UWOFA and employer reach agreement on two Letters of Understanding

Following four months of negotiations with the employer to address the added burdens placed on Members’ working conditions and professional lives during the COVID -19 pandemic, UWOFA can announce that the following Letters of Understanding (LOU) to modify the Faculty Collective Agreement have been signed off. 

Implications of Technology:  

This LOU formally recognizes that the move to online delivering of course content will be officially called emergency remote teaching, not online teaching. This change in nomenclature acknowledges that the move to remote teaching is temporary and that faculty members are working under extraordinary circumstances. In other words, it is not business as usual. 

Clause 5.1 of the Faculty Collective Agreement Article Implications of Technology requires any decision to introduce alternative learning technologies (ALTs) in courses be done according to the normal decision-making process in the unit. UWOFA has agreed to temporarily waive these provisions and accept that teaching courses through emergency remote teaching is temporarily required due to the pandemic, following the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, by the provincial government. 

Annual Performance Evaluation (APE):  

1: APE will not be carried out in the 2020-2021 academic year. Members will not submit an Annual Report for this cycle. Instead, Members will receive Basic Salary Points (BSP) equal to the average BSP received in the three previous cycles. Full-Time Members appointed in the 2019/20 academic year shall receive the average Basic Salary Points of 2.2. Members will submit by November 15, 2021 their Annual Report for the 3-year period ending June 30, 2021.  

2: A Joint Working Group will be created to work out guidelines for taking into account the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergency remote teaching in subsequent cycles of annual performance evaluation. This is a critical task, as the pandemic has exacerbated inequities along gender and other lines with respect to time available to fulfil academic responsibilities. 

In addition to the two LOU described above, UWOFA continues to press the employer on other important issues affecting all of our Members: 

We expect to have good news soon regarding the use of data from Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching (SQCT).  

We are also pressing the employer to address the added workload faced by faculty transitioning course material online. Whereas Clause 9 of the collective agreement article Workload allows full-time faculty to request a Workload Review to compensate for increased teaching, part-time faculty have no such recourse. It is UWOFA’s position that part-time faculty should be compensated for this increased workload.  

UWOFA continues to press the employer to provide appropriate accommodation for Members working at home with the extra burden of caregiving responsibilities. Though many faculty members, librarians and archivists at Western can continue to do their work in an online environment, many are facing real challenges in balancing their work with caregiving responsibilities. If you need an accommodation, speak with your Dean. 

There is no LOU addressing sabbatical leave. Members whose leave was interrupted in March are encouraged to talk with their Dean about arranging to make up for research travel or other research work at another time through adjustment of their course assignments and timetable.  

UWOFA continues to insist on safe and equitable working conditions for all of our Members. More updates about our discussions with the Employer, and opportunities for your input, will be coming soon.