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.
Information about our Association’s activity
We are excited to welcome Laura Lovell-Anderson to the OCADFA Board of Directors. Laura is a sessional member in the Faculty of Design, and she has previously served on the Board. We are grateful to benefit from everything she brings to the role. From Laura:
I’d like to express that I am pleased to be joining the board again and look forward to serving and advocating for our membership.
OCADFA President Receives OCUFA’s 2020-21 SWEC Award
OCADFA is proud to announce our President Min Sook Lee has been recognized with OCUFA’s 2020-2021 Status of Women and Equity (SWEC) Award of Distinction. The SWEC Award of Distinction celebrates the outstanding contributions of OCUFA members whose work has contributed meaningfully to the advancement of professors, academic librarians, and/or academic staff who are Indigenous, women, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, living with disabilities and/or belong to other historically marginalized groups. The selection committee noted in particular Min Sook’s work spearheading Scholar Strike Canada and improving the lives of sessional instructors and precarious workers at OCADFA.
Congratulations, Min Sook! We see you and we’re glad that OCUFA has recognized your effective advocacy and committed support of the most vulnerable members of OCADFA.
Monthly General Membership Meetings
We will be holding our first monthly General Membership Meeting this February 26th from 10:00AM to 12:00PM. 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.
On the 26th, we will address the issues you bring to the room. These monthly meetings are your opportunity to raise questions, share concerns, and organize with others. There are three emerging issues that we have eyes on so far (more information about these in the newsletter articles below):
· The proposed changes to the Respectful Workplace and Learning Environment Policy
· OCADU’s participation in eCampus Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy
· What to do when there is more work for Teaching Assistants than their contracted hours allow for
The meeting will be held via Teams, and you will see an invite to join in your inbox alongside this newsletter.
From 10:00 – 10:30 we’ll take an opportunity to catch up with one another before getting into discussion of OCADFA business. Between 10:30 and 11:00 we’ll introduce the context around the three emerging issues we’re proposing for discussion this time, and then open the floor for discussion from 11:00 to 12:00pm.
Min Sook Lee and Mary Eileen Wennekers will co-chair the meeting. 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. Please feel very welcome to come and share your stories and ideas for how OCADFA can rise to the many challenges we’re facing right now.
(FLOW and course cap changes are very much on our radar, and you can be sure we’ll be giving plenty of time and attention to that topic at our March GMM.)
Call for Committee Members: Communications Committee
We are building our Communications Committee and are looking for members! Maybe you?
The Communications Committee develops membership engagement through social, print, and image-based media. We launch and publicize OCADFA campaigns and initiatives, keep our membership connected and informed about our Association’s actions, and celebrate our community and its achievements.
If you are interested in participating in this committee, please send a note to OCADFA Communications Committee Chair, JJ Lee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your OCADFA VP, Mary Eileen Wennekers, would like to note that in the absence of your assistance, you may continue to be subjected to the product of her admittedly minimal graphic design skills.
Grievance Chair Update
The Grievance Committee is currently drafting internal protocols for handling grievances that will better protect the confidentiality of members, and will better manage conflict between OCADFA members. As we complete that process, we have also created a flow-chart to communicate the various paths towards conflict resolution.
We’ve also updated the back end of our online reporting form to further ensure and protect your privacy. Finally, we are compiling data in order to better track how many people are going through conflict resolution processes at OCADU, and whether or not these situations are being resolved satisfactorily. Getting a sense of the larger patterns will help us advocate more effectively for our members.
If something seems like it is not right, it probably isn’t. 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.
Negotiations Chair Update
Several issues are still unresolved as we continue with the mediation process. If we are unable to reach a suitable agreement on outstanding issues, the next step will be to proceed to arbitration.
In the arbitration process, OCADFA and the Administration will both submit documents dealing the new provisions and/or changes they are seeking to apply to our Memorandum of Agreement. The Arbitrator will review both briefs and draft an updated MoA that strikes a balance between our competing interests. This agreement will stand and we will not be able to vote to ratify it.
We will continue to strive to achieve a workable compromise that we would be confident would secure a strong mandate from the OCADFA membership through ratification.
Sessional Organizing Update
Work continues on our Sessional Know Your Rights project. As we work to make sure the information is thorough and accurate, we have encountered some delays, so we are now hoping to release the handbook at March’s General Membership Meeting.
Thank you to everyone who attended the Drop-In sessions last week. We learned some very important context and got some great ideas. One of these, from our colleague June Pak, was to frame each drop-in around a particular theme.
Our next drop-ins will be offered Monday March 8th from 6-7 PM, and Thursday March 11th from 11-12 PM. These discussions will explore how we are experiencing grief as we attempt to navigate changing institutional norms and the compromises those require. We’ll also explore in what ways the insecurity of our situation at OCADU makes it unsafe for us to advocate for systematic change. Come feel the support of your community! You are not alone.
Rather than ask people to email the VP individually for an invite, we’ll create a Teams invite and invite all sessional faculty to join that way.
We have launched a #precarious life on our @ocadfa Instagram account, asking contract faculty at OCADU to send in images representing the effect of precarious employment on how we live our lives. Please consider contributing by sending your post to email@example.com. We’re also welcoming your wholesome content, and especially images of the beloved non-human companions of the OCADFA world.
We’re also winding up to our April social media campaign, where we’ll be featuring the practice and outstanding community contributions of OCADFA members. Please watch for that call out in the next few weeks.
NEWS YOU CAN USE
Emerging membership issues
Teaching Assistants, Contracted Hours, and What to Do If You’re Getting Close to Exceeding Them
Teaching Assistants at OCADU are a fundamentally important faculty complement. Without their assistance, many of our course offerings or the level of engagement with their work and feedback that our students enjoy would not be possible.
Teaching in an online environment often requires extra work in order to provide a continued high quality of education. Right now, both supervising faculty and TAs often find themselves working far longer hours than their contract or regular work expectations would normally require. TAs are an important support for their supervising faculty, and often feel compelled to provide more hours of work than they are paid for in order to help the course run successfully.
When FLOW was originally introduced we were assured that additional TA hours would accompany the increased class sizes. This promise was never fulfilled. OCADFA filed a workload grievance and secured additional TA hours for some courses. We should not have had to engage in a conflict resolution process for something that was already agreed to, and as a result we are well aware that we must pay continued attention to this situation.
OCADFA’s TA members should never feel like it is their responsibility to provide unpaid labour. In addition to the extra TA hours we secured, there are regular protocols for approaching Faculty Offices when it appears that more TA support hours than were originally provided may be necessary. It’s important that TAs track your hours, so that you can notify your supervising faculty member in advance if you are getting close to fulfilling your contract before the term ends. Faculty can then approach their faculty office to find out how to best manage the situation.
This can be a delicate discussion, and it could be argued that it might cause friction between supervising faculty and TAs. But, the reality is, exponentially increasing course sizes and intensifying workloads necessitate an increase in TA support hours. We can and must work together as a Faculty Association to make sure that the University’s budget is not balanced on the backs of precarious faculty members by insisting that our TAs never feel pressured to provide extracontractual labour.
If you are a TA and would like to get involved in organizing for TA rights at OCADFA please contact Min Sook at firstname.lastname@example.org
Concerns About Funding Offered for Online Course Development (VLS Strategy)
A few weeks ago, our Executive Director sent out a membership update on the eCampusOntario Virtual learning Strategy (VLS) funding opportunity that faculty members have been encouraged to pursue by the Administration. We have received further information on some of the questions/concerns raised in that email that we’d like to share.
We have been seeking clarification about this program from the Administration, and as we understand it at this date:
· The courses that are developed will be housed at eCampus Ontario, and will be accessible to all students across Ontario
· The courses will count towards degree credits
· Students wishing to take these courses will pay tuition for them to the institution they are enrolled at
If this is indeed the case, we have many concerns:
1. This represents a circumvention of collegial governance over curriculum and degree requirements at OCADU.
2. eCampusOntario’s website indicates “IP remains with the creator,” you are required to “provide eCampusOntario with the right to share the final product with the Ontario post-secondary sector.” (you can find more information on the VLS FAQ (ecampusontario.ca)). This means the courses will be housed in it eCampusOntario’s digital library and will be freely available to post-secondary institutions across the province to offer for credit – meaning students taking these courses will enroll through and pay tuition to their home institution. While you’ll be acknowledged as the course developer and IP owner, it remains unknown to us if you’ll have the authority to update and amend course content to keep the material current, and its doubtful you’ll have the authority to remove courses. You retain IP ownership in name only. Your IP rights are protected under our MoA which are unacknolwledged through this agreement.
3. OCADFA believes you are being asked to do work that is covered under our MoA. We believe these contracts violate our recognition clause to represent your interests. The employer is sidestepping your union to engage you in a private contract. Your compensation is unclear – in some cases people are receiving course releases, some are being renumerated financially and others don’t secure anything. This is exactly what happens when people don’t have a union – they get picked off, divided and individuals get whatever they can get. To each their own. Belonging to a union means you’re not required to negotiate your compensation or workload on your own.
Other Faculty Associations are advising their membership to not accept or pursue these types of individual contracts, citing primarily the risks associated with relinquishing rights over intellectual property and long-term threats to job security and academic integrity that comes with creating a province-wide repository of fully-online asynchronous university credit courses.
While we’re still gathering information and working on a response, with the information we have obtained thus far we also advise against pursuing VLS agreements with eCampusOntario. We know some OCADFA members have withdrawn their applications over concerns about intellectual property. If your application has been accepted and you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
We continue to engage the Administration on this issue and are currently consulting OCUFA, other Faculty Associations and legal counsel on this matter, and will provide updates as available.
Proposed Revisions to the Respectful Workplace and Learning Environment Policy
OCADU is currently revamping the RWLEP which governs issues like harassment, discrimination, and potential human rights violations. The revisions to the policy are currently at the draft stage, and various entities across the University community have been invited to give feedback. OCADFA recently attended a consultation session about revisions to the policy alongside our OPSEU colleagues.
The three policies under review as they currently stand are to be found here:
The proposed revised policies can be found here.
These policies are the purview of the Board of Governors, but in practice they are shared at Senate and then approved and passed at the BoG level. Typically, policies are in the books for a few years before being revised. The RWLEP policy was recently amended in 2019 after two years of extensive community consultation. The proposed revisions jump the ‘normal’ timelines of reviews because they come out of the recommendations from an investigative review of OCAD University’s policies and practices for investigating student complaints.
Administration has informed us they expect to approve the revisions May 2021.
Our Key Concerns:
Direction of Policy Revisions: There are sweeping changes proposed, in large part the changes make the RWLEP process more opaque, unaccountable and present barriers to accessing equity and human rights protections at OCAAD University. The over-arching corporate treatment of equity & human rights in these proposed revisions stem from a liability/risk mitigation framework and not from a decolonizing, anti-oppression framework.
Broken Process: ODESI is the university office tasked with administering the equity policies and programs at the university, as such the RWLEP is a policy that ODESI delivers and in ordinary times, it is a policy that should be revised under the leadership of ODESI. These are not ordinary times. The proposed changes have bypassed ODESI altogether and have been authored by the university’s anti-union legal counsel, Hicks Morley Law Firm, as such, the proposed revisions to the RWLEP reflect the corporatization of human right and dismantle the critical approach towards human rights and equity that ODESI has applied. ODESI was not consulted on these changes, does not support them and is quite frankly, being undermined by the process and the proposed changes.
ODESI’s response to the review:. “ODESI was not consulted in the review process and just received a draft with significant revisions. ODESI is concerned that many of the changes are contrary to the feedback that we received from students, staff, and faculty during the two-year RWLEP consultation process and will weaken human rights protections, reduce transparency, and jeopardize the effectiveness and independence of the human rights mechanism.”
Right to Representation
The RWLEP can be a traumatizing and terrifying process for our members and OCADFA regularly plays a critical support role for members through this process. It is essential that the policy clearly states that people involved in an informal or formal complaint process have the right to access their union/association representative(s) in addition to other supports. This is explicitly stated in the previous policy. The revised eliminates this specificity and allows for a ‘support person’ to be present at any point through the process. This is a move to minimize the role of the Association during the process.
Senior Administrators as Policy Administrators
In the current policy the RWLEP is administered by ODESI, Director of HR and Vice-Provost Student & International. The revised policy proposed to confer administration of the policy to: the Dean of Students, the Vice-President, Academic & Provost and the Vice-President, Finance & Administration in addition to ODESI. This undermines the independence and impartiality mechanisms within the process which provides protections to members seeking support, filing complaints or responding to them.
Impartiality of Investigations
Investigations and mediations can be conducted by employees of the university. The clearly obstructs access to an independent process and will undermine our members’ confidence in the process.
Absolves Management From Building Equitable & Non-Discriminatory Workplace
Discrimination, harassment and bullying take are workplace issues that fall under management responsibilities and it is management’s role to insure workplaces are safe, equitably and supportive environments for all employees. The proposed changes transfer human rights obligations to ODESI and absolve management from their duties to do the work and commit resources to address issues they are responsible for.
Joint Health and Safety Committee Concerns
Revisions to our RWLEP are classified is a psychosocial hazard under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. You can find section of the Act regarding these policies here.
The Act states:
The workplace harassment program must be in writing, and must be developed and maintained in consultation with the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) or health and safety representative, if any [subsection 32.0.6 (1)].
To date, no member of our Joint Health and Safety Committee has been consulted on revisions to OCADU’s Respectful Workplace and Learning Policies, Non-Academic Misconduct Policy, or our Response to Violent or Threatening Behaviour Policy.
The RWLEP policy was recently amended in 2019 after two years of extensive community consultation. The proposed revisions jump the ‘normal’ timelines of reviews because they come out of the recommendations from an investigative review of OCAD University’s policies and practices for investigating student complaints. The student complaint was handled via the older RWLEP policy, thus the current policy has never been ‘tested’ or given the opportunity to be implemented. The timeline for discussion, review and response is inadequate.
This policy as rewritten appears to be guided by a legalistic perspective aimed at protecting the University from culpability and minimizing its liability by prioritizing formal compliance with provincial legislation over addressing and remedying behaviour that is in violation of the policy. It has been written by an employer-side labour law firm and it reads as such. It’s no coincidence that the right of representation is minimized, as this policy is not about empowering university community members, but protecting the University. It’s also not a coincidence that we’re getting rewritten policies that address individual incidents from a policing perspective as opposed to policies or strategic directions that aim to minimize these occurrences in the first place or dismantle systemic barriers to participation in the university community.
OCADFA Recommends Administration revise their timelines and engage in a truly consultative and transparent process that advances the considerable work that has already been done on our RWLEP by members of our community.
OCADFA’s position is supported by OPSEU and the ODESI’s Faculty Equity Advisory Committee, both groups have raised similar concerns to Administration.
SOLIDARITY WITH OUR COMMUNITIES
Campaign and community organizing updates
URGENT: CHANTELLE KRUPKA AND MICHAEL HEDLEY, ACTIVISTS AND SURVIVORS OF POLICE VIOLENCE, NEED OUR SUPPOURT
From the dispatch we received today:
We’re reaching out to ask for your help in fundraising for Chantelle Krupka and Michael Headley. Chantelle and Michael survived a violent police attack at the hands of Peel Regional Police and have been on the frontlines fighting against police brutality ever since.
On May 10, 2020, Mother’s Day, Chantelle and Michael — who were both unarmed and several feet away — were tasered outside of their home by Officer Tyler Bell-Morena. Chantelle was then shot in the stomach by ex-Officer Valerie Briffa and underwent two major surgeries. In the days following this violent attack by Peel police, healthcare professionals supposedly responsible for Chantelle neglected her care and chose to instead follow the narrative and assumptions about her from Peel police. She continues to experience chronic medical issues as a result of the police attack.
Chantelle’s story is not unique, and we know our healthcare system not only fails to provide the adequate care that is needed after such a traumatic experience, but is also actively complicit in the policing of Black, Indigenous and racialized people.
On Monday, February 8th, we held an event with Doctors for Defunding Police to allow Chantelle and Michael to share their story in full and expose the complicity of healthcare professionals in criminalizing marginalized and vulnerable groups. You can view the full recording of the event here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CLDalrmD8fA/
Since the traumatic experience, Chantelle and Mike have dedicated their lives to fighting for justice for all victims of police abuse, including those who were not fortunate enough to survive encounters with killer cops: Jamal Francique, D’Andre Campbell, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and Ejaz Choudry. However, the fight has come at great personal cost. Chantelle and Michael have endured immense physical, mental, and financial hardship as a result of their police attack, which they’ve put aside to fight for justice for others.
Now, with a baby on the way — and after being permanently disabled and then robbed of thousands of dollars by Peel Police — they’re facing eviction.
Chantelle and Michael’s situation is critical, and we need to urgently raise funds so that they can leave the house they were attacked in, have their baby in a safe, new home, and continue fighting for justice and systemic change.
Please donate to Chantelle and Michael’s online fundraiser as an act of solidarity: https://chuffed.org/project/help-chantelle-mike-survivors-of-peel-police-violence
Donate to the Canada Black Mutual Aid Fund
Black Lives Matter – Canada has created a Canada Black Mutual Aid Fund. Applications to access the fund will open on February 21st, and to date Canada BLM has already raised $280,000 and hopes to raise $500,000 to support 2,000 Black families and/or individuals across Canada.
They are asking for support reaching their goal to raise another $220,000 for the campaign. From their announcement:
Black people in Canada have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic through higher unemployment rates, eviction notices, and COVID-19 hospitalizations. Dealing with the impacts of poverty and public health risks are such heavy burdens on our communities, and we know that government programs are not supporting enough to make ends meet.
You can help today by sharing, donating below (no donation is too small!), forwarding this email to your networks, or spread the word on social medias using the hashtag #BFMWeKeepUsSafe. You can also keep in touch on social media – follow us on IG @blmcanada, Twitter @BLMCanada_, and like Black Lives Matter – Canada on Facebook!
Click here to access the BLM Canada Donation form.
Solidarity to CUPE 3902 Unit One (Teaching Assistants, Course Instructors, and Invigilators at the University of Toronto)
CUPE 3902 has written to us to update us about their current bargaining with the U of T Admin. They tell us:
Unit 1 members face multiple challenges in the form of student debt, financial precarity, housing insecurity, mental health crises, and more. Each of these issues has worsened under COVID-19, leading to increased socio-economic stress and difficulty managing day-to-day workload. Our students are in crisis, and we are in crisis too.
Our bargaining platform centers on six commitments that the University should share: Transparency, Health, Equity, Safety, Inclusion, and Security–our THESIS! Starting from this basis, our proposals aim to address fundamental, underlying issues in the workplace and University that the pandemic intensified. However, the University’s team have signaled that they are unwilling to engage in any pandemic-related language. This is a huge concern. All of our proposals are key to solving long-standing issues and to working towards a University in which Unit 1 members and our students thrive.
Unit 1 members are in frequent contact with students and play a vital role in ensuring high quality education. When we win secure and inclusive working conditions for ourselves, we win quality learning conditions for our students. We need the University of Toronto to function in accordance with the public image it projects: an excellent institution with high quality learning, teaching, and research and a commitment to its students and employees.
We stand in solidarity with the members of Unit 1 of CUPE 3902 (Teaching Assistants, Course Instructors, and Invigilators) as they seek to bargain a new collective agreement with the University of Toronto (U of T). CUPE 3902’s main priorities for this round of bargaining are to improve workload standards, foster inclusion and anti-oppression at U of T, increase compensation and job security, and promote (mental) health and safety. We support the Unit 1 academic workers from CUPE 3902 in their efforts to demand a fair, safe, and just workplace at U of T. Bargaining updates and more information can be found here: https://weareuoft.com/
All Eyes on Laurentian University!
Laurentian University, in the midst of contract negotiations with their FA, recently announced they are seeking credit protection.
Laurentian University is a public institution, not a private sector corporation. As a public postsecondary institution in Ontario with a tri-cultural mandate to support French, English, and Indigenous communities, both the provincial and federal levels of government have a responsibility to step up to ensure Laurentian has the operating funding needed to secure the public institution’s long-term future.
You can help Laurentian professors, librarians, staff, workers, and students: click here to send a letter demanding the provincial and federal governments intervene to stop the CCAA insolvency proceedings and provide long-term, stable funding to Laurentian University.
THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS
Min Sook Lee, JJ Lee, Graeme Reniers, Eric Steenbergen, Mary Eileen Wennekers
Your OCADFA Monthly Newsletter is edited by OCADFA VP Mary Eileen Wennekers. Feedback, editorials and other contributions are welcome at email@example.com.