Where Is The New Collective Agreement?

 

Many TRUFA members are asking: “where’s the new Collective Agreement? We ratified the mediator’s recommendations in February, but it’s already September, and we don’t have the new agreement either printed or posted on the web. Why the delay?”

While it usually takes a couple of months to review the new additions to the agreement, ensure that the numbering of articles is consistent, and double-check accuracy, two specific issues have delayed this process further.

Article 6: Tenure and Promotion

First, revisions to Article 6 (Tenure and Promotion) were very close to completion after more than 7 years of work, and both parties felt that including the new language would be beneficial. On August 8th, TRU administration and TRUFA signed off on the new Article 6 language.

Article 10.8: Course Registrant Maxima

Second, and of most concern, is the fact that TRU administration insists that Article 10.8 (Course Registrant Maxima) should not apply to either Sessional or Continuing Sessional faculty members. This article protects our members by setting caps on the maximum number of enrolled students in our classes by semester and by academic year.

In order to understand the dispute, some history is required. Prior to the first university contract in 2006, this article applied to all “continuing” (now known as ‘tenured’) faculty members and all “sessional” members. Long-time faculty will remember that prior to 2006 “sessional” referred to those hired on full-time workloads, as opposed to those hired on part-time instructional contracts (PTICs). Since workload at that time was based on ‘contact hours’ per week (16 for non-scholarly activity and 12 for scholarly activity), the parties agreed to a cap on total number of students to preserve good student learning conditions, and to avoid unfair workloads for instructors.

When we negotiated a 3-credit course or equivalent basis for workload – replacing the contact hour method – the parties agreed to retain Course Registrant Maxima in a Letter of Understanding #18, as a back-up protection in case the departmental ‘weighting’ of workload factors in Article 10 did not result in equitable workloads. All Letters of Understanding (LOU) in Appendix B of the Collective Agreement apply to all categories of faculty appointment, except when the LOU restricts application to specific individuals or groups. Nothing in this provision restricts its application.

Fast forward to 2012: In that round of bargaining, the parties agreed to roll the Course Registrant Maxima LOU #18 into the body of the agreement because it became apparent in the intervening years that protection for members was absolutely necessary. Some departments, unfortunately, had assigned sessional faculty to course sections with very large enrolments, resulting in semester and year numbers well in excess of the caps. However, they changed this practice when TRUFA informed them that LOU # 18 applied to contract faculty (as per the Appendix B applicability provision).

Due to the importance of maintaining this right for contract faculty (and preserving faculty complement), when this and other LOUs were rolled into the body of the agreement in 2012, the parties signed a document that stated that this action would not result in any change in the application of the provisions affected. This specifically meant that Course Registrant Maxima protections would continue to apply to all faculty appointment categories, including Sessional and Continuing Sessional.

Despite this clear, convincing documentary evidence that the employer was actually a signatory to at the time, the current TRU administration has refused to acknowledge the facts, and are holding up final agreement to print and post the new Collective Agreement.

Indeed, the issue was brought again to the consultative table in September, and, at that time, TRU administration acknowledged their signing of the index rights protection LOU and committed to drafting language that would guarantee the course maxima rights of sessionals.  However, they have since forwarded a memo to TRUFA restating their opposition to such an application of 10.8 and offered instead to discuss workloading principles for contract faculty.

Needless to say, as TRUFA has a signed document that guarantees the course maxima rights of sessional members, we feel it is inappropriate to allow the employer to strip away yet another contract faculty right.

 

–Tom Friedman, President TRU Faculty Association

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