2018-2019 APUO Annual Report

Ratification of the Collective Agreement

On June 27, 2018, the APUO held a Special General Meeting at which members ratified a new Collective Agreement for the period starting on May 1, 2018, to April 30, 2021. Collective bargaining began in February 2018 and concluded after conciliation was filed by the Central Administration, following a mediation session with Arbitrator William Kaplan. Details regarding the new Collective Agreement are available on the APUO’s website: www.apuo.ca under the Collective Agreement section. 

As a result of collective bargaining, three ad-hoc joint committees were struck through letters of understanding with the Central Administration:

Academic Administrative Positions Working Group:
This joint working group will survey the departments and faculties to compile an inventory of roles and responsibilities related to academic administrative positions, such as vice-deans, chairs, and program directors, and gather data related to compensation (e.g., remuneration and course releases). The APUO and the Central Administration have mandated this committee to produce a report for the consideration of both parties. The APUO hopes to use this report in the next round of collective bargaining to help inform our positions on workload. 

Gender Salary Differentials Committee:
The mandate of the Committee is to identify existing gender-based pay differentials, and to recommend appropriate salary and other adjustments to correct these.

Teaching Personnel Equity Committee:
The mandate of the Committee is to investigate potential constitutional, bylaw, and procedural changes to the Teaching Personnel Committees (DTPC, FTPC, LPC and TPCI) in order to work towards ensuring proportional inclusion of equity-seeking group members and/or members with demonstrated expertise on the principles of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion on such committees. 

Student Surveys and Teaching Dossiers

On June 28, 2018, William Kaplan, the Arbitrator appointed to resolve the issue of Faculty Course Surveys and related matters, including the use of student evaluations of teaching (SETs) for promotion and/or tenure decisions, between the Ryerson Faculty Association and the Ryerson University, rendered a decision which highlights equity concerns among other limitations, when institutions rely on SETs to evaluate teaching.

At the University of Ottawa, the use of A-Reports (based on student surveys) is one of several elements considered in the promotion and tenure process. While the overall procedure to evaluate teaching at Ryerson University and our institution differ in many ways, the Kaplan ruling presents valid criticism and exposes limitations of some aspects of our current practice.

The Senate Committee on Teaching and Teaching Evaluations is currently looking into possible changes to the way teaching is evaluated at our institution and is considering the introduction of Teaching Dossiers. While Teaching Dossiers offer a more well-rounded review of faculty teaching, the APUO has not taken an official position on this matter due to the lack of detailed information provided by the Committee, including its potential impacts on the workload of members.  

As stated in Article 24 (Evaluation of Teaching) of the Collective Agreement, the APUO “shall be consulted at least three months before any proposed changes are submitted to the Senate for approval.” It is understood under this article that prior consent of the APUO is required to alter or remove from the A-Reports any of the items listed, that is, any element considered in the evaluation of the teaching of professors. Provisions on the APUO’s veto regarding changes to A-Reports in our Collective Agreement are strengthened by an arbitration that resulted in a positive outcome for the APUO.   

The APUO will inform members of any changes proposed by the Senate Committee on Teaching and Teaching Evaluations. In the interim, a letter of understanding between the Central Administration and the APUO mandates the parties to meet in May of each academic year for the next three years to review and discuss issues arising from the use of student survey data in career recommendations and decisions. 

113 members in the Faculty of Arts grieve Dean for changes to the credit allocation system

Dean Kee implemented a new practice of allocating reduced workload credits to regular faculty members who are teaching graduate courses with low enrollments. The practice awarded 0.5 credit per student in a required course with fewer than four students, and 0.5 credit per student in an optional course with fewer than five students. In addition, Dean Kee eliminated any credit allocation for directed studies of graduate students, which can be detrimental to the quality of programs across a number of departments. 

One hundred and thirteen members across all departments and schools within the Faculty of Arts signed on to the grievance. This was the largest group grievance in the APUO’s history. On April 3, a confidential settlement was reached between the APUO, its grievors, the Dean, and the Central Administration. If you have any questions regarding the settlement, please contact Brianne Carlson, Grievance Officer at apuogo@uottawa.ca

Lobby Meetings

Provincial Liberal Caucus

Members of the APUO Executive Committee met with Liberal Members of Provincial Parliament (MPP), Marie-France Lalonde and Nathalie DesRosiers, to discuss the need for a faculty renewal strategy and increased funding to colleges and universities in the province.

Provincial New Democratic Caucus

Following the Ford government’s announcement of a 10% tuition fee reduction, changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), and the introduction of voluntary student unionism, Chris Glover, NDP Critic for postsecondary education launched a provincial tour to meet with students, labour unions and Central Administrations, to hear their concerns regarding these changes. In February, Chris Glover met with the APUO, accompanied by Ottawa Centre MPP, Joel Harden. The APUO expressed its concerns with the proposed changes and underscored the need for greater public funding to our post-secondary institutions.

Members of the Progressive Conservative party of Ontario, including Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training Colleges and Universities, and MPP for Kanata-Carleton, have thus far declined all invitations to meet with faculty associations and OCUFA. 

Workload

Since 2017, APUO members have ramped up their mobilization efforts around the issue of workload. In the fall of 2017, nine professors spearheaded a letter campaign highlighting a growing concern around our increasing workload. Three hundred fifty-eight members signed the letter.

In the winter of 2018, the APUO and the Support Staff Union (SSUO) co-signed a letter echoing the concerns raised by the 358 members, and demanding the following:

1. putting an end to the hiring freeze of support staff;

2. that the Central Administration fill vacant support staff positions;

3. that Concur be optional for Professional Expense Reimbursements (PER) and other claims;

4. that the inputting of grades via uOzone be optional across all faculties. 

In March 2019, Vice-President Academic and Provost David Graham responded to the joint APUO-PSUO letter sent in the winter of 2018. In his letter, he acknowledges the challenges posed by Concur. 

“What is certainly clear, however, is that the way in which several of our administrative systems have been implemented has been wholly unsatisfactory from the standpoint of users. Concur is, of course, an excellent example of this: implemented in a variety of differentways from one unit to another, very often – as I understand it – tweaked in order to replicate previous paper-based systems, it is difficult to navigate and far more consuming of valuable staff and faculty time than it should be.”

– David Graham, VP Academic and Provost

In his letter, David Graham goes on to mention that the Associate Vice-President Financial Resources, Marie-Claude Fillion has presented a proposal that will overhaul the Concur implementation, and that could remedy some of the issues APUO members have been experiencing with the platform. The APUO will meet with Marie-Claude Fillion at the end of April. 

Strategic Thinking and Action Forum

Following a successful and well attended Strategic Thinking and Action Forum (STAF) in April 2018 on the financial situation of the University of Ottawa, the APUO hosted two more STAFs.  

On November 6, the APUO hosted a STAF on the issue of the workload. The workload of APUO Members has significantly increased in recent years. This increase can be explained by, among other things, the growth in admissions, the multiplication of programs of study, the under-funding in the hiring of regular professors, librarians and support staff, the precariousness of teaching work, as well as the repeated practice of austerity budgets generating significant surpluses, subsequently accumulated or reinvested in administration (managerialization) and consultant fees (privatization), rather than in fulfilling the university mission. In this forum, we heard from members on the causes and effects of increases to workload, as well as means and strategies available to the APUO and its members to deal with the problem.

On March 6, as a follow-up to the November STAF on workload, the APUO held a STAF on university governance. For a growing number of academic staff unions in Canada, it is well established that increased participation of professors, students, and employees in university governance is essential to reverse the most deleterious trends in the quality of education and university life, whether it is the rise of precarious work, the increase in shadow work, the centralization of decisions, and excessive bureaucratization. Professor Christian Rouillard delivered a presentation on governance at the University of Ottawa and highlighted the lack of faculty and librarian representation throughout the decision-making structure at our institution. 

Listening Tour on the issue of workload

This winter, the APUO launched a Listening Tour of academic units to listen to members discuss the challenges related to our growing workload, and identify potential solutions that the APUO could table in the next round of collective bargaining. A common issue raised in every unit is shadow work (administrative tasks previously taken on by support staff), a problem compounded by the new digital platforms and growing bureaucratization. Other common concerns include arbitrary credit allocations by Deans, and the need for more teaching assistants and regular professors to respond to the needs of our student population. The APUO will publish a full report on the issue of workload in the fall of 2019.

Members who wish to invite the APUO to their unit Assembly in order to discuss the issue of workload can do so by emailing apuoco@uottawa.ca. The APUO has attended, or has confirmed its attendance at eighteen assemblies so far. 

Coalition and Solidarity Work

At a time when the Doug Ford government is imposing cuts to our public services, and attacking student and workers’ rights, the APUO has strengthened its ties to other labour unions and community organizing initiatives. 

Association of Part-Time Professors collective bargaining 

In January, the Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa (APTPUO) held a strike vote as they were heading into conciliation with the Central Administration. The APUO sent a letter to President Jacques Frémont in support of the APTPUO and their demands for an end to the practice of unpaid labour, for the introduction of pay equity and fair wage hikes, job security, and academic inclusion. The APTPUO and the Central Administration successfully concluded an agreement at the eleventh hour, avoiding a strike and leading to the ratification of a new collective agreement by APTPUO members. 

Campus-wide inter-union Town Hall 

On March 22, the APUO, the APTPUO, the Support Staff Union of the University of Ottawa (SSUO), the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2626 (CUPE 2626), the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), and the Graduate Student Association des étudiant.e.s diplômé.e.s (GSAED) hosted a campus-wide town hall to discuss Doug Ford’s announced changes to the post-secondary education sector. These changes include: 

  • A new tuition fee framework which includes a 10% tuition fee reduction for domestic students for 2019-2020 and a tuition freeze for 2020-2021.
  • Reforms to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and the elimination of the free tuition grant.
  • The introduction of voluntary student unionism.

Students, faculty, librarians, and other University personnel were present to ask questions and express their concerns regarding these significant changes.

Ottawa post-secondary education sector coalition

Since January 2019, a coalition of labour and student unions from all colleges and universities in Ottawa have been meeting to discuss key issues on their campuses, and to discuss collective actions in response to the Doug Ford agenda. The coalition shared the petition launched by the Canadian Federation of Students, calling on the Ford government to reverse its changes to OSAP and the planned introduction of voluntary student unionism in September 2019. The coalition also prepared a response to the provincial budget tabled on April 11 and is supporting local actions to protect our public sector, with an emphasis on demanding more funding for a high quality publicly funded system of post-secondary education. 

Fight for $15 and Fairness

Fight for $15 and Fairness is a community-based grassroots organization advocating for a $15 minimum wage and for improved working conditions that include equal pay for equal work, rules that protect workers, and the right to organize and unionize in Ontario. 

The APUO has been attending their regular meetings to support their mobilization efforts in the community. The APUO also bottom-lined, in conjunction with Fight for $15 and Fairness, the November 2 rally at Merilee Fullerton’s (Minister of Training Colleges and Universities) constituency office in response to the Ford government’s Bill 47.

Changes introduced in Bill 47 include the repeal of equal pay for equal work for casual, part-time and temporary worker employee classifications, and curtails existing protections against sex-based pay discrimination.

Canadian Association of University Teachers 

The APUO is an active member of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), a national advocacy group defending academic freedom, shared governance, fair employment and fair copyright alongside its 72,000 members. 

In October 2018, the APUO sent four members to the CAUT Aboriginal Scholars Conference. These four members reported back to discuss the role that the APUO could play in supporting efforts to Indigenize academia at the University of Ottawa. 

In January 2019, the CAUT offered a Membership Mobilization workshop. President Susan Spronk, Mobilisation Agent Daniel Paré, and the Communications and Research Officer Anne-Marie Roy participated in the workshop.  

Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations

The APUO is an active member of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). OCUFA is the voice of 17,000 university faculty and academic librarians across Ontario. Their mandate is to maintain and enhance the quality of Ontario’s post-secondary education system, and to advance the professional and economic interests of its members. 

Equity Caucuses

In an effort to identify different issues faced by APUO members, the APUO organized two Equity Caucuses. These caucuses took place in March 2019, the first caucus was for APUO members who are black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC), and the second for members who identify as Two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (2SLGBTQ). These two caucuses were successful and very promising. The APUO is hosting a third caucus on April 17 on Mental Health, and will soon organize a fourth caucus for members with disability. 

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (EDIC) is a joint consultative committee of the APUO and the Central Administration, with the mandate to provide recommendations to both parties regarding measures and procedures that support efforts of achieving employment equity, diversity, and inclusion.   

A barrier faced by the EDIC has been the fact that the Central Administration does not routinely collect data on equity and diversity. The little data collected is not shared with the EDIC for analysis. This lack of transparency poses challenges for the EDIC to understand the scope of existing gaps in equitable representation at our institution, and prevents it from setting targets to redress these.

The Committee recommends the following priorities for the University and APUO to consider:

1.  Collect data and report on progress annually.

2.  Develop equity, diversity and inclusion targets related to gender, race, disability, and indigeneity and make them public.

3.  Provide bias reducing training to hiring committees.

4.  Appoint trained APUO members to serve as Equity officers on all hiring
committees.

5.  Make funding available for professors to integrate equity content into course content.

6.  Put the University of Ottawa forward as a pilot institution for the “Made in Canada Athena SWAN” (Scientific Women’s Academic Network). 

7.  Incorporate the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, and consult with Indigenous communities for all diversity and equity initiatives at the University.

The EDIC has tabled its report to the President of the University and the President of the APUO in January 2019. The Executive has offered to meet with the President of the University and the members of the committee to discuss the recommendations in the report.

Internal Affairs

APUO Human Resources

Administrative Assistant: 

Manon Charette worked as the APUO Administrative Assistant for 20 years until her retirement in January 2019. We wish her a very happy retirement. Lydia Gableman filled her position. We welcome her in our team.

Paralegal:

Due to the growing number of mediation and arbitration, a new paralegal position was created to support the work of our Legal Counsel. Thalassia Newey was hired for this new position. We welcome her in our team.

Liaison Officer:

Paul-Eugène Parent, a Full Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, was appointed last year to be the APUO Liaison Officer. In April 2019, the Board of Directors renewed his term for a second year. We thank him for accepting to serve a second year. 

Updates to the Constitution and Bylaws 

In June 2018, the Executive Committee of the APUO struck an ad hoc committee to examine the Constitution and Bylaws and propose updates. Part of this exercise was to ensure that the APUO’s governing documents were in full compliance with the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility of Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). 

Here is a summary of Constitutional and Bylaw amendments related to accessibility:

–  The APUO updated its Policy on Accessibility Standards for Customer Service to include a statement shared by the APUO when planning events. This statement invites members to request accommodations necessary for their full participation in APUO events by contacting the APUO office no later than three working days before an event.  

– The language in Section 6.VII. of the Policy on Accessibility Standards for Customer Service was updated to include modern means of communications to advise members of temporary disruptions to the office or the wheelchair lift. 

– Members may now vote by postal ballot for members of the Executive Committee, provided there is a 7-working day notice, and that there is an
accommodation-related reason that the member cannot personally attend the General Meeting in question. 

–  Members may now vote by proxy in General Meetings, provided there is a 7-working day notice, and a documented accommodation-related reason that the member cannot personally attend the General Meeting in question. 

The modifications to the Constitution and Bylaws were recommended by the Executive to the Board of Directors, and need to be approved by the General Assembly.