Is the future of research at York at risk? Update on Research Release Program

Dear members,

One of the key achievements of last year's negotiations was the establishment of a program (article 18.15 in the Memorandum of Settlement) to ensure that professorial stream faculty members in units with a 2.5 load, and who are active in research, will be able to reduce their teaching load to 2.0 courses per year. This program would allow York to bring teaching loads in line with the norms prevailing at most other comparable universities.

It is now clear that the Employer has a very different intention. Nearly all participating units were surprised and disappointed to find that their Deans/Principal have refused to approve the proposed qualifying criteria that they worked hard to develop and submitted in late spring. It is now early August and there is considerable alarm that the Employer – through its blanket rejection of the submissions – is pressuring Chairs and Directors to revise their submissions to make what was supposed to be an inclusive program far more restrictive than what we discussed and agreed to during bargaining. There is great concern that overly narrow definitions of what counts as 'research active' would have serious effects in their units: they may create divisiveness among colleagues and would also run counter to York's ambitions to enhance the opportunities for faculty to improve the research profile of our university. More importantly, faculty members ratified the new Collective Agreement, and gave up our specific provisions around release for graduate supervision, because we understood that the new agreement would cover those cases and bring all research-active faculty down to a teaching load of no more than 2.0.

YUFA will be actively addressing this truly disconcerting development. The blanket, pre-programmed rejection of all unit submissions in some Faculties runs counter to the good-faith effort YUFA's negotiators made to establish a fair unit-based process for defining eligibility for a 2.0 teaching load. There is a process in article 18.15 for trying to resolve disputes between Departments/Schools and their Deans, and Chairs and Directors have told us that they are worried about whether there is enough time for that process to play out, and whether the result will be fair and reasonable. Units are now concerned that a program which must be implemented in the early fall is now in jeopardy. There is also frustration that the pressure of time surrounding the fall curriculum planning process is being used as leverage to create a more restrictive program.

YUFA is completely opposed to these kinds of pressure tactics, and we will defend our members' hard work to improve and expand research at York University. In the coming days and weeks, we will take additional steps to support our members and all affected Departments/Schools as we develop a collective response to the Employer.

Please stay tuned for further updates.

Richard Wellen
York University Faculty Association

Rob Tordoff
Joint Committee on the Administration of the Agreement


This statement was circulated to members of YUFA on YUFA-M on August 16, 2016.