Pages tagged "jcoaa"
Annual Call for CV and Report of Outside Professional Activities
Many of you have recently received from your Dean’s Office the annual request for your updated CV and report on outside professional activities. YUFA is concerned about the wording of some of these requests, which appear to impose requirements on members that have not been agreed to by the Association. This advisory is intended to inform you of your rights and obligations under the relevant articles of the Collective Agreement and to ensure that members are not penalized for failing to carry out tasks that have not been negotiated between the parties.
While the Employer can request that you highlight or provide a summary of recent accomplishments, this is not a requirement under the Collective Agreement and your PTR cannot be withheld for failing to do so provided that your CV otherwise meets the requirements of Article 22.07. Some Deans have indicated that they intend to hold meetings to provide “feedback” after reviewing CVs. Members are reminded that while you must attend such meetings if directed to do so, you may request an agenda and are entitled to YUFA representation where the meeting is intended to investigate or discuss any alleged failure to fulfil academic or professional responsibilities. Finally, Article 18.04 requires that you report on the scope of those outside professional activities of a substantial and continuing nature. Should you be uncertain as to whether an activity must be reported under this provision, you are encouraged to contact the Association.
Members are reminded that the 2012-2015 Collective Agreement has expired and YUFA is negotiating a renewal agreement with the Employer. PTR and any negotiated salary increase are paid only once a new Collective Agreement has been negotiated and ratified.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact YUFA at [email protected].
Teaching Evaluations, Strike-Affected Semesters, and Tenure & Promotion
In response to pressure from YUFA through the JCOAA, the Employer has agreed that the inclusion in tenure and promotion files of student course evaluations for courses offered during the strike-affected 2015 Winter term will be optional. Members who taught during the Winter 2015 semester may decide whether these course evaluations should be included or excluded in consideration of their teaching. File Preparation Committees for candidates for advancement to candidacy, for tenure, and for promotion should ask these candidates to indicate whether they wish such course evaluations to be considered by the Adjudicating Committee.
The Employer has agreed to communicate this policy to all members and to ensure that all relevant committees are fully informed of this decision. You should be receiving a memorandum to this effect shortly. If you have any questions or concerns about this or any other issue respecting tenure and promotion, please contact [email protected].
Employer's Unilateral Changes to Portability Provisions of York Pension Plan
Richard Wellen, YUFA President
Members of the York University Pension Plan (YUPP) have always had a number of options for how their pension would be paid upon retirement. One such option includes the right to transfer the “commuted value”—or monetary equivalent—of one's pension entitlement out of the plan entirely. However, on December 11, 2014, the employer announced that it had unilaterally changed the administration procedures for the York University Pension Plan (YUPP) so as to remove this option for members who had already reached age 65. A number of our members who were counting on exercising this option have been affected. Nevertheless, the employer cited technical changes to the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) that allegedly required them to do this.
YUFA filed a grievance regarding this change in February 2015, demanding a restoration of the right to transfer after age 65. Among other things, we argued that our collective agreement requires that a change to the terms of the YUPP can only be made with the consent of YUFA and that changing the portability provisions requires a change to the plan text (see article 26.02 of the YUFA collective agreement) and is not simply a matter of plan administration. We also claimed that members of the All University Pension Committee (AUPC), which also includes members of York's other employee groups, were neither adequately consulted nor given an opportunity to present alternatives, as required by the 2013 changes to the governance rules of the YUPP.
The employer did not respond to our grievance until June 16, 2015. They have argued that they are within their rights to take this unilateral step to prohibit transfers from the Plan for those over age 65 on the assumption that the 2012 changes to the Pension Benefits Act excludes—apparently inadvertently—those over age 65 from transferring the commuted value of their entitlement to another registered vehicle. They say they were only recently made aware of the requirement after consulting with their pension advisors.
It is important to note that both the administration and York's unions have written to the Government of Ontario requesting a change in the legislation. In the meantime, there seems to be some uncertainty within the government about the meaning of the 2012 changes to the PBA. The Ministry of Finance is responsible for proposing changes to the PBA. The Pension Policy Branch usually takes the lead in drafting changes to the PBA. The pension regulator is the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). While the Ministry of Finance is responsible for introducing changes to pension legislation, it is FSCO’s job to interpret and apply the legislation. It is our understanding that FSCO has unofficially communicated that the transfers at age 65 and over are prohibited, but we have no direct knowledge of such communications.
Normally, if an amendment to the PBA has unintended consequences, the Ministry of Finance would take action to correct the error. However, in this instance, the Ministry of Finance has not taken action since there is no clear consensus within the Ministry that the unofficial FSCO interpretation is correct. The Ministry appears to have concluded that there is no problem with members of defined contribution plans transferring out entitlements after age 65 under the PBA because these members are not included in the definition of “retired member” under the PBA. But the Ministry has not actively considered the impact on a hybrid plan such as YUPP which may not be assisted by PBA provisions applicable only to defined contribution pension plans. (The YUPP is a hybrid pension plan, sharing features of both defined benefit and defined contribution plans). Further, the Ontario Government has introduced the payment of variable benefits from defined contribution plans as part of its 2015 Budget. The proposed changes would allow payment of benefits from defined contribution plans and transfers of account balances from that type of plan at any time post-retirement to a registered vehicle (e.g. another pension plan, a registered savings vehicle or an annuity). Consequently, there is no incentive for the Ministry to take action at this time since they do not perceive the existing and proposed legislation as problematic.
The situation described above involves some unusual regulatory issues and also some important questions about the governance of our Pension Plan. The grievance process we have initiated continues to proceed slowly. In spite of this, YUFA's position remains that the YUPP should not be amended or administered to prohibit post-65 transfers, especially in view of the lack of regulatory intention and clarity regarding this matter. As such, we continue to seek the following remedy: any member that has had a transfer prohibited since the unilateral implementation of the freeze on post-65 transfers would be made whole, that is, the member should be able to transfer funds and recover any loss that has been caused by the delay in the transfer.
We will provide further updates as we continue to seek this remedy. If you believe this contested change to the YUPP affects you, please contact the YUFA office.
Document Preservation Notice Advisory
The Employer has recently sent a memorandum reminding members to preserve records that may be relevant to litigation launched by “Access Copyright” in 2013. This reminder referred members to the Document Preservation Notice issued on June 27, 2013 and stated that this notice remains in effect.
YUFA has filed grievances regarding the Document Preservation Notice and the reminder notice. It is the Association’s position that the Employer has violated the academic freedom provisions of the Collective Agreement by stating that YUFA members’ records are in the possession, control, or power of York University, by stating that members are under an obligation to assist York University and its counsel to obtain access to such records, and by stating that members will be contacted for the purpose of collecting documents for internal review.
In order to safeguard academic freedom, it is a long-established practice, upheld in several Information and Privacy Commission decisions, arbitration decisions and court cases, that most records created by academic staff are in the custody and control of the record’s creator, not of the university that employs them. While there are some exceptions relating to administrative records (i.e. documents you may have created or received while participating on a committee or while acting in an academic administrative capacity such as chair or program director), the Employer generally cannot require you to produce to it records relating to teaching or research, even if that record has been requested by a third party (such as in an access to information request.) This is true even if the record is located on University property or stored on York servers. YUFA’s grievances are intended to safeguard this customary practice, which is essential to protecting your records from inappropriate Employer surveillance that would erode your academic freedom.
Should the administration request that you turn over any record, the Canadian Association of University Teachers advises academic staff to decline until you contact YUFA. YUFA will consult with CAUT as necessary in order to consider the specifics of the request and will provide you with advice in connection with the issue.
YUFA will take all appropriate steps to protect members and the Collective Agreement should the Employer demand that records be produced. However, since the Federal Court has the power to demand production of certain relevant records even if they are in the possession, control, or power of a third party, it is important that you preserve potentially relevant records. In other words, while it is YUFA’s position that York University has no right to demand several of the types of records described in the memoranda, the Federal Court may issue an order that requires production of relevant documents directly from you. If such an order is sought, YUFA and/or CAUT may seek to intervene in the court proceeding, so that issues related to academic freedom can be addressed before any such disclosure occurs. YUFA is working closely with the CAUT and legal counsel to ensure that members are protected. If you receive any request or demand from the administration relating to your records, we ask that you contact YUFA immediately.
Since the end of the strike by CUPE 3903, YUFA has communicated members’ questions and concerns about the remediation process to the Employer. This advisory serves to communicate the results of those discussions to date. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at [email protected]
1. Requests for grade assessments based on at least 50% of the work
In accordance with the Remediation and Accommodation guidelines released by the Senate Executive on March 27, students with certain pressing needs may apply for an assessed grade based on work completed provided that the work comprises at least 50 percent of the course grade in the original syllabus. Such assessed grades may be granted only with the agreement of the instructor.
2. Remuneration for additional teaching associated with remediation
YUFA has reached an agreement with the Employer on a process by which members can apply for overwork remuneration for additional work associated with remediation. Members with contracts terminating on April 30, 2015 (e.g. CLAs, retirees teaching under Article 14.02, PDVs with teaching assignments) are eligible for remuneration based on a prorated weekly rate for the number of weeks in May required to complete their course(s). Members with continuing appointments will be paid at the hourly rate specified in Article 25.09 ($34.54). Although the remediation procedure is aimed primarily at members whose classes resumed during the strike, any member who believes that he or she has a basis for overwork remuneration may petition the Dean or Principal to have a claim considered. If you submit a claim and it is refused, please contact YUFA. Members intending to submit a claim should keep track of the additional time required to complete their courses. No member is required to submit a remediation plan unless he or she intends to make a claim for remuneration.
3. Teaching evaluations
The Employer has agreed that teaching evaluations for courses taught during the winter semester may be used to evaluate members for tenure and promotion only with the agreement of the member.
4. Other difficulties associated with remediation
Members have reported a number of concerns regarding room bookings for make-up sessions and tight deadlines for the submission of grades under circumstances where there may be insufficient marker-grader assistance. While the Employer has assured YUFA that assistance is available to members who contact their Dean’s/Principal’s office (or chair) with difficulties relating to remediation, please contact YUFA if you encounter any difficulties that aren’t resolved in a timely
5. Monitoring and discipline
YUFA has asked for the Employer’s assurance that 1) documentation of classes that resumed or did not resume during the strike (including rationales submitted by members) will not be retained, and 2) discipline shall not be pursued against members who made good-faith decisions regarding the resumption of classes. The Employer has indicated that there is no interest in pursuing discipline against members or retaining records. If you are concerned about any form of discipline or retaliation for your decision to resume or not to resume your course(s) or any other exercise of your professional judgment during the strike, please contact YUFA.
Report on CUPE 3903 Strike Remediation
March 31, 2015
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 [email protected]
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)
Senate Decision and the Academic Integrity of Classes
In a special meeting held on March 19, the Senate voted to resume classes in FES and LAPS as scheduled on Monday, March 23rd. During this meeting, the Senate Executive and the Provost confirmed YUFA’s position that individual faculty members have the right and the responsibility to determine whether the academic integrity of their classes can be ensured if they are held during the strike.
Senate Executive is asking that all full- and part-time faculty in LAPS and FES report whether or not each of their classes will resume and provide a rationale for any classes that in the professional judgment of the faculty member cannot resume until the strike has concluded. We understand that these lists are expected to be compiled by deans’ offices and submitted to the Senate Executive by 4:00 pm on Friday, March 20th in order to provide students with a list of resumed and suspended classes. Members may submit their decisions through their chair or directly to their dean's office. Members in Faculties where classes have already resumed may also suspend their classes by informing their dean and providing a rationale. Neither the Senate Executive nor the deans are permitted to police the rationale or overturn the decision of the faculty member. However, members who fail to provide a rationale or who provide a rationale unrelated to academic integrity may be asked to resubmit their rationale. Should you be approached by your dean or other academic administrator after submitting a rationale, we encourage you to contact YUFA before responding.
YUFA has not been informed how deans’ offices intend to collect this information. Members are likely to receive instructions from the Employer or from unit heads shortly, and deadlines are expected to be tight. Please be advised that if you do not declare your intent and rationale by the deadline, you may still suspend your class. You may also suspend your class if it resumes and you later determine that it cannot continue with academic integrity. Please contact YUFA if you have any questions or concerns.
It has been suggested that chairs may play a role in coordinating submissions to deans’ offices. We maintain that chairs, as members of the bargaining unit, should not be required to track the ways in which other members are carrying out their professional responsibilities. In some cases, however, units may make collegial decisions that the academic integrity of all or some types classes cannot be ensured. It is our understanding that communication by the unit of suspended classes and the rationales used to make the collegial decision will meet the requirements of the Senate Executive.
YUFA remains concerned that holding classes during the strike puts the health and safety of the York community at risk. We remain skeptical of remediation plans that suggest that the work of striking CUPE 3903 members can be replaced by other workers or by student peer evaluation. We strongly advise members not to replace the work of CUPE 3903 members. YUFA believes that the only way to provide students with programs with the academic integrity that they require and deserve and that York is required to deliver is to end the strike. We urge both parties to return to the bargaining table and make a good-faith effort to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement.
Safeguarding Academic Integrity During the CUPE 3903 Strike
In the face of some potential confusion emerging from recent statements from the Employer, YUFA affirms its position that the YUFA Collective Agreement and broader principles of academic freedom grant members not only the right but the professional responsibility to determine whether proceeding with their courses while the strike continues is consistent with the principles of academic integrity and ethical and fair treatment of students. Decisions about academic integrity in individual courses are a matter of the professional judgement of our members and YUFA will vigorously defend any member who acts on this basis.
A number of departments, schools and Faculties have adopted policies explicitly reaffirming that the decision about whether to resume a class before the strike has ended rests with the course director. Some departments have decided collectively that all or some types of course cannot proceed with academic integrity in the absence of striking workers and/or students who exercise their right not to participate. We believe these measures are entirely consistent with the Senate policy towards remediation, and underscore Senate’s -- not the Employer's -- authority to determine that policy.
YUFA understands that there are some Deans’ Offices that are communicating to members either which courses’ academic integrity may be threatened or what criteria should be used to determine how or if academic integrity has been threatened. Members have also been asked to report to their Chairs or to their Dean’s Office on whether or how academic integrity will be assured or protected in their courses. YUFA’s position is that any top-down determination of criteria is neither defensible nor appropriate. YUFA members are the experts in their courses and neither the Employer nor Senate – nor YUFA – should be dictating the parameters of academic integrity to members.
Members who have questions or concerns are asked to contact YUFA: [email protected], 416-736-5236
Policy Grievance Re: Workload and the 2015 CUPE3903 Strike
On 11 March 2015 YUFA filed a policy grievance re: increase in workload; failure to provide adequate
facilities and services.
YUFA Advises Not Submitting CV in Digital Format
YUFA advises members to submit their cvs only in hardcopy format for the following reasons:
- Use of your cv by the Employer is “subject to the employee’s agreement as to those portions of his / her curriculum vitae which may be so used”,
- Personnel files are and should be maintained in hardcopy format only.
Please note that Article 22.07 of the Collective Agreement specifically states that, “Digital copies of curricula vitarum of employees shall not be required by the Employer”.