Dear FUNSCAD Unit I Members,
Dear members of FUNSCAD Unit I,
I am writing to update you about negotiations. Our negotiating team has been working behind the scenes while we’ve been picketing out in public. We are glad to report that the Employer’s bargaining team has agreed to meet with the Union’s bargaining team this coming Sunday.
We are still far apart, but our team is willing to continue to be flexible and creative at the table. We hope the Employer will also be willing to do what it takes to get a deal.
The fact that we are going back to the bargaining table is solely attributable to our amazing collective effort over the last 7 days – to those who have braved the bitter cold to walk the line and to those who have contributed in other important ways behind the scenes in support of our strong and united strike action. It is your remarkable energy, creativity and grit on the picket line, as well as the solidarity that we have shown with each other and the wonderful solidarity that the students have shown us, that has made it clear to the administration that we will not falter in our resolve.
This is a step forward, but we have to keep up the pressure now more than ever. An agreement to meet is not a guarantee of an agreement. Please be there tomorrow for your picket shifts and for the big rally at noon. We want to end this magnificent week on the picket line with a boom that will make the noontime cannon sound like a peashooter.
ps. We were asked by the Employer to clarify for our members that we are not legally locked out. When we gave notice to strike, we sent the notice to the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. The 48 hours countdown to the strike began the moment the Minister officially received the notice. If the Employer had locked us out, they would have had to provide similar notice to the Minister. They did not do so.
FUNSCAD’s Territorial Acknowledgement
We [I] would like to begin by acknowledging that we are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” which Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) peoples first signed with the British Crown in 1725. The treaties did not deal with surrender of lands and resources but in fact recognized Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) title and established the rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship between nations.
Preparations for bargaining – large issues
- There have been a number of strikes recently. I haven’t done an analysis but it seems like, In the last couple years, there have been more strikes than before, an indication that things are difficult all over. At the moment there is a very significant strike by Ontario College faculty. One of their main concerns is the large percentage of courses being taught by Contract Academic staff. There has been increasing recognition of CAS issues by CAUT and by faculty unions, even when they don’t represent CAS faculty in their own bargaining units.
- Recent changes at NSCAD have created workload issues for our full time and pro-rated faculty. With the loss of administrative support, faculty’s workloads have increased. The workloads of Chairs and Directors have increased even more. At the moment, Chairs receive one course release which covers approximately 9 hours of work per week. No one in the position of a Chair or Director feels that they can get the work they are asked to do completed in that amount of time.
The Chief Negotiators have been chosen by the Union Executive. They are Jayne Wark for Unit I and Janice Fralic–Brown for Unit II. The Chief negotiators have already started putting their negotiating teams together. Recommendations from the Chief negotiators will go to the Executive who will present the teams at our next general meeting. Once that is done, meetings will be scheduled with the constituencies that make up the Union membership. We will make sure that these meetings cover everyone in each bargaining unit, examples from Unit I include: RPTs, new hires, tenured faculty, those thinking about retirement. We will also organize meetings that span Unit I and Unit II where appropriate for instance: health plan issues and those with children or thinking of having children.
Though NSCAD had a balanced budget last year and is planning to have a balanced budget this year, Bill 100, the Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act, is still a concern as we prepare for bargaining. In Brief, the issue is that, if we are in the process of bargaining and reach an impasse that threatens a strike, the administration might endeavour to invoke processes laid out in the act. Once those processes begin, we are no longer legally allowed to strike. In effect, the law takes away the only real leverage that a union has in negotiations. Bill 100 is the reason that we rolled over the last collective agreements during the last round of bargaining.
The landscape has changed in the last three years. As I mentioned above, NSCAD is no longer running a deficit. Also, Acadia University is bargaining presently and has just taken a strike vote. Acadia has had significant financial problems and consequent governmental support that have come to light recently. CBU also went through a bargaining process recently where the employer declared financial exigency. It later retracted the declaration and bill 100 was not invoked. We will be seeking advice from CAUT about bill 100 and will be speaking to the Unions at Acadia and CBU as we prepare for bargaining this time around.
Gallery Director Grievance
The grievance that we filed as a result of the Employer’s efforts to decertify the Gallery Director is proceeding. We have also filed a complaint with the Labour Board in an effort to bring an end to the grievance in a shorter and less expensive fashion. The Labour Board hearing occurred in September. Our understanding is that, If the Labour Board finds in our favour, then the Gallery Director will remain in the Union. If it finds in favour of the Employer, we can still take our grievance to arbitration because, even if the Labour Board is convinced that new responsibilities mean that the Director should be out of the Union, all the work that the Director used to do is unionized work and can’t be done by a non-unionized employee. We have yet to receive a decision from the Labour Board.
Towards the end of the Winter semester, the Employer sent the Union an invoice for the Union President’s workload adjustments (course releases). In the Collective Agreement the Union President receives two course releases in the Fall and Winter semesters: one paid by the employer while the other is covered by FUNSCAD. The invoice was massive and covered a period going back 5 years. When we checked our records we found that many of the workload adjustments had been paid and that the Union had never been invoiced for the others. The Employer contends that the Union owes them approximately $32,000, The employer has filed a grievance concerning the outstanding invoices. The Union’s position is that, by not invoicing the Union for a number of years, the Employer effectively inhibited our right to try to negotiate away the cost of the workload adjustments and also removed the potential for the Union to decline the course release. Still, in an effort resolve the grievance an offer was made to the Employer, which was rejected. The Employer made a counter offer which was rejected by the Union Executive. The Union is in the process of making another offer to settle the grievance. Arbitration is scheduled for the end of November.
PDA and PDR
There have been some unfortunate cases where the Employer has refused or made it difficult for both Unit I and Unit II employees to receive their PDA/PDR. There have been some relatively recent changes to our Collective Agreements about PDA and PDR that were legally required. The Administration seems to be taking a strict position about their responsibilities related to the disbursement of these funds. If you are planning on submitting expenses that you have not submitted before, go and see the business office for advice. Also, if you are planning on buying equipment, especially as you approach retirement, please note that the University continues to own the equipment that you purchase with your PDA or PDR.
WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS:
For those of you who are new to NSCAD, Unit I represents Faculty and Librarians (including Regular Part-Time Faculty) and Unit II represents Technical and Educational Resource Personnel (Technicians and Library and Gallery staff). Membership in the Bargaining Unit is mandatory but Union membership is voluntary and entitles you to attend meetings, serve on Union committees, enjoy the comforts of the FUNSCAD Lounge including complimentary espresso, and vote for your Union representatives. As required by law, there’s a one-time only membership fee of $2. If you have any questions about the Union or your terms and conditions of employment feel free to contact Mathew Reichertz (President), Jane Milton (Unit I VP), or Melanie Colosimo (Unit II VP). If you’d like to learn more about FUNSCAD, contact Glynis for a copy of the Union’s History that we prepared a couple of years ago.
UPDATE ON POLICIES
Last fall the employer developed over 20 new policies; they and all of NSCAD’s policies can be found at http://nscad.ca/en/home/abouttheuniversity/policies/default.aspx. In the past the employer has consulted with the Union about policies in order to avoid situations were policies come into conflict with collective agreements. In this case the employer shared all of their new policies at once and required a response from the Union in a time frame that was impossible to meet. The result is that the new policies remain un-vetted by the Union. In cases where policies and collective agreements come into conflict about terms and conditions of work, collective agreements always take precedence. If you have any questions about any University policy as it relates to your terms and conditions of work, please don’t hesitate to contact Mathew Reichertz.
CHANGES AND ADDITIONS TO THE ADMINISTRATION:
Jim Barmby has been hired as the VP Student Experience and Registrar and Paul Maher has been hired as the new Director of Teaching and Learning. FUNSCAD members were on hiring committees for both. Katherine Frank is the New Director of Human Resource although she only works for NSCAD three days a week.
We are currently proceeding to arbitration over the employer’s insistence on removing the Anna Leonowens Gallery Director position from Unit II. The Gallery Director position has been in the Bargaining Unit since certification by the Labour Board, approximately 30 years ago. There are examples across the country where employers have created excluded positions that arguably should be unionized but this unilateral effort by the employer to decertify a unionized employee is unprecedented in recent PSE labour relations.
Over the last year the Grievance Committee has also initiated investigations and communications with the Employer on behalf of Union members and has resolved several other potential grievances. The main issues that have come up have to do with the Employer’s efforts to limit the teaching by Unit II employees who are also RPTs.
THE LEARNING COMMONS
The new Learning Commons model incorporating Multimedia, Photo and Film technical staff is being implemented and the new Director of Teaching and Leaning has been hired to, among other tasks, supervise Leaning Commons staff. This initiative by the employer will have ramifications on Unit II job descriptions. The Union has given the employer a deadline of January 31 2017 to provide updated job descriptions for all Unit II members affected by the Learning Commons initiative. If you are a Unit II Learning Commons Technician, please pay special attention to the nature of the work you do this semester and make sure you are comfortable with your updated job description. Please contact Mathew Reichertz if you have any questions about job descriptions as they relate to the Learning Commons.
Efforts were made to have the Union/Board Committee meet this past year but there were delays based on disagreements between the Board and the Union regarding the makeup of the Committee. After those delays were resolved, efforts to schedule a meeting were made but failed. The Committee’s assigned task is to “foster good communication and effective working relationships between the parties and a spirit of cooperation and good will within NSCAD University.” The Union will make further attempts to have this committee meet. Unit I reps are Mathew Reichertz and Jayne Wark, and Unit II reps are Leesa Hamilton and Melanie Colosimo. Please let one of the FUNSCAD reps know if there’s something you’d like to see on the agenda.
RPT/FULL-TIME COMPATIBILITY COMMITTEE
At an Executive Committee meeting held on 2 August 2016, the Executive passed a motion to strike a committee to research the pros and cons of separating RPTs from Full Time and Pro-rated Faculty and Sessional Faculty in Unit I. This committee is tasked with gathering as much pertinent information as possible including but not limited to financial information, legal process and legal ramifications based on an assessment of factors associated with “a community of interest” as defined by the Nova Scotia Labour Board and short and long-term bargaining ramifications taking bill 100 into consideration. The information, once collected, will be presented to the Executive of the Union for consideration. Membership of the committee consists of two RPTs (Lesley Armstrong and Lukas Pearse) and two Full-Time or Pro-rated Faculty members (Mathew Reichertz and Jane Milton). Recently the Executive passed a motion to include a Unit II member who is also an RPT on this committee. The committee hopes to submit its report to the Executive by the end of the Fall semester.
This committee was struck because the idea of RPTs separating from the Union or having their own bargaining unit came up several times in RPT Standing Committee meetings. In discussions with the Union’s lawyer, it also became apparent that, from the perspective of Full-Time Unit I members, there were reasons to consider the possibility of separation. This committee’s sole agenda is the collection of information that could be consulted if, as a whole, FUNSCAD members decide that they want to consider a different future for Unit I.
JOINT BENEFITS COMMITTEE
The Joint Benefits Committee began discussions at the end of the Winter 2016 semester about revisions to our health and dental plan. The increasing number of incredibly expensive drugs on the market today ($30,000.00-$80,000.00 per year) is making it very difficult for drug plans all over North America to continue as usual. At this point our representative from Morneau Shepell has provided the Joint Benefits Committee with a series of options to consider. None of these options significantly decrease the Employer’s portion of the cost of our health and dental plan, nor do they significantly increase the employee’s portion of the cost. Our health and dental plan is bargained, Article 32.11 in the Unit I Agreement, Article 27 in the Unit II Agreement. The Unit I and Unit II members of the Joint Benefits Committee are working to compare the options provided by the employer with information, provided by CAUT, about coverage at other PSE institutions across the country. The Union Executive will also consider engaging a consultant to help parse the options if necessary. No change to the present Dental and Health plan will take place until there is further consultation, by the Union, with its members.
Both Unit I and Unit II agreements expire on 30 June 2018. We will start preparing to bargain during the Winter 2018 semester.
Every fall, the Union and the Employer sign off on a new Precedence List for our Unit I Regular Part-Time faculty. The new list adds credit for another year of service and for courses taught during the previous academic year. Regular Part-Time faculty who have not taught for 25 months are removed from the list and as a result 4 RPTs have been removed from the Precedence List this year. Three others have resigned or retired. One new RPT was added to the list. FUNSCAD Unit I currently includes 63 RPTs.
Last year three full time faculty retired and one full time faculty member went to half time. 2 of the 3.5 faculty losses were replaced. The Complement stands presently at 41 regular and pro-rated faculty members.
BOARD OF GOVERNORS MOTION RE UNIT I ARTICLE 40 AND LoA #3:
Last year the Board of Governors passed a motion that was intended to lay the legal groundwork for either discontinuing or making significant modifications to our programs. FUNSCAD asked the Board to rescind their motion but they did not. We’ve informed the Board that we do not consider their action to be in accordance with the requirements of Article 40 since they have not indicated which programs are at risk of closure or significant modifications.
CHANGES TO FOUNDATION
The “Academic Plan towards 2020” calls for the development and implementation of a new staffing and curricular model for Foundation by 2017 (P.11). Senate has formed an ad hoc Foundation Advisory committee comprised of faculty from each Division in the University to develop this new model. As things stand presently, the model is still under development. The Union’s expectation is that, as per the Academic Plan, “Foundation faculty will be reassigned to other divisions in line with their expertise and qualification.” (P.11) We also expect that there will be new courses added and courses deleted from the course offerings presently associated with Foundation. In this case the Union will make sure that a fair process is implemented that takes course content into account when assigning right of first refusal to RPTs for the new courses that are added. It remains to be seen whether the changes that are proposed will, in the end, constitute significant modifications under Article 40 of the Unit I Collective Agreement. If they do, the Board is required to consult with the affected employees. The Union will endeavor to see that this consultation takes place.
If Foundation faculty members are assigned to other Divisions of the University, the Board may eventually try to circumvent the spirit of LOA #3. According to LOA #3, In “programs” that have more than two full time faculty, it is the Employer’s prerogative not to fill a vacant position with an equivalent replacement. This means that a “program” that presently has two full time faculty could swell to three full time faculty. Then one of the three could retire and the requirement to replace them based on LOA #3 would not be triggered resulting in a further reduction of Complement. The Union remains vigilant concerning this possibility.
FAIR EMPLOYMENT WEEK:
October 24-28 is CAUT’s National Fair Employment Week – a campaign in support of fair treatment for contract academic staff – the employees we call RPT’s and ICA’s. To quote from CAUT’s campaign material “More and more academic work is being performed by people hired on a per course or limited term basis. These positions are often poorly paid, have little or no benefits, no job security and no academic freedom. This has serious implications not only for contract academic staff, but for students, their regular academic staff colleagues, and universities and colleges as a whole. The Canadian Association of University Teachers opposes the increasing casualization of academic work and advocates the equal treatment of all academic staff regardless of their employment status.”
FUNSCAD organized a panel discussion called “Precarious Academic Teaching: Are security and Fair Pay Achievable?” which took place on 9 September. The panelists that night were Ronald Colman (the Genuine Progress Index for Atlantic Canada), Karen Foster (Dalhousie University), Philip Bennett, (Vice President of CUPE 3912) Sarah Maloney (NSCAD RPT Instructor) and Jane Milton (NSCAD and VP of FUNSCAD Unit I), moderated by Craig Leonard (NSCAD and FUNSCAD Treasurer). Special thanks go to Lesley Armstrong (FUNSCAD RPT Representative) for her work on this panel.
There was another panel discussion about precarious academic work organized jointly by ANSUT, DFA and CAUT called “Precarious U” scheduled on Thursday 27 October. The interest from umbrella organizations like CAUT and ANSUT is a good sign that the urgency of these issues is finally being understood.
RPT HEALTH SPENDING ACCOUNT:
A few years ago, FUNSCAD succeeded in negotiating Health Spending Accounts for all of our Regular Part-Time faculty members (see Article 32.20 in the Unit I Collective Agreement). Effective September 1, 2015, the per course amount deposited in your account is $65. The Health Spending Accounts are administered by Medavie/Blue-X and you would have all received your Medavie membership cards and information from the business office when the plan first went into effect. We urge all of our members to take advantage of this benefit. The Medavie Quick-Pay Office is conveniently located in Scotia Square near the food court and there’s an even more convenient smart phone app for getting your reimbursements. Contact the business office if you have any questions about how to access your reimbursements.
COURSE NUMBERS FALL 2016
FUNSCAD has once again analyzed the Fall timetable in order to monitor the extent to which the declining full-time faculty complement, changes in enrolment levels, budget cuts, etc., have impacted on Regular Part-Time employment levels. (For the purpose of this study, a “course equivalent” is what’s normally called a “half-day course”.)
The results in point form:
This Fall 2016 there were 184 course equivalents, steady from last fall, which was 183.
There were 84 course equivalents taught by full time faculty down from last fall, which was 88.
There were 77 course equivalents taught by RPTs, up from last year, which was 73.
There were 3 course equivalents taught by Sessionals, down from last fall, which was 6.
There were 20 course equivalents taught by ICA’s, up from last fall, which was 16.
Although enrolment is reportedly down compared to last year, the number of classes has remained steady, presumably because most programs are running with such a small number of courses that no more can be cut without compromising programs.
DATES FOR RPT’S:
The per-semester course cap for Regular Part-Time faculty was increased from two to three half-day courses or equivalents, to a maximum of 6 half-day courses per year. The Collective Agreement includes a schedule of dates by which RPT’s must inform their Division Chair with a copy to the VP Academic and Research of the number of courses they are available to teach each semester. The deadlines can be found in Clause 37.07 (B) and are as follows: September 15th for the Summer Semester, January 15th for the Fall Semester, and March 15th for the Winter Semester. There is now an online form for RPTs to fulfill this responsibility on the NSCAD website > Office of Academic Affairs and Research here:
IMPORTANT NOTICE TO UNIT II MEMBERS REGARDING “CONFIDENTIALITY”:
A few years ago, we discovered that Unit II Letters of Appointment included a “Confidentiality Agreement”. The Grievance Committee sought legal advice on this matter and we have informed the administration that we consider that portion of the Unit II Appointment Letters to be “null and void”. Here’s an excerpt from our letter to the employer:
“The immediate problem is that the “Confidentiality Agreement” which you’ve included in recent Unit II Letters of Appointment is an attempt to add terms and conditions of employment through individual negotiations, which is not allowed under the Trade Union Act. If you consider the Confidentiality Agreement to be a condition of employment it must be negotiated with FUNSCAD, the exclusive bargaining agent for our members.
FUNSCAD considers that section of the Appointment Letters to be Null and Void. We continue to inform our members that they are not subject to the Confidentiality Agreement. If any of our members are disciplined for violating that Confidentiality Agreement, the Union will file a grievance.
FUNSCAD understands and respects the Province’s FOIPOP legislation and we expect all of our members to abide by the FOIPOP requirements regarding the confidentiality of “personal information” as defined in the Act. We have no problem with including a reference to FOIPOP in the Letters of Appointment for any of our members and we would expect the employer to hold both Unit I and Unit II employees to the same standard.”
Whether you are in Unit I or Unit II, please let us know if you’re experiencing any problems relating to “confidentiality”.
All of our members are welcome to sign up for the punch code for the FUNSCAD Lounge. Make yourself at home and take advantage of our fully equipped kitchen, Nespresso machine, massage chair and computer.
All of our members are also dues paying members of CAUT, the CAUT Defence Fund, and ANSUT (The Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers). You should all be receiving copies of the CAUT Bulletin. If you’re not on the mailing list, let Glynis know. And check out the CAUT website at www.caut.ca and the ANSUT website at www.ansut.ca.
Mathew Reichertz, Acting President