OCADFA acknowledges the sacred land on which we live and work. For over 15,000 years this land has been home to Indigenous people who have lived and continue to live in relation with the land in ways that have been proven to be ecologically sustainable and vital, and that deepen our humanity by honouring our relations.
This land is the territory of the Mississauga of the Credit First Nation, Anishnaabe, Haudenosaunee, Wendat, and Huron Indigenous Peoples.
Today, this meeting place of Toronto is still home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to be here together, in conversation with Indigenous histories. We are committed to working in solidarity with Indigenous-led activism and to upholding the values and practices that protect the land, care for the people and make it possible to plan for a peaceable future.
The OCADFA Monthly Newsletter keeps you in the know with information about our Association’s activity, articles that address emerging membership issues, and details about our involvement in coalitions and broader campaigns. If there’s something you want covered in our newsletter, or you want to contribute a piece, please contact Mary Eileen Wennekers at email@example.com.
In this issue:
- April GMM
- TA/RA organizing
- Negotiations Chair report
- Survey results: Online teaching and large-format lecture classes
- Sessional organizing report (and planning for OVER FLOW)
- Communications Chair report
- Notification for Sessionals about teaching appointments
- VLS/eCampus Ontario update
- EI information for Sessionals and TAs
- CAUT Censures UofT
- Laurentian University update
- Solidarity actions with Laurentian (Art Strikes Back! and Firing Minister Ross Romano)
- OCADFA President, Min Sook Lee’s op-ed about Laurentian in rabble.ca
- Organizing4Power Callout and Registration Information
Information about our Association’s activity
TA Organizing Update
Over the past year OCADFA has been organizing with our TAs and RAs to change longstanding concerns related to opaque hiring processes, lack of institutional training, overwork and other concerns. We had a successful TA/RA meet-and-greet on April 22 which kicked off some of these discussions, and there will be future TA/RA consultations and discussions planned for May.
We are pleased to announce we have hired Elena Chou as OCADFA’s new Membership Outreach Coordinator to continue membership engagement and advocacy with TAs and RAs. Elena comes to this position with previous experience in membership outreach and organizing, and with union and political education within the academic sector, most recently as Chief Steward for Unit 2 (representing contract faculty) with CUPE Local 3903 at York University. Elena has been a TA at OCADU since 2018 and is also a PhD Candidate in Sociology at York University whose dissertation focuses on how race continues to play an important role in producing and shaping the media and public cultural discourses which define Canadian culture within the context of multiculturalism, through an examination of the ways in which Asian Canadians and Asian-ness are discursively constructed and represented as abject and/or “Other” in Canadian culture.
OCADFA has not always been as present in representing and addressing the needs of our TA/RA members and we aim to change that. This work is just the beginning. Elena will develop a TA/RA survey and a TA/RA handbook /orientation package for current and incoming OCADU TAs & RAs.
The survey will help OCADFA gain a better understanding of the demographics, working conditions, and the working culture of TAs/RAs at OCADU. This information will supplement concerns previously raised by TAs/RAs, as well as alert OCADFA to emerging issues.
We encourage all TAs/RAs to take a bit of time to complete the survey. It will be sent out early next week, so please keep an eye out for it in your inboxes! If there are any questions or concerns, Elena can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monthly General Membership Meeting: Information Share about FLOW
We will be holding our monthly General Membership Meeting (GMM) this April 30th from 1:00PM to 3:00PM. These meetings are less formal than AGMs; their purpose is to provide and ask for information about current events for OCADFA members and the academic sector more broadly, as well as to create a dedicated space for members to participate more directly in OCADFA’s decision making process and in shaping our priorities as an Association.
For this month, we want to talk about Flow: Curricular Transformation and you. How has your program been impacted by FLOW? Flow was originally presented as both a cost savings measure and a means to introduce more curricular choices for students. One year in, how is FLOW measuring up? We’ll discuss how the Gradual Reopening strategy is impacted by FLOW priorities, and reflect on our experiences teaching online in the 2020/21 academic year. Please come and share your stories and ideas for how OCADFA can rise to the many challenges we’re facing right now.
OCADFA’s Grievance Chair, Natalie Waldburger and board director, Richard Hunt will co-chair this month’s meeting. Both have knowledge of the history of FLOW as it moved through Senate and insight into how its implementation is affecting our working conditions and pedagogy at OCADU. If you have questions in advance about FLOW you’d like to raise for the GMM please send them to OCADFA’s Executive Director: email@example.com.
We’ll be using a speakers list and asking everyone to limit their speaking time to 3 minutes so that as many people as possible can be heard. We had some action items from March, including working on activating senate organizing and gathering information from faculty who are teaching lecture-format online classes. The results from that survey are discussed below.
Negotiations Chair Update
For over a year, OCADFA’s bargaining team has represented our collective interests to secure a new contract. We secured a mandate from you and have worked hard to ensure we stayed united and focused on our common goals. In our view OCADFA’s proposals are normal in the sector, and serve to bring us into alignment with other post-secondary institutions.
I would like to thank our excellent Negotiations Committee members: Min Sook Lee (FoA-Tenured), Danyil Panasyev (Studio Technician- Contract), Charles Reeve (FoLassis-Tenured), Tanner Serson (Teaching Assistant), Annie Tung (FoD-TIS) and Mary Eileen Wennekers (FoLassis-Sessional) for working diligently on this round of bargaining. We have been supported by OCADFA’s Executive Director Graeme Reniers and represented by a stellar legal team, Steven Barrett, Chris Donovan and Emily Denomme from Goldblatt Partners. I want to thank our OCADFA bargaining team for their hard work, insight, and dedication.
We were unable to resolve several critical issues during mediation and will now be moving to arbitration presided by William Kaplan. Our arbitration hearings are scheduled for April 25th and 29th. Kaplan will make a binding decision after the hearings which is not subject to ratification by the parties. The arbitrator decision making process is guided by the principles of replication and gradualism.
Replication tends to come to agreements that would likely have been reached under strike/lockout processes, the results of other negotiations in our sector are the primary comparison. Gradualism is the incremental change that one expects from any negotiations process, in this sense as well our proposals are intentionally designed to build on previous years and represent steps towards a better OCAD U for all of us.
OCADFA’s proposals are normative and reasonable, and we are well placed to achieve our priorities. Arbitration does not erase, and should not diminish, the progress we have made to date. So far, we have agreement on several important issues, two of which I wish to highlight here:
Pregnancy and Partial leave with a top-up to 95% for a standard twelve month leave and 57% for the extended leave of eighteen months. There is also a top-up for adoption leave and a short supplemental leave for those who do not qualify for pregnancy leave.
There is a substantial revision to the process for hiring Teaching Assistants/Research Assistants with the goal of demystifying this process. We believe that our current TAs/RAs and our graduate students should be prioritized and properly matched with available opportunities that reflect their areas of expertise and research/practices.
Attached you will find our arbitration brief, which has been provided to William Kaplan in advance of our first arbitration hearing this Sunday.
Eric Steenbergen, OCADFA Negotiations Chair
Communications Committee Chair Update
The OCADFA Communications Committee is new to OCADFA and our role is to connect with and promote our membership. We are here to protect the rights and working conditions for all OCADFA members. That means YOU! We want to promote connection between all labour categories to ensure working conditions at OCADU are equitable and fair. Whether you are a faculty member, an studio tech, an IT staff person or a TA/RA; OCADF is your union and together we’ll build a campus community that prioritizes students, faculty and staff and our collective learning journeys.
On April 15 we had our first open call communications committee where we invited the members who may be interested in helping. We spoke about the role of activism and building and how it can take it in many forms. If you have areas of expertise in social media and activism we would love to have you join! Our next meeting will be Thursday, April 29 from 9:30am – 11:00am. If you would like to join, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Besides promoting connection and community between our members, we are activists! For example, on April 16th we helped coordinate a highly successful Art Strikes Back! online meme making workshop in response to the defunding of Laurentian University. We blasted out these memes through our social media channels and they were widely picked up (one was seen by over 4,000 people)!
You can find us on Twitter @OCADFA1
On Facebook (facebook/com/OCADFA)
And Instagram @ocadfa
Right now, we have an output rhythm. On Membership Mondays, we promote the work of our membership, whether you are faculty, technician or TA/RA, please share your work so we can profile it on our social media. We’ll “tag” you and get your work out there!
On Wednesdays we post in solidarity with our communities to amplify organizing and campaigns that OCADFA is aligned with.
On Fridays we feature the animal companions of our members.
If you’d like your work, an issue, or your non-human pal featured on our social media channels, please connect with Mary Eileen at email@example.com
– JJ Lee, OCADFA Communications Committee Chair
Grievance Chair Update
The Grievance Committee continues to monitor several issues as they emerge this term. Do you have any questions about how to access workplace accommodations? About your intellectual property in an online teaching environment? About class sizes? About managing and implementing student accommodations? These and any other questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If something seems like it is not right, it probably isn’t. Check out our site’s Grievance FAQ for more info. Though it may not be a formal grievance, we are here and skilled at representing and supporting your engagement with the various processes available to address inequities and harmful workplace conditions. Any time you think you may need support resolving an issue, or if you have questions about your contract or working conditions, you can reach us through our contact page: http://ocadfa.ca/contact/.
Sessional Organizing Update
Thank you very much for everyone who turned out for this April’s drop-in sessions, where we discussed how the end of term was going. Every month more people show up, and we are building momentum towards reactivating the sessional committee.
A few sessional OCADFA members have already expressed interest in joining up (many thanks!) and so I will ask, if you are, to please tell contact Mary Eileen Wennekers at email@example.com. Our first 2021 Sessional Committee meeting will take place either next Wednesday April 28th or Thursday April 29th. Let me know if you’re interested, and I’ll send around a doodle poll to figure out the best timing for that meeting.
Several concerns have come out about the end of term. While overwork is always endemic (several sessionals reported experiencing nearly double the workload this year than from teaching the same course in previous years), and precarity continues to exact a serious toll on our well-being, we also discussed our frustrations at being excluded from decision making processes. Access to resources that help us adequately transition to online delivery is a major issue that OCADFA can take up at our Joint Committee with the Administration. A larger issue, and a larger idea, is that as sessionals we have a particular set of pedagogical knowledges that could be harnessed to imagine a truly innovative curriculum revitalization at OCADU.
So, the Sessional Committee will be organizing a workshop event, OVER FLOW, in which we will work together to imagine how to integrate our various disciplines and to create the conditions of possibility for extraordinary and transformative pathways for undergraduate students at OCADU that do not compromise the quality of their education, that allow us to realize our potential and capacities as educators, and are not a front for austerity measures at our institution. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more, and perhaps to join our Sessional Committee meeting next week to plan the event, which will take place on or around May 7.
NEWS YOU CAN USE
Emerging membership issues
Sessional Reappointments and the Right of Shortlist Consideration
It’s no secret that OCADFA lags behind the sector norm in terms of sessional job security. While improving the rights and working conditions of sessional faculty at OCADU has been a priority of ours in the ongoing bargaining round, we’re constrained for the time being by the parameters of our current MOA. That said, given that several sessional (re)appointments have now been made for the Spring/Summer semesters, we thought this was a good time to remind our sessional faculty members of an important MOA provision that remains in force.
Article 16.1.6 our MOA reads as follows:
“Subject to the foregoing, once a person has taught five or more 0.5 courses on a sessional basis, he or she shall automatically be shortlisted for consideration for any sessional course that person taught when the course was last offered or for any sessional course that is closely related to a course he or she taught previously, whether or not the person is currently a sessional faculty member.”
While OCADFA has had disagreements with the Administration as to what the implementation of this language entails, and although consideration does not mean you will necessarily receive the appointment, a strict reading indicates that you have the right to be shortlisted for any course that was last taught by you, as long as you’ve taught five or more 0.5 courses as a sessional.
This is particularly important for reappointments this Spring/Summer as well as for the Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 semesters.. A number of courses that were not offered this year because of the pandemic may be available next year, or even the year after. This means that sessional faculty members who did not secure an appointment this year may still have the right of shortlisted consideration for courses offered next year. Our ability to reach such sessional faculty members is limited, so if you know any colleagues to whom this may apply, we’re asking you to reach out to them with this information. If they have any questions or concerns, please let them know they can contact us.
Our understanding is that the Administration will be informing members who have not been reappointed of that decision, but we ask you to be diligent. If you have been informed as such, or if you believe you have the right of shortlist consideration for an appointment you did not receive, please let us know. While job security gains for sessional faculty at OCADU in the current round of negotiations are crucial, it is important that the provisions as they currently exist are respected.
If you are not sure if a course you normally teach is running this Spring/Summer, you can check the OCADU course catalogue. There are 4 open postings for Spring/Summer currently: DHEA 6011; DIGF 1007; DIGF 6041; INCD 5001. There are also currently two job postings for Fall and Winter: ENGL 2003 (Postcolonial Literature) Winter 2022, and SCTM 2009 (Introduction to Psychology) Fall & Winter 2021/2022. You can find those postings here.
– Graeme Reniers
Update on the eCampus Ontario/VLS Strategy
On February 4 and in the February OCADFA Matters newsletter our Executive Director sent updates to the membership outlining OCADFA’s concerns and position regarding the Administration’s encouragement of faculty and technicians to apply for eCampusOntario project funding as part of its Virtual Learning Strategy. We thank the membership for their diligent interest in this issue and for contacting us to share your individual concerns and information on VLS funding proposals. We also thank OCUFA and our legal counsel at Goldblatt Partners, with whom we’ve maintained consistent conversations with.
We have had open and frank conversations with the Administration on this matter through our Joint Committee. Our priority has been to uphold the working conditions provided for in our MOA, to safeguard our members’ Intellectual Property rights, to maintain the integrity of collegial governance processes, and to respect the student learning experience at OCADU from a potential erosion of in-person and studio-based learning. To that end, OCADFA filed a policy grievance on March 12.
Since our original communications on this matter a number of applications have been withdrawn due to the same concerns we have shared. Ultimately, we have learned through the Administration that nine OCADU applications have been approved. The Administration’s position is that the successful proposals differ from the issues we raised in our policy grievance. At this point, information pertaining to the successful proposals are under embargo by the Ministry of Colleges & Universities, and thus the Administration has agreed to hold our grievance in abeyance until such time that we have access to the information.
We will further update the membership should the grievance be revived based on the particular information concerning the nine successful applications. OCADFA’s position remains that working conditions must be consistent with our MOA and negotiated with us, and we will not waver from our commitment to not only protect the rights of our members but to also protect the integrity of collegial governance and educational excellence at OCAD University.
– Graeme Reniers
EI Application Information for Precarious Faculty
If you are a TA, RA or sessional faculty member, you may have noticed that there are far less course offerings this summer than usually seem to be available. At this point, we hope that you have heard whether or not you have been reappointed (this was an agreement in principle made by our Negotiations Chair, Eric Steenbergen) and may be trying to figure out how to make ends meet over the summer.
OCADU’s HR submits precarious faculty’s Records of Employment (ROE) one week after the last pay period, and so you don’t have to worry about arranging for that to be send to Service Canada. It’ll be done automatically (thank you very much, HR :)). The next step is to fill out the online application for EI here. You may find that you qualify this year when you haven’t in the past – this is because in recognition of the difficult labour market right now, the Federal government has decreased the threshold for insurable hours.
If you are receiving grants or hoping to receive grants you can still qualify for EI. Apply as usual, and then select the option to state that you are receiving money that you have not yet informed Service Canada about. You will be prompted to make a phone call to explain the circumstances of the extra income. The case worker will ask you what proportion of your grant monies you are planning to use on compensating yourself. Depending on that amount, you may see a reduction in your benefits, but it will not necessarily disqualify you from receiving EI.
SOLIDARITY WITH OUR COMMUNITIES
Campaign and community organizing updates
CAUT Censures UofT
On April 22, 2021 Delegates to the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Council voted to censure the University of Toronto because of the Administration’s failure to resolve concerns regarding academic freedom stemming from a hiring scandal in the Faculty of Law. “When reviewing all the evidence, CAUT Council delegates concluded that the decision to cancel Dr. Valentina Azarova’s hiring was politically motivated, and as such constitutes a serious breach of widely recognized principles of academic freedom,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson.
Censure is a sanction in which academic staff are asked to not accept appointments or speaking engagements at the institution until satisfactory changes are made. Censure has been rarely imposed, last used for governance violations at First Nations University in 2008. Read CAUT’s detailed procedures relating to censure here.
Laurentian University update
On April 19th, the OCADFA Executive passed a motion calling for the resignation of the Minister of Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, and President of Laurentian University, President Robert Haché, and his senior leadership team, in light of their catastrophic mishandling of the situation at LU. In calling for these resignations, OCADFA’s call joined colleagues at YUFA, NUFA, APUO in supporting LUFA and OCUFA who initiated this demand.
From OCUFA President Jenny Ahn: “It’s been an incredibly difficult week as LUFA members have been dealing with the chilling effect of the CCAA process.” In addition, last week, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine Faculty Association learned that the government had made a unilateral decision to sever NOSM’s relationship with Laurentian and Lakehead, and enact legislation to make it an independent degree-granting institution. Yet another unacceptable violation of academic governance. OCUFA has put out a press release and continues to find out as much as possible on this recent news. The NOSM administration is saying that this has occurred in light of the CCAA process and are therefore not able to provide much detail due to the confidentiality provisions. OCUFA has also learned that the Lakehead University administration is against this move and has written a letter to Minister Romano stating this.
At the same time, there has been a lot of mobilizing to push back on what has happened at Laurentian, for the members and their families, and the Sudbury community.
Over 650 letters in support of LUFA were signed this weekend alone! Clearly people are getting more engaged and interested and want to call on the government to take action. This raises the number of letters signed to over 10,000! Please continue to circulate the letter for more people to sign. It is one way of getting people informed and involved.
For the latest news on Laurentian fightback: www.northernsolidarity.ca
ART STRIKES BACK! An art as activism + protest workshop
On April 16th, members of the OCADU community gathered to attend a workshop designed by Ali Qadeer and facilitated by OCADFA Board Member Laura Lovell-Anderson. Laura took attendees through a brief tutorial on how to use digital graphic editing tools, and then we broke off into groups to produce a set of memes intended to publicize and agitate about the Laurentian University crisis. The memes are all up on our Facebook and IG profiles and were shared widely. Since Friday over 6,000 people have seen what was produced at the workshop! Many thanks to everyone who gave their time and talent and mobilized so rapidly last week.
Firing Minister Ross Romano in a mass Zoom meeting
– a video created by Cliff Caines captures the spirit of our solidarity event on Tuesday April 20
This Tuesday evening, members of OCADFA organized with members of LUFA, and with the support of staff from ETFO and OCUFA, to hold an online action in response to the horrifying event that took place at Laurentian University on Monday, April 12. Over 140 people attended the event! You can read the press release here.
That day, Laurentian faculty were called into mass Zoom meetings, where the Vice Provost Academic read a prepared statement and then vacated the meeting, leaving HR personnel to terminate 84 faculty members at Laurentian. Our colleagues at Laurentian were not given the opportunity to ask questions or to speak. It was a traumatizing and deeply disrespectful crescendo to the egregious mismanagement that led to the Laurentian catastrophe.
Ross Romano, the Ontario Minister of Colleges, Universities, and Training, has refused to exercise his jurisdiction to interfere and keep this from happening. More broadly, this is a symptom of the consistent defunding and capitalization of post-secondary education in Ontario, which is affecting all of us. To respond to Romano’s failure to uphold his responsibilities as a member who is responsible to the people whose lives his choices affect, OCADFA VP Mary Eileen Wennekers and YUFA VP Terry Maley chaired a staged performance review where members of the Laurentian community were invited to give their thoughts on the job he’s doing. The conclusion of the Firing Committee is that Minister Romano should no longer hold this position.
OCADFA member Shannon Gerard created the Ross Romano puppet and performed as him, and OCADFA member Cliff Caines did an amazing job editing the hour-long event into a short video that can be shared easily on social media.
Shannon Gerard (FOA) making the giant Ross Romano puppet head for our online protest against the Laurentian cuts. Participants were invited to ‘fire’ Ross Romano via zoom. Over 100 people signed in to join the call.
OCADFA President Min Sook Lee on Rabble.ca: Laurentian University crisis a story of political interference and defunding of education
On April 22 rabble.ca published an op-ed from Min Sook Lee on the context of the Laurentian University crisis, which is symptomatic of broader dismantling of public education that is being expedited during the pandemic under the Ford government.
“There will be those who say Laurentian is an outlier and there is no need for concern. Don’t listen to them: they are the frog boilers of academia. The sector is already in crisis, and the austerity normalization creep began decades ago.
“The grim reality is that Laurentian isn’t an isolated case. When you squeeze public funding from universities, administrators turn to revenue sources that are unstable, and threaten equitable access, academic freedom and quality.”
Read the full article here.
Training Opportunity: Organizing for Labour Rights in 2021
Organizing4Power is a free online training opportunity offered by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung and hosted by Jane McAlevy, an experienced union organizer from the U.S. You’ll meet labour and community organizers from around the world who are trying to learn how to build the power they need to win against administrators, bosses, landlords, governments etc. The training starts May 18th and consists of a single two (2) hour long training once a week (every Tuesday) for six (6) weeks (May 18th to June 22nd).
Organizing4Power’s training relies on rank and file union members organizing together to build a strong, high participation union via a bottom-up driven organizing structure. You can register here – the deadline for registration is May 3. If you do register, please email email@example.com to let us know so we can connect you to other Toronto area activists from CUPE 3903 who will be attending.
THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS
Min Sook Lee, JJ Lee, Eric Steenbergen, Graeme Reniers, Mary Eileen Wennekers, Elena Cho
Your OCADFA Monthly Newsletter is edited by OCADFA VP Mary Eileen Wennekers. Feedback, editorials and other contributions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.