The year 2017 has been a year of transition for the Association under the newly revised PSLA and the enriched Labour Relations Code provisions. During 2017, we prepared for the new labour environment in which we will be bargaining both compensation and terms and conditions of employment simultaneously. Also during 2017, we began planning to assert our new powers as a union in 2018 by you the members ratifying our membership in the CAUT Defense Fund and the establishment a strike/lockout fund of our own. Now that we have a defense fund of our own, we have to be prepared to use it, and so at the November Council meeting, Council tasked Executive with establishing the terms of reference for a Job Action Committee, which is a committee that would oversee and coordinate any response by AASUA members to a lockout by the Board of Governors or to unfair, unreasonable bargaining.
As for our preparation for bargaining in March 2018, the Bargaining Planning Committee is currently writing contract language in line with the priorities identified by you the members during the Association’s consultation and survey process. As well, our negotiating team has been chosen and is in place and has begun meeting with our resource persons, who will provide the training and the information necessary for success. With these preparations, we will be ready for 2018 and the challenges it will bring.
On behalf of the members of Council and Executive and the staff of the AASUA, I wish you a safe and happy holiday season.
De-designation of AASUA members
During the spring of 2017, the AASUA was consulted regarding the de-designation of 74 of our administrative professionals based on the Labour Relations Board criteria here and here. We were advised at that time that the University would be looking at de-designation of administrative staff members in phases but they are fully aware that they are required to consult with us. We will communicate with our members once this consultation has occurred and what the Association’s next steps will be.
Universal Student ratings of Instruction (USRIs), which are used for formative assessment and summative evaluation of teaching staff, have been a topic of discussion in the General Faculties Council (GFC). A report was recently released by the GFC Committee on the Learning Environment, which recommended that the goals of teaching assessment and evaluation be re-evaluated, and that a suite of assessment and evaluation tools and supports (for both faculty and administrators) be developed. GFC approved these recommendations, and the outputs of this committee need to be watched closely as there are significant biases in USRIs based on gender, age, ethnicity, and even physical attractiveness that need to be understood and considered as these tools will be used to make decisions about our careers and our lives.
Conflict of Interest Bill 27
I wrote a letter to Finance Minister Joe Ceci and Minister of Post-Secondary Education Marlin Schmidt asking for assurance that this legislation, which requires a Code of Conduct for its employees, will not impinge upon the academic freedom of our members, who are employees of the Board of Governors. The proposed legislation indicates that employees of Boards are to be “impartial” and it would limit supplementary professional activities such as consulting. University academic staff cannot be held to that legislation without violation of our academic freedom and that was indicated in the letter to the Finance Minister. My letter to the Ministers can be found here. The legislation has since been passed, regardless of the concerns I raised with potential limitations to academic freedom.
A town hall for the by-laws was held December 8, with approximately 20 people attending. Feedback was received by the By-laws Amendment Committee, and the committee will now revise the by-laws according to the feedback for final legal review and Council approval before the by-laws are sent to the membership for ratification.