Newsletter report by YUFA’s Equity Officers

By Prof. Teresa Macias and Prof. Lykke de la Cour

As YUFA’s Equity Officers, we would like to take the opportunity of this inaugural issue of Active Voice to highlight the important work that the Union undertakes around equity issues—and, for new members, to briefly overview how equity-related work is structured within the Union.

YUFA has two elected Equity Officers (EOs) who sit on the Union’s Executive Committee to oversee equity-related matters within the Union. They also coordinate with equity committees in other associations, such as the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). YUFA’s Equity Officers also administer the work of the Union’s Equity Subcommittee (ESC), which is composed of elected representatives from YUFA’s equity caucuses and two appointed members-at-large.

As described in YUFA’s by-laws, the ESC exists to facilitate, advance, and advocate for the reduction and removal of inequities at York University, particularly with regard to issues such as hiring, tenure and promotion, salaries, and retirement. The ESC also assists the Equity Officers in: 

  • drafting contract proposals on equity issues; 
  • analyzing the Collective Agreement for biases and anomalies; 
  • ensuring more diverse representation in YUFA and on joint committees; 
  • facilitating, in consultation with the Grievance Subcommittee, the resolution of grievances that deal with equity issues at both individual and policy levels; 
  • ensuring that equity issues are addressed within YUFA; 
  • working to educate YUFA members and others at York on equity issues; 
  • fostering discussion and understanding within YUFA and at York of equity questions and how they may be addressed.

Over the past year, the EOs and the ESC have been working together with YUFA’s Executive Committee on a range of important equity-related matters, including: 

  • an equal pay exercise (achieved by YUFA in the last negotiated settlement); 
  • ongoing discussions with the Employer around Affirmative Action considerations in the appointment of York Research Chairs (YRCs) and continuing problems with the underrepresentation of some equity groups in YRC appointments; 
  • the establishment of a Joint Subcommittee on Equity and Inclusion to develop a strategy for the hiring of racialized Black faculty; 
  • establishing a Disability Task Force for improving accommodations and accessibility for faculty with disabilities; 
  • in response to equity concerns over bias in student course evaluations, developing a member survey on the use of such evaluations in tenure-and-promotion files; 
  • assessing the equity implications of the province’s new performance funding models.

These issues will be discussed in more detail in upcoming issues of Active Voice.

In the meantime, we would like to encourage members interested in equity and inclusion to join our equity caucuses. There are four recognized equity caucuses within YUFA: the Race Equity Caucus, the Indigenous Caucus, the Disability Caucus, and the Queer Caucus. If you identify with one or more of these caucuses, please consider joining them. To join, or for more information, please email yufa@yorku.ca.

Finally, we would like to thank all members who attended (and helped organize) this year’s Equity Social, which took place on the afternoon of Friday, December 6.

We look forward to continuing to work with you in 2020.