Arbitration decision reaffirms teaching load for teaching stream

In a recent mixed decision, Arbitrator Gedalof found that the normal teaching load of Teaching Stream members in the Department of Physics and Astronomy is based on the load historically assigned to teaching stream members in the Department. The Arbitrator found that the Employer violated the CA by assigning a newly hired faculty member a teaching load higher than the load previously assigned to the teaching stream members. However, a future member may agree, in their letter of offer, to temporarily increase their teaching load above the unit’s historically assigned normal load. This decision closes a dispute that has been contentious for over six years.

YUFA believed the matter of teaching load for Teaching Stream members was resolved in 2016. A settlement that year, established the Teaching Stream teaching load for units with and without historical teaching loads. Units with Teaching Stream members prior to 2012 maintained their established teaching load in the unit. Units that didn’t have Teaching Stream members could have a maximum teaching load of 3.0 in the first three years of probation and 3.5 thereafter. The settlement built on Article 18, which relies on past practice and collegial processes to establish the normal teaching load of a unit. Article 18 also establishes approval of changes to the teaching load of a unit by a joint committee of the Employer and the Union.

Unfortunately, the Employer did not follow the rules of the settlement and the CA. As the current and former Associate Deans of Science testified, they were not aware of the Memorandum of Settlement (MOS) or the relevant language in the Collective Agreement.  Moreover, one of Deans incorrectly believed that there was a mandate to increase the Teaching Stream load. 

This current decision is a victory in the struggle to maintain fair and adequate levels of teaching load. It should be noted however, that the Arbitrator limited the decision to the grievor and Physics and Astronomy.  The Arbitrator added that the limited decision should help YUFA and the Employer resolve similar cases. YUFA does not share this optimism because the Employer disregarded the 2016 settlement in the context of a deterioration of labour relations. YUFA has filed a separate grievance for other members and other units, which is pending a hearing.  

YUFA believes that the Arbitrator erred in the decision that a new faculty may agree to increase their teaching load by agreeing to a higher than established unit teaching load. The Arbitrator did not fulsomely consider the context of certain collective agreement language, nor normative labour relations between the parties prior to and during the grievance process. However, his decision remains binding.

YUFA reminds its members that the normal teaching load is based on the current workload document in the unit or, where the workload document is silent or there is no document, the normal teaching load is based on past practice. The employer cannot unilaterally impose a teaching load. Any unit communicating with the Dean’s Office about changes on teaching load should keep in mind the disregard for rules previously shown by the Employer and should contact YUFA.

We have identified over 50 members in 12 units affected by what we view as the Employer’s violations of the CA. We will be contacting these members to discuss next steps. If you do not hear from YUFA by the end of day on March 3, but you feel you have been impacted by this CA violation, please contact YUFA at [email protected].