The following is sent on behalf of David Monod, WLUFA President
I hope you are still feeling grounded in these unreal times. I know many of you are struggling to keep children active, to care for parents, family and neighbours, and to quiet your own fears over the future. I also know that you’ve been swamped with work in making the transition from in-person to electronic classes. I am sure that the conversation at your table, as at ours, rarely strays from the virus and its impact. All of us are wondering how we will navigate the coming months and what a return to ”normal” will look like.
With the first week of the university’s physical closure solidly behind us, I thought it was time to briefly summarize what the Faculty Association has been doing and what we see looking ahead. All our actions over the past weeks have been motivated by our desire to ensure that your health and livelihood are protected and that your rights are upheld. Those remain our overriding concerns.
We’ve been working to ensure that the preventative steps taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 are introduced in the most manageable way possible. WLUFA encouraged the administration to adopt a flexible approach to the completion of the Winter 2020 term. Our priorities were to make sure that faculty had as much choice as possible in deciding how to continue with their teaching and to provide members with the time to implement whatever course changes they believed were needed. The actual approach taken by the university was imaginative and intelligent and we commend the administration for, almost alone among Canadian universities, providing faculty with the authority to conclude their Winter term courses in the manner they found best.
We remain concerned over the impact of the termination of in-person classes on contract faculty. The Joint Liaison Committee oversaw an LOU, which we negotiated with the administration and circulated to you. The LOU was designed to address only those aspects of the collective agreement that were immediately affected by the closure and it will be in effect only for the duration of the current emergency. It does waive, through the summer, our right to grieve the requirement that we use electronic means of course delivery. This we offered, with open hand, in an effort to help resolve the crisis that engulfed the university. But the LOU also provides protection for contract faculty whose courses cannot be taught electronically by “postponing” those courses and assuring the instructors’ employment at the end of the current crisis.
Our focus has now moved on to the medium-term ramifications of the pandemic and we are currently negotiating such issues as compensation for spring term courses; grant, PER and travel carry-overs; annual reports; student opinion surveys; and time-limits on tenure and roster applications. We are determined to continue trying to minimize the medium-term impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable members of the faculty and library. There is reason for optimism. So far, our conversations with the administration have been productive and reassuring, though most issues are still under discussion.
I also want to assure colleagues that the ramifications of the current employment of remote learning will not be neglected. We have concerns over the long-term impact of the emergency measures. Our agreement on the electronic delivery of course material has a terminal point: 1 July. Though much remains unknown, we will also continue to engage with the university on such issues as the future of the international recruiting initiative, SMA3 and the budgetary impact of COVID-19.
What is important for you to know is that the administration is consulting actively with the Faculty Association and that we are making clear the concerns, needs and goals of our members in all of those interactions. I hope you will trust the WLUFA staff and Executive to express your views and that you will remain in on-going contact with us.
Finally, although we are working from home, the WLUFA office is still in full operation and we are working to keep services for all our members running smoothly. The elections for the Executive will be taking place as scheduled, as will the AGM, though both under what we hope are singular conditions. Please take the time to vote and participate. Full-time contract negotiations are scheduled to begin soon and the teams are discussing how those negotiations should proceed. We encourage you to check WLUFA’s social media platforms and website to find information of interest to you and your colleagues.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wlufa/ – Comments should be posted under the “WLUFA and COVID-19” post at the top of the page
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WLUFA – Comments should be posted under the “WLUFA and COVID-19” post dated Mar 16th
Wishing you good health and steady spirits.