Getting to Know Your Collective Agreement:

Election Season at KPU

By Panteli Tritchew, Member-At-Large (Contact)

ELECTION SEASON AT KPU

Spring is in the air, and it’s election season at Kwantlen Polytechnic University! While our elections may lack the drama of Sanders versus Clinton or Trump versus Cruz, nonetheless, faculty need to be aware of election requirements arising out of our Collective Agreement.

Specifically, there are four faculty positions referenced in the Collective Agreement which require elections:

  1. Departmental Search Committee representatives—annual elections

  2. Departmental Chair position—every 3 years or when vacancy arises

  3. Departmental Professional Development representatives—every two years

  4. Faculty Education Leave representatives—every two years

While the transition dates and cycles between incumbents and newcomers vary from department to department and Faculty to Faculty, elections for these positions most typically occur at the end of the “traditional” academic year, in the April, May, and June timeframe(s), but with Kwantlen’s trimester schedule, these election timeframes may well vary.

DEPARTMENTAL SEARCH COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVES

As per Article 4.02 of the Collective Agreement, Departmental Search Committees perform critical work at KPU.  They provide specific expertise on subject and instructional matters, review and assist with the preparation of the job posting(s), review all written applications, compile the interview list, conduct interviews and prepare a short-list with rationale and recommendations for hiring.

Article 4.02 (a) Formation of a Search Committee states that “The Search Committee shall consist of up to 4 members: one designated by the University President or his/her designate and 2 or 3 elected annually by the discipline/program.” (Occasionally, there are special circumstances such that the KFA will grant variances to the composition of the Search Committee.)

As per Article 4.02 (c), all regular and non-regular type 2 faculty members who are part of the discipline(s) are eligible for membership on the Search Committee.

As April, May and June are typically the periods with the heaviest Search Committee activity, departments are encouraged to have clear guidelines regarding the beginning and end of terms for faculty who serve on Search Committee and to conduct elections accordingly.

DEPARTMENTAL CHAIRS

The roles and responsibilities of Departmental Chairs and Coordinators are too numerous to mention here and fall outside the scope of this article, but needless to say, they perform critical work in maintaining the ongoing operations of faculty departments at KPU.

As per Article 4.05(b) of the Collective Agreement, there are several key points for faculty to be aware of as we come to the end of the academic year:

4.05 (b) Whenever a vacancy arises for a chair it shall be filled by the following process:

(i) all faculty members of the discipline(s) or program(s) or closest related discipline(s) or program(s) shall be eligible to vote for chair;

(ii) all regular faculty members of the discipline(s) or program(s) or closest related discipline(s) or program(s) shall be eligible to be elected as chairs;

(iii) the chair shall be elected for a three-year term;

4.05 (f) A chair or coordinator may serve for a maximum of two consecutive three year terms

With Kwantlen running on what is essentially a trimester basis and the need for an orderly transition from one chair to another chair, it’s important for departments to have clearly defined beginning and end terms for department chairs and to conduct elections accordingly.

The Kwantlen Faculty Association routinely provides one of our Table Officers or elected representatives to act as Chief Election/Returning Officers for departmental chair elections if departments wish. We are pleased to assist with these important elections, so feel free to contact Kyla Rand to arrange for assistance with your departmental chair elections.

DEPARTMENTAL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT REPRESENTATIVES

Article 16 of the Collective Agreement provides guidelines for the allocation of professional development funds among the eight “groupings” of departments which are closely aligned with Kwantlen’s eight Senate Faculties. Each grouping is required to have a Professional Development Committee. The Professional Development Committee is responsible drawing up guidelines for the disbursement of professional development funds and reviewing faculty applications for the use of such funds.

Article 16 (b) requires that the members of the Professional Development Committee for each group are to be elected in February/March every two years so that the new committee takes effect on April 1, which aligns with the beginning of the new fiscal year. Departments should hold these elections as closely as possible to these dates. One of the elected members is elected as the Professional Development Chairperson.

Article 16 (d) requires that one member of each Professional Development Committee be elected to serve as that group’s representative to the Educational Leave Committee for two academic years.

FACULTY EDUCATIONAL LEAVE REPRESENTATIVES

Our Collective Agreement provides faculty for the opportunity to apply for educational leave. Educational leave is defined as a period of paid leave that allows regular faculty to apply for a period of time (one semester or two semesters) to be freed from their regular duties in order to pursue educational or personal development goals. The provisions regarding educational leave are covered in Article 14.0 of the Collective Agreement.

As per Article 14.18, “The Educational Leave Committee shall be composed of one representative elected from each professional development committee, and the administrator responsible. The elected representatives shall serve for two academic years with half of the members being elected in alternate years. The chairperson of the Committee shall be elected by and from the Committee and shall serve for one calendar year.”

Election(s) Summary

In summary, the Collective Agreement has provisions that both entitle and obligate faculty to hold elections, including

  • annual elections for departmental Search Committee representatives, departmental Professional Development representatives, and Faculty Education Leave representatives

  • departmental Chair positions, every three years (or as required)

If you have questions about any aspects of the Collective Agreement leave provisions regarding departmental representative election requirements outlined in this article, please feel free to contact me.

Panteli Tritchew

Member-At-Large, Kwantlen Faculty Association

 

Getting to Know Your Collective Agreement:

Cautions and Caveats About Taking Leaves

By Panteli Tritchew, Member-At-Large (Contact)

 

"Relax, said the night man,

We are programmed to receive.

You can check-out any time you like,

But you can never leave."

Kwantlen isn’t the Hotel California—you can, in fact, leave. More importantly, you can come back.

From time to time, faculty may find themselves in a position such that they want to take a period of time away from Kwantlen. How they are paid, how pension and benefits are applied and how seniority accrues all apply differently depending on the type and duration of the leave.

There are numerous implications to consider and several important decisions to make before a faculty member takes leave, and this article highlights some of the key considerations as defined in the Collective Agreement.

THREE MAIN TYPES OF DISCRETIONARY LEAVES

On a macro level, there are basically three categories of discretionary leaves faculty are entitled to take under the Collective Agreement:

1.       Leaves of Absence Without Pay (Articles 13.02 and 13.05)

2.       Educational Leave (Article 14)

3.       Other Discretionary Leaves (Articles 13.03, 04, 08, 09, 10, 11,and 12)

Generally speaking, all leaves will fall into the category of either paid leaves or unpaid leaves. It is important that faculty are aware of the pay, seniority, pension and benefits implications of going on one of these types of leaves.

Note: A subsequent KFACTS article will deal with Leaves Due to Illness (Article 15, Health and Welfare) and Maternity or Parental Leave (Article 13.07).

Implications on Full-Time Equivalent Service While On Leave

Full-Time Equivalent Service is definedas the length of service with the Employer from the date of the first appointment with the Employer” and that Full-Time Equivalent Service includes service on the types of approved leaves noted above (Article 1.05).

Implications on Seniority Accrual and Pay Scale While On Leave

As per Article 13.01 (b), seniority and movement up the pay scale are impacted differently depending on whether faculty are on a paid leave or unpaid leave:

  • All paid leaves are treated as continuous employment for the purposes of seniority accrual.

  • Unpaid leaves are treated as continuous employment for the purposes of seniority accrual for the duration of the leave, except for movement up the salary increment scale.

The FTE service, seniority, and pay scale implications for each type of leave are explained further under its respective section.

Implications for Retention of Status While On Leave

As per Article 13.01 (c), faculty on either paid or unpaid leave retain their employment status while on leave.

Regular faculty who return from any Article 13 (Approved Leave of Absence, Maternity or Parental Leave, or General (Unpaid) or Article 14 (Educational Leave) will resume their previous faculty position and duties (or equivalent) without loss of FTE service or benefits.

Implications for Benefits While On Leave

As per Article 13.01 (d),

  • Faculty on any paid leave under Article 13 continue to receive their salary and benefits while on leave.

  • Faculty on any unpaid leave under Article 13 may arrange to pay the costs required to maintain their benefit coverage.

  • Faculty on paid educational leave under Article 14 continue to receive their salary, (adjusted to 80% of salary) and benefits while on leave.

 

KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR THREE TYPES OF DISCRETIONARY LEAVES

1.       APPROVED LEAVE(S) OF ABSENCE WITHOUT PAY (13.05)

The Employer may grant a leave of absence with or without pay to an employee for any reason for up to twenty-four (24) consecutive months (Article 13.02).

Faculty can apply for full or part-time leave of absence without pay for any reason. The application must be made in writing and permission is not to be unreasonably withheld. Faculty who take an unpaid leave should note the following:

  • Salary increments are not applied during the period of the leave without pay unless there are special circumstances.

  • Benefits are not paid for the duration of the leave. (For faculty on part-time leave, benefits are paid on a pro-rata basis, and faculty can pay to have their benefits topped up.)

  • Leave without pay is not considered pensionable service because pension is based upon salary earned, although FTE service does accrue for the purpose of seniority.

Full details of this provision are found in Article 13.05.

2.       EDUCATIONAL LEAVE (ARTICLE 14)

Faculty are entitled to take an Educational Leave for a variety of professional development activities that are mutually beneficial to the employer and the faculty member. Article 14.01 defines Educational Leave as follows:

“Educational leave is a period of paid leave enabling a regular faculty member to be freed from regular responsibilities and to be provided with sufficient resources to enable him/her to pursue educational or personal development recognized as beneficial to the Employer.”

All regular faculty members are eligible for the two options of Educational Leave if certain minimum service requirements have been satisfied:

  • After a period of three years of full-time equivalent service a faculty member may receive four months' leave (Article 14.05). This entitles them to a six-month period at 80% salary (Article 14.08).

  • After a period of six years of full-time equivalent service a faculty member may receive one year's leave inclusive of vacation and accountable time (Article 14.06). This entitles them to a twelve month period at 80% of salary (Article 14.06).

Pay and Benefits

Faculty members on educational leave receive 80% of their regular salary.

Additional Monies Caveat: If faculty receive a grant, bursary, stipend, salary or other award which exceeds 20% of salary during the leave period, the Employer will reduce its contribution to the point where the total monies received by the faculty member equal the faculty member's full-time salary.

Faculty Obligations to Employer

Faculty who go on either a one semester (six month) leave or two semester (one year) leave owe the employer one years’ or two years’ service respectively upon completion of the leave (Article 14.13).

Faculty members are obliged to maintain contact with the Employer through their leave and to confirm their date of return no later than 40 calendar days prior to the agreed date (Article 14.19) and to submit a final report to the President within two months of returning (Article 14.20).

3.       OTHER DISCRETIONARY LEAVES (ARTICLES 13.03,04,08,09,10,11,AND 12)

The Collective Agreement includes provisions for a number of discretionary (or quasi-discretionary) leaves, as outlined below:

Bereavement Leave

Faculty are entitled to five days leave with no loss of pay and benefits in the case of the death of a family member (parent, spouse, child, brother, sister, parents-in-law, children’s spouses, foster parent, step child, foster child, grandparents and any other person living in the same household who is dependent on the employee (Article 13.03).

Jury Duty And Court Appearances

Faculty who are summoned to serve on a jury or subpoenaed or summoned as a witness in a criminal or civil proceeding or who accompany a dependent child for court proceedings are entitled to a leave of absence without loss of pay and benefits (Article 13.04,a).

Faculty who are required to appear in court in their own defence receive a leave of absence with or without pay, depending on circumstances (Article 13.04,b).

Faculty who receive these benefits may need to reimburse the Employer all monies paid to them by the court, excepting travel and meal allowances (Article 13.04,c).

Family Illness Leave

Faculty are entitled to leave of absence for up to five (5) days per year without loss of pay or benefits for family illness. A family member is defined as a faculty member’s parent, spouse, child, brother, sister, parents-in-law, children’s spouses, foster parent, step child, foster child, grandparents and any other person living in the same household who is dependent on the employee (Article 13.08).

Compassionate Care Leave

Faculty are entitled to a compassionate care leave of absence without pay for up to eight (8) weeks to care for a gravely ill family member. (Family Members for the purpose of this article are defined in Appendix D of the Collective Agreement)

Faculty who are granted a compassionate care leave of absence are entitled to the benefits defined in Article 13.09:

  • Employee benefits coverage continues for duration of the compassionate care leave, to a maximum of eight (8) weeks, and premium payment is on the same basis as if the employee were not on leave.

  • Faculty may buy back pensionable service for part or all of the duration of the compassionate care leave, to a maximum of eight (8) weeks, and the Employer will pay the Employer portion of the pension contributions in accordance with Pension Plan regulations.

  • Compassionate care leave, up to a maximum of eight (8) weeks, is treated as a continuous employment for the purposes of seniority accrual.

  • Additional (unpaid) leaves beyond the 8 week period may be granted at the employer’s discretion, as per Article 13.02 (General Leaves).

Public Duties

At the Employer’s discretion, faculty may receive a leave of absence without pay to an employee to engage in election campaign activities in a municipal, provincial or federal election to a maximum of ninety days.

The Employer will provide faculty a leave of absence without pay to an employee to seek election in a municipal, provincial or federal election to a maximum of ninety days, or, where elected for up to two (2) consecutive terms.

Faculty who receive this leave will pay the Employer’s share of fringe benefit premiums (Article 13.10).

Secondment/Exchange Leave

Faculty may apply to the Employer for secondment/exchange leave in writing. Purposes could include teaching or providing services at another institution, government, or in business/industry.  In an exchange leave, Kwantlen faculty exchange duties with an employee of the other institution.

In an exchange leave, Kwantlen continues to pay the faculty member who has exchanged duties with an employee of the other institution. Employer shall continue to pay its faculty member who has agreed to exchange duties with a faculty member from another institution, and the reciprocal institution is expected to reimburse Kwantlen for the faculty member's full salary and benefits.

The secondment/leave can be for up to one year, with an extension permissible (Article 13.11).

Deferred Salary Leave

Kwantlen offers a deferred salary leave plan. In a nutshell, faculty may apply to defer a portion of their bi-weekly salary exclusively for the purpose of financing a future leave (Article 13.12).

Here are some highlights from the Deferred Salary Leave Plan.

“The objective of the Plan is to provide the opportunity for all eligible regular employees of the University to plan a leave for educational, recreational or any other personal purpose and to save for what will in effect be an unpaid leave using before tax dollars over a maximum period of five years.”

Some key aspects of the plan include the following:

  • The deferred salary leave plan is subject to provisions of the Income Tax Act.

  • The leave must be completed no later than eighty-four months from start of participation in the plan.

  • Faculty will on an unpaid leave from Kwantlen, while the savings accrued in trust are paid out as salary to the faculty member.

  • Seniority continues to accrue for the duration of the unpaid leave, but salary increments do not accrue.

  • Under Canada Revenue Agency Regulations, faculty must return to the University after the leave for a period at least equal to the leave.

  • Faculty may choose to top up their benefits during the unpaid leave.

As there several tax implications arising from the deferred salary leave plan, faculty who are interested should review the specific details of the plan on the MS Word document titles Deferred Salary Leave Plan, located at http://www.kpu.ca/hr/employeeresources/faculty.

In summary, there are several important considerations for faculty who wish to go on leave, and they should ensure that the appropriate article(s) of the Collective Agreement have been reviewed prior to making a decision.

If you have questions about any aspects of the Collective Agreement leave provisions outlined in this article, please feel free to contact me.

 

 

Getting to Know Your Collective Agreement

This impacts us all: the mysteries of work assignment, de-mystified

By Diane Walsh, VP-Grievances (Contact)

The assignment of work, especially for non-regular faculty members, can seem like a great mystery, and it is a somewhat complex business. Work assignments are one of the places where the rubber hits the road for faculty members, because this is how we make our living and pay our bills. Work assignments are also critical to becoming regularized, an especially important issue for non-regular faculty members. Anxiety about work assignments can become critical, especially in a climate of relative fiscal insecurity in the institution, where we hear administrators talking about finding ways to save money. How work is assigned also determines who shares in the load of departmental and Faculty-level work. The bottom line is there is a lot at stake for all faculty members, regular and non-regular alike, in how work gets assigned.

Our Collective Agreement spells out (in a charmingly dispersed set of paragraphs) how work should be assigned.

Regular Faculty Members 

Making our work a lot less precarious is the most important advantage of regularization for faculty members. Regular work is defined in Article 1.05 as ongoing work, so it follows that all ongoing work in the institution should be delivered by regular faculty members. (Please see previous article, “Routes to Regularization,” for more on how non-regular faculty members get regularized and how work is defined as ongoing.)

In assignment of work, regular faculty members have the right to ongoing work at their percentage of regularization. For 100% regular faculty members, this is a right to ongoing full time work, and for part-time regular faculty members, this is a right to ongoing work at their designated percentage of regularization.

Part-time regular Faculty Members

 For part-time regular faculty members, there is a right to access additional work. Article 4.12(a) says that “when additional non-regular work becomes available within a discipline/program, it shall be offered by the administrator responsible to qualified part-time regular faculty in the discipline/program who want additional work,” and this entitlement applies up to a 100% annual workload.

If you are a part-time regular faculty member who wants more work, but you notice non-regular faculty have been hired in your department, it’s worth an enquiry of the dean to see why you were not offered the work in question.

Non-regular Faculty Members

Non-regular faculty members are defined in Article 1.05(d) as “those that do not hold a regular position or who have not satisfied the requirements for regularization in Article 1.05(e).” There are two types of non-regular faculty members and their work and work assignment is defined differently, but the work of all these faculty members is precarious.

Non-Regular Type 2 (NR2) Faculty Members

Article 1.05(d) ii defines an NR2 member as “one who is assigned or reasonably anticipated to be assigned an annualized workload of 50% or greater for a future 12-month period.” This is achieved by means of “bundling” non-regular work and assigning it to faculty so as to ensure they have at least 50% of an annual load.

Having non-regular work in a department bundled into these NR2 assignments is advantageous for the departments, because, according to 1.05(d)(ii),

A non-regular faculty member who meets the qualifications for Type 2 above has the same rights and obligations as a regular faculty member and is entitled to all benefits provided by this Agreement on a pro-rated basis with the following exceptions (Article 6, and Article 7).

Even though it is generally disadvantageous to have too much non-regular work in a department, if courses are bundled and assigned to faculty so as to create NR2 positions, then these members have the responsibility to attend department meetings, perform service work, and so on. This means that we avoid having heavier and heavier workloads foisted on regular faculty members.

Employer Obligations to Assign Non-Regular Type 2 Work

Ensuring non-regular work is bundled into NR2 positions is addressed in the same article, 1.05(d)(ii). By August 1, the Employer must have planned the year in advance to anticipate the work available for each department.  Deans are obligated to first schedule regularized faculty at their annual workload, then offer additional non-regular work to part-time regular faculty members. At that point they must bundle the remaining non-regular work into NR2 positions, as far as possible. 

Furthermore, the article states that replacement of faculty on leave or on long-term disability or alternate duty should be with an NR2 appointment. In other words, this work should not be pieced out on NR1 contracts.

Non-Regular Type 1 (NR1) Faculty Members

An NR1 faculty member is defined in 1.05(d)(i) as one

who is hired for a defined period, to teach specific courses or perform specific work. Non-regular Type 1 faculty may only be hired for specialized requirements, experimental offerings, timetabling anomalies, substitution, vacation replacement, short-term emergency circumstances, work that is not expected to be ongoing or work that does not provide them with an assignment that qualifies for non-regular Type 2 status at the August 1 assessment date. All non-regular Type 1 faculty members will receive salary according to the provisions of Article 10. 

In plainer language, the issuing of NR1 contracts should be as rare as possible and should not become the norm. It is clearly disadvantageous for individual faculty members because NR1 faculty members are not paid on scale, they do not have access to benefits or leaves, and they do not get vacation or PD time.

It is also disadvantageous to departments to have work contracted as NR1 work because NR1 faculty members have no stated requirement to fulfill the responsibilities of regular and NR2 faculty members in departmental or Faculty-level work. Thus, if too many NR1 contracts are issued, heavier and heavier workloads fall on regular and NR2 faculty members.

Where Things Go Amiss

Your KFA office receives copies of contracts and appointment letters, and we have seen some cases where matters have not unfolded as they should. For example, part-time regulars might not be offered additional work before non-regular appointments are made. This should not happen in the normal course of events. Another example of incorrect practice is not offering additional work to part-time NR2 faculty members before issuing NR1 contracts. Yet another way in which things can go amiss is failing to offer non-regular work to members who have 2 or more years’ FTE service before offering non-regular work to members with less than 2 years’ FTE service.

A particularly troubling way things can go amiss is the issuing of too many NR1 contracts. NR1 contracts should be issued only as a last resort, and non-regular work should be bundled into NR2 appointments. When this doesn’t happen, there are a number of consequences. First, heavier workloads fall on regular faculty members and on NR2 faculty members, as described above. Another troubling potential consequence is the increasing precariousness that practice brings to faculty work.

Contingent Faculty Increases

Increasing precarity of faculty work is of concern across Canada. A wide range of articles describe the situation, and any search on “contingent faculty Canada” or “contract faculty Canada” will lead to a wealth of hits on the topic. It is a grim fact that at many institutions across Canada, particularly in Ontario, there has been an increase in the proportion of work performed by contract / adjunct / sessional /contingent faculty and a decrease in the number of regular / permanent / tenured faculty. In a 2014 report, Kevin McKay of OPSEU (Ontario) states,” In the colleges today the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty is approximately 1 to 3. The lack of full-time faculty means less time for dealing with students, less time for course and program development, and a greater challenge to maintain academic standards.” Another interesting report is the report by Higher Education Quality Control Ontario, “The ‘Other’ University Teachers: Non-Full time instructors at Ontario universities.” While this report is not definitive of the situation in Canada, it does suggest that the numbers of sessional instructors at 4 out of the 5 universities examined in Ontario are increasing, and the report raises questions about the effects of this increase.

Can this happen here? Our Collective Agreement language should prevent this from happening here. However, there is a real financial incentive for administrators to attempt to maximize numbers of NR1 faculty at KPU. NR1 faculty are paid less than NR2 and regular faculty because of the secondary scale that continues to be in place. That’s why it is so important for members to bring any increases in numbers of NR1 contracts to our attention. The bottom line is that when more faculty work is precarious, when the proportion of NR1 faculty increases, we are all harmed, regular and non-regular alike.

If you have questions or concerns about your work assignment or about work assignments in your department, please contact me. Questions or comments about this article? Likewise, please contact me.