Chief Steward Report – January 2014

Report:  Durham College Academic Union Local Chief Steward

The following is provided for information purposes only and is without prejudice to any grievance that is ongoing or potential.

Happy new year!  As we look forward to another year I wanted to take the opportunity as your Chief Steward to communicate with you about some of the matters your union local has been addressing on behalf of our members.

 While we have had many positive resolution of matters beneficial to our members areas that continue to be of concern include:

– the college’s refusal to comply with the collective agreement in respect of faculty’s attendance at Open House

– abuse of partial load and part time faculty

– the college’s refusal to hire internal candidates in compliance with the collective agreement

 In more detail, here is an explanation of the issues:

1)  Open House – Many of our faculty have given up time on weekends to attend the Open Houses that the college has operated for the past number of years.  The union has always agreed that there is value in full time faculty attending the event.  However, your union local reasonably expects that the collective agreement will be respected and complied with.  In the case of the Open House that means that time must be recorded on every faculty member’s swf who attends.  There is nothing new in this; many of our colleagues have walked the picket lines in support of all work reflected on the swf.

Many of our members who have attended the Open House in the past have received lieu time.  However, our collective agreement does not recognize any lieu time for partial load or full time faculty.  Instead article 11 of our collective agreement is very clear that faculty are to be given 1.5 hours on a swf for every hour attended at work on a weekend.  In addition, any overtime must be paid at .01% of faculty’s gross annual salary.  As your local we cannot knowingly allow a fundamental breach of the collective agreement to occur without taking action.  What you may not be aware of is the fact that the college has chosen to pay some faculty to attend Open House and yet has refused to pay full-time faculty.  In particular, our partial load members were paid $50 to attend the most recent Open House. As stewards of our collective agreement we cannot tolerate the differential treatment of our members and, to the point, the fact that our full-time faculty are being disadvantaged by the college’s refusal to adhere to the clear provisions of the collective agreement.

Status – after fruitless discussions with the college the union brought a union grievance in respect of the Open Houses asking for  compliance with the collective agreement.  We are moving through the grievance process which has been internal to date and the college has denied our grievance at both step 1 and step 2.  The college has most recently advised that it will no longer ask full time faculty to attend at any future Open Houses.  We have no choice but to proceed to arbitration.

2) Abuse of partial load and full time faculty – as many of our members know, we have experienced a significant increase in our part time faculty.  At the same time the college has drastically reduced the payment to part time faculty with the exception of partial load faculty who are protected by our collective agreement.  The impact of such a pronounced increase in non full time faculty has created a number of issues that have been felt campus wide not only by faculty but, of course, by our student body.  Our members tell us that they are continually called upon to provide course materials and mentoring to new part time faculty, many of whom have only accepted the position on the promise of a full time position at some future time.  What we are seeing first hand is the continued abuse of partial load and full time faculty who have no workload guarantees from one semester to the next and are regularly called upon to do much more than they are paid to do on the elusive promise of a full time position at some indeterminate future date.  Many of our part time colleagues have left the college after discouraging and unsuccessful attempts to become full time faculty.

As your local we are continuing to hold the college to the collective agreement in its dealings with partial load faculty.  In particular, we are working to ensure there is some job security for our partial load faculty.  We take the position that providing some job security for partial load faculty is of benefit to every stakeholder – not only does it immediately benefit the faculty who are partial load (more than 6 teaching hours and less than 12 teaching hours) but it provides consistency and predictability that benefits our programs, our students and, by extension, our full time faculty.

Status – we are continuing to advocate on behalf of partial load members who are our most vulnerable members.

3) internal hiring – Article 27.11B of our collective agreement is a provision that was negotiated on behalf of our members by our past bargaining team during labour negotiations.  That article is meant to give our members a distinct advantage in competing for positions within our bargaining unit.  The article is supposed to create some ease of movement such that, for example, a counsellor could move to a faculty position or a faculty could move to another faculty position.  Unfortunately, the college has not complied with this section.  After bringing a grievance the college has agreed to interview internal candidates first and separately in compliance with the collective agreement.  However, the college and the union disagree as to how the remainder of the article is to be applied.  The union’s position is that the article requires the college to hire an internal candidate who has the competence, skill and experience in respect of the job posting.  However, as many of you know the college has more recently posted job competitions seeking a masters degree as a minimal requirement for the job and even preferring a doctorate.  While this may be the standard that the college applies to external members, the union’s position is that internal candidates must meet only the minimal standards of competence, skill and experience. 

Status – Your local continues to address this article and to advocate for compliance with the article,  We have brought grievances, both individual and union, to address specific breaches and we will continue to advocate in this regard with access to arbitration if necessary.

The foregoing provides an overview of the issues that we continue to address on behalf of our members.  If you have concerns about a breach of our collective agreement please contact me by email or telephone ext 2307.  If you wish to discuss the foregoing in greater detail please feel free to contact me as well.  I would love to hear from you.

 Nicole Zwiers, Chief Steward