Bargaining Issues: Comments from Unit 2 Members

I noted on a previous post that: 1) bargaining proposals must be driven by the membership, 2) this requires extensive outreach to members through a variety of mechanisms including one-on-one conversations, and 3) the entire process should be open and transparent with frequent updates.

So, in that spirit, here’s an update from conversations about bargaining that I’ve had with Unit 2 members over the last few days, as I’ve canvassed various departments. With the exception of the discussion of the cap, I am simply presenting this as a report-back, without comment, to get people thinking and discussing bargaining issues. One obvious issue that’s missing here is a discussion of improving the equity language in our collective agreement.

The Cap: I was asked by one member if I supported a reduction of the cap on the number of appointments a member can accept in one year (Article 12.04.1 v). I do not support putting this forth as a bargaining proposal. Proposing to reduce the cap would a divisive move that would harm the livelihood of some of our Unit 2 members. Taking work away from some members is not a strategy for strengthening our local or our Collective Agreement.

Academic Dishonesty Cases: One member raised concerns about the current procedures for dealing with academic dishonesty cases and the fact that students accused of academic dishonesty and/or penalized for academic dishonesty are then allowed to complete course evaluations that can impact our members’ future employment prospects.

Office Space & Facilities: Article 15.01 outlines our rights to adequate office space and facilities. Members teaching evening courses often don’t have access to printing or office support. And many members lack adequate office space and functioning computers.

Clarifying the Collective Agreement Language: It was pointed out by one member that the legalistic, murky, hard-to-decipher language of our Collective Agreement is to the advantage of the employer and to the disadvantage of our members who may not be able to easily understand their rights. Clarifying the language and making it easier to read, where possible, would help empower members.

Conversions: The Conversions program (termed the “Affirmative Action Pool” in Article 23) involves the appointment of Unit 2 members who meet the qualifications in terms of experience and teaching intensity to tenure stream positions. The importance of this program is demonstrated by the fact that it has already been brought up repeatedly by members. Currently, our collective agreement calls for 8 conversion appointments per year, with a minimum of 6 per year being to the professorial stream (rather than the teaching stream). Not surprisingly, members want the number of conversions per year to increase. It was also pointed out that this program may be seen as a priority for high seniority members, but it deserves the full support of all members. We have members that have been teaching at York for years that rightfully deserve a tenure stream position. As well, when these members move from Unit 2 to a tenure track position, their teaching load decreases and courses are freed up for other Unit 2 members. Unlike a suggestion of reducing the cap (which is a zero-sum game, taking work away from some members), conversions are a win-win situation. We need to have these conversations and be conscious of how we frame our discussions and proposals to build broad support among members.

LSTAs: Long-Service Teaching Assignments are a job security provision outlined in Article 24 of our Collective Agreement. Members who meet the experience and teaching intensity qualifications may be awarded an LSTA which guarantees a certain level of work (a minimum of 3 full courses per year) and compensation for a 3 year period. Currently, our collective agreement call for a minimum of 7 LSTAs per year. Not surprisingly, members want the number of LSTAs per year to increase. One member also raised the issue of lowering the number of years required to qualify for an LSTA. That is the kind of idea involving trade-offs that would require further discussion and analysis.

Postings: It’s clear that the employer plays all kinds of games with postings, qualifications and appointments. There is widespread frustration with the posting and appointment process. It remains an open question whether we can tinker with the current Collective Agreement language in Articles 11 and 12 or whether we need to propose whole new language that is both clearer and meets our member’s needs.

CSS: The Continuing Sessional Standing program (Article 12.01) provides members who qualify with an earlier posting process and some of those members with compensation if their workload decreases by a certain margin. As a new program established in our current Collective Agreement, there are mixed feeling about its success and a variety of concerns and frustrations. There are frustrations with departments not posting courses through the CSS program. Some members question the fact that the CSS posting deadline and the CSS appointment deadline are both January 22, rather than having the postings available before appointments are made. It was also pointed out that it provides no real job security.

If you have comments or ideas about our bargaining proposals, you can email me at: