Weekly Update – May 22

May 22, 2020

Weekly Update – May 22

CUASA Disappointed with Continued Lack of Meaningful Consultations

Last week, Carleton University released the Planning for Fall 2020 report of the Carleton University Scenario Planning (CUSP) Working Group. As we said in our update last Friday, we were disappointed to see this report was released prior to engaging in meaningful consultations with the Union, despite CUASA’s prior requests for such consultations to happen before any decisions were made.

We were again disappointed this week when the University President, Benoit-Antoine Bacon, said Carleton is “ready to safely start to broaden the scope of our on-campus research activities”. President Bacon linked to a set of principles and procedures developed by Vice-President (Research) Rafik Goubran. This is a document the University released publicly without any consultation with CUASA, when it is our members who are the ones that engage in on-campus research.

CUASA asked the University for a special meeting of the Joint Committee for the Administration of the Agreement (JCAA) to discuss the Planning for Fall 2020 report. When we saw the release of the document on research continuity get released this week, we added that item to the agenda as well. This special JCAA meeting took place yesterday, where CUASA was made aware that the Deputy Provost was unable to speak to our questions or concerns because she was not party to the preparation of the document on resuming research activities.

At this time, CUASA’s representatives on the JCAA have no confidence in President Bacon, Provost Jerry Tomberlin, or Deputy Provost Lorraine Dyke. Carleton is not acting “in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect” under Article 34.3 of the collective agreement. Despite our repeated requests for meaningful consultations, we have no choice but to believe that the Employer views consulting with the Union as nothing more than an afterthought.

Given the severity of the breakdown in recognizing the Union’s rights on this matter, we have no choice but to apprise our members that escalated measures may be necessary. Carleton University does not get to set aside the collective agreement simply because of the unprecedented times we find ourselves in.

We asked the University for campus-wide, public consultations on any plans to reopen the campus so that all workers would have a fair opportunity to give input. We are continuing to learn that the University is engaging in many external discussions without fair disclosure to its community. We also take issue with the artificial deadlines the administration is giving the unions. A few days for “feedback” are insufficient considering the gravity of the situation. The provincial government made itself clear that no doors are to reopen unless a business is ready. Plans developed by a select few who do not perform the grassroots work of the university lack the insight necessary to get the real job done.

We have specifically asked that the Vice-President (Research) attend the next JCAA meeting, scheduled for May 27, so that we can ask questions on the principles and procedures for on-campus research. CUASA calls on the university to start being more transparent and collaborative in its planning processes and to release its draft documentations for all plans affecting the community, including joint efforts and initiatives with other universities being planned behind boardroom doors, or with public health authorities, without any further delay. Now more than ever, the University should be taking the added steps to engage in meaningful consultations on any plans for future terms, or the reopening of the campus.

Until CUASA is confident that its members have all the resources, support services, and equipment they need to maintain a safe workspace, we will not endorse any plan of the University. We must be satisfied that the collective agreement and all laws are satisfied, including the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Grievance Advisories

Grievance Issue – Advisory 1

It has been brought to the Association’s attention that members are being advised by various sources, including the EDC, that they will be responsible for providing technical support and assistance during their courses. Members were also informed that part of the rationale for this self-support was also because there was no support being provided during evening classes. Additionally, members are being discouraged from synchronous learning formats for this reason.

We wish to remind our members that they continue to have the right to organize their courses, even if online, as they deem appropriate. Members should not be discouraged from synchronous learning formats via implicit threats that technical assistance will not be available.

It is incumbent on the employer to provide the necessary services and support to our members even during these difficult times. If members are informed that their classes are being scheduled during periods of time when they will not have access to proper technical support, they are advised to make an immediate request for their classes to be changed to times when the Employer is able to provide these services. For those members who require special timetabling to accommodate their home-life teaching situations, they too are entitled to support during these times. If members are informed that they are not able to receive the same level of technical support, members must be made aware that their human rights are being violated in the denial of their request for accommodation.

For further advice, please contact cuasa@cuasa.ca without delay.

Grievance Issue – Advisory 2

This week the document “Principles and Procedures for On-campus Research at Carleton University” was released without any consultation with CUASA. One major concern to the Association is the threat of potential discipline (Appendix II) for failed “compliance” with these procedures or any future procedures the Employer intends on implementing.

Members are reminded that it is the Employer who is required by emergency laws to properly plan and provide the necessary resources and equipment to safely reopen. The Association takes issues with the intended investigative procedures and the lack of expressed rights that unionized workers have in any alleged disciplinary situation.

Members who believe they are being unfairly accused or threatened with discipline under this new policy should contact cuasa@cuasa.ca without delay.

Concerns About Work Hours

We have heard concerns from members that they feel they are being pressured to work and respond to emails on weekends and holidays under the pandemic situation. We wish to remind CUASA members that under Article 13.2(g), you cannot be required to respond to emails or phone calls from students between 5:00pm and 8:30am on weeknights or 5:00pm Friday and 8:30am on Monday. While this reference is specific to students, the Association’s position is that the university administration should not be expecting our members to work 24/7 in their virtual offices. Any members who are finding that the virtual nature of the pandemic workplace is being abused in this regard should contact cuasa@cuasa.ca.

CUASA Business and Events

Steering Committee Elections

We are pleased to welcome the following members to the Steering Committee, beginning July 1:

  • President: Angelo Mingarelli (incumbent)
  • Vice President: Brenda Vellino
  • Treasurer: Greg Franks
  • Chair, Grievance Policy and Administration: Chinnaiah Jangam
  • Salary and Benefits Officer: Brett Stevens
  • Professional Librarian Representative: Julie Lavigne

We extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to our outgoing Steering officers.

Nominations for Steering Positions

We are still accepting nominations for the following Steering positions:

  • External Relations Officer
  • Communications Officer
  • Chair, Equity
  • Chair, Nominations and Elections
  • Chair, Internal Affairs
  • Instructor Representative

Information on the nominations process can be found on our How to Volunteer page. The work of the Association continues, despite the current environment we find ourselves in. Remember that our Association is only as strong as its membership, so we count on the time and commitment of our members to achieve our goals. Some of these positions come with a course release subject to the availability of funds.

CUASA Confirmation and Promotion Workshops

Our workshops for Instructors and Librarians are taking place next week. The dates and times for the workshops are as follows:

  • Librarian Confirmation and Promotion – Tuesday, May 26, 9:30am-12:00pm
  • Instructor Confirmation and Promotion – Thursday, May 28, 9:30am-12:00pm

The workshops will be held virtually. If you plan to attend, please email msco@cuasa.ca to RSVP.

Academic Community at Large

CAUT Welcomes Research Support

CAUT welcomes the recent announcement from the federal government of $450 million in further support to the research community, but remains concerned that public universities and colleges remain ineligible for the federal wage subsidy. Read the full statement here.

Survey of Post-secondary Staff on the Impact of COVID-19

CAUT has launched a survey to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the working lives of staff at universities and colleges across the country. The survey is open until June 8 to those who were working at one or more Canadian post-secondary institution (universities, colleges, and polytechnics), in March of this year. It consists of approximately 30 questions—some multiple-choice and some open-ended—that should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. Access the survey here.

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