July 31 Bulletin

Dear members, 
 
As per the recently signed letter of understanding (LOU) COVID-19 Impact on Course Development and Delivery, an additional one-time lump sum of $1,000 should have been deposited in members’ Professional Expenses Reimbursement (PER) account by July 31, 2020, to facilitate the acquisition of equipment and services necessary for preparing and delivering remote and online teaching in the 2020 Fall term. 
 
This email message serves as a friendly reminder that you may use this funding to hire a Research Assistant in accordance with the procedures set out in Articles 18 and 32 of the CUPE 2626 Collective Agreement and that this opportunity also applies to members conducting research during their academic leave. To this end, please note that the same procedures used to hire Research Assistants in any other circumstance apply when doing so within the context of the LOU COVID-19 Impact on Course Development and Delivery. We therefore encourage members to communicate with their respective academic units to inquire about the steps to follow to create a job posting for a Research Assistant position. 
 
Inter-union campaign against larger class sizes
 
Several APUO and APTPUO members have noted a significant increase in the enrollment numbers of their assigned courses for the Fall term. In response to the Central Administration’s decision to increase class sizes in tandem with the shift to the remote and online delivery of courses in the Fall term, the Inter-union Coalition of the University of Ottawa recently sent a letter to President Jacques Frémont outlining its concerns with this decision. You can view the letter here.
 
Under the terms of the APTPUO’s Collective Agreement, there is no provision regarding workload assignments that prevent significant increases in class sizes for our part-time colleagues. As contractual employees, part-time professors must contend with the stark choice of either accepting courses (often on short notice) with increased enrollments or forfeiting work. 

Update: COVID-19 Impact on Course Development and Delivery

Dear members,
 
Soon after signing the Letter of Understanding (LOU) COVID-19 Impact on Course Development and Delivery, the Central Administration and the APUO identified differences in how each party was interpreting Section 8 (Workload Reduction) of this document. As a result, the parties agreed to meet and, with the assistance again of Mediator William Kaplan, resolved these issues.

The APUO thanks Mediator Kaplan and the Central Administration for making themselves available and helping to resolve the issues. 

The purpose of this communication is to update you about the clarifications brought to the application of Section 8 of the LOU, and the possibility of using Professional Expenses Reimbursements (PER) funds to hire a research assistant to help with the preparation and delivery of distance or online courses.    

This LOU confirms, among other things, that teaching for the Fall 2020 term will be done remotely or online, with the exception of a few courses that necessitate in-person teaching. 

The deadline for Members to apply for a workload reduction using Section 8 of the LOU is July 31, 2020. 
  
Section 8 of the LOU (Workload Reduction)
 
As per Section 8 of the LOU:

If a Member does not consent to teaching remotely or online by reason of being unable to carry out their teaching workload, or a portion thereof, due to the exceptional circumstances, the Member shall inform their Dean in writing within twenty (20) working days (by July 31) following the effective date of this Letter of Understanding and may request that the Dean apply one (1) of the following four options:

a. Members can request that some or all of their courses for the Fall 2020 term be reassigned to a regular term in the next three academic years. Clarification: The fact that the LOU ends on April 29, 2021 does not invalidate this option. Members may request that some or all of their assigned courses be reassigned to a later term at any point within the next three academic years. To this end, we suggest clearly specifying to which future term(s) you would like the course(s) to be reassigned in your request to your Dean.
b. Members will be approved for a workload reduction as referred to in Article 30 of the Collective Agreementfor the Fall 2020 term, equivalent to 10% of their annual salary per three (3) credit course they were scheduled to teach in that semester. Clarification: A member may request a workload reduction for as many courses as are assigned in the Fall 2020 term (1 course = 10% workload reduction; 2 courses = 20% workload reduction; etc.).
c. Members may request and be approved for a leave of absence without pay, as referred to in Article 29.3 of the Collective Agreement, for the entire Fall 2020 term.  
d. Any other exceptional measure deemed suitable and feasible by both the Dean and the Member.  

For those electing for the above option ‘b’, some additional considerations to inform your decision include:

  • Salary: the first impact of option ‘b’ is a proportional reduction in annual salary. If you choose a 10% workload reduction (i.e., 1 course), your gross (prior to taxes and deductions) annual salary will be reduced by 10% for an entire year, from September 1, 2020, to August 31, 2021. Aside from the obvious impact on your net (take home) salary, you also should consider the impact on your pension.
  • Pension: As explained in article 30.4.2 of the APUO Collective Agreement, members who avail themselves of the course reduction option may choose to contribute to their pension on the basis of their regular salary and receive prorated credits for years of service. Alternatively, members may choose to contribute to their pension on the basis of their nominal salary and offset the difference in pension contribution for the workload reduction percentage for both the Employer and themselves, thereby reducing their net (take home) salary.
  • Academic leave: As stated in article 30.4.3(a) of the Collective Agreement, academic leave credits for a period of reduced workload shall be computed by the Dean, rounded to the nearest half (0.5) year. Members requesting one (1) or two (2) course reductions during the 2020 Fall term will still receive full academic leave credits. Your Dean should specify the exact number of academic leave credits you will gain in your reduced workload agreement. If you are unsure of the calculation, please feel free to contact the APUO
  • Progress-Thru-the-Ranks (PTR): As stated in article 30.4.3(b) of the Collective Agreement, each year of service during the reduced workload shall be considered as a portion of a year of university-level experience equal to the portion of a full workload. Given that the salary reduction partially overlaps over two (2) academic years, you should ask your Dean to specify the exact impact on your next two (2) PTR increases. Again, if you are unsure of the calculation, please feel free to contact the APUO.

We are also taking this opportunity to remind all APUO members that they should be comfortable requesting any of the four options listed above without fear of reprisal. Both pre-tenured and tenured members have a right to fair and equitable working conditions that accommodate the challenges with which one must contend. It is important to note that neither your colleagues nor representatives of the Employer (including Deans) need to be made aware of the individual and private circumstances surrounding your request. If Members have concerns regarding their request for a workload reduction, we encourage them to communicate with the APUO

Professional Expenses Reimbursement and Research Assistants

As per the LOU, members will receive an additional one-time lump sum of $1,000 to their Professional Expenses Reimbursement (PER) account to facilitate the acquisition of equipment and services necessary for the preparation and delivery of online or remote teaching in the 2020 Fall term. This includes hiring a research assistant in accord with the procedures set out in  Article 18 and Article 32 of the CUPE 2626 Collective Agreement. This additional PER and the possibility of hiring a Research Assistant also applies to members conducting research during their academic leave.

Update: Letters of Understanding – COVID-19

Dear members,
 
We are pleased to inform you that on June 30, following an intensive day of mediation with the Central Administration, the parties agreed to two more letters of understanding (LOUs): COVID-19 Performance Assessment of Members and COVID-19 Impact on Course Development and Delivery.
 
Firstly, we must express our sincere gratitude to you, our Members, for your continued support and especially the support you provided during the negotiation of these LOUs. Our success is directly linked to your ongoing mobilization, your participation in the various surveys we sent over the last few weeks, and your vocal support of your Association.  
 
We also want to thank the Central Administration. Successful negotiations require work from both parties. The APUO will continue to work with the Central Administration to identify creative solutions to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on members’ work and to preserve the quality of education. 
 
Here is a summary of the LOUs: 
 
COVID-19 Performance Assessment of Members
 
The Employer must consider information included by Members in their annual reports, contract renewal applications, promotion, tenure, and continuing appointment applications, and academic and professional leaves applications indicating how the exceptional circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic detrimentally impacted their teaching/professional activities, scholarly activities and/or academic/administrative service activities. “This information will not unreasonably affect the outcome of performance evaluations and career recommendations and decision processes under the collective agreement.” 
 
Members can view the LOU in full here
 
COVID-19 Impact on Course Development and Delivery
 
This LOU confirms that teaching for the Fall 2020 semester will be remote or online, except for individual courses that the University believes necessitate in-person teaching. With this in mind, this LOU:
 

  • ensures that the APUO will be consulted on any changes that may affect members’ working conditions before a partial or full return to in-person teaching;
  • protects Members’ academic freedom in choosing the most appropriate way of teaching remotely;
  • confirms that Members will be provided with support from the Teaching and Learning Support Service (TLSS) and from faculty personnel;
  • allows Members who start to deliver a distance learning course to decide if they continue to deliver it exclusively in a distance learning mode even if the Central Administration decides that students may return to campus;
  • protects members’ ownership (copyright) of all materials developed for remote or online teaching;
  • provides Members with options; if a Member believes that they are unable to carry out their teaching workload, or a portion thereof, due to the exceptional circumstances, the Member shall inform their Dean in writing twenty (20) working days following the effective date of this Letter of Understanding and may request that the Dean apply one (1) of the following:  
    • the Member’s assigned 2020 Fall term course credits will be reassigned in a regular term within the next three (3) academic years; or
    • the Member will be approved for a workload reduction, as referred to in Article 30 of the Collective Agreement, for the entire 2020 Fall term equivalent to 10% per three (3) credit course they were scheduled to teach in the 2020 Fall term; or
    • the Member will be approved for a leave of absence without pay, as referred to in Article 29.3 of the Collective Agreement, for the entire 2020 Fall term; or
    • any other exceptional measure deemed suitable and feasible by both the Dean and the Member.
  • increases Professional Expenses Reimbursement (PER) funds with a one-time lump sum of one thousand dollars ($1,000) to facilitate the acquisition of equipment and services necessary for course development and delivery;
  • provides Members with the option of requesting a Canada Revenue Agency T2200 Form to support claims regarding expenses incurred to fulfill their duties remotely. 

 
Members can view the LOU in full here
 
These, and the LOUs that we have previously signed, can be renewed should the exceptional circumstances surrounding the pandemic continue beyond the Fall semester. Should you have any questions regarding these LOUs, or require assistance in exercising your rights, do not hesitate to contact the APUO. In particular, should you believe that you are unable to carry out part or all of your teaching workload, we strongly suggest reaching out to the APUO.

Results from the Survey on Work-related Stress in the Context of Confinement

Dear members,
 
We thank those of you who participated in our survey on work-related stress in the context of confinement, which was live from May 12 to 20. Nearly 60 percent of members participated and shared the challenges they face in the exceptional circumstances brought on by the pandemic. 
 
The data from the survey results will support our efforts to conclude the two letters of understanding, COVID-19 Performance Assessment of Members and COVID-19 Course Development and Delivery which we summarized in a communication sent on May 29. We seize this opportunity to inform you that due to difficult negotiations with the Central Administration, a day of mediation is scheduled for June 30.
 
A report presenting a summary of the results of the survey on work-related stress in the context of confinement is available at the following link.

Solidarity with Support Staff

Dear members,
 
On June 8, we sent out a call for solidarity with support staff members who are trying to negotiate a new collective agreement. As we mentioned, the Central Administration has asked the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development to hold a final offer vote, a request that in the last twenty years has only been made by three other universities. Last week, we learned that the vote will take place from Monday, June 22 to Friday, June 26.
 
Once again, we call on our members to join the APUO Executive Committee in expressing solidarity with SSUO members. As expressed to President Frémont in our most recent letter of support for the SSUO, members of the support staff are colleagues with whom we work every day. We all know how excellent, professional, dedicated, and essential they are in the execution of our University’s mandate. Their work should be recognized with fair compensation, comprehensive benefits, and great respect. We encourage APUO members to express their support and solidarity for the SSUO by tweeting at @psuossuo, by sending email messages to SSUO members they know, and by bringing back the #Respect hashtag used during our last round of collective bargaining on twitter.
 
The outcome of this vote and the collective agreement that may ensue could have a significant impact on our own collective bargaining next year. We support the SSUO’s recommendation to its members to vote no to the final offer so that it has the opportunity to resume a more collegial bargaining process with the Central Administration, and to reach a fair and equitable agreement for its members.

Call for Solidarity with Support Staff

Dear members,
 
This bulletin is a follow up to last week’s update about the negotiations between the Central Administration and the Support Staff of the University of Ottawa (SSUO). The APUO has strongly expressed its disagreement with the Central Administration’s decision to request a final offer vote with the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. The exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves should not be used to push SSUO members to accept an unfair deal. 
 
The outcomes of this negotiation may prove to be precedent-setting and have severe ripple effects on the working conditions of the other bargaining units. With this in mind, we want to share with you the issues that have halted negotiations between the SSUO and the Central Administration, and their potential implications for the APUO’s next round of collective bargaining starting in January 2021.
 
Wage increases capped at 1 percent
 
Following exchanges between the two parties, in May 2019, the Central Administration proposed a wage increase offer of 1.25 percent, 2 percent, and 2 percent over three years. This is funding for which the Central Administration had budgeted and could afford. However, once Bill 124 (the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act[1]) was tabled at Queen’s Park in June, the Central Administration reduced its monetary offer to an annual 1 percent wage increase for three years. Bearing in mind that the cost of living increases by approximately 2 percent each year, the revised offer of the Central Administration represents a wage loss for SSUO members. 
 
Contrary to the widely held view that the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act prevents the Central Administration from proposing a monetary offer that would increase SSUO wages by more than 1 percent, the legislation contains provisions allowing public sector employers to request exemptions from the 1 percent wage increase cap. The Act’s Explanatory Note reads:
 
“The Minister is given the authority to make regulations specifying that the Act does not apply to an employer, or to employees, or  classes of employees. The Minister may also exempt a collective agreement from the application of the Act by regulations”.[2]  
 
To date, the Central Administration has refused to explore the possibility of applying for an exemption for the SSUO bargaining unit, and has declined other SSUO proposals that could offset potential lost wages under the legislation. It appears The Central Administration is emboldened by this new legislation to reject compromises that could deliver a fair deal for SSUO members. 
 
As we look ahead to our own collective bargaining in the coming months, we find the Central Administration’s approach very concerning.
 
Health Benefits
 
SSUO members have a stronger overall health benefits package than APUO members. Indeed, they are the only unionized University of Ottawa employees to have maintained 100 percent reimbursement coverage for medications.  The Central Administration now wants to bring these SSUO benefits in line with those of other bargaining units by reducing them to 80 percent of medication costs while failing to acknowledge other employment variables with which SSUO members must contend, including lower wages. 
 
Before every round of collective bargaining, the APUO and the Central Administration jointly commission a study to analyze our benefits and measure them with a comparator group of universities (Carleton, McMaster, Queen’s, Guelph, Waterloo, Western, Windsor, and York). Prior to 2016, APUO members had 100% health and dental coverage. Throughout every round of collective bargaining since then the APUO has consistently attempted to regain this level of coverage.  In our 2018 round of collective bargaining the University of Ottawa ranked:

  • Between 7th & 8th for Health Care Coverage as a whole (pre-retirement, including vision, hearing, and dental);
  • Below 8th rank for Dental Coverage on its own;
  • Below 8th rank for Post-retirement Health Care; and 
  • Below 8th rank for All Health Care (pre- and post-retirement) 

It is worth noting that the ‘below 8th rank’ reflects the finding that the benefits received by APUO members are so far below those offered at the universities comprising the comparator group that the University of Ottawa fell out of the 1 to 8 ranking margins established by the study. 
 
Our University’s benefits ranking speaks for itself. Throughout the 2019 APUO Listening Tour, our Strategic Thinking and Action Forums (STAF), and in our Virtual Coffee Hours held earlier this spring, members have consistently expressed concerns about our limited health and dental benefits. Should the SSUO lose their current health benefits as a result of the Central Administration’s request for a final offer vote, it will become very difficult for the APUO and other bargaining units at the University of Ottawa to successfully negotiate improvements to health benefits. 
 
In keeping with the Central Administration’s identification of health and wellness as a top priority[3] for our institution, negotiating health benefits should be both understood and viewed as an opportunity to support the improved overall health and wellness of our community rather than a race to the bottom. 
 
Retirement allocation
 
Included among the Central Administration’s proposals to the SSUO is an effort to eliminate the retirement allowance for all new hires. This would in effect introduce an “orphan clause”[4] creating two classes of SSUO members, and further undermines the SSUO’s bargaining strength in future negotiations. In 2013, the Central Administration tried to eliminate the retirement allowance for new APUO members, a proposition that was rejected. It seems highly plausible that, were the SSUO to lose this benefit, the Central Administration will likely attempt to also roll back this benefit for other bargaining units, including our own. 
 
Maternity/parental leave
 
In 2017, the federal government introduced changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) legislation, bringing down the waiting period to receive EI premiums from two weeks to one week. Like APUO members, SSUO members receive a salary top-up for maternity, pregnancy, or parental/adoption leaves. The shortened wait time to receive EI premiums means that the Central Administration saves 55 percent of the salary of a member on maternity, pregnancy, or parental/adoption leave for one additional week. However, the Central Administration is refusing to reinvest these savings to pay SSUO members up to 100 percent of their salaries, or to offer any other benefits when they take these leaves. For members opting to take an extended parental or adoption leave, the Central Administration is looking to reduce its Supplementary Employment Benefits by 21.7 percent. 
 
It is widely recognized and acknowledged that there are short and long-term inequities for those who take maternity, pregnancy, or parental/adoption leaves. Many women must contend with financial setbacks that have lasting impacts when they relinquish a percentage of their salary to take maternal or parental leave. Furthermore, many women remain primary caregivers beyond the period of their leave, often at the expense of their careers and, this too comes at a financial cost. 
 
Maintaining a competitive maternal/parental leave for University employees is a matter of gender equity. We are troubled to see the Central Administration attempt to claw back a benefit designed to provide more equitable working conditions for employees with familial responsibilities. It would set a very damaging precedent that would directly impact collective bargaining with other unions on campus were the Central Administration to succeed in its efforts to claw back advances aimed at fostering greater gender equity.  
 
Filling vacancies 
 
In September 2019, Jacques Frémont sent a communication to our University community about a $91.8 million-dollar surplus of revenues over expenses. In his message, he identified “delays in hiring” as a contributing factor to this financial surplus.[5]  According to an SSUO calculation made by multiplying the number of positions left vacant for more than 90 days by their average salary ($55 000) the University has saved over $3.9 million in SSUO wages in the last year.[6] To put this number in perspective, the total salary mass of SSUO members is around $92 million. 
 
In contrast to the Central Administration who seemingly views postponing the filling of vacant SSUO positions as an opportunity for financial savings, the SSUO and the APUO view these vacant posts as services non-rendered to our community. These vacancies download additional workload burdens onto other SSUO members and APUO members alike. As our members are all too well aware, the APUO has long been advocating for SSUO vacancies to be rapidly filled. 
 
The Central Administration’s refusal to commit to filling SSUO vacancies at the bargaining table may be a sign that the ongoing pressures felt by both SSUO and APUO members regarding our workloads and working conditions are likely to persist. The myriad negative consequences flowing from the failure to fill SSUO vacancies is a frequent and repeated concern raised by APUO members. 
 
We call on our members to join the APUO Executive Committee in expressing solidarity with SSUO members. As expressed to President Frémont in our most recent letter of support for the SSUO, members of the support staff are colleagues with whom we work every day. We all know how excellent, professional, dedicated, and essential they are in the execution of our University’s mandate. Their work should be recognized with fair compensation, comprehensive benefits, and great respect. As SSUO members await a date for a vote on the Central Administration’s final offer, we encourage APUO members to express their support and solidarity for the SSUO by tweeting at @psuossuo, by sending email messages to SSUO members they know, and by bringing back the #Respect hashtag used during our last round of collective bargaining on twitter.

 
[1] The Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act is known for imposing a wage and compensation limit for public sector employees. It is currently being contested before the courts through various Charter challenges.
[2] Ontario Legislative Assembly, Bill 124, the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019, Explanatory Note.
[4] An “orphan clause” is a clause that would offer less advantageous work conditions to emplyees based on their date of hire.   
[5] The Office of the President communicated the Financial Results 2018-2019 in an email sent to the University Community on September 30, 2019: https://secure.campaigner.com/csb/Public/show/ch3x-1dust8–mpdba-5l2vffp9
[6] The analysis of the February 2020 Quarterly Report of vacant positions for more than 90 days can be found on slide 37 of the presentation delivered by the SSUO Executive Committee on May 26, 2020. The presentation is available at the following link: http://www.psuo-ssuo.ca/fr-CA/negotiations.aspx  

Solidarity with Black Communities

The Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) expresses its solidarity with Black communities world-wide. The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet following police intervention in Toronto have sparked outrage rooted in centuries of anti-black racism, colonialism, and police brutality. 
 
We call on our provincial and federal governments to recognize that the post-secondary education sector can provide greater opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and racialized people, and to make new investments in our universities and colleges that are specifically aimed at realizing this objective. A universally accessible post-secondary education system will improve the representation of Black, Indigenous, and racialized students, professors, librarians, support staff, and senior administrators in our institutions, enhance the educational experience of all, and set the stage for more robust research and innovation. The colonial foundation of our institutions combined with the constant rise of tuition fees prevents more Black, Indigenous, and racialized people from participating and enriching academia, and by extension the discourses in our public spheres.  
 
The APUO calls once again on the Central Administration of the University to implement the ten demands of the APUO Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) caucus listed in a June 16, 2019 letter. Almost a full year has gone by with very little progress being made on achieving these demands. To become a safer space for Black, Indigenous, and racialized students and workers, our University must acknowledge and address the systemic racism present on its campus, and implement the demands put forth by those who have been affected by this form of discrimination. 
 
By way of this statement, the APUO renews its commitment to tackling anti-Black racism and racism targeted towards Indigenous and racialized communities.

LOU Update, Student Grants, SSUO Negotiations

Dear members,
 
As you know, to date, we have negotiated and signed five letters of understanding (LOUs) with the Central Administration that serve to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our working conditions.
 
This being said, our work is not done. The parties are still negotiating two very important LOUs. The first focuses on the performance assessment of members, and the second seeks to establish a collective operational framework regarding course development and delivery during both the Spring/Summer and Fall 2020 terms.  
 
COVID-19 Performance Assessment of Members
 
The objective of this proposed LOU is to ensure that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on members’ work shall not, in and of itself, be used to a member’s detriment by the Central Administration in performance evaluation, and career recommendation and decision processes under the Collective Agreement.
 
COVID-19 Course Development and Delivery
 
The objective of this proposed LOU is to provide an operational framework for teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing from the results of the APUO’s survey on Fall 2020 teaching, it focuses on ensuring that the resources identified by members as necessary for preparing and delivering high-quality distance courses are in place. This LOU was written with the following key elements in mind: 
 

  • The Central Administration, the APUO, and indeed the entire university community share the goal of ensuring the best possible learning experience for our students during the current academic year.
  • Distance teaching and learning introduce inequities as well as barriers to both accessibility and accommodations for educators and students alike. Moreover, distance teaching and learning research consistently identifies low student retention rates as a key concern.
  • Optimizing student retention amid the COVID-19 pandemic requires that members have the necessary resources and supports in place to design and deliver courses that provide quality education for all students.
  • Our students’ learning conditions share a symbiotic relationship with our working conditions.
  • Academic freedom, including academic freedom in teaching, as referred to in Article 9 of the Collective Agreement is a core value shared by the APUO and the Central Administration and will not be affected by this Letter of Understanding.
  • The continuing health and well-being of APUO members, students, and all university employees must be at the core of our decisions regarding the current academic year.

 
Our proposals set out the resources needed to support members in preparing and delivering courses during the exceptional circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with technical and pedagogical support assistance for the preparation and delivery of remote teaching, members would receive, among other resources, additional workload credits, class size reductions, and one-time increases to both the Professional Expenses Reimbursement (PER), and the Health Care Spending Account (HCSA) funds.
 
The APUO believes that in this exceptional time of crisis, the Central Administration needs to make significant investments in supporting our institution’s educational mandate and the overall health and well-being of all University employees. This includes extending benefits provided to APUO members to University employees who are members of different bargaining units. In other words, now is not the time for half-measures. The APUO and the Central Administration must do all that we can to ensure our University continues to provide the best possible learning experiences for all our students, and maintains its excellent reputation. 
 
We view the content of these proposed LOUs as serving the short and long-term interests of our institution and are confident that the Central Administration will work in partnership with the APUO in realizing these goals. We are counting on your continued support, and will keep you informed of any developments pertaining to the negotiations of these two LOUs. 

Covid-19 Student Emergency Aid Fund
 
The APUO is concerned about student retention, accessibility, and accommodations as we move to distance teaching for the Fall semester. Students have few job prospects amid the pandemic, and as announced by Jacques Frémont last week, the University will not offer any tuition fee reductions. 
 
This is why the APUO is currently engaging in discussions with our University to develop a campaign that will increase the amount of emergency funding available to students next fall. In this context, the APUO has committed $50 000 in additional student grant money to support students in financial need.[1] Details regarding the campaign will follow in the coming weeks. 
 
Support Staff of the University of Ottawa: the Central Administration Imposes a Final Offer Vote
 
On Tuesday, May 26, APUO members have received a communication regarding the Central Administration’s move to impose a final offer vote to members of the Support Staff of the University of Ottawa (SSUO) engaged in collective bargaining since March 2019. The APUO is deeply troubled by the Central Administration’s decision to file such a request with the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development as it breaks down any negotiations between the two parties and severely undermines the SSUO. 
 
The APUO has been in touch with the SSUO regarding their collective bargaining process over the last several months. Among the remaining matters in dispute are salary increases capped at 1% (under the rate of inflation), the Central Administration’s attempt to roll back the health benefits of SSUO members from 100% to 80%, and a lack of commitment on the Central Administration’s part to fill vacant SSUO positions.  
 
The Central Administration is taking advantage of the exceptional circumstances associated with the COVID-19 pandemic to strong-arm SSUO members into accepting an unfair deal. According to our research, the University of Ottawa is only the third university in the province of Ontario to file a request for a final offer vote in the last twenty years.[2] We are appalled by how the Central Administration has been engaging in negotiations with the SSUO, and we support the SSUO executive recommendation to their members to reject the Central Administration’s final offer. The APUO President has expressed the APUO’s concerns to President Frémont in a letter that you can read here.
 
The vote, which will be conducted by the Minister of Labour, Training and Skill Development, should take place within ten business days from May 25. An analysis of the issues at stake for both SSUO and APUO members will follow in the coming days.
 

 
[1] In 1972, the APUO established its Student Awards Program. This $50,000 is in addition to the $112,000 remitted to students on an annual basis.
[2] The other cases are: McMaster University – 2010, York University – 2000, 2015 and 2018. The only other cases in the postsecondary education sector were for Ontario Colleges in 2009/2010 and 2017.

Letters of understanding – COVID-19

Dear members,
 
As a follow up to the email sent on Friday evening regarding the letters of understanding (LOU) in effect for the exceptional period related to the COVID-19 pandemic, here are the five letters of understanding signed so far:

Yours sincerely,
 
The APUO

Update on letters of understanding – COVID-19

Dear members,
 
The APUO is pleased to announce that we have finally signed four new letters of understanding (LOUs) with the Central Administration to respond to some of the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Your mobilisation in demanding that the Central Administration join us in negotiations during various faculty forums and through emails has been crucial in successfully signing these LOUs. We are very grateful for your continued trust and support. 
 
Here are the four LOUs that we have signed today.
 
Academic and Professional Leave:
 
We strongly recommend that all members on or about to begin an academic or professional leave immediately read the LOU in full here. Do not hesitate to contact us for any advice you may need.
 
Labour Relations Processes:
 
For the duration of the exceptional circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the APUO and the Central Administration have agreed to extend the mandatory time limits to file letters of disagreement to 20 working days, and to 30 working days for notices of grievances, regardless of explicit time limits mentioned in letters from a Dean or the Employer to a member. This LOU includes terms for mediations, arbitrations and human rights complaints. You can view the LOU in full here.
 
Promotion and Tenure, and continuing Appointment Processes:
 
A procedure to continue reviewing applications for promotion and tenure and continuing appointments in accordance with the Collective Agreement has been agreed upon by the APUO and the Central Administration for the duration of the exceptional circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 Pandemic. For this period, Direct Peer Review of Teaching has been suspended. As per the LOU:

  • “Regular non-tenured Faculty Members with a contract will be granted a one-time extension of a period of 1 year to such Faculty Member’s contract.” Notwithstanding Article 25.1.7.3 of the Collective Agreement, “such Member must apply for tenure no later than the seventh year of continuous employment at a rank of Assistant Professor or higher at the University of Ottawa.”
  • “If requested by a Librarian member on a preliminary appointment, as referred to in Article 17.7.3.3 of the Collective Agreement, the length of their preliminary appointment shall be extended by a period of 6 months from the expiry date of the term of the preliminary appointment.”  

You can view the LOU in full here
 
Use of Professional Expenses Reimbursements (PER) for Retiring Members:
 
Members retiring on or after March 16, 2020 will be allowed a grace period of up to April 29, 2021 to use their remaining PER funds and internal and general research funds as of the date of retirement for allowable expenditures. You can view the LOU in full here.
 
 
Negotiations are ongoing to address the following issues:
 

  • COVID-19 Assessment of Scholarly Activities and Academic Service Activities. 
  • COVID-19 Impact on Fall 2020 course development and delivery.

 
Based on the results of the past and ongoing surveys, and on the discussions held during our virtual Coffee Hours, Board of Directors Meetings, and during our upcoming Annual General Meeting, the APUO may propose new LOUs to address other issues raised by members. We will provide further updates as discussions with the Central Administration continue to progress.