A commitment to improving Equity in our Collective Agreement

In this round of collective bargaining, the APUO is committed to improving equity at the University of Ottawa. In this bulletin, we will explain the steps and proposals tabled by our collective bargaining team to improve the representation of equity groups as outlined in article 17.1.6.1 of the Collective Agreement (C.A.). Equity groups, as per the C.A. include women, Visible Minorities, Aboriginal peoples and people with disabilities.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee progress update

As you may recall, the APUO provided a summary of the Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee (EDIC) progress update for the 2016-2017 academic year in its December bulletin. In that bulletin, we mentioned that the University’s Human Rights Office (HRO) refused to share data as it relates to Visible Minorities, Aboriginal peoples and people with disabilities amongst full-time professors. The EDIC’s report, therefore, focused on gender inequities, specifically the representation of women and men, the gender pay gap, and the gender promotion gap. The EDIC’s analysis provided the APUO with valuable insight on ways to improve gender equity in this round of collective bargaining. It also highlighted the importance to incorporate language in our C.A. around the need for the HRO to share equity data on Visible Minorities, Aboriginal peoples and people with disabilities with the EDIC.

Here is a summary of the APUO’s work around equity issues, and the equity proposals we have tabled during this round of collective bargaining.

Increasing the representation of equity groups

Academic staff who are also members of equity groups are often called upon to take on additional work, such as interpreting documents through an “equity lens”, act as a liaison with various community groups, mentoring and advising, act as media contact, write reports that address equity concerns, and serve on multiple committees.  Unfortunately, this extra work is often not compensated or considered when members of equity groups apply for tenure and promotion.[1]This reality is only compounded by the ongoing under-representation of members of equity groups among our faculty and underscores the importance of increasing the representation of professors and librarians identifying with equity groups.

The APUO tabled changes to Article 17. Where the C.A. references the under-representation of “women or men,” we propose to update the language to the under-representation of “equity groups.” This broadens the scope to include Visible Minorities, Aboriginal peoples and people with disabilities. These changes should have an impact on future appointments and improve the representation of equity groups. Thus far, the Administration seems open to accepting this proposal. However, the APUO feels that this proposal alone doesn’t go far enough.

Recognizing that unconscious biases influence appointments, the APUO feels it is essential to increase the representation of equity groups on various University committees. This is why the APUO is proposing to add language to our C.A. that would ensure the representation of at least one equity group on the Faculty Teaching Personnel Committees (article 14), the Departmental Teaching Personnel Committees (article 15), the Librarians’ Personnel Committees (section 16.1), and the Teaching Personnel Committees of the Institute (section 16.2). Until we can increase the number of full-time professors and librarians who identify with equity groups, we feel this proposal represents a step in the right direction.

Equity data

We know that there is an under-representation of Visible Minorities, Aboriginal people and people with disabilities among APUO members. To address this gap in representation, it is crucial that the data about equity groups be analyzed and that targets be set to improve representation. The APUO has therefore tabled a proposal that would mandate Teaching Personnel Committees to conduct annual equity reviews and set appointment targets to improve the representation of equity groups.

The APUO urges the Central Administration to agree, to mandate the HRO, through our C.A., to share data on equity groups with the EDIC, and to create a data analyst position with the Institutional Research and Planning Office dedicated to equity. As part of the U15, the University of Ottawa committed to enhancing equity and diversity in research, and we are puzzled at the Central Administration’s refusal to accept our proposals surrounding the collection and analysis of equity data.

Childcare 

The APUO firmly believes that childcare is an important service to the members of the university community and represents a necessary step in ensuring family status equity. A lack of access to quality childcare means that certain members of the university community are disproportionately put at a disadvantage and impacts their ability to work and fully participate in academic life. Making childcare a necessity not only takes into consideration the changing demographics at the University but provides much needed social support to members of the university community in child-rearing relationships. Improved access to quality childcare services would allow professors and librarians to be better engaged as members in their respective academic and non-academic communities. The APUO has tabled language to create 100 new child care spaces near campus, 60 of which would be dedicated to APUO members. The Administration has categorically rejected this proposal.

Student questionnaires  

Academic research on the use of student questionnaires to evaluate teaching has demonstrated that these are not only ineffective but involve prejudices that disadvantage members of equity groups. We were very disappointed to see the Central administration table language that would outright remove the APUO’s right to be consulted before the implementation of changes to student questionnaires. The APUO has indicated its willingness to strike a side table with the Provost to explore the possibility of introducing teaching dossiers, making student questionnaires one of several elements that would be included in the dossiers.

Conclusion

As discussed in one of our earlier Collective Bargaining Update, the Central administration has not only rejected most of our equity proposals; it hasn’t presented the APUO with counter-proposals to facilitate discussion and find common ground. We fail to understand why the Central administration isn’t prepared to commit to building a fair and equitable work environment for professors and librarians. At a time when mainstream media is widely discussing equity, we remain optimistic that the University administration will join the APUO in seeking to address systemic issues of sexism, racism, and ableism at our institution.

We wish to reiterate once again our willingness to meet with your academic unit and discuss our proposals, and the collective bargaining process upon invitation. Should you wish to do so, please contact our President, Susan Spronk at apuopres@uottawa.ca.


[1]Canadian Association of University Teachers, Policy statement on the Recognition of Increased Workload of Academic Staff Members in Equity-Seeking Groups in a Minority Context https://www.caut.ca/about-us/caut-policy/lists/caut-policy-statements/recognition-of-increased-workload-of-academic-staff-members-in-equity-seeking-groups-in-a-minority-context