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Faculty interested in possibilities of Open Textbook Library

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Last month we asked OCUFA Report readers to tell us what they thought about eCampus Ontario’s new Open Textbook Library, which establishes a provincial repository of Open Educational Resources (OERs) from a range of disciplines, which faculty can freely use and adapt for the classes they teach. Thank you to everyone who participated!

The results from the survey offer a helpful snapshot of what faculty think about the Open Textbook Library’s current offerings, their interest in using OERs, and the supports needed to help them adapt and create open textbooks.

In the responses we received, many professors expressed an interest in using open textbooks in their courses, but found the available offerings were not adequate. Either no textbooks were available for their field or the ones that were available did not adequately meet their teaching needs. There is hope this will improve as the Library’s holdings grow.

Faculty interest in updating, adapting, or creating open textbooks seems to be limited primarily by a lack of available time (professors are busy!). Those who did express an openness to updating, adapting, or creating open textbooks emphasized the importance of compensating faculty fairly for this work. In the absence of traditional copyright arrangements, new mechanisms for doing this need to be created.

Based on the survey responses, there is a need for a wide range of institutional supports to help faculty take on the task of creating or adapting open textbooks – including training, financial compensation, course release, and recognition of textbook authorship in the promotion and tenure processes. Outreach and education for faculty interested in using OERs, but who aren’t quite sure how the logistics of creative commons licenses or open publishing work, could help to facilitate the creation and adaptation of more open textbooks – which many professors appear to be ready and willing to use.

Moving forward, faculty should keep an eye on the Open Textbook Library and their own institution’s open educational resources. In the coming months, the Library will continue to expand their offerings with more textbooks covering more disciplines. If you know of any open textbooks you think should be included in the Open Textbook Library, you can recommend it to eCampus Ontario by sending an email to .

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

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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.

Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association makes important gains in latest collective agreement

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Wilfrid Laurier’s full-time faculty and professional librarians have reached a collective agreement with the University that will help protect faculty complement, improve contract faculty representation in governance, and lead to competitive salary increases.

The collective agreement ratified by the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (WLUFA) will create a new committee tasked with examining the possibility of additional protections for faculty complement by redefining online and summer courses. Dean search committees will now include seats for contract faculty, giving them more input into university governance. Contract faculty will also now be included in the calculation of department sizes for the purposes of determining Chair compensation. Finally, WLUFA was able to negotiate a competitive increase in pattern salary for their full-time faculty and professional librarian members.

The new collective agreement is a result of hard work by WLUFA’s bargaining committee and represents important gains for faculty and librarians at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Faculty voices heard in Bill 148 hearings

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The government is currently considering changes to employment and labour law that could bring more fairness to workplaces across the province. More than ten faculty associations presented at the recent hearings on Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act about how the bill can deliver fairness for contract faculty, including equal pay for equal work, fair scheduling, and more secure and stable jobs. Faculty also addressed the importance of the right to join a union and better options for consolidating bargaining units.

On the need for fairness for contract faculty:

“In recent years, universities in Ontario have increased their reliance on contract faculty. Although not always visible from the outside, they have created a system where there’s a clear distinction between those with good jobs and those without. Bill 148 has the potential to improve contract faculty’s conditions of work by setting out fair and equitable minimum standards.”

Amanda Burk, Nipissing University Faculty Association presenting in North Bay

“I have been teaching in the Math Department at Laurier for more than 10 years as a contract faculty professor. I have to apply for essentially the same job year after year and am hired per course each semester. We are looking to create a fair workplace and better jobs so that we can ensure our students receive the best education possible. We are hopeful about Bill 148.”

Anne-Marie Allison, Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association presenting in Kitchener-Waterloo

“This fall marks the beginning of my 20th year teaching at Laurier. To date I have signed close to 100 contracts. In the weeks leading up to the beginning of each term I worry. Every September, January and May – 58 times in the last 20 years – I can’t seem to breathe. As a single mother of two, the constant spectre of unemployment looms large in my life and the life of my family.”

Kimberly Ellis-Hale, Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association presenting in Kitchener-Waterloo

“Would you believe that I had more job security working at Burger King in grade 9 than I do as an academic with a PhD who is research-active, with an established record of teaching excellence? And, I am certainly not alone. My story echoes those of academics across this province.”

Frankie Cachon, Windsor University Faculty Association presenting in Windsor

“You don’t make much as a contract lecturer, and you never know how much you’re going to be making in the future. You may have no courses, some courses… When you’re working at a university, people think you’re making all this money, but there are 68 of us [at Lakehead University] who are not. We’re living in very precarious positions.”

Laurie Forbes, Lakehead University Faculty Association presenting in Thunder Bay

“More than a few of my contract colleagues teach at more than one institution in an attempt to cobble together some kind of livable income. So they’re teaching here in North Bay, but will also be driving to Toronto, Sudbury and some as far as Kingston every week to teach courses at other institutions just to try to make a liveable wage.”

Amanda Burk, Nipissing University Faculty Association presenting in North Bay

“When I talk about precarious work, the students are always, ‘We get it, Miss. We have those very jobs. I just can’t believe you do, but we have them too.’ They get it.”

Frankie Cachon, Windsor University Faculty Association presenting in Windsor

 

On the importance of equal pay for equal work:

“A contract faculty member who teaches a specific course should be paid for that course, the same amount that a full-time faculty member is also paid to teach the same course. That seems to me unassailable, if we are truly committed to the idea of equal pay for equal work.”

Stephen Pitel, University of Western Ontario Faculty Association presenting in London

“The people doing this teaching are all professors, professionals. Myself, I’m an adjunct. I’m a professional engineer. I have a PhD, just like my colleagues next door to me. I win teaching awards. While the expectations of university teaching done by adjunct faculty and tenure-stream faculty are the same, their compensation is not. All workers should receive equal pay for work of equal value and equal access to benefits.”

Jordan Morelli, Queen’s University Faculty Association presenting in Kingston

“Suppose I am teaching physics and another colleague, on contract, is also teaching physics. We are both teaching first-year physics, teaching the same number of students. The question is, why would he make less compared to me? I want to see my colleague who is in the contract position being treated like me.”

Gautam Das, Lakehead University Faculty Association presenting in Thunder Bay

“Highly qualified instructors have no employment security, comparatively low pay, and in many cases no pension or benefits. 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. 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.”

Sally Gunz, Faculty Association at the University of Waterloo presenting in Kitchener-Waterloo

 

 

On decent work for all and the right to join a union:

“We are broadly supportive of the bill. With the big-ticket items, with minimum wage and other protections, although they may not directly impact librarians and archivists, we can see the benefits of those for the broader campus community.”

Shawn Hendrikx, University of Western Ontario Faculty Association Librarians and Archivists presenting in London

“University faculty are part of the broader labour movement, and we see the need for labour law improvements to enable all Ontario employees who are not presently unionized to decide for themselves if they wish to organize.”

Geoffrey Hudson, Northern Ontario School of Medicine Faculty and Staff Association presenting in Thunder Bay

“I firmly believe that a $15 minimum wage advances both social justice in this province and makes good economic sense. A $15 minimum wage will help lift low-wage workers out of poverty.”

Simon Black, Brock University Faculty Association presenting in Niagara

 

On improving options for consolidating bargaining units:

“At UOIT, we have been forced into fragmented bargaining units by the present labour relations legislation, and this has been detrimental to employees at the university. We will become more ossified over time unless we are allowed to normalize our relations through consolidation.”

Mike Eklund, University of Ontario Institute for Technology Faculty Association presenting in Kingston

“Our librarians and archivists unit has approximately 50 members, whereas the faculty unit has over 1,200. Since the librarians and archivists certified, UWOFA has sought to merge the bargaining units. The primary benefit of merging our bargaining units would be more efficient and cost-effective negotiations.”

Shawn Hendrikx, University of Western Ontario Faculty Association Librarians and Archivists presenting in London

Continued political pressure will be important to ensure positive measures are adopted in Bill 148 without delay. Faculty associations are committed to ongoing advocacy for fairness for contract faculty on our university campuses and at the provincial level. Faculty voices are also part of the broader Fight for $15 & Fairness that includes non-unionized and unionized workers across the province, and allies such as health providers and faith leaders.

Brock University Faculty Association makes major gains for LGBTQ members

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Members of the Brock University Faculty Association (BUFA) have ratified a new collective agreement that makes historic gains for LGBTQ members. Early adopters of OCUFA’s Countdown to Strong organizing framework, BUFA’s enthusiastic organizing work has paid off in their newly ratified collective agreement.

By mobilizing a substantial portion of their membership, BUFA was able to make a significant breakthrough on LGBTQ equity issues, with LGBTQ members now included in the collective agreement’s employment equity language as a designated group. In addition to this victory, the union achieved guarantees on the minimum size of the internal research fund (available to all BUFA members), maintained the cap on courses taught by non-members, and extended tenure-track conversion language to faculty teaching as instructional limited term appointments (LTAs).

Without having to bring in any third parties to facilitate negotiations, BUFA was able to reach a settlement that realized monetary and non-monetary gains for all of its members and successfully fought back all concessions proposed by the university. BUFA has demonstrated that, by mobilizing their members, and showing the university administration the support of their membership, the union’s position at the bargaining table is strengthened.

OCUFA submits recommendations to government on Bill 148

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On July 20, OCUFA submitted formal recommendations on how Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act can be improved. The recommendations focus on delivering fairness for contract faculty who teach a growing number of courses at Ontario universities, but lack job security, receive low pay, and often do not have access to benefits. This follows two weeks of public committee hearings, at which more than ten faculty associations presented their priorities for improving the bill.

Since the outset of the Changing Workplaces Review in 2015, OCUFA has been advocating for changes to employment and labour law that will create fair and decent jobs for Ontario workers including equal pay, fair scheduling, more secure and stable jobs, and the right to join a union.

OCUFA’s response to Bill 148 focused on five key areas:

  • All workers should receive equal pay and have equal access to benefits, regardless of their employment status as contract, part-time, casual, or temporary.
  • The use of sequential or discontinuous contracts to prevent the achievement of workplace rights should be eliminated.
  • Employers should be required to provide workers with at least two weeks’ notice of work.
  • The Ontario Labour Relations Board should be empowered to redefine the scope of bargaining units or consolidate bargaining units that are in the same union.
  • The Labour Relations Act should be updated to ensure workers can organize collectively to improve their conditions and join a union.

Click here to read OCUFA’s complete submission.

The committee hearings wrapped up in Toronto on July 21, and any changes to the bill are expected to be confirmed in August. The government has signaled that the legislation could be passed as soon as late September, but continued political pressure will be important to ensure positive measures are adopted without delay.

OCUFA has endorsed the Fight for $15 and Fairness and supports their recommendations, as well as those put forward by the Ontario Federation of Labour.

Ontario government updates framework governing compensation of university executives

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This past spring, Ontario’s colleges proposed changes to their executive compensation packages that could have seen the already high salaries of their presidents increase by an average of 32 per cent (in many cases a raise of over $100,000). The changes were announced in response to the provincial government’s new Executive Compensation Framework, a regulation aimed at ensuring institutions in the broader public service (including universities and colleges) justify increases to the compensation they offer their executive officers. However, many colleges took advantage of the new rules to cherry-pick “comparable” institutions with highly paid executives to maximize the salaries they could offer their own executive officers. For more on how this transpired, read OCUFA’s initial summary from January.

When the colleges’ proposals were publicized, as required by the Framework, the media picked up the story, which quickly gained traction with the public. Shortly thereafter, the provincial government informed colleges that they would need to go back to the drawing board and come up with more reasonable proposals.

In June, following several months of reflection, the Ontario government updated the Executive Compensation Framework to better achieve its intended goals. The new Framework (published June 9) makes several changes and additions:

  • The September 5, 2017 deadline for executive compensation programs to be finalized has been extended. Now organizations have until September 29 to submit their proposals to government for review. Instead of requiring that draft proposals be posted online at the outset, now they must be submitted to the relevant ministry for approval first.
  • The “salary and performance-related pay cap”, which represents the total amount an executive can be paid, may be increased once a year, but the increase cannot exceed the lesser of either the Ontario public sector wage trend (currently 1.3%) or the average rate of increase for the institution’s non-executive managers.
  • The Framework now requires institutions to also set a “salary and performance-related pay envelope”. The envelope represents the total amount by which the combined executive salaries of an institution can be increased, but it is up to the institution’s Board of Governors to determine how the money is distributed among executives (as long as no individual executive member exceeds the pay cap defined for their position). Institutions must also consider the “financial priorities and the compensation priorities of the Government of Ontario” when determining the pay envelope.

The process for having an executive compensation program approved has also been revised:

  1. The institution submits an initial executive compensation program proposal to the Ministry for approval.
  2. The Ministry either conditionally approves the program, or provides feedback that requires the institution to update and resubmit.
  3. Once the program has received initial approval, it must be posted to the institution’s public website for at least 30 days and provide a way for the public to provide feedback.
  4. The institution resubmits its proposed compensation program, including a summary of public feedback received and any changes made as a result of government or public feedback.
  5. The Ministry approves the final program.
  6. The institution’s Board of Governors votes to adopt the executive compensation program, which is considered in effect as soon as the final document is posted to the institution’s public website.

These changes provide a more rigorous process for regulating executive compensation, but it remains important for faculty associations to pay close attention to the executive compensation program proposals brought forward by their universities and actively engage in providing feedback. One key measure of the effectiveness of the Executive Compensation Framework will be whether institutions and government meaningfully respond to the feedback provided by the public.

Gyllian Phillips appointed as OCUFA’s 32nd president

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TORONTO – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is pleased to announce the appointment of its 32nd president – Gyllian Phillips, Associate Professor of English Studies in the Faculty of Arts & Science at Nipissing University. Phillips officially began her two-year term on July 1, 2017.

“Ontario’s professors and academic librarians are at the heart of our public universities,” said Phillips. “That is why it is so important that we work together, through OCUFA, to advocate for the rights of faculty and the integrity of our institutions. I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead this important organization.”

Phillips served as Vice-President of OCUFA from 2015 to 2017, is a past-President of the Nipissing University Faculty Association, and previously served as Chair of Nipissing’s English Studies Department. Her research focuses on British modernism and postcolonial literature.

OCUFA would also like to thank outgoing President Judy Bates, who served the organization as a principled and distinguished leader since 2015.

“Judy has provided strong leadership for OCUFA over the past two years, fighting for fairness for contract faculty, faculty renewal, and increases to public university funding,” said Phillips. “It is a privilege to follow in her footsteps as we continue advocating on these priorities.”

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 http://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

 

Ontario Open Textbook Library now live – We want to know what you think!

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On June 6, eCampus Ontario and the provincial government announced the launch of the Open Textbook Library. Adapted from the BCcampus model used in British Columbia, the Ontario Open Textbook Library will act as a repository of Open Educational Resources (OERs) from a range of disciplines that faculty can adopt as course materials for the classes they teach.

Open Textbooks are available for use by students and educators at no cost under Creative Commons licensing arrangements. Online versions are available for free, and can be printed at a low cost. Under these licensing arrangements, existing resources can be adopted as a course text in their current form or, in many cases, edited and adapted for a particular course or pedagogical goal.

You can browse the collection of course materials currently available in the Open Textbook Library here. eCampus Ontario is encouraging faculty who adopt an Open Textbook for their courses to let them know.

OERs have the potential to make higher education more affordable for students by significantly reducing their textbook costs, while providing faculty with a flexible and more accessible resource for course materials. However, for Open Education Resources to be useful, professors actually need to use Open Textbooks in the courses they teach…

This is where faculty come in! We want to hear what you think about Open Textbooks. Would you use them? Are the texts currently available in your discipline any good? Would you be interested in developing an open textbook where gaps currently exist?

Take this short survey (5 minute) survey, and let us know what you think!

OCUFA Policy Exchange brings together faculty to discuss advocacy priorities

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In May, faculty members from across Ontario gathered at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse in Toronto over two days to lay the groundwork for OCUFA’s policy positions and advocacy efforts in the lead-up to the 2018 Ontario provincial election.

The OCUFA Policy Exchange was an interactive conference during which participants identified the most important policy issues and priorities for the 17,000 university faculty and academic librarians that OCUFA represents.

Discussions were focused around three timely themes:

  • The future of provincial funding for universities
  • Precarious academic employment and the evolving role of contract faculty
  • Reshaping university governance and accountability

To provide background for participants, the conference included a series of panel presentations and interviews with a range of experts and stakeholders from the higher education sector and beyond. These sessions were an opportunity to learn more about the current postsecondary education landscape in Ontario and the different perspectives on the conference’s themes.

Following these presentations, participants were guided through a series of facilitated discussions where they were able to debate and deliberate on policy positions and recommendations that will inform OCUFA’s advocacy work in the lead-up to the 2018 provincial election. In addition to clarifying OCUFA’s policy positions, the conference also helped attendees build their own capacity for engaging with public policy questions.

To learn more about the OCUFA Policy Exchange, and listen to the conference’s fascinating panel presentations, click here.

Faculty frustrated with lack of consultation on Strategic Mandate Agreements

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The Ontario Government has been working with the province’s universities to develop Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMAs) that identify each institution’s strengths and set out how the government can work to best support the strategic priorities of each institution and the system as a whole. However, the process by which these agreements have been developed has not included meaningful consultation with university faculty, whose teaching and research is at the core of every university’s mission. The failure to consult with faculty and incorporate their input into these agreements raises significant concerns for Ontario’s professors and academic librarians about how decisions regarding the future direction of their institutions are made, and the legitimacy of the SMAs themselves.

The second round of SMA negotiations between the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) and individual Ontario universities is expected to conclude this summer.  Each institution’s agreement is oriented around five government objectives and priorities. These priorities include 1) student experience; 2) teaching and learning; 3) access and equity; 4) research excellence; and 5) community engagement. For each priority, there are system-wide indicators that all institutions will report on, as well as institution-specific metrics that each university selects as part of the negotiations.

Unfortunately, the government has not required institutions to consult with their campus communities as part of the SMA negotiation process. As a result, consultation on most campuses has been limited, with little to no opportunity for faculty input, and faculty associations are deeply dissatisfied with the process. Typically, if “consultation” did occur, administrations presented drafts of completed SMAs to senates for the information of senators, but opportunities to provide input or modify these drafts were non-existent. In some cases, campus town halls were held, but the mechanism through which community feedback was to be integrated into draft SMAs was not made clear.

The very nature of the five key priority areas addressed by the SMAs is such that anything decided in these agreements will directly impact faculty in every aspect of their work as teachers and researchers. The absence of meaningful consultation with faculty as part of the SMA development and negotiation process significantly undermines the legitimacy and effectiveness of these agreements. This failure of process must be corrected when designing the next round of SMA negotiations.

Earlier this month, OCUFA sent a letter to the government’s lead for SMA negotiations and the Deputy Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development to highlight the shortcomings of the current round of negotiations and identify strategies for improving the process in the future.

In the next round of SMA negotiations, MAESD must require institutions to provide evidence of meaningful consultation with faculty before negotiations between the Ministry and university administrations begin and again before the final agreements are approved. While it is the responsibility of local university administrations to undertake local consultations, the Ministry must take a leadership role and set standards for the negotiation process that will result in SMAs that reflect the views and priorities of the entire campus community – not just administrators.

Moving forward, OCUFA will continue to work with MAESD and other stakeholders to ensure that the next round of SMA negotiations involve meaningful consultation in which faculty voices are heard.

Faculty and the Fight for $15 & Fairness

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The government’s announcement of its intention to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2019 is a victory for workers across Ontario and for faculty who have been active members of the Fight for $15 & Fairness, a provincial campaign calling on the provincial government to take decisive action to address precarious work.

Faculty still have a role to play in making sure this legislation gets passed. Professors are trusted leaders on their campuses and in their communities. It is important that faculty speak up for positive changes to labour and employment law and decent work for all.

For more about what you can do to secure better labour laws and a $15 minimum wage, click here.

Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development signals interest in faculty renewal

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Following the introduction of government legislation to implement select recommendations from the Changing Workplaces Review, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Deb Matthews distributed a letter to stakeholders in Ontario’s postsecondary education sector reaffirming the government’s commitment to fair employment and supporting universities and colleges during the transition to new labour and employment laws.

This letter to postsecondary education stakeholders also signaled that the Minister intends to initiate a conversation about faculty renewal. While the timelines, process, and scope of this conversation have not yet been announced, the Minister’s interest in this issue is an important opportunity to make headway on some of OCUFA’s key priorities. OCUFA looks forward to participating in this conversation as a major stakeholder, well positioned to communicate faculty perspectives and demonstrate the value of faculty renewal for supporting universities’ core mission of teaching, research, and community engagement.

OCUFA’s Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement gaining momentum

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While planning for the 2017-18 academic year, the Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee spent some time looking back on its creative, eventful, and effective first three years. Since its creation, the committee has worked hard on education and solidarity-building strategies to address the issues facing both contract and tenured faculty.

Over the past 15 years, it is estimated that the number of contract faculty in Ontario has doubled while universities fail to hire new tenured faculty to fill vacancies created by retiring professors. Contract faculty positions are insecure, paid by the course, and sometimes without benefits. Tenured faculty face significant workload challenges as they balance teaching, research, and their responsibilities in university departments and committees.

Working together is the only way to solve these critical issues facing Ontario universities. In the last three years, OCUFA’s Contract Faculty and Complement Committee has launched a website, www.weteachontario.ca, that allows contract faculty to tell their personal stories and where the public can sign a pledge in support of good jobs for all faculty. Members also actively tabled as part of Fair Employment Week, and OCUFA hosted an international conference on precarious academic work.

This engagement, and a growing understanding of the need for better, more stable jobs, has led to more media stories examining the challenges facing Ontario’s faculty and helped build awareness and support for the struggles faced by contract professors.

Working with allies in higher education and the labour movement, OCUFA has been putting pressure on the Liberal government to improve Ontario’s labour law to strengthen the rights of workers and support good jobs.

OCUFA’s Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee has much to be proud of, but with a growing sense of momentum, there is much more that can be done!

Faculty associations building solidarity

This spring saw two faculty associations hold events to build solidarity amongst their members. These events, hosted by the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association and the Windsor University Faculty Association, featured comedy, music, and opportunities for faculty to get to know each other.

Both events were supported by OCUFA and the Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee with the goal of bringing together tenured and contract faculty to build solidarity in advance of bargaining. To read more about these events, click here and here.

Two short videos with highlights of the events can also be viewed below:

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Looking forward to the 2017-18 academic year

This fall, Fair Employment Week will return the week of October 23, 2017. With a fresh look and new initiatives, the week will be bigger and even more exciting. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is revamping the campaign with new graphics, a new website, and more interactive tools to help get the message out about the importance of fairness for contract faculty.

As preparation for Fair Employment Week, CAUT will be hosting a national conference on October 20-21 in Toronto to bring together representatives of contract faculty unions to identify issues, challenges, and success stories. It will also provide practical skills building workshops to help organizing on local campuses.

For more information and input on the revamp of Fair Employment Week or the CAUT national conference on contract academic staff, contact .

Workers’ voices heard, government moves on fairer labour laws and $15 minimum wage

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University professors and academic librarians are pleased that the government is taking steps to bring more fairness to workplaces across Ontario. Today’s announcement by the Ontario Government includes positive measures to ensure equal pay for part-time and casual workers, more reasonable scheduling, and better rules for joining unions in some sectors. It also includes a welcome plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by January 2019.

Since the outset of the Changing Workplaces Review, OCUFA has been advocating for changes to employment and labour law that would improve working conditions, in particular for contract faculty at Ontario’s universities, and strengthen the rights of workers to join a union. The government has now indicated it is planning to move forward on many of our recommendations:

  • OCUFA recommends that all workers, including part-time and contract workers, should receive equal pay for work of equal value and equal access to benefits. The government announcement proposes that part-time, casual, seasonal, and temporary workers are paid equally to full-time workers when performing the same job for the same employer, but equal treatment is not extended to benefits.
  • OCUFA recommends reasonable scheduling provisions that provide employees with at least two weeks’ notice of work. The government announcement includes provisions that would protect employees from last-minute scheduling changes and being “on call” without any pay.
  • OCUFA recommends that the use of discontinuous contracts should be eliminated. The government announcement does not address this issue directly.
  • OCUFA recommends that the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) should be empowered to consolidate bargaining units. The government announcement proposes that the OLRB be allowed to change the structure of a bargaining unit where the existing units are no longer appropriate for collective bargaining.
  • OCUFA recommends that labour law ensure workers can organize collectively to improve their conditions of work and join a union, including a return to automatic card-based certification, a requirement that employees punitively disciplined during organizing drives be reinstated, and making first contract arbitration more accessible. The government announcement suggests returning to card-check certification in specific sectors (home care, community services, building services and temp agencies) and making first contract arbitration easier to access.

After two years of focused advocacy work on improving employment and labour law to address the rise of precarious work, OCUFA is pleased the government is taking action on this issue. This announcement follows the release of the final report of the Changing Workplaces Review on May 23, and represents a major step forward in efforts to support decent work for all workers in Ontario.

OCUFA will participate in the upcoming committee hearing process to provide input on the proposed legislation, and looks forward to working with our partners in the Fight for $15 & Fairness and the Ontario Federation of Labour to encourage the government to implement positive legislative changes as soon as possible.