Week 4 – Chairs & Coordinators

Department Chairs & Coordinators 

“Everyone understands that becoming Chair means giving up on research, and giving up on promotion”

– FA Member
 As part of last Fall’s bargaining consultations, we spoke to department chairs and coordinators to get a better sense of their unique vantage point and specific concerns. What we learned is that chairs and coordinators often experience significant obstacles to advocating on behalf of FA members and supporting students. These obstacles include:

– Increased workload resulting from downloading of administrative tasks
– Significantly reduced administrative support
– Greater responsibility but less discretion in administrative matters
– Insufficient resources for maintaining programs
– Inadequate backfill for course releases
– Little recognition of their work in tenure/promotion processes

Taken together, these factors clearly introduce significant obstacles to an already challenging situation. Moreover, they make it increasingly difficult to develop a robust succession plan which is absolutely vital for maintaining existing programs and supporting our students.

But it doesn’t have to be this way!

The working conditions of our chairs and coordinators has a significant impact on our working conditions and our students’ learning conditions. Standing together, we can demand adequate resources and reasonable workloads for our chairs and coordinators. We can secure supports and working conditions that incentivize rather than dissuade FA members from taking on these important responsibilities. We can create an environment that prioritizes our students’ education rather than an ever-increasing managerialism and bureaucracy.

You are UPEI
As we head into bargaining for our next Collective Agreement, we have an opportunity to make sure that UPEI Administration hears our concerns and acts on them. The key to success is collective action: there has never been a better time for us to work together on issues that affect academic staff, students, UPEI workers, and the entire Island community.
 
Here’s how you can do your part:
 Talk to us: Tell us how these issues have been affecting you HERE.
Get involved: Join us for regular meetings and consider joining an FA committee or serving as a grievance officer.
Show your support: Use our downloadable logos as your photo for online meetings and lectures. Download them HERE.
Stay in the loop: to prevent communications disruptions as we head into negotiations, share your personal email address HERE.
Stay social: share social media content to help spread the word. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook by clicking on the icons below.
  
Together, We Are UPEI. 

Collective Bargaining 101

In a non-unionized environment, workers negotiate their working conditions with their employers on an individual basis. In this environment, individual workers often have more difficulty negotiating favourable terms and little recourse should an employer decline to adhere to the negotiated terms of an employment contract. 

In contrast, in a unionized environment workers are in a position to bargain collectively to improve their working conditions. At UPEI, our collective agreement is between the UPEI Board of Governors and the UPEI Faculty Association which is recognized under the PEI Labour Act as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent for all UPEI academic teaching staff (Bargaining Unit #1) and clinical veterinary professionals (Bargaining Unit #2).

The negotiated terms of our collective agreement outline the obligations of both parties in our working environment and provides robust mechanisms (grievance/arbitration) for addressing collective agreement violations for the duration of our agreement. Our collective agreement also identifies specific timelines and procedures for renegotiating our collective agreement.

In anticipation of our collective agreement expiring on July 1, 2022, the UPEI Faculty Association has been busy preparing for the next round of bargaining. The following provides a rough timeline of preparations up to the present:

March 2021 FA participates in CAUT Chief Negotiators Workshop

April 2021 FA members appoint the UPEIFA Bargaining Team

July 2021 FA Executive Committee / Negotiations Team participate in CAUT  Collective Bargaining Workshop

August-October 2021 FA Strikes a Bargaining Committee and begins Member Consultations

November 2021 FA sends out the Bargaining Survey to all FA Members

December 2021 FA Members vote unanimously in support of FA Bargaining Mandate

December 2021 – Present FA Bargaining Team drafts bargaining language in consultation with FA Members

Week 3 – Contract Academic Staff

A Tale Of Three Professors 

“We have to face the real issue that affects all teaching staff at UPEI: that the existence of a low-paid underclass of professors devalues teaching and research, and provides the basis for administration’s arguments that these do not need to be supported. The Academy doesn’t value the very things that the Academy exists to provide: knowledge and education.”

– FA Member

Spot the difference:
Increasingly, full-time FA members report feeling overwhelmed. As UPEI continues to rely on Contract Academic Staff (Sessional Instructors / Term Appointments) to cover teaching, a shrinking number of tenured and tenure-track faculty are having to shoulder heavier service and administrative commitments all while struggling to maintain a productive research program.
It is in our collective interest to acknowledge and address the challenges faced by Contract Academic Staff at UPEI. Their working conditions have significant implications not only for our students’ education but for all of us who value reasonable workloads, collegial governance, and academic freedom.
Myths About Contract Academic Staff at UPEI:

 Myth #1: Sessional Instructors and Term Faculty are temporary backfill, which is necessary to provide flexibility for research leave etc.

The Truth: Many Sessional Instructors (SI) at UPEI have been teaching multiple courses per year for years, sometimes for decades. A quick look at the Sessional Seniority Roster reveals 70 SI who have taught 25 or more 3-credit courses, and a number who have taught as many as 60 or more. This is not temporary backfill. It’s exploitation. Likewise, many departments count an increasing number of Term Faculty within their ranks, many employed for only 8-10 months of the year. It is not unheard of for FA members to remain on these precarious, often part-year contracts for years at a time with little prospect of converting to more secure employment.

 Myth #2: Contract Academic Staff at UPEI receive equal pay for work of equal value

The Truth: A 5-course teaching load at UPEI is generally understood to encompass 50% of a full-time member’s employment responsibilities. Take, for example, an Associate Professor on Step 4 at $108,174 per year salary plus another 20% for benefits: the value of each course taught by that faculty member comes to $12,981. Meanwhile, the maximum per-course stipend available for a Sessional Instructor with 10+ years of teaching experience in 2021/2022 is $7140, including 6% “in lieu of benefits”. In addition, many Contract Academic Faculty provide service by sitting on department committees (departments are required to include a Sessional representative in departmental decision-making), often for little to no additional pay.In the classroom, full-time faculty and Contract Academic Staff have identical duties and responsibilities. If UPEI values teaching and is committed to providing students with a world-class education, how do we reconcile poverty-level compensation for a significant proportion of our teachers with UPEI’s commitment to teaching excellence?


 You are UPEIAs we head into bargaining for our next Collective Agreement, we have an opportunity to make sure that all teaching staff at UPEI are treated fairly and equally. There has never been a better time for us to work collectively on these issues that affect academic staff, students, UPEI workers, and the entire Island community.
 
Here’s how you can do your part:
 
* Talk to us: Tell us how these issues have been affecting you or your department. HERE 
* Stay in the loop: to prevent communications disruptions as we head into negotiations, share your personal email address. This is especially important for Sessional and partial-year Term Members! HERE
* Get involved: Join us for regular meetings, and consider joining an FA committee or serving as a grievance officer.
* Show your support: Use our downloadable logos as your photo for online meetings and lectures. Download them: HERE
* Stay social: share social media content to help spread the word. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook by clicking on the icons below.
 
 
Together, We Are UPEI. 

Week 2 – UPEI by the Numbers

“They won’t hire tenure-track and we can’t find sessionals. We all end up taking overloads year after year just to keep the program running. How are we meant to do research at the same time?”“We are chronically understaffed. We are beyond tired, with no recognition of how it’s impacting the other areas of our work.
– FA Members

Last Fall, many of you completed a survey and participated in a series of consultations to ensure that your priorities are reflected in the next round of collective bargaining. The stories you shared make it clear that although we work in a variety of positions and locations across campus, our concerns and priorities are remarkably similar. Over the last decade, UPEI has expanded in scope and in enrolment. At the same time, resources for existing programs and support for academic staff has declined. Despite our university growing significantly, within the last decade the number of full-time faculty has remained virtually unchanged. 
Increasingly, UPEI academic staff have found it necessary to:
take on overloads to maintain programs; teach larger and larger courses without any additional support; spend their remaining time completing downloaded administrative tasks. In addition, the over-reliance on contract academic staff (sessional and term instructors) has led to the exploitation of individuals who teach – in some cases for decades at a time – for poverty-level wages with no job security, pension, or benefits. 

Without sufficient research space and dedicated backfill, faculty often struggle to maintain research programs or initiate new lines of research. Many departments and programs lack a critical mass of faculty to undertake much-needed curricular renewal.
 
Many of you have made it clear that you are exhausted, burned-out, and disheartened. 
 
The pressures on faculty have only been made worse by the pandemic. We have risen to the occasion and met every challenge that has been thrown at us since the beginning of this global health crisis. Yet in contrast to our colleagues across the country, we have done so with few supports.

Our Working Conditions Are Our Students’ Learning ConditionsOur students are not unaffected by this lack of investment in faculty: among other things, they experience larger class sizes, struggle to find the courses needed to complete their degrees, and receive less support from instructors who are overworked and under-resourced.

You are UPEI
 As we head into bargaining for our next Collective Agreement, we have an opportunity to make sure that UPEI Administration hears our concerns and acts on them. There has never been a better time for us to work collectively on issues that affect academic staff, students, UPEI workers, and the entire Island community.
 
Here’s how you can do your part:
 Talk to us: Tell us how these issues have been affecting you HERE
Get involved: Join us for regular meetings, and consider joining an FA committee or serving as a grievance officer.
Show your support: Use our downloadable logos as your photo for online meetings and lectures. Download them HERE
Stay in the loop: to prevent communications disruptions as we head into negotiations, share your personal email address HERE
Stay social: share social media content to help spread the word. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook by clicking on the icons below. 
 
Together, We Are UPEI. 

Week 1 – We Are UPEI

“I’m teaching a class of 400 students, I could use a little help over here.”
– FA Member

 
As we head into bargaining for our next collective agreement this spring, we at the FA want to share information with all of our colleagues about the issues, and about the bargaining process. 

We are UPEI
UPEI Faculty Association members are teachers, researchers, nurses, emergency vets, and librarians. We take pride in our work, and we are committed to teaching and research excellence. We work hard to provide the best possible post-secondary experience for our students. The work of UPEI is the work we do every day. We are UPEI.
 
The UPEIFA negotiates and protects a strong Collective Agreement and works towards fair employment conditions for all who teach at UPEI. Bargaining on behalf of approximately 550 full-time and part-time academic staff, the FA is dedicated to advocating for our rights and pushing for better working conditions and a better university experience for all faculty, students, and staff.
 
Our working conditions are students’ learning conditions. When we don’t have the resources needed to do our work well, students’ learning conditions suffer. Issues that affect FA members affect our students as well.
 
You are UPEI
With our Collective Agreement expiring on June 30, 2022, it has never been more important to ensure that UPEI Administration hears our concerns and that we work collectively on issues that affect academic staff, students, UPEI workers, and the entire Island community.
 
Here’s how you can do your part to send this message to UPEI Administration:

Show your support: Use our downloadable logos as your photo for online meetings and lectures. Download them HERE.
Stay in the loop: To prevent communications disruptions as we head into negotiations, share your personal email address HERE.
Stay social: Share social media content to help spread the word. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook by clicking on the icons below.  

Together, We Are UPEI.