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Below are the results of the election for YUFA Officers for the term 1 June 2016 to 31 May 2018. Candidates' names in boldface indicate persons elected and ratified. YUFA extends its sincere appreciation to all those members who ran for office and thanks all those members who took the time to vote.
President: Richard Wellen
Yes - 405 (88.4%)
No - 53 (11.6%)
Abstain - 44
Vice-President Internal: Maura Matesic
Maura Matesic 264 (69.5%)
Ray Rogers 107 (28.2%)
Reject All 9 (2.4%)
Abstain - 122
Vice-President External: Terry Maley
Yes - 358 (92.7%)
No - 28 (7.3%)
Abstain - 116
Communications Officer: Stephanie Ross
Yes - 392 (93.8%)
No - 26 (6.2%)
Abstain - 84
Chief Steward (1 of 2): Art Redding
Yes - 345 (92.5%)
No - 28 (7.5%)
Equity Officer (1 of 2): Nick Mulé
Yes - 326 (89.3%)
No - 39 (10.7%)
Abstain - 137
Treasurer: Ricardo Grinspun
Yes - 363 (83.3%)
No - 73 (16.7%)
Abstain - 66
Recording Secretary: Merle Jacobs
Yes - 354 (81.6%)
No - 80 (18.4%)
Abstain - 68
YUFA Returning Officer
Employer agrees to temporary extension of deadline for retiring members wanting to transfer out their pension
As we have outlined in a previous newsletter, the employer has unilaterally imposed new administrative rules changing the portability provisions of the York University Pension Plan. In particular, the new rules prohibit Plan members from transferring the value of their pension entitlement to a “locked-in” registered retirement savings plan or life income fund if they retire after attaining the age of 65. This is an option that a number of members exercise each year.
YUFA has grieved this change to members' pension options at retirement. It is worth noting that no formal Plan amendment has been filed with the Financial Services Commission, and sponsors of similar pension plans have not imposed the same restriction. Hence, YUFA has secured the employer's agreement to reconsider its position on pension portability as we give final consideration to moving the current grievance to arbitration.
In light of the unresolved dispute - and YUFA's recent request for the employer to review this issue - we have made a special request of the employer to relax the deadlines for giving notice of retirement. They have agreed to do so. Normally members must provide a minimum of nine months notice of their retirement, but under the current circumstances the employer is prepared to reduce this to three months. This waiver is specifically aimed at members who may be considering transferring the value of their pension entitlement out of the Plan upon retirement.
The official deadline to give notice for retirement on June 30, 2016 was October 1, 2015. If you have already given notice to retire by this date, but wish to see if this limited extension applies to you, we advise you to contact YUFA at [email protected] or 416-736-5236.
Now that the 2015 Bargaining Round is underway, YUFA is committed to providing the membership and the wider community with information that puts our bargaining priorities in context and explains why they are important for the quality of teaching, research and learning at York University. We begin our series of Bargaining Backgrounders by exploring this pressing question: Is York Really Broke?
YUFA members are encouraged to get involved in the Bargaining Support Committee to plan other communications to members and the wider community. If you are interested, please email [email protected].
YUFA Communications Officer
On May 20, 2015, York University announced that the provincial government agreed to fund a new York University campus in Markham. YUFA's representatives on the Joint Committee for the Administration of the Collective Agreement (JCOAA) and the Joint Committee on Long Range Planning (LRP) have been asking the employer for detailed information on many dimensions of the proposal for many months. There was no consultation with respect to many issues of concern to faculty members such as the implications on workload, governance, resources and teaching on the new campus. Regrettably, the desire for a new campus has not been addressed through meaningful collegial discussions with members of the broader York University community, nor has the academic programming within it been seen at any stage by Senate.
The information on the proposal provided to YUFA via LRP was very limited and heavily redacted, apparently because of the competitive bidding context. At the very least, YUFA expects that the full proposal will now be made available to the community immediately.
We invite you to read YUFA's response, via LRP, to the employer's proposal to establish a new campus in Markham. The YUFA Executive will continue to pay close attention to the issue and its implications for our members, and additional information will be made available in the coming weeks as we learn more about the details of these plans.
YUFA responds to the Arrival of ‘Activity-Based Budgeting’ at York
What follows is a brief Introduction to a YUFA report recently submitted to the Employer in response to the Employer's presentation on York’s new SHARP budget model at JCOAA/LRP
What is SHARP?
Over the past two months the York administration has been introducing its new Shared Accountability & Resource Planning (SHARP) budget model. This model is a form of “Activity-Based Budgeting” (ABB) which will replace the old “incremental” model which allocates money in relation to historical baselines. The SHARP model is meant to enhance accountability and also reward entrepreneurial behaviour by allowing units or Faculties more opportunities to keep the money they “earn” or save for the institution.
Incentivizing Performance in Universities
Like Program Prioritization (AAPR here at York) ABB is one of the new governance tools that North American universities and governments are adopting to incentivize greater productivity and performance in postsecondary education and research. This movement has traveled from the U.S. to Ontario where the Wynne government is proposing to introduce performance based funding for universities so that government support can be linked more directly to outputs such as student completion rates, labour market outcomes, publication counts, and so on. The new funding model will complement the province’s so-called “differentiation strategy” where institutions sign Strategic Mandate Agreements” (SMA’s) with representatives of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). Policymakers hope that differentiation will minimize “duplication” among institutions and establish performance metrics to guide internal and external management of each institution.
ABB is clearly one of the components of the performance incentivizing toolkit described above, and York’s SHARP model will be phased in over the next three years. Its key feature is the direct attribution of revenues and expenses to Faculties on the basis of resource usage and measurable performance. Supporters of this model say that this will increase the accountability and responsiveness of units within universities. There is every indication, however, that SHARP provides a basis for subordinating academic decision-making and academic freedom to budgetary and market imperatives and increases the degree to which our activities as teachers and scholars are quantitatively measured.
Some Critical Observations
As we outline in our full report, SHARP is likely to put a premium on competition among departments and is unlikely to live up to its promise of increasing the transparency of decision making and resource allocation. For example, although formulas for assigning revenues or costs to Faculties may now have more clarity under SHARP, the downstream allocation of revenues to units remains entirely opaque. Moreover, it appears, based on the SHARP model, that the benchmarks used for cost and revenue assignment and the generation of surplus contingency funds will be established through administrative fiat and deal-making by the proposed "University Budget Planning Committee" (UBPC) which we fear will operate at a great distance from the collegium. If this is true, SHARP provides no mechanism to ensure real openness or collegial input in the process of setting academic priorities.
As YUFA has many more concerns about SHARP that we have communicated to the Employer, we also urge you to read the full report, which includes recommendations by the YUFA Executive to address the potential and troubling shortcomings of SHARP. Among other things we propose the creation of a Senate Budget and Finance Committee to ensure that academic priority setting will not become more concentrated in the hands of senior administrators as a result of the adoption of the new budget model. At a more general level we need to guard against the excessive proliferation of academic governance strategies that compel us to think of our work as winning brownie points in ranking exercises and competitions for resources and customers.
We thank Kean Birch, the Co-Chair of the Long Range Planning Joint Committee for skillfully developing the report and compiling its critical observations with the assistance of other members of the LRP and JCOAA. Please see the full report here.
Many of you have heard about the proposed "Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act" (Bill 100) that was introduced last week in the Nova Scotia legislature. If passed, the Act would allow governments unprecedented rights to demand restructuring at universities, override collective agreement provisions and undermine academic freedom.
Following many other universities and academics across Canada, the YUFA Executive authorized me to send the following letter of opposition to the Nova Scotia government:
The Honourable Kelly Regan
Minister of Labour and Advanced Education
6th Floor, 5151 Terminal Rd
P.O. Box 697
Halifax, NS B3J 2T8
April 27, 2015
Dear Minister Regan,
The York University Faculty Association joins with the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers in strong opposition to the proposed Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act currently before the Nova Scotia Legislature. It is our considered opinion that the Act threatens not only the constitutional rights of university faculty in Nova Scotia, including the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike, but the entire academic enterprise.
We are deeply shocked by the relationship between business and the academy that is invited by Paragraph 12.1.g-h: that a university’s plan must include “goals and objectives for … turning research into business opportunities [and] fostering a skilled, entrepreneurial and innovative workforce needed for economic growth in the Province”. Such a relationship is inimical to academic freedom and undermines the essential mandate of the university, which is independent learning and teaching. In addition, the strong government involvement in setting academic and research priorities and curriculum runs contrary to the conditions under which high quality scientific and scholarly work can thrive, and makes it unlikely that the province will continue to attract and recruit the best academics.
If this bill were to pass, Nova Scotia universities would lose in a single moment their proud tradition of excellent teaching grounded in internationally renowned independent scholarship. Their research would be known to be driven by the demands of government and the business community, and would no longer be trusted. Graduating students would no longer be regarded as educated so much as trained into the service of the economy. The loss to the reputation of your scholars and graduates would be dire.
We urge you, most strongly, to withdraw the bill.
Richard Wellen, President
York University Faculty Association
Please mark your calendars and plan to attend YUFA’s Annual General Meeting:
Wednesday, April 29 1:30 to 4:00 pm
The Agenda and materials are attached. Be sure to bring your meeting package with you as there will be a very limited number of copies available at the meeting.
Prior to the YUFA Annual General Meeting, there will be a luncheon held for YUFA members from 12:00 to 1:30 pm in Founders 152. We ask that you RSVP no later than Friday, 24 April 2015 to [email protected]. Should you require accommodation for the Annual General Meeting, kindly contact YUFA as soon as possible. We look forward to seeing you on the 29th.
On April 2, five weeks after our members approved our package of primary negotiating positions, YUFA served notice of intent to bargain with our employer. Our collective agreement expires at the end of April. We are expecting to meet with the employer in the coming weeks and plan to keep members informed by sending out bulletins explaining and contextualizing our key issues and also providing updates about the progress of negotiations.
The challenging bargaining environment at York in the past year reflects a pattern faced by many employee groups in the university sector more broadly. The strike by CUPE 3903 highlighted issues of graduate student funding and contingent academic employment, among others. In the meantime, the York University Staff Association (YUSA) has been without a contract for nine months as very difficult negotiations drag on dealing with employer efforts to hire interns to do YUSA work. Faculty Associations at Queen’s, Ryerson and other Ontario universities are now involved in negotiations.
YUFA intends to bring a number of issues to the bargaining table based on priorities expressed by our members. These include improving collegial input and governance, boosting the faculty complement, achieving teaching loads that provide parity with other similar universities, strengthening equity provisions for hiring, seeking competitive salary increases and retiree benefits and others. We urge you to attend the Annual General Meeting on April 29 where our bargaining agenda will be reviewed and several additional proposals will be discussed.
We are very fortunate to have an extremely knowledgeable and committed bargaining team which includes the following members:
- Scott Forsyth (Film and Political Science) Chief Negotiator
- Sheila Embleton (Languages, Literatures and Linguistics)
- Frances Latchford (Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies)
- Justin Podur (Environmental Studies)
- Art Redding (English)
- Miriam Smith (Social Science)
YUFA’s long-awaited new website is here!
This site has some fantastic improvements:
- The updated template is more mobile-friendly and has the latest accessibility features.
- The site now has a blog for YUFA Officers and Community Projects: check often for the latest updates from the Association!
- The members’ forum has been revamped to be more user-friendly around a streamlined set of categories to which members can subscribe: Collective Agreement: Bargaining and JCOAA, Collegiality and Governance at YU, University Finance and Pensions, Issues in Higher Education, Community.
Members can log-on to the site on the homepage: www.yufa.ca. Your user name is the first part of your @yorku.ca email address (e.g., the log-on for [email protected] would be ‘rwellen’). If have forgotten your password or have not yet received one, use the prompt in the log-on box to create a new one.