Earlier this fall, YUFA filed a series of grievances related to a number of issues arising out of COVID-19, including accommodations (both on the basis of family status and disability), health and safety, and collegial rights to determine mode of delivery, all in the context of York's plan to largely return to in-person teaching in Winter 2022, per May 6, 2021 Senate Executive Communication.
YUFA and the Employer have engaged in multiple days of mediation, with the assistance of Arbitrator Eli Gedalof, to seek to resolve the important issues arising from the grievance. The parties reached a Memorandum of Settlement on December 14, 2021.
The Settlement achieves a number of important protections to help ensure the health and safety of YUFA members.
Under the terms of the Memorandum, members have enhanced protections where their personal circumstances require more flexible work arrangements, including continued remote teaching. There are two paths available to members, depending on the specifics of their circumstances:
(1) Accommodation on the basis of disability: Members continue to have a right to accommodation on the basis of disability. The Employer has now agreed to apply more flexible standards in addressing such accommodation requests. To request accommodation on the basis of disability you may write to [email protected] and/or contact YUFA. Members with disability accommodation for Fall 2021 may request to continue the accommodation for Winter 2022 by confirming in writing to EWB that their circumstances have not materially changed.
(2) Accommodation on the basis of family status: Members continue to have a right to accommodation on the basis of family status. Members who have an accommodation on the basis of family status for Fall 2021 may request to continue the accommodation for winter 2022 by confirming in writing to EWB that their circumstances have not materially changed. The process for requesting family status accommodation may be found here.
(3) Alternate work arrangements: Members who do not meet the traditional definition of family status but who cohabitate with, or are the primary caregiver for, individuals who are at heightened risk from COVID-19, are immunocompromised, or cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (as distinct from children who are not yet old enough to get the vaccine) can request flexible work arrangements (which may or may not include working remotely). The process for requesting alternate work arrangements may be found here.
Members needing to pursue these options should do so immediately, and ideally no later than December 20, 2021. If members have any concern with the response they receive to their request under any of the options above, please contact [email protected] immediately.
The Memorandum also requires the University to take a number of health and safety measures including meeting the following public health guidelines (as issued by Public Health Ontario):
• increasing filter efficiency by installing MERV 13 or the highest compatible filters
• meeting the air exchange rates required by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) Standard 62 and, as appropriate, the applicable building code
• operating HVAC systems for 2 hours before the start of daily classes and keeping them operational for 2 hours following the end of daily classes
The University will make best efforts to procure the services of an expert to undertake a review of current HVAC operations and practices across the University, as well as to conduct spot checks at random as well as on a number of specific, older, buildings, on a periodic basis for as long as public health guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic remain in effect. The reports from the review and spot checks will be shared with YUFA. YUFA intends to share information from these expert reports with members.
With respect to the winter 2022 term, the Memorandum reaffirms that units may seek temporarily higher levels of online delivery of courses that exceed the 15% threshold, as set out in the Senate Executive Communication. The Memorandum now requires Deans to make decisions about requests for higher levels of online delivery by units on a reasonable basis.
Finally, the Memorandum recognizes that the continually changing health and safety concerns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic has made academic planning processes particularly challenging and time consuming. As a result, the Memorandum provides compensation to colleagues who held Appendix P positions at any point in the period July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, OR July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022.
YUFA urges the Employer to continue to take every precaution and ensure the health and safety of YUFA members and their students on campus in the new year, especially given the recent spike in COVID-19 infections and the global spread of Omicron, the new and more contagious Variant of Concern.