Week 8 – We Are UPEI

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.

Over the last 12 weeks, we have shared with you the concerns and priorities of FA Members across our campus. Together, what we have learned is that:

  • despite the recent exponential growth in scope and enrolment at UPEI, the number of permanent full-time faculty has remained stagnant.
  • an increasing over-reliance on contract academic staff is affecting workloads for full-time faculty, while simultaneously exploiting the people who are stuck in dead-end contracts teaching for poverty-level wages.
  • the under-resourcing of our Library is creating impossible working conditions for our Librarian members, and having a negative impact on access to research.
  • high teaching loads, downloading of administrative tasks, and a lack of resources is creating a challenging environment for FA members to develop and maintain productive research programs. 
  • increasing responsibilities and workloads combined with decreased discretion in decision-making is making the job of Chairs difficult, and disincentivizing members who might otherwise take on these important roles.
  • many of us are concerned that we are increasingly being sidelined in academic decisions that affect our work and the institution as a whole. 

The result of all of this: FA members are often burned out and disheartened; it is becoming increasingly difficult to retain faculty; there are significant challenges in maintaining programs; our research capacity is diminishing which is having an impact on our academic and research standards.

Our working conditions are students’ learning conditions.

When we don’t have the resources needed to do our work well, students’ learning conditions suffer. An investment in teaching and in supporting faculty is an important investment in our students, now and into the future.

You Are UPEI

As we prepare to negotiate a new Collective Agreement with UPEI – our first since 2016 – we have a unique opportunity to improve our working conditions. Working together, we can change the outlook for ourselves, our colleagues, our students, and our community. But it will take all of us, together, to make this change happen.

Here’s are four important actions you can take to help right now:

  • Register and attend the online FA AGM on Friday April 8 (Noon-2:00p), and join the discussion about how we can build a better UPEI: Click here to register
  • Give us your personal (non-UPEI) email address so that you can be sure to receive all updates on bargaining:       click here
  • Show your support by downloading and using our downloadable logos, and download and print our logos and put them on your office door to demonstrate your solidarity with your colleagues and your support for your UPEIFA bargaining team.
  • Follow us on social media by clicking the icons below, and join the public conversation by commenting on and sharing posts.

Together, We Are UPEI.

Week 7 – Collegial Governance

“There is no formula around how much money one department gets vs. another, it’s at the whim of Administration. It leaves us all fighting for Administrative support, it creates inequities and leaves departments underfunded.”

-FA Member

During our consultation meetings and in the bargaining survey distributed last fall, many of our colleagues expressed concern that UPEI’s academic staff are increasingly marginalized from important academic decisions that impact our university. 

These include concerns that:

  • Decisions are now almost universally being made by administrators behind closed doors, without input from academic staff (for instance, the “Vacancy Committee” which makes final decisions regarding what academic vacancies will be filled, regardless of instructional need)
  • Decisions affecting our ability to perform our academic function – teaching and research – are increasingly governed by spreadsheets rather than resource requirements
  • Timelines and deadlines appear to be governed by the needs of administrators, rather than by the academic schedule 
  • UPEI Senate has been relegated to a “rubber-stamp” body, retained primarily to give legitimacy to decisions already taken by senior administrators, with little to no accountability 
  • All of this is leading to an erosion of academic and research standards that is having a negative effect on the UPEI campus community.

What can we do?

While provincial legislation establishes the bicameral governance structure that enables academics to contribute to the academic trajectory of our institution, as members of an academic labour union, together we can secure fair and reasonable working conditions for academic staff, including the ability and resources to participate in collegial decisions that have a direct impact on individual areas of our university, and on the institution as a whole.

Collective bargaining helps secure the foundation for collegial governance and ensures that we are involved in decisions that shape our University now and in the future.

You are UPEI

Here’s how you can do your part:

  •  Attend the AGM on Friday, April 8th – Register HERE
  • 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 6 – Research at UPEI


“To continue to be successful in my competitive field, my laboratory will need to publish lots…I worry that with the teaching loads at UPEI, the time spent away from these important tasks just means my laboratory will not remain competitive and all these years spent establishing my research career will be for nothing.”

FA Member

Research is an important component of the work FA members do at UPEI. However, as in other areas, we are seeing that a lack of investment in research by Administration is having a negative impact on our ability to effectively conduct research at UPEI. This is clearly demonstrated by the precipitous fall in research money brought in by UPEI researchers over the last decade:



In late summer and fall 2021, we met with several groups of researchers to understand their concerns and priorities for the next round of bargaining. Some of the impediments to research they identified include:

– High teaching loads/lack of course release 
– Long delays in reviewing research contracts 
– Overly burdensome procurement and HR processes
– Administrative unwillingness to accept even minor research risk
– Lack of investment in Library resources resulting in poor access to research literature
– Lack of investment in research infrastructure, even in cases when money for this purpose is included in the grant 

As the only University in the province, it is important that UPEI maintain its research capacity. Now is the time for us to work collectively to strengthen research supports for the benefit of all FA members, students, and wider Island community.


You are UPEI
 
Here’s how you can do your part:
 Attend the AGM on Friday, April 8th
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 5 – Librarians

Librarians

 “To do effective research, you need access to research… you can’t have an excellent University without an excellent Library.”- FA Member
UPEI’s academic Librarians are an important group within our Faculty Association. Like faculty, Librarians hold terminal degrees in their fields; undertake and publish research; participate in University governance; and engage in professional practice that includes teaching and curriculum development. Unlike other FA members, UPEI’s Librarians curate a budget and provide teaching and research support on behalf of the entire University. 
In Fall 2021, the Faculty Association met with the FA Librarians to hear their concerns. Some of the challenges they brought to our attention include:

Reduced numbers of full-time, permanent track librarians resulting in unsustainable workloads: the number of Librarians has decreased even as enrolments have increased and new programs have been implemented.

Static budgets that don’t take into account industry price inflation, program growth, or enrolment growth, meaning that Librarians must make difficult financial decisions about what resources must be cut.

New programs and faculties that have required expanded resources and support, putting additional pressure on an already stretched budget and overworked Librarians.   

The MacLeans University Rankings further illustrate the story:
Maclean’s measures the percentage of a university’s operating budget allocated to library services.
 
Maclean’s also measures the percentage of the library budget spent on acquisitions, including electronic resources: this speaks to how judiciously Librarians curate resources
within the budget they are given.
 
It is clear that our Librarians are doing their absolute best with increasingly inadequate resources. It is equally clear that the difficulties they face have negative implications for everyone who is teaching, learning, and researching at UPEI. Our Librarians need our support, so that they can continue to support all of us.

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. 

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