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Bargaining update #3
YUFA and the Employer have met six times over the last three weeks. The YUFA Bargaining Team has now presented all six areas of our proposals in detail: Equity, Compensation & Benefits, Working Conditions, Retiree Benefits, Faculty Complement, and Governance & Collegiality. Our Bargaining Team and the Employer have exchanged and tentatively agreed on some housekeeping items.
The Employer has started to respond to our proposals. We are eager to hear the Employer’s response to the majority of our proposals so that bargaining can progress quickly in July.
We remain hopeful that the Employer shares our vision of York as a community in which our members are given the support necessary to achieve our mutual goals of excellence as teachers, researchers, and colleagues.
Our commitment to restoring York through collective bargaining
An image of the printed version of the 2015-18 Collective Agreement and the 2015-18 Tenure & Promotion Documents
As we move this summer into the serious work of negotiating a new Collective Agreement, members of the YUFA Executive Committee are pleased to share our aims with you, our membership.
'YUFA is all of us; York is all of us.'
YUFA is all of us; York is all of us.
Working with member feedback, we have put together a strong package of bargaining proposals to build a better university. They aim to deepen and expand commitments to Equity; ensure a more responsive, transparent, and open administration, in keeping with the spirit of the York University Act; restore open administrative searches; and recommit York to collegial governance.
Alongside these aims, we strive to better our working environment. Our ensemble of proposed improvements will make York a desirable place to work and a model of effective, socially committed scholarship and teaching. Good teaching makes a good university; we therefore seek commitments to a faculty complement adequate to the needs of our students. We seek to hire members of underrepresented groups. We seek job security and safe working conditions, good wages and benefits to better position York as a leading research and teaching institution over the coming years. We seek to catch up in areas where we have fallen behind, including benefits, pensions, medical coverage, support for colleagues with disabilities, and fair wage increases, to align York with comparable institutions in the field.
York University has long been committed to social justice, and YUFA will ensure that the practice of justice begins at home. We are working to reclaim community and collegiality. Through the process of Collective Bargaining, we will broaden, deepen, renew, and secure the just conditions that will restore the strength and resilience of our academic community. In this project, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with colleagues across campus and with our students.
We invite the administration to join us in working to heal a fractured and hurting community. We favour restoration over recrimination. We reject divisive rhetoric and we reject the politics of hate.
All members of our community are entitled to a safe environment. York University has a legal requirement to maintain a safe workplace, where workers are free from harassment and discrimination. YUFA works every day—this is one of our most central missions—to ensure that the University honours these legal obligations.
YUFA members know that, should they be subject to harassment, bullying, or any form of discrimination, we will vigorously defend their right to a safe workplace. We trust that all members of the community enjoy the privileges of representation, should the University be negligent in ensuring their safety. We expect that any and all such complaints will be heard and handled with respectful dispatch.
We are committed to academic freedom. The threat of legal reprisals for forms of expression that might be contentiously characterized as disrespectful, intolerable, or even unlawful casts a pall over open, honest debate and may intrude upon academic freedoms. YUFA will do our part to defend the right of academic freedom on behalf of our members and on behalf of the integrity of York University.
'We envision York as a community of scholars, teachers, researchers, learners, and colleagues, united in our pedagogical and social commitments, secure in our work environment.'
We envision York as a community of scholars, teachers, researchers, learners, and colleagues, united in our pedagogical and social commitments, secure in our work environment.
You have spoken to us and we are listening. You have told us the kind of York you would like to see and shared what you believe to be the best tools to realize that vision. We are proud to serve as your elected representatives and will work hard to restore trust and collegiality at York.
The Executive Committee
York University Faculty Association
Call for nominations: Stewards' Council Representatives to Executive Committee (2)
Nominations are now being accepted for the positions listed above for the term 1 June 2018 to 31 May 2019.
The Stewards' Council Representatives (2) to Executive Committee are elected by Council (Article 5.2 of the YUFA Constitution). The members of Stewards' Council are: members of the Executive Committee, all elected Stewards, and one representative from each Recognised Caucus (Article 4.2). The Stewards' Council Representatives to Executive Committee serve as co-Chairs of Stewards' Council meetings (alternating every other meeting). Stewards' Council Representatives to Executive receive a 0.5 FCE release and serve for a one-year term.
Candidates for election as Stewards' Council Representatives to the Executive Committee should submit written statements of their interest in serving. Elections will be conducted by electronic ballot. Where only two or fewer candidates are nominated, a ratification ballot will be conducted.
Stewards' Council members who wish to nominate Stewards or who are themselves willing to serve should indicate their interest in writing by email: [email protected]. Nominations will be accepted until 12:00 p.m. on Friday, June 15, 2018.
Bargaining update #2
On May 28, YUFA tabled its package of proposals and the Employer did the same. The Employer's package contained a list of articles on which they are reserving (Article 14: Retirement, for example), some housekeeping items (such as adjusted dates where dates appear in various articles), and a few substantive proposals (spousal hires and Intellectual Property, for example).
On May 31, the YUFA Bargaining Team presented the Equity proposals in detail and had a number of exchanges with the Employer.
YUFA is pleased to report that the Employer has agreed to a number of bargaining dates in June and July. The YUFA Bargaining Team looks forward to a productive discussion.
YUFA open letter re. admin threats of recrimination
We are writing in response to the recent escalation of rhetoric on the part of the University administration against members of the York community.
We note that a May 28 letter from Vice-Provost Students Lucy Fromowitz threatens Reclaim York University student members with “fines, restitution, and suspension from University” for acts understood to be in contravention of the “University’s policies and health and safety standards.”
We remind members of the administration that the student code of conduct is not designed as a cudgel to be wielded against students engaged in conscionable acts of civil disobedience.
An unsigned open letter to CUPE 3903, dated June 6, threatens recrimination against CUPE members because of purportedly “illegal strike activities,” charges based on undocumented allegations and vague “reports.” The document references “lawful” behavior no less than eight times in a brief page and-a-half.
We protest the representation of dissent as unlawful. We find reprehensible threats of legal sanctions against members of the York community.
We are alarmed by the increasing use of censorious legalisms as a mechanism to quash debate. Such tactics have no place in a university environment.
We deplore the antagonistic tone of these letters. We condemn any reprisals that may be taken, individually or collectively, against community members, and in particular against our students who are already heavily burdened.
We believe such heated rhetoric, coupled to a threat to bring civil or criminal charges against protestors, does little to bring members of our community together and will serve only to harden and deepen divisions. Such an approach only prolongs the impasse and scuttles the possibilities for effective resolution.
In such trying times, we encourage the University to develop approaches that emphasize healing and reconciliation over recrimination.
York University Faculty Association
YUFA memo on work expectations during Summer semester
YUFA has confirmed that the Employer will respect plans that members have made for sabbatical, research, conferences, and vacation in the Summer semester, regardless of any delays caused by the CUPE 3903 strike or by the Employer's rescheduling of the Summer semester. The agreement is based on similar arrangements that were made in 2015, following the previous CUPE 3903 strike.
Members should therefore proceed with their plans as they originally intended.
Faculty members going on sabbatical as of July 1 are not required to engage in remediation, teach delayed courses, or conduct other work flowing from the strike during the period of their sabbatical. If a faculty member is on sabbatical, has retired, has left the University, or has commenced a leave, the Employer will be responsible for making alternate arrangements for marking and completion of affected courses once the strike concludes.
The recent YUFA memo on remediation and the summer term is available here.
For more information, please email [email protected].
YUFA memo on T. & P. stop-out as a result of labour disruption
YUFA has confirmed that members may request a full-year stop-out in the Tenure & Promotion timeline, in recognition of any delays caused by the CUPE 3903 strike. The agreement is based on the same option that was made available to non-tenured/probationary members at several points in the past, including in 2015, following the previous CUPE 3903 strike.
Members should note that the stop-out is not automatic; members must write to their Dean/Principal to indicate that they would like use this option. The Dean/Principal will confirm the stop-out in writing.
The stop-out works as follows: in whatever year/stage members make their request for a stop-out, that year/stage will be extended by an additional year. For example, if a member who is in Pre-Candidacy 1 on June 1, 2018 makes a request on that date for a stop-out, the member will remain in Pre-Candidacy 1 until June 30, 2019. (This timeline is based on a July 1 appointment.)
Non-tenured/probationary members affected by the CUPE 3903 strike may request the stop-out at any point during their probationary period.
In addition, all members may decide whether course evaluations from Winter or Summer 2018 should be included or excluded in consideration of their teaching for the tenure and/or promotion process or for any other purpose. The same option exists for faculty members affected by the strike in the Winter 2015 semester. 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 full Tenure and Promotion Documents are available here.
For more information, please email [email protected].
Bargaining update #1
YUFA Bargaining Team presents full proposals package today
By YUFA Executive
As most of you know, the YUFA Collective Agreement expired on April 30, 2018. While the CUPE 3903 strike continues, YUFA has made every effort to ensure that our round of bargaining is not delayed. So far, we have had one meeting with the Employer to discuss preliminary items such as the bargaining protocol. We have been waiting for additional dates. The Employer has now confirmed Monday, May 28 and Thursday, May 31. We will be pursuing a busy schedule of meetings over the summer.
At today's session, YUFA will be presenting the full package of proposals, based on the Primary Negotiating Positions approved by our members earlier this year.
This is an important round of bargaining for YUFA. We have a number of key proposals related to issues such as compensation, benefits, faculty complement, equity, teaching load, retirement benefits and pension, governance, and working conditions. An abbreviated "user-friendly" list of proposals can be found here, and our full package of proposals submitted to the Employer can be found here. In the meantime, we offer the following summary of some key issues.
Compensation and benefits
YUFA members have accepted below-average salary settlements over the past 3-6 years. In the current round, we are committed to making sure our salaries remain competitive, and to this end, we are proposing a 3% across-the-board increase, plus improved sabbatical pay. YUFA members are especially concerned that their annual progress-through-the-ranks (PTR) increments have been frozen for eight of the past nine years. Our members’ career salary progression slope has become much flatter as a result, and we lag behind faculty at other institutions (such as Ryerson, which enjoys an annual PTR increment of $3,250 compared to only $2,750 for York faculty members).
In addition, many of our benefits provisions have been inhibited by annual caps that have not been increased for years. Freezing of these caps has resulted in significant reductions in benefits coverage. YUFA has proposals to address this, as well as updating benefits – such as including items like dental implants, for which many of our counterparts at other universities now have coverage.
Faculty complement and faculty renewal (including librarians and archivists)
Since 2001, York's ratio of students to tenure stream faculty has increased by almost 25%, from 26/1 to 31/1. To fill the gap, York has chosen to rely on increasing numbers of contract faculty and contractually limited appointments (CLAs). It is YUFA's view that the renewal of the tenure-stream complement must be at the top of York's academic and institutional planning, especially in the wake of a very disruptive strike which highlighted the problem of precarious academic work. YUFA is putting forward a comprehensive proposal to improve the tenure-stream complement by requiring the achievement of a 26/1 student-to-tenure-stream ratio by the end of the academic year 2021-22. We are proposing similar improvements in the ratio for librarians and archivists.
We will shortly be circulating our bargaining backgrounder on Equity issues, but as you can see from our summary, YUFA is coming to the table with proposals for stronger language for hiring racialized faculty and for targeted appointments for Black faculty members and for Indigenous faculty members. These and other key equity proposals have been prepared in collaboration with our Equity caucuses.
Members have indicated their concern that the Research Release Program negotiated for the 2015-18 Collective Agreement still leaves our University significantly behind the institutions that are our most obvious comparators where the maximum normal load is two full-year courses. There is also concern about the unnecessary complexity and unfairness of the process of annually reassessing individual member's teaching load. Addressing this issue is a high priority in the current round and is important for York's efforts to advance research intensity.
Retirement: Benefits and pension
Many of our members have signaled to YUFA that their anxieties about retirement centre around the comparatively weak (and expensive) retiree benefits package offered by the University. Although some changes to the retiree benefits package were negotiated in 2015, the weakness of the overall package is still evident, as retiring members face diminished coverages at a time when many of them will be requiring higher levels of medical, dental, and paramedical services. YUFA is therefore proposing that retired members receive benefits on par with current members.
Further concerns for retiring members emerged in 2015 after the University demanded all York employees accept lower pension indexing. This was accompanied by further reductions to our pension income that came with a significant increase to the "non-reduction" levy charged to money purchase pensions at the point of retirement. Taken together, these changes are alarming as pensions provide up to one-third of the lifetime income of our members.
YUFA is working outside of bargaining in the All University Pension Committee (AUPC) to restore a meaningful level of indexing for our pension plan, which would require addressing the suppression of indexing during the first five years of retirement that took effect in 2015. Richard Wellen, as the current Co-Chair of the AUPC, is working with a group of representatives from other campus employee groups to bring forward these proposed improvements. YUFA has held a special meeting on this topic with our members and has published background material here: Pension backgrounder: Pension surpluses and revisiting pension cuts, Pension FAQ (2018), and Slides from YUFA special meeting on pensions (January 24, 2018).
Article 17 of the YUFA Collective Agreement provides scope for YUFA to negotiate improvements and participation guarantees regarding the operation of the major governance bodies and processes at York. Our current package also includes proposals that would restore the role of open searches and Senate participation in Presidential searches. It also requires Senate approval of Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMAs), as the latter falls within the area of academic policy over which Senate has jurisdiction under the York University Act.
In addition, we have proposals requiring more inclusive participation for faculty members and other constituencies on the major committees of York's Board of Governors, as well as revisions to the composition of the Board of Governors, which will ensure a more representative Board.
This review includes only a portion of YUFA's full list of proposals. To review the full list, please click here. To review the summary, please click here. We will also publish a series of "bargaining backgrounders" over the coming weeks. The Bargaining Team and Executive Committee are committed to providing timely membership updates on the progress of negotiations over the summer months and as bargaining continues.
YUFA's Bargaining Team
YUFA's Bargaining Team is comprised of the following members:
- Miriam Smith (Chief Negotiator) *
- Michol Hoffman
- Frances Latchford
- Art Redding (ex-officio after June 1) **
- Shanker Trivedi
- Richard Wellen **
* Prof. Smith has replaced Justin Podur who resigned due to an urgent family matter. The YUFA Executive Committee would like to thank Justin for leading the team through bargaining preparation and early meetings with the Employer over the past few months.
** Richard Wellen will be added as a regular member of the team after Art Redding assumes the position of YUFA President on June 1.
YUFA members, remediation, and the summer term
Many YUFA members have been wondering about their summer teaching and whether or not courses will go ahead as planned. YUFA has reached out to the Employer to get answers to several questions regarding issues such as remediation, academic integrity, submission of student grades, and altering course planning. Unfortunately, the Employer has not answered many of the questions raised by the Association.
Please see below a document that contains information about the above topics, based on what YUFA has gleaned from the Employer. This document will be updated as we receive more information from the Employer. Should you have any questions or concerns, please email [email protected].
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Academic integrity of summer courses
Beyond the requirements of the remediation policy, your Dean/Principal cannot expect you to relinquish responsibility to exercise judgment on how to preserve the academic integrity of the course. Some faculty members have reported the Deans/Principal rejecting concerns of academic integrity for courses over the summer. YUFA maintains that the instructor of a course is best positioned to determine the academic integrity of their courses. The Association will vigorously defend members’ right to do so.
Should you cancel your course due to concerns arising from academic integrity, YUFA is of the view that faculty members must not owe a course in a subsequent semester. Article 18.38 of the Collective Agreement requires the Employer to provide adequate facilities and services for faculty to carry out their professional responsibilities.
Should the Dean/Principal tell you to alter your course and grading requirements as a result of a labour disruption, you are likely within your rights to refuse such a request on grounds of Academic Freedom (Article 10 of the YUFA Collective Agreement) and previous Senate guidance about the primacy of the instructor’s role in deciding how to safeguard the academic integrity of their courses. The Senate policy states that academic integrity will be protected and academic standards shall not be diluted. YUFA will defend members subjected to discipline for exercising their collective agreement rights.
The Senate Policy regarding labour disruptions remains in force so students retain the right to elect not to cross picket lines for the duration of the strike. However, some Deans are insisting that suspensions of courses based on lack of student attendance do not apply to the initial class. Regardless, some remediation of summer courses may also be required.
- Marking and grading of winter courses
The Employer has developed different avenues for students to pursue grades based on partial completion of coursework. While these options have been determined by Senate Executive, faculty members retain oversight over their courses. If you have concerns about the manner in which grades are being assigned in your courses, please contact YUFA.
Faculty members are also not responsible for carrying out the work previously assigned to Teaching Assistants or Marker/Graders in their courses and cannot be required to carry out the work previously assigned to any CUPE 3903 member. YUFA has received reports that some faculty members are facing pressure from their Deans/Principal to complete outstanding marking. Members cannot be expected to take up work performed by any CUPE 3903 member. We encourage you to contact YUFA if you are asked to do so.
- Scheduling conflicts due to other commitments
Many faculty members have contacted YUFA to indicate that rescheduling of summer term or the anticipated remediation of winter term will pose scheduling conflicts due to research commitments, vacation, sabbatical, or other reasons. While the Employer has encouraged faculty members to be flexible, the Collective Agreement must also be upheld. Faculty in the professorial stream are required to carry out research; consequently, if you have established research plans that conflict with the newly scheduled term, you cannot be required to cancel those plans.
Similarly, faculty members have a right to vacation, sabbatical, and other forms of leave, all of which must be preserved, regardless of the rescheduling caused by remediation or a shift in dates for the beginning and end of term. Further, you should not be penalized for taking up the rights and entitlements of the Collective Agreement. It is YUFA’s position that you should not be required to make up teaching that you cannot carry out due to such a conflict. You may seek to make arrangements with your Dean/Principal, but we also encourage you to reach out to YUFA if you have any such concerns.
- Can I be asked to teach a course that I was previously not scheduled to teach?
You may be asked to teach but you cannot be required to do so. The workload provisions of the Collective Agreement continue to be in force, so faculty members should not experience an increase in workload due to a strike. Faculty members are responsible for their own courses, not for those of their colleagues; and therefore taking on a course that had been assigned to a member of a bargaining unit on strike is not something our members can be required to do.
YUFA and the Employer have an agreement that faculty members will be compensated for overwork due to the strike at the hourly marker grader rate. The Employer will provide a form for faculty to submit to claim overwork but we have not yet heard when that will be made available. In the meantime, keep track of your hours.
Update for members regarding recall petition for YUFA President
On May 15, 2018, the YUFA Executive received a petition signed by 65 members to recall the current president, Richard Wellen, who has two weeks left on his current term. The signatories of the petition demanded that Professor Wellen step down immediately and be barred from assuming the Past President's position (as he normally would do under the Constitution).
We would like to remind members that, under the YUFA Constitution (see Article 8.4 a. below), members of Executive cannot be recalled simply by a petition. Rather, the recall process involves two stages. First, there must be a petition (signed by more than 50 members) to hold a special election for the challenged officer's position (President, Treasurer, etc.). Second, an election must be held within one month and the incumbent officer who has been challenged – but not yet removed from office – may compete in that election. The results of that election determine whether the challenged officer remains in office.
According to our constitution, there must be two weeks of nominations and ten days of voting to fill any executive position. Professor Wellen's term ends May 31, and the term of the incoming president, Art Redding, begins June 1. Under the circumstances, to call an election will be inconsequential because it will only occur following the instalment of YUFA's next duly elected president, on June 1, 2018. Moreover, as the outgoing president automatically assumes the role of Past President at the end of their term, and the position of Past President is not an elected role, the petition would have no bearing.
This explanation has been provided to the letter’s signatories, who have rejected it. According to the YUFA Constitution, removal of an elected officer can only take place through a special election process in which all members of our Association may vote. A petition signed by 50 or more members is not sufficient to meet the standard in our constitution for removing a duly elected officer from their position.
From YUFA Constitution:
a. If at any time a petition carrying the signatures of at least fifty members or 25 percent, whichever is the lesser, of the constituents of any Officer or Representative is submitted to the Executive Committee demanding a new election of such Officer or elected Representative, a special by-election shall be held within one month’s time. The incumbent may be a candidate in that election. The by-election shall be conducted in accordance with Article 6.2 above.