Thanksgiving is just past, and with it an opportunity to consider our privilege and good fortune. As difficult as things are, there are always moments of joy or beauty that we can find. I wish you many of those moments.
Last week I met with the other FA Presidents that are part of FPSE, and top of mind for all of us is concern for the well being of our members. We all shared common stories of faculty being overworked and under great strain. We shared concern for your mental well being. We shared frustration that our institutions seem unwilling to take tangible steps to try and alleviate your strain. We are working on strategies to collectively confront our institutions.
We are working with the college to ensure that we have accurate lists of who is eligible for retroactive pay. Faculty (auxiliary, term, or regular) who worked between April of 2019 and the present are eligible for the 2% raise on those hours worked. We are sorry it is taking so long to sort this out, but it has been so long since we’ve had a raise, that we are quite out of practice! It might take another month to sort this out. Thanks for your patience.
Pierre Eliot Trudeau (stay with me here…)
I am working on a theory about the way we engage in difficult conversations within institutions, particularly VCC. The other day I showed my son the clip of Trudeau senior’s famous “just watch me” speech. What was interesting to me was that in the clip, recorded in 1970, Trudeau stood on the steps of the House of Commons and calmly debated his point with reporters for about 20 minutes. I can’t imagine this happening now. Politicians breeze past reporters, and reporters often don’t want to dialogue because they need the sound bite. This reminds me of a few recent experiences at the college. The first was our round of bargaining. We had a number of items that we wanted to really discuss and hash out with the college, but they would not engage. They were only interested in an oppositional exchange of tit for tat. The other is my experiences at the Board of Governor meetings. Each meeting I sit there and see things get passed without any questions or dialogue. The constituency groups, faculty, CUPE, and the students, are treated like barely tolerated intruders who get their five minutes to speak and no more. And finally, our recent experiences working with HR on a number of issues of importance to faculty. We want to engage in dialogue; the college wants to shut dialogue down. I find these responses so puzzling. Surely it is in the best interest of the college if they work closely and engage fully with us. Obviously faculty (as well as support staff and students) would be better served by the recognition of our common goal: the betterment of VCC for all of its constituents. Where is the willingness on the part of the college to really work with the VCCFA?
LOU (collective agreement variances in response to the covid-19 pandemic)
As you may know, we have been negotiating an LOU with the college (it is HR who negotiates these things on behalf of the college). We originally sent a draft to the college at the end of July and they got back to us in September and we have been meeting and negotiating since then. We wanted a continuation of the things we had in the spring LOU:
- Evaluations and appraisals in abeyance during the pandemic
- Extension of the 24- month period for those terms who have a break in service due to the pandemic
The key thing for us in this LOU was some tangible relief for faculty, and we suggested the following:
- That Deans engage in discussions with DH’s around appropriate class size during the pandemic
- That all reasonable costs associated with remote work be covered by the college
- That the college commit to informing faculty of any Covid-19 related T2200 tax form changes that might benefit faculty.
The college did not agree to any of these items.
Then we discovered that the college was trying to block the regularization of a faculty member who was not able to have a second evaluation due to Covid-19. We will fight that decision. This issue comes down to different interpretations of the collective agreement. That difference of interpretation aside, we are offended that the college would choose to hold up regularizations unnecessarily. Since the college decided to be hard nosed on this issue – an issue that makes very little difference to the college and so much difference to faculty, we said we would not be signing the LOU.
We are also filing a grievance since the college is not fulfilling its obligations under article 6.6.7 and 6.6.8 of the common agreement that says the following:
- “Employees delivering or developing distributed learning courses shall be provided with office space and the appropriate technology to support them in their work” and
- “Where an employee has been assigned an online course and agrees to the employer’s request to teach all or part of that course from home, the employer shall provide the appropriate technology and pay for the reasonable and approved cost of delivering those courses from home.”
In light of this, please save all receipts you have incurred and do incur from now on.
If you have questions about regularization or evaluations please contact us.
Annual General Meeting
Our AGM will be held November 26 at 3:00 pm via zoom. Sadly, there will be no dinner! This is the meeting where we hold our elections for President, VP, Executive and Stewards. Information about nominations, voting, and the meeting package will be sent to you in the weeks to come.
Anti-Racism Working Group (repeat of message we emailed to you a few weeks ago)
I am writing to update you on anti-racism initiatives the VCCFA is embarking on. In the wake of the George Floyd murder, a small group of faculty began to meet to support one another, talk about racism within this institution, and to envision an anti-racism pathway here at VCC. The group approached the VCCFA about getting involved, and we made a $5000 financial commitment for start-up money (approved in our budget at the general meeting September 24th).
As a first step, we invited Sacha Medine, a counsellor who specializes in anti-racist and equity work, to help us determine a way forward. From our initial meeting with him, we determined that the next step is to come to you, the faculty, and hear what you think is needed. Do we want to offer workshops? Do we need small group sessions that are more personal in nature? What racism have you experienced? And for the many of us who are white, what work do we need to do in order to better support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) colleagues?
This work is sensitive, and our group feels a responsibility to move slowly so that we don’t do further harm. We also recognize the difficulty you may feel in speaking up. This is new work for many of us, and it is painful work for those who have lived with racism. We don’t claim to have the answers, and we don’t claim to know the right way to do this. We only know that our desire is to make things better, and we want to invite your involvement in whatever way makes sense and feels safe to you.
We are writing to invite your participation. Would you be open to a conversation with one of us? These conversations would be informal and directed by you. How should our anti-racism budget be spent? What particular topics might you be interested in? Is there healing that needs to be done? What ideas would you like to bring forward?
If you would like to have a conversation, please contact Karen Brooke (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will put you in touch with one of the group. Alternatively, if you know someone on the committee, feel free to reach out to them directly. We would like to have these conversations over the next several weeks.
We thank you for your participation.