As happens at the start of every September, watching this year’s Labour Day parade reminded me of many things: the accomplishments and challenges of the labour movement over the decades (reasonable work days, parental leave, job security etc. on one hand; the gig economy, anti-union legislation, etc. on the other); the accomplishments and challenges of our union over the years (a steady march toward a manageable teaching load and reasonable remuneration―more on these below―versus growing precarity and continuing disrespect); and the fact that a new academic year is upon us, with its perennial opportunity to renew old friendships and strike up new ones. So: to new friends, Welcome. And to old hands, Welcome Back.
If you want to know your rights under our collective agreement (officially called the Memorandum of Agreement), you can find it here. If you have questions about our complaint process, start with our grievance FAQs. And remember our unofficial motto: if you feel like something’s wrong, there’s a reasonable chance that it is, and you should get in touch. I’m at email@example.com; Eric Nay, grievance chair, is at firstname.lastname@example.org; our executive assistant, Connie Reid, is at email@example.com.
On a reasonably regular basis, I send out notes like this one to OCADFA’s members to publicize matters of interest, remind you of important deadlines, or inform you about developments regarding on-going issues like our university’s continuing budget and space challenges or shorter-term issues like Vice President Academic Gillian Siddall’s departure, which seems to be precipitating a general shift across management. In that spirit, here are a couple of things for you to ponder.
1) The inclusive classroom: Those of you who subscribe to OCADFA’s Social Justice Caucus on Facebook will know about Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education, a new book edited by Linda T. Smith, Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang. (Many of you will recognize the latter two from their pathbreaking article “Decolonization is not a Metaphor.”) Prompted by reminders from Min Sook Lee and others, I thought I should mention that this book is available for preview from Routledge here until October 21. Unfortunately, you can’t download or print it, but it still is a valuable resource. I’m particularly intrigued by the book’s global perspective (Smith is a Professor of Māori and Indigenous Studies at New Zealand’s University of Waikato; Tuck is at OISE; Yang is at UC San Diego); Johanna Householder notes that chapter 10, “Decolonization for the Masses? Grappling With Indigenous Content Requirements in the Changing Canadian Post-Secondary Environment” by Adam Gaudry and Danielle E. Lorenz, is particularly germane to our context. This resource is a good complement to the publication that Anthea Black and Shamina Chherewala edited earlier this year, Handbook: Supporting Queer and Trans Students in Art and Design Education―which, if you haven’t seen it, has lots of useful content, like model language for constructively guiding class discussions and a “Queering the Syllabus” annotated glossary of producers and texts. Free copies of the Handbook are available at ODESI’s office on the 6th floor of 230 Richmond West. (And if you’re interested in OCADFA members sharing information and resources about labour, social justice and pedagogy, you can request to join our closed Facebook group by checking out OCADFA’s Social Justice Caucus https://www.facebook.com/
2) Changes in working conditions: This item is a repetition from my August note, but it’s important and we know that many people still aren’t aware, so….please look at your new contracts or annual confirmation of status notes, because you all will see important changes. At a minimum, across the board, everyone will continue to see the 1.5% increases every 6 months that moves our remuneration into the mid-range of Ontario’s post-secondary sector. More dramatically, studio CLTA, Continuing and Tenure-Stream see their teaching load reduced to 6 courses per year, while studio TIS come down to 8 courses per year. And most dramatically, the floor for studio sessionals, which was $3,939 two years ago, is now $5,273 (and rising to $6,223 next summer). Together, we made some real headway in the latest round of bargaining, and are well placed to do so again in our next round.
3) Sessionals on Senate: Related to the previous item (and also, as it happens, to the following item), nominations are now open for two Sessional Faculty Senators from any of the three faculties. The deadline is Monday, September 10 and you can find more information on theSenate Elections webpage.
4) Fair Employment Week, October 22-26: Fair Employment Week is an initiative of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (the umbrella organization of faculty associations nationwide) to highlight the growing use of short-term teaching contracts, which are both exploitative and detrimental to the educational experience. (As we say, “working conditions = learning conditions.”) The last few years, we’ve tried to be progressively more involved in this initiative, so this is just a heads up that this event will be upon us quickly and a call for anyone interested in helping out to drop us a line.
5) Provincial Interference in University Autonomy: Some of you will have seen news reports recently of a move by the province to require all universities to abide by the University of Chicago’s Statement on Principles of Free Expression. Sounds good, except that it opens the door to increased interference in university autonomy―which is to say, all universities already have language in their collective agreements (and sometimes in policies as well) regarding academic freedom and its limits and protections. In a context where governments increasingly direct what faculty teach and research (by, for example, directing research funding into one area while withdrawing it from another, or clawing back funding overall so that universities are increasingly reliant on and beholden to wealth donors and corporations), the last thing our sector needs is further interference in our conduct. OCUFA (the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, our province-wide lobby group) already has expressed concern. I’m sure there will be initiatives to push back against this, and we’ll keep you updated on how you might be able to help.
6) UAAC/AAUC annual conference, October 25-28, University of Waterloo: For those of you attending the UAAC/AAUC conference this October, now is the time to make sure your membership is current and to register for the conference. As well, if you need accommodation, now is the time to reserve with one of the hotels where UAAC has organized block booking. You can find info on all of this at the conference web page; hotel booking is especially important as, after we arranged everything, Waterloo changed its fall convocation date so it now overlaps with the conference. There will be lots of interesting stuff this year, including keynote performances by Louise Lillefeldt and Lori Blondeau, so if you’re thinking of coming―and you should be―now is the time to finalize arrangements.
Welcome, and welcome back and, as always, thanks for all you do!