In This Issue:
In our November AGM we elected new members to our Board of Directors. Our full complement now consists of:
• President: Min Sook Lee, Faculty of Art (term ends 2025)
• Vice-President: Clifford Caines, Faculty of Art (term ends 2024)
• Negotiations Chair: Annie Tung, Faculty of Design (term ends after the next bargaining cycle)
• Grievance Co-Chair: Ali Qadeer, Faculty of Design (term ends 2025)
• Grievance Co-Chair: Richard Hunt, Faculty of Design (term ends 2025)
• Secretary/Treasurer: Christopher Bennell, IT Technician (term ends 2024)
• TA/RA Director: Dorian Lynde (term ends 2023)
• Director: Natalie Waldburger, Faculty of Art (term ends 2025)
• Director: Gerald Grison, Studio Services (term ends 2025)
• Director: Lina Nasr El Hag Ali, Faculty of Arts & Science (term ends 2023)
Thank you to everyone who attended our AGM, those who put their names forward for election and to those who are now serving on the board.
Our Board of Directors are supported by our exceptional Executive Director Graeme Reniers. On the staffing front, we will be adding a Communications and Membership Engagement Coordinator to work on a part time basis with Graeme in 2023.
The pandemic has been profitable for university administrations across Canada. A federal government report revealed that during the 2020/2021 COVID-19 pandemic year, Canadian universities reported record-high surplus revenues of $7.3 billion. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/220809/dq220809c-eng.htm
Universities drew from two key areas of revenue: investments in stock markets and real estate and tuition increases, primarily from international students who pay more than three times the rate of domestic students.
These developments demonstrate the increasing role of private money in public education. In 2020/21 Provincial government funding in Ontario accounted for less than one-quarter of the funding for universities in this province.
The impact of this fiscal reality can be seen in OCADU’s new Academic Plan. There are many strengths with laudable goals put forward such as ‘creating a joyful and equitable world’ and ‘centreing the student journey’. At the same time, there is a marked turn towards industry collaborations and an embrace of online, hybrid and blended curricular delivery. Notably the website for the new Academic Plan mentions ‘studio-based education’ only once.
The external reviewers’ comments in the November 2022 IQAP review of the Illustration program succinctly sums up some growing concerns:
“Areas of concern cited by the external reviewers included unsustainably large program cohort and class sizes, insufficient and out of date studios and equipment and abnormally high ratio of sessionals to permanent faculty, a need for greater representation of equity seeking groups to better reflect the illustration program’s student population, and an overburden on program leadership.” Strengths that were identified included “helpful and supportive faculty and respectful engagement with diverse beliefs/experiences”.
The past three years have seen an increase in class sizes:
2019-2020 Avg class size: 22.24
2020-2021 Avg class size: 25.68
2021-2022 Avg class size: 28.60
Faculty are teaching classes that have grown by 28% in three years. Many of the big box classes introduced by FLOW are taught by precarious, underpaid sessional faculty who have not been offered inadequate TA support.
Within our new Academic Plan there is a lot of language on equity and decolonization. We look forward to specific resources committed to these areas. For example, resources to comprehensively train and onboard new faculty and faculty who Chair programs. Without this structural support, people are left to their own social capital. Traditionally equity hires have less networks within the institution or academia.
The mental health consequences of the pandemic closely followed by inflation and a widely expected recession have been challenging for faculty and students. Currently, OCADFA members have access to $500 for psychologists, psychotherapists and social workers separately. During the pandemic, the University of Toronto increased their mental health coverage to $7,000 a year for therapy in recognition of the pandemic related stresses that we are all facing. These are the kinds of meaningful material resources OCADFA looks forward to.
The plan sets a goal for OCADU to be recognized as an ‘employer of choice’. In the consultation process for the plan, the Administration did not consult with our campus unions – OPSEU Local 576 which represents staff and OCADFA which represents faculty, TAs/RAs, Studio Technicians and IT technicians. ‘Industry partners’ were consulted but not the democratically elected representatives of the people who work on campus. We recognize the Academic Plan is a living document. Until we put action into the ideas, the words are just that – words on the screen. Moving forward, OCADFA will seek proactive collaborations with Administration to realize the spirit of the plan.
You have probably heard that Bill 124 Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act has been struck down by the Ontario superior court.
Our last Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was negotiated and arbitrated under the constraints of Bill 124. As a result our Across the Board (ATB) wage increases were capped a 1% a year for the three year term of the MOA. Other aspects of our negotiations were all impacted as Bill 124 applied to all forms of compensation.
The question you may well have is what does this mean for us now? Our last round ended in an arbitration award from mediator arbitrator William Kaplan. Within that award Kaplan clearly outlines what is to occur in the event that Bill 124 is struck down or repealed. Kaplan states:
I remain seized to reopen compensation issues should outstanding constitutional challenges prove successful, or should Bill 124 be otherwise modified or repealed with retroactive effect, or for some other legally relevant reason. In this regard, mention must be made of OCAD’s submission that I only remain seized of this issue during the term of this collective agreement. This request is rejected. The fact of the matter is that a constitutional challenge has been mounted – it may or not be successful – but if it is, it may be determined that Association members were deprived in this round of their entitlement to free collective bargaining. In these circumstances, remaining seized to deal with any remedial issues that might arise from any finding is entirely appropriate. Putting over any remedy – should one be granted – to some other round would be a completely unfair leading, as it inevitably would, to an intermingling and conflating of historical and then current issues, to the obvious, inevitable and axiomatic detriment of the Association and its members.
This means that we would return to Kaplan for mediation/arbitration regarding those bargaining issues that were proscribed by bill 124 and would receive a settlement, negotiations or award, that is wholly outside of the coming round of negotiations.
It should be noted that the Ontario government has already stated their intention to appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal. However, Bill 124, is as of this writing, no longer in force. The parties are obligated under the award to return to the table and settle outstanding items. Should the province seek an appeal and the court agree to hear it, the situation would remain the same unless they were granted a stay. A Stay would allow Bill 124 to return to force pending the result of the appeal. Such a stay may seem a forgone conclusion given the nature of the legislation. Our legal advice suggests this is not the case, as such a stay may create significant liability for the Province. The Ontario Court of Appeal decision, in either outcome, could then be brought to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme would have the option to reject or hear any appeal. Such a process would take years.
All of this means that uncertainly as to the final outcome remains; will the province appeal, if so, will they seek a stay, and will such an appeal prevail. The first question will be answered shortly, the Province has until December 28th to requests leave to appeal.
As of today we have a clear path, as outlined in the award, to address the harms our members suffered through this legislation.
- Eric Steenbergen, Previous Negotiations Chair
We encourage all members to add their name to the growing list of voices demanding that the provincial government respect our rights to free and fair collective bargaining. Here are two immediate actions you can take:
Initial proposals are almost done being drafted and the Negotiations committee will review them in January. We aim to exchange our complete proposal package with the employer’s proposal package around Reading Week in February 2023. Graeme and I had an initial meeting with People and Culture in early December to share notes on scheduling bargaining dates in the Winter 2023 semester. It was a positive meeting, and we look forward to presenting our proposals based on the approved mandate and explaining the rationale behind them to the employer in the new year. I am very grateful to the committee for sharing their experiences and ideas as we develop proposals to improve our working and learning conditions in the face of various challenges.
- Annie Tung, Negotiations Chair
Last spring a number of OCADFA members participated in Jane McAlevey’s Organizing For Power training. Another round of training will be happening this winter and we are calling on interested members to let us know.
This is a six-week intensive training program on the CORE FUNDAMENTALS of organizing composed of weekly sessions plus campaign assignments that we’ll work on together. Over the six weeks (Feb 8 – March 15), we will strengthen our knowledge and practice of leadership identification, semantics, one-on-one conversations, charting and structure tests. Learn more about the program here.
All OCADFA members, permanent and contract, are encourage to join us for this special training opportunity. OCADFA will provide the first five sessional or contract members a $500 stipend for their participation.
If interested, please let our Executive Director know at email@example.com
We’re looking for another OCADFA member to sit on the Joint Health and Safety Committee. The committee meets monthly and performs Health and Safety inspections of the campus. This is an important committee with representatives from management, OCADFA and OPSEU. Through collaboration, recommendations and advocacy. members contribute directly to workplace safety.
On November 18, a memo went out from the People & Culture Office with the subject line “Teaching Review and Right of Reappointment for Sessional Faculty.” Several Sessional members have since reached out to OCADFA seeking clarity on the meaning of the memo, and what it means for their Right of Reappointment. We want to reassure Sessional members that these teaching reviews are part of the Right of Reappointment process as awarded by Arbitrator Kaplan.
The Right of Reappointment is awarded conditionally pending a teaching review by the Sessional Faculty Appointment Committee. The award from Arbitrator Kaplan anticipates that these teaching reviews will be conducted prior to your invitation to apply for the Right of Reappointment, during your “fourth course appointment.” With 181 Rights of Reappointment conditionally awarded last year (with no rejected applications), and a further 54 Rights of Reappointment potentially awarded this year, we expected an initial backlog for the teaching reviews.
There is no need to be concerned if your teaching review has yet to be scheduled, as they only confirm your Right of Reappointment, which can remain in place on a conditional basis indefinitely.
We have yet to have a members’ Right of Reappointment be denied. If your application is denied, if your Right of Reappointment is rescinded due to a poor teaching review or any other reason, or if you were not invited to apply for the Right of Reappointment but believe you should have been, please contact Graeme Reniers, our Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The past year saw unprecedented gains for our Sessional Faculty members thanks to a year of equally unprecedented mobilization, support and action from our community. These gains were long overdue, there is a lot of ground to make up, and this is just the beginning. We are part of a larger, growing movement of faculty associations across the country and province fighting to improve working conditions for contract teaching faculty. Sessionals Count!
Job Security Gains:
The 22/23 academic year saw 181 Sessional Faculty (over half of all sessionals!) achieve the Right of Reappointment for the first time thanks to the arbitration award from our previous round of MOA bargaining. A further 54 Sessionals have been identified as eligible to apply for ROR for the 23/24 academic year. The process of ROR is not perfect, and I thank our OCADFA Negotiations Committee for working hard to improve on it in the next round of MOA bargaining.
Fair Pay Gains:
This past Fall 2022 term saw 46 Sessionals move up the Sessional pay scale from Ses1 ($6507) to Ses2 ($7592) thanks to heightened pressure from our “Sessionals Count!” campaign and continued internal pressure from OCADFA.
In the previous 21-22 academic year, 90% of all Sessional Faculty were paid at the lowest level of the Sessional pay scale, “Ses1”; the lowest pay in Ontario for contract instructors. Despite our Sessional Task Force having developed a placement mechanism and rubric to move up the pay scale (based on comparable GTA Universities), the employer created their own internal pay scale placement tool and rubric of which they have declined to disclose. With compensation identified as a primary bargaining mandate moving forward, I want to thank OCADFA’s Negotiations Committee for continuing to address the issue of Sessional pay scale placement and progression.
Launched in September 2022, our “Sessionals Count!” campaign has gained over 1500 petition signatures to date. If you haven’t already, please sign and share our petition HERE.
A few comments of support from the petition:
“OCADU should walk the walk. How can you value ART and it’s pursuit when you pay sessional instructors poverty wages? HOW?” – James Ogden
“This is important. We depend on these professionals. It is shameful that OCADU pays these sessionals so little.” – Erella
“When OCAD was OCA and an art school all professors/instructors were paid by course and through a set pay scale with pro-rated benefits and job security after five years. Then OCAD became a university and instructors who taught less than 50% were transformed into sessional and lost all job security and benefits. I want to advocate for a return to the same job security, pay scales, and benefits that were previously provided by OCA(D). Becoming a university should not mean undermining labour rights.” – Dot Tuer
Support from Tenured & Tenure-Track Faculty:
In October 2022, OCADFA leadership sent out a letter on behalf of Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty in support of Sessional Faculty and our campaign.
Call for Statement from President Ana Serrano:
Following our historic Sessional Forum on Oct 18, 2022, June Pak (Sessional Representative, Negotiations Committee) and I sent a letter to President Ana Serrano on behalf of Sessional Faculty calling for a statement from the Office of the President committing to improving Sessional working conditions at OCAD University. President Serrano declined our invitation to attend the Sessional Forum in October and has yet to respond to our call for a statement.
Thank you & Next Steps:
I want to personally thank our OCADFA membership for their continued support of Sessional Faculty. I want to extend a special thanks to our Sessional Task Force for their incredible and tireless work this past year. It is your mobilization and action that has driven the above-mentioned gains. You are the beating heart of our Sessional community.
I look forward to your continued support as we move toward the second phase of our “Sessionals Count!” campaign this coming Winter 2023 term, explicitly supporting our Negotiations Committee in the next round of MOA Bargaining with a focus on student awareness and community outreach.
Joining the Sessional Task Force:
– Cliff Caines, Vice President, OCADFA.
The MoA governs the relationship between OCADFA members and OCAD administration. Sometimes there is disagreement about how the MoA should be applied, and sometimes actions take place that contravene the rights defined in the MoA. The grievance process, which can range from complaint and request for remedy, to formal grievances, to arbitration. The grievance process is both a way of protecting OCADFA members rights, and helps inform the negotiations process. If you have a question about your working conditions or treatment, contact OCADFA. We will keep your name and information confidential unless you want OCADFA to take action on your behalf.
Some general advice:
- Read your contracts before signing them, and if you have questions, contact OCADFA. Also check out our Guide to Individual Appointment Offers.
- Get familiar with the MoA: it is also a contract that affects you. We can help with interpretation.
- If you’re called into a meeting with your Dean or Associate Dean due to student complaints or any another matter that could potentially result in discipline, please let OCADFA know. We can offer support in the form of guidance, we can give advice, and we can attend with you to take notes and give you moral support.
- If you’re not sure what a meeting is about, be sure to ask so you can be properly prepared.