This is a follow up message based upon feedback from members who attended the YUFA drop-in session held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. It includes guidance that members and units may use based on YUFA’s understanding of our collective agreement rights, applicable health and safety standards and our university’s collegial norms and procedures.
YUFA would also like to acknowledge the call for collective solidarity at our recent meeting to ensure the health and safety, reasonable workload, and respectful, collegial decision-making processes of all our members. A summary of that meeting with members’ comments and suggestions will be issued shortly. This document will outline provisions in the Collective Agreement to protect these aspects of our work and the guidances below are outlined to assure adherence to the Collective Agreement.
1. Health and Safety
The health and safety of faculty, staff, and students should be the number one priority when planning for the fall term. To ensure that adequate policies and protections are in place, the York administration must sit down and work with faculty to determine the best way to offer classes for the fall. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve dynamically and it’s only through constant consultation and collegial decision-making that York will ensure a fall term that offers the best possible education to students while keeping everyone safe. Faculty members have a right to a healthy and safe work environment as per Articles 18.39(i), (ii).
Guidance: Despite the limited information we have regarding the evolving pandemic and what the workplace will be like in the fall, faculty members should give careful thought to whether they feel comfortable returning to teaching live within the anticipated health parameters provided in making their decision regarding mode of teaching. In unit discussions regarding mode of teaching the concerns and decisions of individual faculty members should be respected (i.e., medical, health, family accommodations, and other relevant reasons).
The most recent Plan is calling for a return capacity of 40 – 50% live teaching minimum per unit. There is an expectation that teaching students live may also require teaching students unable to attend class remotely. This has serious implications for workload and should be given careful consideration by faculty members in making decisions on their mode of teaching this fall 2021 and winter 2022.
Guidance: Units factor in workload implications based on individual members’ choices when as a unit determining modes of teaching to be offered as per Article 18.08.1.
3. Decision-Making Processes
The administration has adopted a very prescriptive interpretation of the Senate Executive revised planning document which appears to violate collegial planning regarding course delivery and the rights of units and members under the YUFA collective agreement.
That document stated that “this planning is being undertaken only to create flexibility for a more robust return to the campuses.” Unfortunately, most Deans appear to be asking for more than flexibility as they tell units that they must achieve a minimum level of in-person teaching and that the administration has the right to determine the mode of delivery of courses. Furthermore, the assumption appears to be that in-person courses should be delivered in a hybrid manner – with both in-person and online access - to accommodate students who will need remote delivery.
In light of this, it is important to remember that Article 18.08.3 of the YUFA collective agreement clearly states that units play the central role in deciding questions of mode of delivery. The transition to in-person, and perhaps hybrid modes of delivery, requires Deans to work collaboratively with units who are in the best position to decide how – and whether- this should be done in the case of individual courses.
Guidance: YUFA urges units to maintain their rights to determining the mode of teaching in the best interests of students, pedagogy, health, and safety as per Article 18.08.3. Units are also urged to engage in a respectful internal process (i.e., such as being mindful of the needs of junior faculty, teaching stream faculty and contractual faculty (CLAs, SRCs, and Postdocs).
4. Course Planning 2021-2022 Submissions
The May 14, 2021 deadline is in place so that administration can process the submissions, classify modes of teaching and have them ready for course listings by month’s end. At press time YUFA is still negotiating an extension of this deadline. Nevertheless, units have only been given one (1) week to plan for this. Given the unit’s right to determine modes of teaching (Article 18.08.3), units are encouraged to discuss such modes with faculty members taking aforementioned aspects into consideration.
Guidance: Units review and discuss the recommended Course Plans for Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 and determine modes of teaching towards the 40 – 50% live teaching capacity. Submit your Plans by the deadline regardless of whether the 40 – 50% threshold is met. Provided that unit discussions can substantiate health, safety, medical, family accommodations and other relevant reasons, YUFA will back you on this. Should units be contacted by Faculty Relations, we advise you to contact YUFA at [email protected] immediately.