Hi Everyone –

As always, I want to start by reminding everyone: as OCADFA members, if you need help because things are out of whack in your workplace, contact Connie Reid in our office (conniereid@ocadu.ca), and she’ll direct your query to the right person. I’ll come back to the issue of some things that can go wrong, but first a few things following from the recent Annual General Meeting.

Board Rotations: Two at-large board members rotated off the board this fall: Claudette Lauzon and Camille Isaacs. I want to reiterate the thanks expressed at the AGM to them for their service. I know Claudette will do well in her new role as associate dean in FLAS/SIS, and I’m pleased that Camille will stay involved with OCADFA to get the Equity Caucus up and running. (More on that in a bit.)

Fatimah Tuggar and Amy Swartz have filled the vacancies left by Claudette and Camille. It is good to see increased representation from Art, and of course Amy will help us keep a close eye on the TIS issues, so I want to thank Fatimah and Amy for standing for election.

I also want to thank all of you for entrusting me with a second term as president. I enjoy the work and it is a privilege to serve in this way.

Committees: Also following from the AGM, there are three groups that have important roles to play in OCADFA’s future, and you should let Connie know if you wish to participate in any of them.

The Equity Caucus is looking at which questions of equity our various Faculties should consider around such matters as disability, hiring practices and grievances. A big question here is how we can work with folks at Equity and Diversity. Our caucus comprises Camille Isaacs, Marie-Josée Therrien, Richard Fung, Michelle Forsyth, Nicole Collins, Bill Leeming and Andrea Fatona. However, they could use one or two more members, especially from Design, so if you’re interested, let us know.

The Union Affiliation Working Group is charged with examining the question of whether we should pursue affiliation with another union and, if so, what are the best options. This group consists of Rosemary Donegan, Fatimah Tuggar, Tony Kerr, Beth Stuart and me. As with the Equity Caucus, while our representation is pretty good, there’s always room for more members.

Finally, a motion was passed to establish a Compensation Committee to look at the current structure of compensation for Faculty Association board members (such as whether the stipends are in line with the expectations associated with the various positions, whether the compensation model should be adjusted or reconsidered). As the bylaws are silent on this matter, I have consulted with our legal counsel regarding appropriate process and committee structure and will come back to you as soon as I have that information.

When Things Go Wrong: I’ve emphasized in previous notes that, if it feels like something’s wrong, then probably it is, and you should talk to us. One crucial issue here is the concern people have about leaving themselves open to retaliation. The logic here is undeniable: if a superior is creating a toxic work environment, then you have every reason to believe that they’ll be upset by a grievance. And the more tenuous your position, the more likely you are to be the victim of such abuse, precisely because of your tenuousness.

So, here’s an important point: especially in the case of abusive labour practices, you almost certainly are not alone. This means we can shift the grievance from a member-driven grievance to an association-driven grievance, thus removing the focus from any individual member. A current example of this is the abusive situation around Teaching-Intensive Stream contracts: because many people in the situation complained, we can pursue the matter as an association grievance.

The key point, though, is that it started as a complaint from one person, which prompted us to investigate the matter and discover that the problem was both bad and widespread. So it’s always worth a conversation.

In that regard, I’d like to point to a few issues that we’re particularly interested in right now, and encourage you to get in touch if any of them ring a bell. First, hiring: the new MoA specifies that any vacancies created by Tenure or Tenure-Track faculty leaving, for whatever reason, must be filled by Tenure or Tenure-Track positions. If this is not happening in your faculty, then please contact us immediately. Don’t be put off by protestations from your dean that they’ll “get around to it.“ Like must be replaced by like, and if that’s not happening, we need to know.

Second, I’ve heard disturbing rumours that the equipment situation in some studios is so bad that faculty have started spending their own money on new gear. Sadly, I find it easy to believe that this is the case, but we need to know about it so that we can address it. So, again, if you know anything about this, please get in touch.

Finally, health and safety is of growing concern to us. We are hearing about issues having to do with overcrowding in the shops, as well as concerns about proper training, and where liability and responsibility lie. We’ve also hearing about issues having to do with unsafe air quality. If any of these issues affect you, we’d very much like to here about it.

Happy Holidays: Here we are in the end-of-semester crunch, so let me wish everyone the best of luck in dealing with the chaos, and here’s to a restful winter break. I know Connie would want me to remind those of you already thinking about New Year’s resolutions that we get a nice discount at Good Life Fitness. And, as always, thanks for all you do for the quality of education at our university.