Report on CUPE 3903 Strike Remediation

March 31, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

While YUFA members have been affected in a number of different ways by the current strike we do know that a full resumption of academic activities will take place in the coming days if CUPE 3903 Units 1 and 3 ratify their tentative agreements. For many of you , the resumption of classes – or the continued suspension – has led to concerns about how (and whether) classes and assignments will be rescheduled and what formats , standards , and workload expectations will mark the upcoming period of remediation . We have been told that Senate Executive will shortly be announcing adjusted term dates, including those that will apply to courses that have not resumed. We recommend that all teaching employees monitor the university’s home page for further announcements by this evening.

YUFA is committed to protecting academic integrity, fairness to students , and our members’ rights. Unfortunately, information from the Employer and Senate Executive has often been inadequate or conflicting . For example, the Senate Executive has stated course directors are the best judge of how to restore the academic integrity of their courses and whether those courses can be resumed on that basis. Yet deans have sometimes challenged academic integrity decisions that Senate Executive clearly assigned to the independent professional judgement of our colleagues. Additionally, Senate Executive released a remediation plan implying that students can apply for a final grade if they have completed 50% of the work for a course. While that document has since been revised to clarify that this option is available only with the agreement of the instructor , units and individual members have been inundated with requests from confused students . There is uncertainty and confusion about how this relates to the independent academic judgement of course directors , and about the guidelines and expectations governing such a reduction in assessed work . In many cases we have heard concerns about the very significant increases to faculty workload that may result from navigating all these issues .

YUFA will continue to provide information about your rights and responsibilities in the circumstances of remediation. To that end we have scheduled a special General Membership Meeting as follows: Tuesday, April 7 10:00 a.m. – 12 p.m. Accolade West, Room 6.

In the meantime , we would like to summarize the concerns that have been communicated by YUFA to the Employer through the Joint Committee on the Administration of the Agreement (JCOAA). Should you have any questions or concerns about these issues, or should you be faced with a situation not addressed here, please do not hesitate to bring it to our attention by emailing yufa@yorku.ca.

JCOAA Highlights

JCOAA has raised a number of issues with the employer, in person, by phone and by email over the course of the strike. YUFA executive members, especially the Chief Stewards, and YUFA staff have played an important role in raising and resolving strike – related issues as they have arisen over the last month.

  • At the March 19/15 meeting of JCOAA, we conveyed the Association’s view that, under Article 10.01 (Academic Freedom), Article 11.01 (Professional Responsibilities), and Article 18.38 (Health and Safety), YUFA members have the right to exercise their own professional judgment and make their own professional decisions about teaching in the midst of the strike.
    • The Chief Stewards, JCOAA and YUFA staff have repeatedly phoned and emailed the employer to contest decisions to force individual instructors to resume class or to undertake alternative arrangements against the members’ professional judgements.
    • We have asserted members’ rights not to move course components online if they do not wish to do so.
    • We have defended members’ rights to determine whether and how to modify course assignments and grading schemes
    • We have repeatedly highlighted concerns over the health and safety of members.
  • A policy grievance was filed by the Chief Stewards over the resumption of classes, claiming numerous violations of the collective agreement.
  • We threatened grievances on behalf of individual members who were required to resume classes against their professional judgement. In one case, the employer backed off once the threat to grieve was made and the second case is still in progress as of this date.
  • We are seeking to negotiate a workload agreement on remediation that will ensure that members are compensated for extra work during and after the strike. Members should keep track of extra hours worked. YUFA has informed the employer that we will seek compensation for members.
  • We objected to faculty remediation documents , especially those that suggested that our members might carry out the work of Unit 1 workers or those that made inflammatory comments about our members (i.e. the reference to “civil disobedience” in the first version of the LAPS remediation framework ). We have been told that remediation documents will be revised.
  • We have sought assurances from the employer that teaching evaluations from this year will not be used for tenure and promotion unless the member requests it.
  • We have objected to and sought information about the employer’s alleged actions in encouraging support staff to monitor our members’ teaching during the strike.
  • We have objected to requests that members survey their students regarding the resumption of classes.
  • We have made it clear that chairs should not be expected to report on the ways in which colleagues have taken up professional responsibilities during the strike .
  • We objected in strong terms to the employer’s memo that cautioned against posting on social media during the strike . We pointed out that this was a violation of academic freedom and, in response, the employer sent out a memo to indicate that its attempt to control social media posting was not aimed at our members and was not intended to restrict academic freedom in any way.
  • We objected to the employer’s Teaching Commons document, which suggested ways that members could circumvent the work of Unit 1 TAs. We made it clear that the employer could not ask our members to do the work of CUPE members. Al though the Teaching Commons document was revised, it still contains problematic assertions.
  • We have raised the issue of CLAs and retired members who may be required to teach beyond the end of their contracts, depending on remediation.
  • JCOAA and the employer will continue to meet to discuss strike remediation and to deal with ongoing issues over the next few months.

Sheila Embleton (Chief Steward)
Penni Stewart (Chief Steward)
Miriam Smith (JCOAA Co – Chair)
Richard Wellen (President)