President – Arthur Hilliker
I fulfilled the objectives of my 2012/2013 Work Plan.
• I performed the various duties of President as outlined in the YUFA Constitution and By-laws and facilitated and ensured the effective conduct of all YUFA’s affairs.
• Informed members of specific YUFA activities and facilitated participation in YUFA activities by members by meeting with members and with groups of YUFA members, as appropriate.
• Served on Senate as YUFA Senator.
• Served as Chief Fiduciary Officer of the Association.
• Continued to lead the four-member YUFA team representing the Executive for discussion of possible Pension Plan changes with the Employer related to the Plan’s solvency. Worked with our legal counsel and actuary and the other unions on pension issues and discussion of possible pension plan changes with the Employer. Achieved an agreement with other York unions to have a united voice in negotiation of pension plan changes. This group, YUPG, has adopted a common set of proposals for pension plan change based on costing analyses by YUFA’s actuary.
Vice-President Internal – Mary Kandiuk
Executive and Stewards Council
• I substituted for the President as Acting President as necessary. I regularly attended YUFA Executive and Stewards’ Council meetings and participated in the work of these bodies. I attended YUFA General and Special Membership meetings.
• I handled Personnel issues as they arose and called meetings of the Staff Relations Committee as necessary. I reported to the YUFA Executive Committee under the Personnel Committee Report as required. I chaired the Staff Relations Committee which oversaw the hiring of two YUFA Executive Associates, Kristin Skinner and Sue Levesque, to replace Monica Mulvihill who retired and Jill Flohil who resigned.
Outreach to Members
• I wrote individually to all 78 new members of YUFA to welcome them, introduce them to members of the YUFA Executive and staff, inform them of the newly negotiated Collective Agreement and other relevant documents, and invite them to the General Membership Meeting of 5 February.
• I worked with YUFA staff and other members of Executive to recruit members to fill vacancies on the committees and subcommittees of YUFA. I served on the Joint Committees on Educational Leaves, Teaching-Learning Development Fund, and Release Time Teaching Fellowships. I have also agreed to serve on the Joint Subcommittee on Benefits. At the time of writing no nominations have been received for several important YUFA committees and subcommittees despite numerous calls for volunteers via YUFA-M and requests for assistance from Stewards in recruiting members to these committees. It is a challenge for YUFA to carry out the work of the Association and represent its members effectively when it is unable to recruit members for its committees.
Task Force on Inclusivity & Diversity
• As the YUFA Co-Chair of the Task Force on Inclusivity & Diversity I worked with Rhonda Lenton, Vice-President Academic & Provost, Barry Miller, Executive Director, Faculty Relations, Ida Ferrara, YUFA Equity Officer, and David Northrup, Associate Director, ISR, to finalize the Inclusivity & Diversity Survey Report. The Final Report of the Joint Task Force on Inclusivity & Diversity was submitted to JCOAA on December 7, 2012 and distributed to YUFA members on December 13, 2012. It is available on the YUFA website under JCOAA (http://www.yufa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Inclusivity-and-Diversity-Report-December-2012.pdf).
• I served as the Returning Officer for YUFA elections and votes.
Vice-President External – Livy Visano
Performed the duties of VP External as outlined in the YUFA Constitution and By-laws, including:
As VP External, I continued to build on our past accomplishments and further strengthened proactive advocacy, coalition-building and ongoing consultation with our various constituencies on- and off-campus; enhanced YUFA’s external profile and presence; expanded YUFA’s engagements with community-based groups / organizations; promoted greater inclusivity with respect to Toronto & York Region Labour Council, CAUT and OCUFA; and, facilitated more strategic and operational partnerships among inter- and intra-University unions, i.e., nurtured and expanded the well-developed links with CUPE 3903, YUSA, Graduate Student Association (GSA) and York Federation of Students (YFS) to engage in more active, ongoing, mutual, and progressive consultative processes.
On Campus Activities:
Member of the following committees:
Executive Contract Review,
Campus All Union,
YUFA Staff Relations, and
Tri-Agency Framework Compliance group.
Held regular meetings with YFS and GSA re developing closer ties between YUFA and the YFS & GSA;
Brought to the Executive Committee support for existing community projects, conference / workshop participation, and facilitated the development of community-related initiatives and funding requests;
Followed through on correspondence as directed by the Executive;
YUFA representative on the Community Safety Council. Also, Co-Chair, Safety Management Committee (with VP Gary Brewer)
Co-Chair of the all Campus Unions Coalition (with Joanie Cameron Pritchett, YUSA).
I liaised actively with appropriate provincial and national faculty associations as well as non-academic unions in terms of action and lobbying on such matters as labour relations, education, health & safety, retirement, transportation, and housing (e.g., OCUFA, CAUT, OFL, Toronto & York Region Labour Council). I brought various reports and press releases of CAUT, NUCAUT, OCUFA, CLC, OFL, etc. to the Executive’s attention.
all CAUT Council and NUCAUT Meetings in Ottawa,
all OCUFA meetings at CAUT,
all OCUFA Board of Directors meetings (and all respective lobbying initiatives and workshops),
OCUFA Staff Relations Committee;
OFL, Toronto & York Region Labour Council meetings and respective labour lobbying initiatives.
Met regularly with faculty association representatives from the Greater Toronto Area universities.
Met regularly with representatives of local community-based agencies / organizations.
Chief Stewards – Sheila Embleton and Penni Stewart
In 2012-13, we have, between us:
1. Consulted with, assisted, and represented YUFA members in contract-related matters: consulted with a large number of members with a variety of concerns in areas such as tenure and promotion processes, workload, teaching assignments, use of banked courses, graduate supervision credits (Appendix O), class size, sabbatical scheduling, maternity leave scheduling, requests for LOAWOP (leave of absence without pay), disciplinary matters, Appendix P stipend and release issues, problems with research accounting, difficult/disruptive students, member-to-member disputes, faculty transfers, cross-appointments, chilly climate and harassment issues, various infrastructural support/working conditions issues, copyright, workplace accommodation, irrevocable reduced load, retirement benefits, sick-leave/long-term disability benefits, merit procedures, decanal intervention in hiring processes (particularly in shortlisting), final contract year for SRCs, etc. Typically these are handled confidentially, without grievance (while protecting that option if needed); in many cases the advice provided has enabled the YUFA member to reach a satisfactory solution without further intervention from us. Sometimes the matter goes to grievance, but may be resolved (with minutes of settlement) without any need for arbitration. In addition, we worked on a large number of policy grievances, bringing these to the attention of the YUFA Executive, who then voted to grieve on behalf of YUFA. These included: new cross-appointment policy in LA&PS, new teaching load assignment policy and procedure in LA&PS, new hiring policy and procedure in LA&PS, tenure and promotion issues in LA&PS, workload in alternate stream in Biology, sheer volume of CLAs in LA&PS, workload for CLAs in LA&PS, workload for the alternate stream in units that don’t currently have alternate stream, etc.
2. Between grievance and arbitration is the Dispute Resolution Process. This year we participated in one Dispute Resolution Committee Hearing.
3. Worked on several arbitrations of grievances:
a) Social Work hiring (still in progress)
b) Nursing class size (still in progress)
c) policy grievance re Article 25.06(c) vs. Appendix C (we lost at arbitration)
d) multiple arbitrations related to 3 tenure denials (still in progress)
In our work described in (1), (2), and (3) we have worked closely with YUFA staff and lawyers (Sack Goldblatt Mitchell), and truly appreciate their knowledge, wisdom, and support. In particular we work most closely with Kristin Skinner; we want to acknowledge her huge support over this past year, her first at YUFA, especially given the daunting volume of files.
4. Chaired meetings and expedited the work of Stewards Council
a) during discussions of constitutional and by-law change
b) during discussions of members’ concerns
c) providing reports and updates on grievances and areas of concern
d) ratifying the election/appointments of members to various positions and subcommittees throughout YUFA
5. Chaired meetings of YUFA’s Contract and Grievance Committee
6. Participated actively in regular meetings (every two weeks) and special meetings of the YUFA Executive
7. Participated in meetings, caucuses and deliberations of the JCOAA, including its subcommittees such as on Long Range Planning
8. Participated in a JCOAA side table discussing the impact of new requirements relating to workplace harassment and violence
9. Attended regular monthly meetings and occasional extra meetings with YUFA staff (usually Kristin) and Barry Miller (Faculty Relations), at which we review concerns and grievances in an attempt to find quicker and less formal resolutions than full grievances.
10. Attended meetings of OCUFA’s Grievance Committee (twice per term); attended annual meeting of CAUT Grievance Officers.
a) Rising number of files at all stages (inquiries, consultations, complaints, grievances, arbitrations)
b) Length of time that files remain unresolved, leading to increased stress on members and compounding of the original issue
c) Number of members being called in for discipline or what is reasonably interpreted as discipline, often when meeting agenda was something else; other aspects of the process also improper
d) Apparent lack of concern on the part of senior academic administrators for smoothly functioning labour relations
Equity Officers – Ida Ferrara and Rose Steele
In our ongoing work as Equity Officers, we regularly attended the Executive Committee, including the special meetings regarding bargaining from June to August, and Stewards’ Council meetings where we maintained a watching brief on equity issues of the current Collective Agreement and equity issues which arose out of YUFA business. As Equity Officers, we continued to investigate the relevant equity clauses from other Canadian universities and CAUT that YUFA may wish to consider for future Collective Agreements and liaised with equity-seeking constituencies, particularly via membership in the Equity Subcommittee (ESC). In addition, Neita Israelite (delegate, Disability Caucus) was the ACCESS York liaison on the ESC.
We had some interesting and engaged discussions within the ESC both at meetings and via our listserv. A topic we spent quite a bit of energy and time on was the Federal Contractors Program (FCP). Discussion on this topic started last year in response to concerns raised by the 2011/12 Queer Caucus delegate on the ESC about the absence of YUFA in the process of determining York’s compliance with the 12 requirements of the program. At the first 2012/13 meeting of the ESC in the fall term, we discussed the information gathered through various sources in the first half of 2012 (including a meeting with Barry Miller in February 2012) to clarify misconceptions about what YUFA can and cannot do in relation to the FCP and how Employment Equity within YUFA is taken up through the AA Program, which is a jointly administered program so that there is consultation throughout. At the second 2012/13 meeting of the ESC in the winter term, and subsequently via our listserv, we continued the discussion about the FCP but within the context of the 2011 Employment Equity report, which was released in October 2012; we focused particularly on external availability figures to determine gaps in representation in the four AA categories and on the definition of gaps and significant gaps. We incorporated the gist of this discussion in the draft response to the JCOAA about the recommendations in the 2009/2010 Inclusivity and Diversity Survey report (see below).
In the context of the discussions within the ESC about the FCP, we noted that the JCOAA Subcommittee on Employment Equity would be the appropriate body to handle issues with respect to the requirements of the FCP and York’s policy on Employment Equity. We thus requested that this subcommittee be populated, as it had not met for some time. Although this body does not fall within the Equity Officers’ portfolio because it is a joint, appointed committee and falls under the Collective Agreement rather than YUFA’s Constitution and By-laws, we agreed that the Equity Officer sitting on the JCOAA would represent the YUFA side on the subcommittee, together with two at-large members. Unfortunately, despite multiple calls to the membership for volunteers to fill the two at-large YUFA positions, no one has come forward and the subcommittee has not yet been able to meet this year.
On behalf of, and with input from, the ESC, we organized and successfully managed an equity-related forum on November 15, 2012. The forum focused on three themes: (1) Employment Equity, (2) the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and (3) Affirmative Action. Based on the positive feedback received from the YUFA members who attended the forum, we discussed, within the ESC, the possibility of continuing such educational events and agreed that we would welcome such an opportunity. We spoke about possible topics to cover (e.g., the Federal Contractors’ Program, the trade-off between accommodating disability and protecting academic integrity, what the Joint AA Committee is and how it works, and the implications of the AODA for YUFA members) and about each caucus taking the lead in determining and providing content for such events. The caucus delegates on the ESC are currently discussing the idea with their caucus members and identifying suggestions to report back to the ESC, which may be as early as May 2013 as we are currently in the process of arranging for another meeting of the ESC. Following the forum, and acting upon suggestions made at the forum in the context of the AODA discussion, we asked the Executive to introduce the practice of providing captioning at YUFA membership meetings and ensuring that documents would be distributed/posted in a format that would easily support print enlargement.
A proposal for the establishment of two new YUFA recognized equity caucuses, one in regards to ageism and the other for junior faculty and librarians, has been included in the proposed changes to the YUFA Constitution/By-Laws but has not yet been confirmed. The changes to the Constitution/By-Laws have been discussed by Stewards’ Council and will be brought to the YUFA membership as appropriate.
After discussing, within the ESC, the recent pay equity exercise at the University of British Columbia, which led to a 2% salary increase, retroactive to July 1st, 2010, for full-time, female-identified tenure and tenure-track professors, and the finding of discrimination by students in the Inclusivity and Diversity Survey (I&D) report, we brought forward to the YUFA Executive the suggestions that (1) a pay equity exercise be undertaken at York and (2) a YUFA survey on discrimination be carried out. With respect to the latter, we noted that the I&D report was already out of date as it relied on data collected at the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010 and that discrimination by students could not be adequately analyzed as, given the focus of the survey, the questions on discrimination had only been asked of self-identified AA respondents. With respect to the former, we stressed that any pay equity adjustment at York would have to be bargained (Appendix E of Collective Agreement) and the Executive agreed that such an exercise would be noted for the next round of bargaining. We also indicated that the data collection and analysis in support of any pay equity exercise could and should take place before bargaining.
Acting upon an interest expressed within the ESC to be able to keep track of equity-based grievances and realizing that the development of a grievance database by CAUT was not as forthcoming as one would have hoped in response to the request for such a database by Stewards’ Council, we embraced the initiative to develop a simple and manageable way of recording information about grievances. In developing the database, we took into account confidentiality concerns expressed in relation to a previous proposal. We discussed and presented the idea to the YUFA Executive Committee, the YUFA Personnel Committee, and Stewards’ Council and incorporated the feedback received. The database is now ready for implementation and it is our understanding that YUFA staff will start inputting information as of June 1st. Only YUFA Associates/staff and Chief Stewards will have access to the database for confidentiality reasons; however, the Chief Stewards will provide an annual report (in terms of summary/aggregated information collected in the database for the relevant period) to the membership at the AGM.
The new YUFA website is currently being constructed and we have requested that information about equity, including the FAQ section from the old website, be transferred and updated as soon as possible. We will be working with the Communications Officer when she is ready to include the equity area on the new website.
Ida Ferrara was the equity officer member of the Joint Committee on the Administration of the Agreement and regularly attended those meetings. She contributed to analyzing the results of, and writing the report from, the 2009-2010 Inclusivity and Diversity Survey, which was released in December 2012. The ESC discussed this report at its winter meeting, focusing on the six recommendations at the end of the report; based on that discussion, the ESC is in the process of sending a response to the JCOAA with some recommendations for ways in which the University can move equity forward at York. Suggestions included in the draft response, which is currently with the ESC members for feedback (including feedback from the caucuses they represent, if applicable), are about how to improve current processes as well as ideas about new activities and approaches that would promote a major cultural shift away from a compliance-based approach.
Rose Steele was the Acting Returning Officer for the 2012 election of two stewards to the Executive Committee as representatives of Stewards’ Council. She also was the YUFA Executive member on the Task Force on YUFA Election Practices which met from May to September and produced a report for Executive containing recommendations for the election of YUFA Executive Officers and the election/appointment of the Returning Officer. To complement the work of the Task Force, and building upon her experience in the three areas acquired in multiple roles (as a member of the YUFA Constitution & By-Laws Subcommittee, as a member of the Task Force on YUFA Election Practices, and as Acting Returning Officer faced with conflicting opinions about who should vote for Stewards’ Council representatives to the Executive Committee), she considered election procedures for stewards on Stewards’ Council, Stewards’ Council representatives to the Executive Committee, and trustees. Rose Steele produced a report with ideas for consideration in the three election areas that the Task Force did not consider in its report. The two reports on elections were presented to Executive, then discussed at Stewards’ Council for feedback; they are now with the Executive Committee for decision-making about next steps.
We would like to thank the 2012-2013 members of the Equity Subcommittee for their involvement: Wilburn Hayden (Chair, Race Equity Caucus), Neita Israelite (delegate, Disability Caucus), Frances Latchford (delegate, Queer Caucus), Daniel Perlin (Member-at-Large), and Tom Wilson (Member-at-Large). Please note that the Aboriginal Caucus was unable to provide a delegate who could commit to consistently attending meetings and being involved with the work of the Equity Subcommittee.
We also would like to thank Brenda Hart, YUFA Executive Associate, for her support to the equity portfolio, as well as Sue Levesque, a new YUFA Executive Associate, who also participated in supporting the equity portfolio.
Equity Officer Addendum – Rose Steele
The end of my two consecutive terms as a YUFA Equity Officer approaches and as of June 1, 2013 I will no longer be a member of the YUFA Executive. I have spent the past four years working hard towards helping make YUFA an Association that does its best for its members and that members can be proud of. But as I reflect on what, from my perception, has happened within YUFA over these past four years, I realize that I am leaving my YUFA position with mixed feelings and with serious concerns about our Association. These concerns affect all the membership. Therefore, I have chosen to share some of my concerns with the membership as an addendum to the usual progress report from the Equity Officers. This addendum comes solely from me.
When I first ran for Equity Officer in 2009, I wrote in my statement of interest: “As a nurse for more than 30 years, I have lived within and argued against a culture that seeks to oppress the critical thinkers in a female dominated profession. As a human being, I have a strong sense of fairness and justice that is part of my very being and directs not only how I think, but how I act.” In my statement of interest for a second term, I wrote about how “I’ve been personally enriched by my involvement in YUFA as an Equity Officer and I value the opportunity to participate in our Association’s work if I’m re-elected as the YUFA Equity Officer for 2011-2013.”
I believed those statements when I wrote them and I believe them now. However, I have been surprised to find how often critical thinking has been negated in discussions within YUFA. My sense of justice has been seriously tested by some of the decisions I’ve witnessed within Stewards’ Council in particular, but also at times within Executive. My work as Equity Officer has been systematically and deliberately undermined by some YUFA members, particularly a few members of the Queer Caucus. And I’ve been personally attacked so many times as I undertook my various responsibilities in the past year or two that though I still feel somewhat enriched by participation in YUFA, I also leave with feelings of dismay about where our Association might be heading unless the membership pays attention and is meaningfully engaged in YUFA work.
Roles of Stewards’ Council and Executive
I believe that many of the problems I’ve noticed have ‘power’ issues at their root. As a member of YUFA, I expect that my elected Officers, so YUFA Executive, run the Association. An elected Executive or Board typically has responsibility for governing any association and I expect that YUFA should be no exception. However, some members of Stewards’ Council believe that Stewards’ Council should tell Executive what to do, and that Executive should uncritically follow those ‘orders’ regardless of the possible consequences to the broader YUFA membership. As an elected Officer, I believe I have an obligation to critically analyze any motion and then vote according to how I think the decision will positively or adversely affect the membership. Unfortunately, critical analysis and discussion has been limited too often and the decision-making that has occurred as a consequence of the push for Stewards’ Council to control the Association has left me feeling upset, angry, and even disgusted at times. I had expected academic colleagues to be more thoughtful and responsible in their decision-making for YUFA, but though there are certainly colleagues on Executive and in Stewards’ Council whom I would trust to make good decisions for the Association, there are a few who seem to work not for the benefit of the Association but for the benefit of only their own group. At times, the decision-making has been very short-sighted and though the motion may have been ‘won’, the longer-term consequences for the Association were not carefully thought through.
From my perspective, a lack of participation at Stewards’ Council – we often did not have quorum (16 stewards) till 20-30 minutes after the meeting was due to start – has contributed to some of the poorer decisions that I’ve seen. However, this lack of participation was often because of frustration by Stewards’ Council members who strove for critical analysis and thoughtful decision-making but were thwarted because of the processes that were enacted. These members then chose to not attend Stewards’ Council. It should be noted that there are written rules and procedures to govern Stewards’ Council meetings, but these rules and procedures were not always followed, which contributed to many of the challenges.
Changes to Constitution
A major example of the power struggle is the process that unfolded regarding changes to the Constitution. A subcommittee had been formed (I was a member) to develop proposals for change. Knowing that changes require 2/3 of the YUFA membership to vote in favour and that there are some opposing views within YUFA, the subcommittee worked from a consensus basis so that the proposals might be viewed as acceptable to the majority of the membership.
Unfortunately, the process was changed within the Stewards’ Council and many of the subcommittee’s proposals were ignored or altered; some members of Stewards’ Council brought forward their own proposals instead. Many of the related motions had no rationale, which should have meant the proposals were ruled out of order according to the Stewards’ Council rules and procedures; however, voting was permitted despite a lack of clarity about why a particular motion was being made.
The YUFA membership should be aware that, in most cases, the proposals that will be brought to the membership for approval have only been supported by about 1/3 of Stewards’ Council, so 20 or fewer Stewards’ Council members on average out of 60+ members of Stewards’ Council. In my opinion, many of these proposals will not be beneficial for YUFA. I’ll note only one example of proposed changes, and I recommend that YUFA members carefully review all proposals before making a thoughtful decision about whether or not to support a change.
One change proposed by a small group of Stewards’ Council members involves how changes to the Constitution may be made. Fewer than 20 members of Stewards’ Council recently voted to change ‘Article 11 Amendments’, including adding a sentence that has the potential to stop YUFA members from taking proposals to the whole membership. Currently, if 50 or more YUFA members send a proposed amendment to Executive, then the amendment has to be discussed at a General Membership Meeting (GMM) and then it goes to the whole YUFA membership for a vote. Under the proposed change, the proposed amendment would come to the GMM, but the YUFA members present at the meeting would decide whether or not to allow the amendment to go to the UFA m whole membership for a vote.
So 50 or more YUFA members can take the time and effort to sign a petition for changes to the Constitution, follow process and bring the amendment to a GMM for subsequent voting by the whole membership; but whoever attends the meeting would have the power to determine if the vote actually takes place. How is this democracy? Shouldn’t the whole membership be given the opportunity to participate in voting rather than a small group getting to decide if the membership votes on the amendment?
Acting Returning Officer
Another example of the power struggle and of rules and procedures not being followed was the elections for the Stewards’ Council Representatives to Executive for 2012-2013. After the election process had started – in accordance with YUFA’s Constitution and By-laws – major changes were made to the election process because of a motion passed at Stewards’ Council. The incumbent Returning Officer stepped down because of this change and I was appointed Acting Returning Officer for the election. The fact that an election process was changed while the election was in progress was very problematic to me, but I worked hard to keep the new process on track and to uphold the current Constitution/By-laws during that time. I endured many personal attacks because I upheld existing policies; as one steward noted on the Stewards’ Council listserv, in any other situation I would have been filing harassment charges against some members of Stewards’ Council because of their attacks. That election is but one example of many irregularities that have arisen in the past couple of years due to established processes being ignored or changed ‘on the fly’ to suit a specific circumstance.
Task Force on YUFA Elections: Both reports about elections will be attached to this Equity Officers’ progress report addendum when the progress reports are disseminated to the YUFA membership and published on the YUFA website.
The process and reactions around this Task Force provide a further example of problematic areas within YUFA. The Task Force members worked well together, but the process shifted during our work and the final outcomes changed from our initial discussions. More than 6 months after the reports were submitted to Executive, no movement has occurred in implementing the suggestions contained in the reports.
I was appointed by Executive in February 2012 as the Executive Officer to sit on the Task Force on Elections; the other 2 members of the Task Force were stewards elected from Stewards’ Council. My appointment to the Task Force was ratified by Stewards’ Council at its April 13, 2012 meeting and the first meeting of the Task Force subsequently took place on May 2, with 2 more meetings by June 6. So we had 3 meetings by early June; we were examining elections for the 4 areas of elected Executive Officers, Returning Officer, stewards, and Stewards’ Council Representatives to Executive; and we had productive and collegial meetings, as attested to by all members of the Task Force. Our final face-to-face meeting was held in the fall on September 10.
A suggestion was made by a member of the Task Force on June 8, 2012 that though meetings had been “very productive” to date, we should revert back to the issues raised in the original motion from Stewards’ Council because we may have “moved beyond our mandate”. I would note that in good faith because of what we’d already discussed at our Task Force meetings, in my role as the Acting Returning Officer for the elections for Stewards’ Council Representatives to Executive I’d indicated to the Stewards’ Council listserv on June 7 that as part of its work the Task Force was considering the process for elections of both unit stewards and Stewards’ Council Representatives to Executive. And I confirmed as a member of the Task Force that we would be making recommendations that would ensure unit steward elections are completed in time for Stewards’ Council representatives to be elected and in place for June 1. There were no objections from Stewards’ Council members to my statement and I had the sense that Stewards’ Council members were really looking forward to reviewing recommendations that might improve clarity.
By June 14, 2012, members of the Task Force agreed that we’d no longer review elections other than elected Officers and the Returning Officer. We also had discussed the idea of asking Executive in the fall to clarify or confirm whether the Task Force should be reporting on Stewards’ Council elections as well as Officers and Returning Officer, and we were all prepared to take back up the issues we’d been discussing if asked to do so by Executive. The other option was for me to submit a report on my own based on my experiences as an Executive Officer and as the Acting Returning Officer, because there had been some suggestions to date that would clarify processes re Stewards’ Council. It was recognized that the processes would need to be put in place early enough to ensure that Stewards’ Council-related elections move forward in a timely manner. I ended up preparing that separate report.
It was only in early September, 2012 that a member of the Task Force proposed a change in language for the final report – rather than writing that we’d initially agreed to examine the 4 areas as per the Task Force’s mandate when established by the YUFA Executive, we should only write that we were limiting the report to what fit with the intent of the original motion at Stewards’ Council. It should be noted that though the initial recommendation from Stewards’ Council centred on elections for Officers and to some extent the Returning Officer, it was clear during the timeframe that there were issues re clarity for all the elections that are held within YUFA. When the recommendation from Stewards’ Council came forward to Executive, the motion that was approved by Executive was not only focused on Officers. Rather, the Task Force was ‘to examine YUFA’s election procedures’, which is what we were doing by exploring the elected Executive Officers, Returning Officer, stewards, and Stewards’ Council Representatives to Executive. The rationale for the Stewards’ Council motion was detailed and specific, but Executive approved more general terms of reference for the Task Force.
Both reports were presented to Executive in September 2012 and the formal Task Force report was well received. When I presented my report to Executive, I was attacked by a few members of Executive for the content of my report; and they questioned my right to bring forward such a reports. It was clarified that indeed I had a right to submit such a report and to present it to Executive. When my report went to Stewards’ Council for discussion, some members of Stewards’ Council had already been sent an electronic communication by a member of Stewards’ Council that disparaged my work and contained a number of inaccurate statements/assumptions. I was not willing to let misperceptions about me be perpetuated either in face-to-face meetings or behind the scenes. I rebutted the electronic communication in an email to the Stewards’ Council prior to the meeting so members of Stewards’ Council could attend the meeting fully informed and prepared for thoughtful discussion.
I would characterize my report as a fair and balanced report that, in a process as discussed by the Task Force, mostly lays out options and possibilities rather than hard and fast recommendations. In the report, I provide a critical analysis that offers a solid foundation from which thoughtful discussion about possible changes to the YUFA Constitution (and then Bylaws) is possible. Members of YUFA who want to engage in a thorough examination of potential changes to the Constitution might welcome such a report and I encourage everyone to read it before they vote for any constitutional changes.
As I finish my term as a YUFA Officer, I would ask the YUFA membership to carefully consider the following questions:
‘Who do you expect to run the Association?’
The Officers who are elected by the whole membership?
Or Stewards’ Council whose 60+ members include Executive, but where the average turnout is less than half the Stewards’ Council membership and where quorum means 16 stewards (technically ‘elected’ by their units but virtually always acclaimed – and unlike votes for Executive Officers, there is no opportunity for members to reject the person from a unit who offers to be steward)?
Stewards’ Council also includes a representative from each of the Recognized Groups in YUFA; presently 4 equity caucuses, but could soon include other caucuses such as ageing, junior faculty, and post-doctoral fellows.
‘Who do you want to make decisions about issues that affect the membership?’
The YUFA membership as a whole, e.g., through electronic voting?
Or Stewards’ Council where many decisions are made by only 16-20 Stewards’ Council members actually voting in favour of a motion?
‘Are you willing to become involved in YUFA so you can be part of positive change?’
If so, please consider running for a YUFA Officer position.
Or volunteer for a YUFA and/or joint YUFA/Employer committee.
We are at an important time in our Association. There are many challenges facing academia over the next few years. I want YUFA to be strong and to be a reflection of the whole membership so that the Association is in an optimal position to face these challenges. I’m always conscious of that old saying: ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.’ I’ve tried to be part of the solution and now I’m heading off for a much-needed sabbatical. I hope that YUFA demonstrates unity and strength as we move forward.
Communications Officer – Nicola Short
I started the position of Communication Officer in a bargaining year. Thus the first order of business in the position was to attend special bargaining-related meetings of YUFA Executive over the summer. Based on the key issues that emerged in these discussions, I researched and developed draft communications on bargaining issues following other faculty association examples for the format and comparative context (unfortunately these were not taken-up by the Bargaining Team / Executive to be improved and distributed to the Membership).
After the ratification of the agreement, the next priority for communications, as per my election platform, was the Association website. Due to unanticipated staff transition issues, much of my work on the website was delayed until late October. At that point I began working with Heidi Bishop to liaise with our new website hosts at CAUT and to design an accessible, navigable layout for the website. The first stage of this work has involved migrating materials from the previous site and editing them for accuracy as well as scale and navigability in the new architecture, which has included discussions with the staff and Chief Stewards regarding content. In addition, I researched and implemented new software to improve the functionality of the site (e.g., the calendar), and to circumvent technical challenges (such as the transfer of large files to our new host).
My initial expectation had been to unveil a largely-complete example of the new website to the membership in the spring; when then winter membership meeting was scheduled for February rather than December, there was the opportunity to try to develop a more modest, preliminary site sooner. Furthermore, given this meeting involved two very substantive issues – cloud computing and pensions – it made sense to begin posting background materials directly to a new site. Thus, Heidi and I worked quickly to have a pilot site up by late January, having preliminary consultations with the staff and Executive before the membership meeting. (Unfortunately, the accelerated timeframe for establishing the new site meant it was only introduced to Stewards after the membership meeting.) In addition to the basic foundation of the site, in preparation for the February meeting I researched and posted new background materials regarding cloud computing and added the pension update provided by the YUPG.
Similarly, the website was updated with specific materials on workload and appendix-P related issues for the 20 March GMM. Developing the website broadly and with respect to specific issue areas continues: at this point with specific attention to – beyond cloud computing and pensions — issues of academic freedom, including support for Dale Askey, copyright (including now tracking the suit against York), as well as those related to austerity and the academy.
In the past year I participated actively in the normal meetings of the Association associated with the Communication Officer’s position: bi-weekly meetings and related activities of the Executive, monthly meetings of Stewards Council, and the AGM and other Membership meetings. In Executive I have been particularly concerned with understanding and developing a capacity for responding to issues of email provision and privacy, copyright, workload and safety. I have also volunteered to assist in other technology-related questions of the Association, such as researching the software alternatives and design possibilities for the grievance database.
In addition to the meetings of the Association, in the past year I applied for and attended two conferences on behalf of YUFA. The OCUFA University Finance Committee Workshop was held 2 November 2012 in Toronto and provided a number of examples of how other faculty associations have tracked their universities’ finances and budgeting processes. This workshop provided evidence that there is a fairly a widespread sectorial shift towards the kind of activity-based budgeting being adopted at York through PRASE. I look forward to discussing the implications of these models on research and teaching (and indeed, the organization of the university more broadly) as well as what we can learn from the experiences of other faculty associations with regard to understanding these complex issues. I also attended the Harry Crowe Foundation Conference ‘The Limits of Academic Freedom’ (1-3 February 2013 in Toronto), as one of the eight YUFA members sponsored to participate, and assisted in editing the report of the YUFA delegation, which is posted on the website.
Treasurer – Danielle Beausoleil
The Treasurer’s routine responsibilities include preparing YUFA’s annual budget, reporting regularly to the YUFA Executive Committee, monitoring YUFA’s financial position, and making investment decisions. During the past year, I have fulfilled these responsibilities.
In addition to these routine activities, my 2012-13 work plan described my intention to implement the auditor’ s recommendations arising from the YUFA Financial Statements with respect to the previous year’ s budget and a stratagem to control unlimited deferral into the future has been prepared. In addition, I have started to request more frequent bank reconciliations statements in order to identify discrepancies and errors early. I also participated in the work of the Executive Committee, served as a member of the YUFA Compensation Committee and YUFA Personnel Committee whenever called upon; and finally, I have kept myself informed on the current developments around Bill C-377 as well as on the repercussions that Bill will have on the Association.