Union Update November 2016


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:



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.

In solidarity,

Mathew Reichertz, Acting President