a way that harms the student learning experience. Rather than employing such unnecessarily risky and destabilizing methods, available data should be leveraged to improve policymaking decisions and outcomes.
  3. Make meaningful consultation with faculty a requirement in the Strategic Mandate Agreement negotiation process.
    The Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMAs) that the government negotiates with universities should include input from university communities. As a substantive mechanism for implementing the new funding model, it is vital that faculty have meaningful input in the upcoming SMA negotiations. While it is the responsibility of individual university administrations to undertake local consultations, the Ministry must take a leadership role and set standards for the negotiation process. This will ensure the SMAs reflect the views and priorities of the entire campus community – not just administrators.
  4. Take leadership to facilitate the implementation of updated labour law and identify remaining gaps in coverage in the postsecondary education sector, particularly for contract faculty.
    The government should confidently set a standard of fairness for contract faculty across the postsecondary sector. As the recent changes to labour and employment legislation are rolled out, attention to gaps in coverage will be crucial. The government should take leadership to identify outstanding issues and commit to providing public funding where necessary for fairness for contract faculty to be achieved.
  5. Launch a faculty renewal strategy for Ontario universities that achieves the dual goals of supporting new full-time tenure-track hiring and creating pathways to full-time secure positions for contract faculty.
    Every student’s learning experience and every university’s capacity to produce research relies on the faculty members who teach, research, and engage in their communities; but the growing gap between enrolment and faculty hiring is putting strain on the system. This year’s budget is an opportunity to launch a faculty renewal strategy that supports new faculty hiring and provides pathways for contract faculty to secure full-time positions. Multi-year investments in faculty renewal will improve student-faculty ratios and support quality educational and research outcomes.

Universities are vital institutions within our communities, delivering education to thousands of students, producing thought-provoking and ground-breaking research, and providing good jobs that support local economies. Government commitment to robust public funding for postsecondary education is essential for sustaining the capacity needed to ensure these transformational contributions continue.

You can read OCUFA’s full pre-budget submission on our website.

This article originally appeared in OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week, please subscribe.

New issue of Academic Matters examines use of metrics in postsecondary education

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Performance data and metrics are increasingly being used to make decisions in postsecondary education. The new issue of Academic Mattersnow available online – examines the significance of these developments and how they impact universities, faculty, research, and students.

Does a focus on metrics in higher education serve to optimize postsecondary education systems and make them more accountable? Do metrics distract from other considerations, undermining the integrity of the system? Do metrics compound systemic biases within institutions or help reveal them so they can be addressed?

For this issue of Academic Matters, we have assembled a group of experts to thoughtfully consider these questions, and contemplate the implications of making decisions based on metrics:

All of the above articles are free to read online, and previous issues of Academic Matters are always available at academicmatters.ca in addition to web exclusives, blog posts, and more.

Nominations open for 2018 Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship

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The Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship for Excellence in Social Sciences, Humanities, or Arts was established by OCUFA to honour the organization’s former Executive Director. The fellowship is awarded to two full-time graduate students (one master’s, one doctoral) at publicly funded Ontario universities who have demonstrated academic excellence, provided significant community service, and who show exceptional academic promise in their university careers. The successful doctoral candidate is expected to make a short presentation to the OCUFA Board within one year of receiving the award on a topic related to their thesis or dissertation research.

The application guidelines are available on the OCUFA website.

Applications should be completed using OCUFA’s online awards submission website.

This article originally appeared in OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week, please subscribe.

UOIT Teaching Faculty avoid strike and win major gains at table

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It came down to the wire, but after months of bargaining and organizing, the teaching faculty members of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association (UOITFA) have reached a new (and only their second) three year collective agreement with their employer.

The settlement will mean gains across the board. Previously, UOIT’s teaching stream instructors had the highest workloads for teaching-intensive faculty in Ontario and no agreed upon definition for what constituted a “course”. Now, the faculty will have their workload reduced to the maximum of the equivalent of seven courses per year, with a standard definition of what that entails, and a revised distribution of effort (70% teaching, 20% service, 10% research/other). The faculty association also achieved stronger academic freedom provisions, competitive salary increases, and a further harmonization of their working and compensation conditions with those of their tenured and tenure-stream colleagues.

The agreement represents a major victory for the faculty association. Inspired by OCUFA’s Countdown to Strong bargaining program, the UOITFA developed and followed a strategic timetable that supported their bargaining team in negotiations and ensured they would be prepared to strike, if necessary.

As bargaining came down to the wire, faculty association executives, staff, and volunteers set up tables and talked to members about the priorities for this round of bargaining. The UOITFA set up an online letter-writing campaign, which faculty and community allies used to send over 1,200 emails to senior administrators at the university. Through all of this work, which made the organizing efforts of the faculty association visible to the administration, the UOITFA put pressure on their employer to reach a fair deal at the table.

By mobilizing their membership early on, and showing the university administration that the members strongly supported the bargaining team, the faculty association was able to win a strong collective agreement that was unanimously approved by the membership.

This article originally appeared in OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week, please subscribe.

OCUFA workshop encourages staff to meet colleagues and share skills

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On November 17, faculty association staff from across Ontario gathered in Toronto for a day of networking and skills sharing at the bi-annual OCUFA Faculty Association Staff Workshop.

The morning featured panels on membership engagement as well as the challenges and opportunities of working for a member-driven organization. Discussion covered many facets of the day-to-day work of faculty association staff, who enthusiastically shared their tips for effectively communicating and engaging with members.

In the afternoon, staff participated in a skills sharing roundtable, where they talked about the different ways they support the work of their associations, and shared the many different and useful skills they have learned, whether supporting the bargaining team, helping with grievances, making materials, or organizing events.

Participants then broke out into groups based on their areas of occupation to have more detailed discussions about their work. These groups allowed staff to discuss areas of interest in far greater depth, and develop professional relationships so they can continue to leverage the experience of their colleagues.

This article originally appeared in OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week, please subscribe.

Understanding and communicating pension details the focus of University Finance Workshop

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On Friday, November 3rd, the annual OCUFA University Finance Workshop brought together faculty association members and staff from across Ontario who regularly review university financial statements. The day’s focus was on understanding and communicating the details of pension and retirement benefits, areas of financial complexity that many faculty members stretch to comprehend.

The morning featured a panel discussing different perspectives on pensions, including an overview of the current provincial context for university pension plans and presentations on how these plans are valued by actuaries and reported in university financial statements. Participants were given pointers on reading pension information in financial documents and assessing the health of a pension plan. Following this panel, participants broke-out into working groups to review actual financial statements and apply the methods they learned.

After lunch, another panel focused on identifying the numbers in financial statements that are important to communicate and developing effective messaging to communicate to members about the impact these numbers could have on their futures. Groups were then assigned scenarios and roles as the university administration or faculty association and tasked with clearly articulating a response that would resonate with faculty members.

Although the theme of the day was pensions, the aspiration is for all participants to have left with skills they can apply to analyzing financial statements and communicating their conclusions more generally.

This article originally appeared in OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week, please subscribe.

Bill 148 passes, bolsters efforts to address precarious work on campus

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Faculty across Ontario are pleased that legislation was passed today that will bring more fairness to workplaces. Ontario’s university faculty have long been advocating for improvements to provincial labour laws that would deliver fairness for contract faculty who face job insecurity, low pay, and lack access to benefits.

New rules in Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act aiming to ensure equal pay for contract, part-time, and temporary workers are encouraging for the growing number of professors working on short-term contracts. Throughout the process, OCUFA has been raising concerns about loopholes in the language that could be used by employers to avoid paying their contract workers fairly. Amendments addressed some of these issues, including eliminating a problematic definition of seniority and clarifying that workers do not have to do identical work to access equal pay protections. However, broad exemptions were left unaddressed, raising questions about how effective the equal pay provision will be when it comes into force on April 1, 2018 (or for unionized workers, the earlier of their collective agreement expiration or January 1, 2020).

Measures in Bill 148 governing the consolidation of bargaining units present new options for faculty associations with fragmented bargaining units. Newly organized faculty will now have the option of submitting a request to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to be merged with an existing unit, which will help avoid further fragmentation going forward. Another provision allows for a review of the structure of existing units in the same union, but requires agreement from the union and employer to be initiated, which may limit its usefulness.

Other welcome advances in the legislation include a $15 minimum wage by 2019, expanded paid emergency leave, improved rules for organizing unions in some sectors, and modest fair scheduling rules. Faculty have been working in partnership with the Fight for $15 & Fairness and Ontario Federation of Labour to advocate for these broader changes and are proud to see decent work reforms move forward.

The next task at hand is ensuring these newly won rights are implemented effectively in workplaces across the province. When it comes to universities, the majority of Ontarians expect them to be model employers. Now that the government has put their commitment to equal pay on the table, there is more pressure on universities to provide fair pay to contract faculty.

It is disappointing that the abuse of fixed-term contracts is not addressed in Bill 148, because it is a central issue for professors working contract to contract. Even long-serving contract faculty, some who have been working at their institutions for 10 to 20 years, have to re-apply for their jobs every semester.

The recent college faculty strike brought the need for job security, equal pay, and respect for contract faculty into sharp focus. Just-in-time scheduling, job insecurity, and balancing multiple contracts do not set the higher education system up for success. Full-time faculty hiring needs to be brought back in line with enrolment growth, and contract faculty need to be better supported to deliver the high-quality education students deserve.

There is a growing sense of urgency in the postsecondary sector about addressing precarious work. With added confidence after the passage of Bill 148, students, faculty and staff across Ontario will continue to work together to protect quality education and ensure decent work for all.

OCUFA’s 153rd Board of Directors meeting

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On Saturday, October 21 and Sunday, October 22, OCUFA held its first Board of Directors meeting of the 2017-18 academic year, and the first with Gyllian Phillips as OCUFA President. The weekend oriented new board members to OCUFA and allowed members to discuss developments in Ontario postsecondary education system and the organization’s revised priorities for the academic year: Good jobs/vibrant universities, university funding, and capacity building. During a special lunchtime reception on the Saturday, board members and colleagues celebrated the winners of the OCUFA Teaching and Academic Librarianship Awards.

Priorities

In the lead-up to the 2018 Ontario provincial election, it was agreed that the year’s priorities should be strategically aligned to focus OCUFA’s energies on issues most likely to gain traction with the public and political parties. In addition to good jobs/vibrant universities and university funding, capacity building was identified as an important means through which OCUFA can support the work of local faculty associations. Although not listed as priorities for the year, all members agreed that university governance and equity remain important issues and should continue to permeate OCUFA’s work.

Priority: Good jobs/vibrant universities

One of OCUFA’s established long-term goals is a postsecondary education system where every academic job is a good job with fair compensation, reasonable workloads, access to benefits, and job security. The good jobs priority makes the connection between the importance of good jobs and their essential role in fostering vibrant and dynamic universities. This year, OCUFA will focus on three opportunities for improving the terms and conditions of employment at Ontario’s universities: fairness for contract faculty, faculty renewal, and pensions.

Fairness for contract faculty

In recent years, substantial progress has been made raising awareness about the challenges faced by contract faculty at Ontario universities. Through the ongoing legislative process for Bill 148, OCUFA has kept fairness for contract faculty on the agenda, advocating for amendments to the legislation to improve conditions for academic workers in precarious jobs. Faculty voices have been prominent in the debate and OCUFA will continue to support member associations through the Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee and special contract faculty focused issues of OCUFA Report. OCUFA is also continuing to work closely with solidarity partners, including the Fight for $15 & Fairness, who hosted a provincial campus assembly in September, and the Canadian Association of University Teachers, who hosted the Contract Academic Staff Conference in October, and with whom OCUFA helps organize the annual Fair Employment Week each fall.

Faculty renewal

Full‐time faculty hiring has fallen dramatically behind growth in student enrolment in the past decade. This means fewer faculty are available to carry out the core research and teaching functions of the university. Recently, the Ontario government has shown an interest in this issue and OCUFA will work hard to keep the need for faculty renewal on the agenda, both provincially and on individual university campuses.

Pensions

OCUFA has worked with sector stakeholders for several years on an initiative to build a new voluntary jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP) in the university sector. This initiative is intended to provide a secure and sustainable pension option for interested university faculty associations and staff unions in the province. As the pension environment shifts, OCUFA will continue to organize workshops and meetings to help all member associations reach their pension-related goals and expand their capacity to communicate pension issues at the local level.

Priority: University funding

OCUFA has held a long-standing goal of increasing public funding for universities to support high quality postsecondary education in Ontario. Over the past several years, the provincial government has been leading a process to update and streamline the university funding formula. Of concern is the government’s intent to tie university funding to performance according to a series of metrics that have still not been sufficiently defined. It is expected that these will be negotiated in the next round of Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMAs). With no additional funding for universities in the last provincial budget, securing increased public funding for Ontario’s universities will be a key focus of OCUFA’s work in the coming months, particularly with the provincial election on the horizon.

As the new funding model is implemented along with the third round of SMAs (negotiated between MAESD and Ontario’s universities) it is vital that faculty input is meaningfully incorporated into these agreements. It is unacceptable that faculty voices were largely ignored in previous SMA negotiations. Through advocacy efforts, OCUFA will work to persuade MAESD to put in place a development process for the next round of SMAs that requires faculty input and clearer timelines for negotiations.

Priority: Capacity building

Ontario’s university faculty face serious challenges in their workplaces, including too few faculty to do the work, and too many precarious jobs at underfunded universities. Many changes to Ontario’s higher education sector have shifted the collegial dynamic between faculty and their employers. In the coming year, OCUFA will focus on supporting member associations in building stronger unions and a university labour movement able to more effectively tackle these problems. This will include the continued strengthening of local bargaining through OCUFA’s Countdown to Strong program, the development of capacity building tools that can be leveraged by member associations, and more training for local leaders.

2018 provincial election

During the board meeting, board members had a chance to discuss OCUFA’s preparation for the 2018 provincial election. OCUFA’s three priority areas for the 2017-18 year will be key in efforts to put good jobs and public university funding on the agenda during the election. Additionally, the report generated by OCUFA’s 2017 Policy Exchange will help inform a comprehensive set of proposals the organization will lobby for as provincial parties develop their platforms.

Guest speakers

The board meeting featured several guest speakers. Deputy Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Greg Orensak spoke about the Ministry’s upcoming priorities. Greg Lyle, President of Innovative Research Group Inc., provided an overview of the political landscape in Ontario and discussed the different scenarios that should be expected in the lead-up to the next provincial election. Finally, JP Hornick, Chair of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union’s (OPSEU’s) faculty bargaining team, updated board members on the state of negotiations between college faculty and the College Employer Council. College faculty have been bargaining for more full-time positions, fairness for contract faculty, faculty input in academic decision-making, and academic freedom. Following Hornick’s address, the OCUFA Board passed a motion in support of OPSEU’s efforts to improve working conditions for their members.

Awards celebration

Finally, a special luncheon gala celebrated the recipients of this year’s Teaching and Academic Librarianship Awards. Since 1973, these awards have recognized the exceptional contributions made by professors and librarians to the quality of higher education in Ontario.

The 2016-2017 Teaching Award recipients are:

  • Dora Cavallo-Medved, a permanent lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Windsor
  • Kimberley Dej, Associate Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Science at McMaster University
  • Milena Head, Professor of Information Systems at McMaster University
  • Quazi Mehbubar Rahman, Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Western University
  • Mira Sucharov, Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton University

The 2016-2017 Academic Librarianship Award recipients are:

  • Karen Pillon, Head of Access Services at the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor
  • Mindy Thuna, Head of the Engineering and Computer Science Library at the University of Toronto

The luncheon featured a keynote address from Paul Kennedy, host of CBC’s Ideas, who shared thoughtful and touching stories about the importance of teaching, and the role faculty had in changing the course of his life. Attendees were also shown the premiere of a new video profiling former Teaching Award winner Shafique Virani.

The next OCUFA Board of Directors meeting will be held in February.

CAUT hosts national conference on fairness for contract academic staff

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The Canadian Association of University Teachers hosted a conference on achieving fairness for contract academic staff to kickoff Fair Employment Week on October 20 and 21. Participants developed a wide range of strategies and tactics to organize fellow faculty members and confront their administrations about the growing use of contract faculty at Canadian universities and colleges.

Faculty associations discussed key ways of addressing precarious work, including bargaining, grievances, and mobilization. In hands-on exercises, conference participants practiced creating collective agreement language, writing grievances, preparing materials like flyers, buttons and posters, producing videos, and writing press releases.

Conference attendees donated their lunch hour to visiting an OPSEU college faculty picket line to express their support.

It’s time to fix equal pay in Bill 148

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The review of Ontario’s labour laws has brought new momentum to addressing unpredictable scheduling, the lack of equal pay for work of equal value, and the fact that many contract faculty do not have access to benefits.

As part of the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Make It Fair campaign, they produced a video profile of Wilfrid Laurier University contract professor Kimberly Ellis Hale. In the video, Kimberly tells her story and makes the case for fixing Bill 148. Join Kimberly, and send a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne today encouraging the government to fix and pass Bill 148.

Through advocacy around Bill 148, university faculty are working with new allies. The Decent Work and Health Network recognizes the negative impact on personal health and community wellbeing of precarious work. And students, staff and faculty on campus are working through cross campus alliances to achieve wins for campus workers, like a $15 starting wage for food service employees.