Voice and Visibility: Our KFA Approves LGBTQ2S Executive Representative

By Diane Walsh, Member-At-Large (Contact)

At the October 14th KFA General Meeting, we voted in favour of a by-law amendment that allows the addition of a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirited (LGBTQ2S) representative to the Executive Committee.  During our annual retreat last June, the Executive Committee voting unanimously in favour of adding a LGBTQ2S representative and this process was completed when the membership at the fall General meeting gave strong support to the motion. The new LGBTQ2S representative will be added to this list of representatives to be elected at large, with voice but no vote, and the first LGBTQ2S representative will be elected this spring with the other representative positions that are up for election.

 This change makes our KFA Executive Committee that much more inclusive and that much more representative of all our faculty voices. Our KFA is one of the first of the FPSE locals to support executive representation for our LGBTQ2S members, and we can all be proud that we are leading in this effort to bring positive change by giving voice and visibility to those who have been marginalized and made invisible.

Questions? Comments? Please contact us and we’ll be happy to chat with you.


Workplace Stress and Faculty Members: Saying "No" to Overwork

By Diane Walsh, Member-At-Large

Stress about their workloads is one of the most common concerns your KFA officers hear daily from faculty members. Heavy workload and the need for some workload relief were among the top-ranking issues on the most recent bargaining survey. These expressions of concern tell us all that faculty members are feeling an unreasonable amount of workload-related stress. According to the authors of the article “Taking Well-being Forward in Higher Education,” high levels of stress experienced by faculty members is directly related to “chronic overwork caused by changing university structures and expectations.” 

Provisions in our Collective Agreement.  As faculty members, we have rights as well as responsibilities around our workloads. For example, chairs and coordinators are one group that have a particularly difficult time with over-work, and it is important for chairs to realize that they should not feel compelled to overwork themselves; the chair and dean are supposed to meet and reach agreement on a limited number of tasks taken from the list in the Guidelines for Chairs and Coordinators. As is pointed out in the heading for the list of possible tasks, “The Dean should meet with Chairs/Coordinators to establish which of these tasks are expected, and what are priorities needed for the department. The Chair/Coordinator may delegate tasks or be assisted by support staff. It is recommended that the Dean and the Chair/Coordinator sign off on the tasks/priorities expected.”

Research. Many faculty members choose to engage in formal publication-oriented research and choose to organize their working lives around it and to spend their non-teaching accountable time in this activity. However, some faculty members feel pressured to perform this kind of scholarly activity. It is important to recognize that there is no specific requirement for faculty members to agree to do unusual work, such as engaging in ambitious and time-consuming projects involving publication, if we are not given adequate release time to do these things. In article 12.17, scholarly activity is defined in a broad and holistic way as “a dynamic process consisting of the following interrelated components: discovery, application, integration, teaching and learning, and creative artistry.”  The article is very clear and specific that “Nothing in this provision shall be construed as increasing a faculty member’s assigned workload. “

Improvements we are seeking. Continuing to work to improve faculty working conditions and to achieve improvements in workloads are the most important ways your KFA is working to combat workplace-related stress. In our last round of bargaining, several of our proposals resulted in us striking joint committees with the employer to work on some issues that will help faculty members reduce workplace-related stress. Two examples are the joint committee on workload and the joint committee on chair/coordinator issues. Despite urging from the KFA, the employer still has not met with us to discuss these important workload related issues.

Saying “no” to overwork. One way that faculty members may be able to take action for themselves is by saying no. Working too much and feeling that one has to take on more and more tasks may result in a faculty member experiencing debilitating stress. Our mental health and physical health can be compromised by taking on too many responsibilities. Saying no when feeling overcommitted is an excellent way to reduce stress and protect our health, according to an article from the Mayo Clinic. As the article points out, “learning to say no is an important part of simplifying your life and managing your stress.”  According to an article in Psychology Today, “Part of taking responsibility, or ownership, is knowing what is our job and what isn’t. Workers who continually take on duties that aren’t theirs will eventually burn out.”

Institutional benefits.  Faculty turnover is detrimental and costly to the institution, and faculty members who experience higher levels of stress may be more likely to leave. According to the 2012 Higher Education article, “Oh, won't you stay? Predictors of faculty intent to leave a public research university,” work-related stress is a predictor for faculty leaving their jobs. Stress for faculty members can result from a number of factors, and “time constraints, pressures and a lack of personal time, appear to play important roles in determining levels of faculty stress.” So it is to the benefit of the institution at large to take measures to reduce faculty members’ stress due to overwork.

Workplace stress due to heavy workloads is a real concern for faculty members. Reducing job stress related to overwork can bring many benefits, including benefits to the health and happiness of faculty members, as well as bringing institutional benefits. It is to everyone’s benefit to take action to bring improvements in this crucial area of faculty members’ working lives.

Questions? Comments? Please contact us and we’ll be happy to chat with you.

Pots of Money: The Educational Leave Fund

By Diane Walsh, Member-At-Large

Educational Leave, regular PD funds, Personal PD funds and 0.6% PD funds are some of the sources of monetary support available to faculty members. These funds have been bargained for faculty members by our KFA to support the welfare and professional interests of members, and each of these funds can be accessed in different ways. This article will describe Educational Leave and how faculty members can access this fund.

Educational Leave is described in Article 14 of the Collective Agreement  as being a fund to provide paid leaves of absence for faculty members to pursue educational or professional development. The employer must allocate 1.6% of the regular and NR2 salary budget  to pay the cost of these leaves. All regular faculty members who have met the minimum service requirements are eligible to apply for an educational leave.

Service Requirement. The minimum service requirement to be eligible to apply for 4 months’ leave is three years full-time equivalent service (at least two years of this service must be as a regular faculty member), and the minimum service requirement to apply for one year’s leave is six years of full-time equivalent service (at least two years of this service must be as a regular faculty member).

Pay while on leave. While on leave, faculty members are paid 80% of the salary they would otherwise be entitled to. If a faculty member receives grants, stipends, bursaries, salary or any other award during the ed. leave, and the total would exceed 20% of the salary during the leave period, the employer reduces the amount paid out so that the total for the faculty member will not exceed 100% of the member’s full-time salary. Benefits continue to be fully paid by the employer during an ed. leave, too. Because pension remittances are calculated on the actual dollar amount paid, only 80% of the pension remittance will be made during this period. However, it is possible to buy back the other 20% of the pension, so this is something to keep in mind.

Application. The application due date is December 1st for leaves that are proposed for the following fiscal year. Application guidelines are posted on the University HR website, and according to these guidelines, applications should include.

·         Completed application form (available here)

·         Current CV

·         Supporting letters (due by January 7 of the academic year of the proposed leave)

·         A detailed plan of action with a time line is helpful

Applications are submitted to the administrator responsible for the administration of ed. leaves. The applications are circulated for comment to appropriate groups, and the applications and comments are then reviewed by the Education Leave Committee. This committee is made up of faculty members, one chosen from each PD committee, and also includes the administrator who is responsible for the administration of ed. leaves. The Education Leave Committee also speaks with each applicant to allow the faculty member to speak to her or his application. By February 28th, the committee makes its recommendations, submits a ranked list of applications to the University president, and sends the same list to the applicants. The University president makes a final decision and advises applicants by March 15th. Applications can be submitted after the December 1st due date, but late applications are reviewed only after the review and recommendation process is completed for all the other applications.

Responsibilities. There are a few responsibilities that a faculty member who is granted a leave must fulfill. She or he has to keep in touch with the Employer through the leave, and should confirm the date of return at least 40 days in advance. After return, the faculty member has to submit a final report to the University president, and also is expected to participate in some way to share their educational leave experiences with colleagues.

If you have any questions about this, please contact me.


Getting to Know Your Collective Agreement: Vacation and Accountable Time

By Diane Walsh, Member-At-Large (Contact)

Vacation and accountable time are topics that always seem to generate a lot of questions from faculty members: what are the differences between vacation days and PD days? What is accountable time? How many days of each do I get? How do I report vacation,  PD and accountable time? Here’s a basic overview of what the Collective Agreement has to say about vacation and accountable time.

Basic information. Our work as faculty members is complex and encompasses many different and varied activities. Our working time is all considered to be “accountable” time, regardless of what activities we’re performing. PD time and vacation time are both defined in terms of numbers of days. PD time is accountable time, or in other words it is time for which reporting is required, and PD time is specifically set aside for you to engage in activities that you undertake in an effort to develop yourself as a faculty member. Vacation time is non-accountable time, or in other words it is time you are entitled to take and for which no reporting is required. 

Accountable Time. Accountable time includes all activities that are part of regular duties, including professional development and other accountable activities. Article 12.01(a) says that faculty members “are accountable for 10 months of the year. The 10 months accountable time includes such activities as teaching, the counselling of students, curriculum/program development, professional development and participation on a variety of educational committees.” The break between Christmas and New Year’s is considered accountable time and does not require attendance on campus for most faculty members (12.16), and Reading Break (12.19) is also considered accountable time.

Entitlements. There are some differences between entitlements for different classifications of faculty. Regular faculty and full time NR2 faculty are entitled to 42 days of vacation under 12.12(a) and 21 days of PD time under 12.01(d). Part-time regular and part-time NR2 faculty members are entitled to the same number of days, but the days will be paid out at the percentage worked. In other words, if you are a 50% regular faculty member, you still get 42 days of vacation pay, but the pay will be at your normal rate, 50% of a full time salary. NR1 faculty members’ contract rate is inclusive of vacation pay, and there is no specific designation of numbers of non-teaching days.

Professional Development activities. The Collective Agreement says in 16.03(a) that professional development is “for the maintenance and development of the faculty members' professional competence and effectiveness. It is agreed that maintenance of currency of subject knowledge, the improvement of performance of faculty duties, and the maintenance and improvement of professional competence, including instructional skills, are the primary professional development activities of faculty members.” Under 12.01(e), the purposes for professional development are described to “include maintaining currency in subject matter, instructional processes, technological developments, learning materials, library holdings and professional skills related to their position with the University.” So any activities that in your estimation reasonably support your “professional competence and effectiveness” as that is described under the articles can fit within the definition of professional development.

Scheduling vacation time. Faculty who work in different areas will schedule their vacation time in different ways. For faculty who work in areas such as the libraries and counselling, this time will be scheduled in consultation with the administrator responsible and according to guidelines that are to be established in order to ensure continuous coverage. Under 12.12(b), “Employee preferences for vacation schedules will be taken into consideration in those guidelines.” For faculty who work in the semestered teaching areas, vacation normally is taken during the non-teaching semester. If a faculty member “voluntarily elects” to teach over three semesters, then according to 12.12(e) “vacation days will be scheduled intermittently throughout the academic year, taking operational requirements into account.” For faculty who teach in non-semestered teaching areas, vacation will normally be taken during scheduled non-teaching time.

Scheduling PD time. Professional development is included in the description of accountable time activities under 12.01(a), and faculty members are expected to submit an outline of planned PD activities to the appropriate administrator at least a month in advance, and the activities have to be approved, under 12.01(e) and (f).

Scheduling accountable time. Similarly to how PD time is scheduled, accountable time also sometimes needs to be planned and approved in advance, and this is described in 12.01(b). For accountable time activities that will last longer than four consecutive days and that cover duties other than teaching or PD, faculty members are expected to  submit an activity plan for approval.

Carryovers of vacation or PD time. Sometimes, there could be a situation in which a faculty member would be requested to carry over part of her or his vacation and/or PD entitlements. Please note that in either case, carryovers are based on the needs of the Employer. Note also that faculty members are not obligated to agree to such a carryover. In the case of PD time, the Collective Agreement says in 12.01(h) that “[i]f the needs of the Employer demand and if the Employer in writing requests him/her to do so, a faculty member may carry over a portion of his/her annual professional development time up to a maximum of ten (10) working days for use in the following year, at a time to be agreed upon by the faculty member and the administrator responsible. Such carryover of professional development time shall occur only with the agreement of the faculty member.” In the case of vacation time, the Collective Agreement says in 12.12(c) that “[i]f the needs of the Employer demand and if the Employer in writing requests him/her to do so, a faculty member may carry over a portion of his/her annual vacation up to a maximum of twenty (20) working days for use in the following year, either separately or continuously with his/her regular annual vacation, as may be agreed between the faculty member and the administrator responsible. Such carryover of vacation shall occur only with the agreement of the faculty member.” 

Reporting. Vacation time is not accountable time, so there is of course no need to report. PD time and other accountable time, on the other hand, require reporting. For PD time, there is a responsibility to confirm that the approved activities were undertaken. According to 12.01(g), “[o]n an annual basis, faculty members will confirm completion of approved professional development activities.” For other accountable time, according to 12.01(b), “[o]n an annual basis, the faculty member will submit to the appropriate administrator a written report of their accountable time activities.” 

For more details, please take a look at Collective Agreement articles 12.01(a), 12.01 (b), 12.01(e, 12.01(f), 12.01(g), 12.01(h), 12.12(a), 12.12(b), 12.12(c), 12.12(e), 12.16 and 12.19.

Questions? Comments? Please contact us and we’ll be happy to chat with you.