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Covid-19 LOU

Please follow this link to the Covid-19 LOU

 


 

 

Covid-19 Roadmap

 

Dear Members,

 

he UGFA and the Senior Administration have been meeting regularly since late March to negotiate a Letter of Understanding (LOU) that will define the temporary changes to the working conditions of UGFA members due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Just like our Collective Agreement, these terms must be bargained formally; they are not “official” until both Parties sign the LOU, and the UGFA can grieve any violation of these new, temporary terms, just as it can grieve violations of the Collective Agreement.

 

The UGFA reported on the status of the LOU at our General Meeting on April 20 and at the Annual General Meeting on May 14. In the late evening of May 27, the UGFA and the Administration reached a verbal agreement on remaining issues of concern to UGFA members. We anticipate that the agreed-upon LOU will be signed in the next few days, after which it will be promulgated.

 

In recent weeks, the Senior Administration has communicated various things with language that is not lifted from the LOU, most notably, perhaps, the “Program and Course Operational Parameters for Fall 2020” document and the myriad announcements of various seminars and workshops run by OpenEd. The UGFA has received many concerned emails from members: viewed together, these communications generate a worrying feeling that faculty members will not be able to make their own teaching decisions. The Administration announced a June 1 deadline on departments to report their course offerings and preferred methods of delivery (face-to-face or remote instruction) for Fall 2020, significant decisions that are difficult to make amidst uncertainty and confusion, in the absence of an LOU.

 

We want to reiterate to our members who have teaching assigned to them this Fall that

 

you get to decide how to teach your course,

 

limited by any government or public health mandate and the Administration’s determination of classroom space limitations due to any physical distancing requirements.

 

The two high-level choices you face when considering how to start your Fall teaching — start with remote or in-person face-to-face instruction — and considerations related to each option are presented schematically on the next page. The page also presents additional items you might consider.

 

In particular, the UGFA wants to stress to you that, other than T&P Committee training, the Senior Administration has shown no interest in any meaningful language related to the possible teaching workload increase that you may well endure this Fall. As a result, the UGFA urges you to rely on the fact that the LOU allows you to decide everything related to how you handle your teaching duties. Knowing that members are willing to make huge self-sacrifices to serve their students and to maintain (as best as possible) the academic integrity of their courses, we nonetheless urge you to take your own well-being, workload, and work-life balance into account when making your decisions.

 

We understand that the Administration is asking members to say whether they anticipate delivering their remote teaching in a synchronous or asynchronous mode, in order to inform the registrar on scheduling needs. Clearly, giving “synchronous” as the answer to such a question maximizes flexibility for the member to adjust their decision based on the needs of the class and any other circumstances.

 

With best wishes for your health and wellbeing,

 

Mary DeCoste, President

Herb Kunze, Vice-President

 

Follow this link to see the Illustrated Road Map


Covid-19 #10

 

Dear Member,

 

As we mentioned in an earlier note, the UGFA has been meeting frequently with the Senior Administration with the goal of bargaining a Letter of Understanding (LOU) to deal with the many impacts on our members of the COVID-19 pandemic. The UGFA Executive approved a small set of bargaining principles that have guided our position in these discussions with the Administration. Following the mode of other bargaining, we have made clear that we intend to sign in agreement to a single LOU that addresses all matters. The current LOU proposal suggests that we will have to revisit the LOU in Fall, 2020, to discuss whether or not it needs to be extended into the Winter semester.

 

Discussions to-date have focused on extending the temporary remote teaching model (“alternative modes of delivery”) into the Fall semester and the handling of Tenure, Promotion, and Performance Assessments in the short term. We still have to discuss study/research leave, professional development reimbursements, an assortment of other items, and implementation

 

The Administration’s note on Friday reported what we have agreed to on Tenure, Promotion, and Performance Assessments, pending agreement on the full LOU. Below, we present the tentative results for faculty in a table; the contents of the table can be mappped to Librarians and Veterinarians (with “Continuing Appointment” replacing “Tenure”).

 

Please Follow this link to see the Table

 

In addition, for each of the three Fall semesters in the table, the UGFA and the Administration will write joint statements instructing the T&P Committees and the UGFA will be invited to attend the committee training sessions.

 

Regarding performance assessments, one of the approved principles is that any such process should be fair. The UGFA has heard from many members who feel that their teaching and/or scholarship activities will have been dramatically damaged come September; this damage will continue through, and likely beyond, the Fall semester, with many members needing a “rebuilding” period, likely with lower output, to recover from the effects of the pandemic. As a result, the UGFA believes that it is unfair to run a biennial performance assessment in Fall 2020. The Administration also feels that the biennial performance assessment should be cancelled. The parties have agreed that performance assessments will be broadly resumed in Fall 2022. Cancelling the performance assessment means that members will have no current overall rating to determine the July 1, 2021 and 2022, performance bonuses. As a result, the parties agreed to split the performance pool equally across all members. Note that the Collective Agreement still refers to the one-time lump-sum performance bonus as an “Increment,” even though it is not a base salary increase. We should also note that on July 1, 2021, all members will receive the 1% base salary increase negotiated as part of the package for consenting to convert to the University Pension Plan, and on both July 1, 2021, and July 1, 2022, all members will receive any other base salary increases (cost of living, annual career increment) we agree to in the next round of collective bargaining

 

To understand the financial impact of the performance assessment piece, let’s first note that the performance pool for July 1, 2019, was generated by combining $1000 per member. On July 1, 2019, a member rated “Outstanding” received a one-time lump-sum payment of approximately $1600, often reduced by about half after taxes, due to its being treated as a bonus payment. On July 1, 2020, the pool will be generated by combining $1100 per member, so those rated “Outstanding” will see a very slight increase in the one-time lump-sum payment after taxes. The value that determines the pool for July 1, 2021, and, likely, some subsequent years, will be bargained in our next round of collective bargaining. For argument’s sake, if it were to stay at $1100 per member, then a member rated “Outstanding” would receive a lumpsum payment of $1100, again reduced by about half after taxes. The after-tax decrease in the amount is around $300 in the one-time lump-sum payment. This is a bit of a false comparison, however, since it assumes that a Fall 2020 performance assessment cycle would lead to the same number of “Very Good” and “Outstanding” ratings as we saw in Fall 2018. In any case, we are sorry if any members find this result to be an unreasonable outcome.

 

We should note as well that the Fall 2022 biennial performance assessment will consider four years. Members who had major contributions between Fall 2018 and Spring 2020—the publication of a book, an invited plenary talk, organizing the world’s leading conference in a research area, a sizeable grant awarded, advising Ph.D. students to completion, and so on—will be able to report these accomplishments in Fall 2022 in order to bolster their performance assessment results then.

 

We hope that the year from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022 marks a return to normal and that the remainder of 2021 is a positive rebuilding period for members whose scholarship programs were heavily damaged by the pandemic. We have many assurances from the Administration that the committees will be very careful when viewing the pandemic period (and the rebuilding period). It is unprecedented for them to agree that the UGFA will be invited to all training sessions for the committees, and they also agreed to allow tenured members rated “Good” or “Very Good” in Fall 2022 to appeal that rating if the member believes that the committee(s) measured their performance during the pandemic period too harshly.

 

We will keep you informed about our ongoing LOU discussions and negotiations.

 

Thank you, and stay healthy,

 

Herb Kunze, UGFA President

Mary DeCoste, UGFA Vice-President

 


Covid-19 #9

 

Dear Member,

 

We are writing this brief note to let you know that the Association and the Administration are in discussions to develop a Letter of Understanding dealing with • How teaching will be handled while physical distancing measures prohibit inclass face-to-face teaching;

  • How Tenure, Promotion, and Performance Assessment for Faculty Members and Continuing Appointment for Librarians and Vets will be handled in the short-term future;
  • How Study/Research Leaves will be handled, both SRLs that were affected by the outbreak and approved SRLs that are likely to be affected by the outbreak; and
  • A number of other matters. UGFA's positions are guided by a set of principles that were approved by UGFA Executive.

Separately, we are attaching to this email the Financial Advisory Committee's Analysis of University Finances 2020. This document was approved for distribution by UGFA Executive on March 12. Following that meeting, the document was sent to the Provost for any feedback, with none being received. We held back sending out the document for a number of days, but, nonetheless, think it is important to send out in the period when the Administration will be presenting its budget and when many members are likely concerned about the financial state of the University due to the impact of the pandemic.

 

Thanks, and stay healthy,

 

Herb Kunze, UGFA President

Mary DeCoste, UGFA Vice-President


Covid-19 #8

 

Dear Member,

 

We are sending you this brief reminder regarding student course evaluations this semester.

 

Any course evaluations this semester will be done online. Having one done for any of your courses is optional. This Fall, the Tenure & Promotion committees will be instructed that the assessment of a faculty member’s teaching should not be negatively affected by the absence of any student course evaluations from the Winter 2020.

 

For each course you are teaching:

 

If you do not wish to have an online course evaluation done this semester,

  • you do not have to do anything, as “no evaluation” is the default decision
  • you can nonetheless email your Chair to say you do not wish to have one

 

If you wish to have an online course evaluation done this semester,

  • you MUST email your Chair today, Friday, March 20, saying that you want to have one
  • you will receive the results of the course evaluation after grades are released, as is usual
  • after reviewing your results, you will at some point be asked to choose whether to have the results included in your Assessment File this Fall

 

We hope your planning for the remainder of the semester has gone well.

 

As always, please contact the UGFA office at [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns.

 

Herb Kunze, UGFA President

Mary DeCoste, UGFA Vice-President

 

 


Covid-19 #7

 

Dear Member;

 

The UGFA realizes that you are in the midst of finalizing your decisions about how you will finish your courses this semester. We would like to remind you of the following:

 

Presently, library services are reduced. You cannot count on the library being physically open for the remainder of the semester, and, in any case, students have been encouraged to leave residence halls. You should take this into account when considering any remaining assessments. 

 

You may cancel your final exam as long as students have had or will have had, by the end of the course, the opportunity to complete work that constitutes at least 60% of the course grade.

 

If you plan to have a TAKE-HOME final exam, the Senior Administration requires that you adhere to the final exam schedule, with all dates delayed by exactly one week. 

We understand from our discussion with the Provost’s Office today that they are preparing an update that will address, among other things, issues we have raised surrounding final exams. 

 

Please contact the UGFA office by email at [email protected] if you: 

 

  • are concerned about how to approach the remainder of the semester,
  • feel pressured to make particular choices in your teaching during this period,

 

  • have requested to work from home and have received a non-compassionate response, or
  • are scheduled to teach face-to-face courses in Summer 2020 and intended to teach using traditional methods.

 

Herb Kunze, UGFA President

Mary-Michelle DeCoste, UGFA Vice-President

 


 

Covid-19 #6


Dear Member,

We understand that this is a particularly challenging time for Chairs and Directors, who are fielding innumerable questions from members while also, in many cases, working to finish up their own courses. We also know that information is coming at you in a fast and furious way, not all of it consistent.

We have heard from some Chairs and Directors that they have felt unsupported by the UGFA in this difficult time. This is regrettable, as we have been working very hard to ensure that the rights of all UGFA members, Chairs and Directors included, are honoured. This is our job.

Yesterday, we learned that the meeting that day was the first time that the Senior Administration had a clear discussion with Chairs and Directors about how the remaining three weeks of courses would be finished. The UGFA recognizes that there are (understandable) challenges with the flow of information from the Senior Administration to Chairs, Directors, and all UGFA members. These challenges may lead and may have led to well-meaning attempts to create local solutions that could, unfortunately, contradict agreements between the Senior Administration and the UGFA. In addition, the resulting patchwork landscape of local solutions generates different messaging, considerations, and worries, as have been conveyed to the UGFA by members, including Chairs and Directors.

All of this is another reason why the UGFA has had to communicate clearly with all of its members about the discussions with the Senior Administration and the rights enshrined in our Collective Agreement.

An example of our willingness to work with the Provost’s Office to find ways to address this crisis while ensuring that the rights of our members are respected, is when the Provost’s Office determined that it needed to begin preparation for the possible suspension of in-class meetings. We were presented with the draft of a document containing proposed directives that would have violated our Collective Agreement in multiple ways and downloaded a staggering amount of work, unnecessarily, onto members, including Chairs and Directors. Our pushing back against this approach ameliorated the issues our members would have otherwise faced. This should not be seen as a refusal of the UGFA to cooperate but rather as the UGFA fulfilling its mandate. 

You can be assured that, despite our differences, we have been in regular contact with the Senior Administration. We have continued, and we will continue, to work with the Senior Administration while protecting the rights of all members as guaranteed by our Collective Agreement.    

Today, we were informed that all veterinarians (clinical faculty included) who are on rounds are expected to complete those rounds as mandated by their CVO obligations. Nonetheless, we want to reiterate that if you are concerned about your own health, you should speak with your supervisor or Chair.

Please know that we are available to answer any questions Chairs, Directors, and all UGFA members may have in this difficult time. You can reach us at [email protected] and we’ll do what we can to help.

Herb Kunze, UGFA President
Mary-Michelle DeCoste, UGFA Vice-President


Covid-19 #5

 

Dear Member,


We realized that we forgot to mention one additional item.

Earlier today, you received a note from AVP Academic Cate Dewey that discussed assignments that were due during this week and midterms that were set to take place this week. That communication said that the dates for these items should be moved one week later.

The UGFA has verified with the Administration that the intent of that communication was to say that no assessments should be due or take place this week. This week is a “down” week for both instructors and students.

Instructors should look at the remainder of their course, including items that were set for this “down” week, and make decisions on how their course will finish. The assignment might be due in any later week, or maybe it will change into a different assignment, or maybe it will disappear. A similar statement could be made for the midterm. Instructors may choose to add an additional assessment, perhaps also eliminating their remaining midterm or final exam.

We repeat: you are better equipped than anyone to decide how your course will end, and you are empowered to make that decision.

Additionally, the Administration has informed us that they are still discussing whether Veterinarians will be able to work from home. If you are a Veterinarian concerned about your health and safety during this crisis, we encourage you to approach the appropriate administrator and request to work from home. We expect that the administrator will give a compassionate response. If that is not your experience, please contact the UGFA office at [email protected]

Thanks,

Herb Kunze, UGFA President

Mary DeCoste, UGFA Vice-President

 


Covid-19 #4

 

Dear Member,

 

We know that stress and work levels are high, and we thank all members who have provided us with feedback on our communications to you and with updates on what is happening in your units.

 

Today we had an afternoon conversation with the Senior Administration that confirmed our joint understanding, as follows: UGFA members who are teaching this semester will decide on how to finish their courses, as always maintaining the academic integrity of the courses and being compassionate to students (and, we hope, to themselves, too). 

 

As the instructor, you are better equipped than anyone to decide how your courses will be finished. You can communicate your decisions to the Administration simply by sending a brief email to your Chair.

 

Over the weekend, we were made aware by members of some administrators:

telling instructors that “going online” is their only option,
suggesting that instructors “must consult” with them or “must receive approval” from them before making their decisions,
creating elaborate information-gathering protocols related to our members’ decision-making process, and
suggesting that first- and second-year courses must have final examinations, by calling upon calendar language that says this is “normally” the case, while not observing that there is nothing “normal” about our current situation.

The UGFA wants to be clear: you are not required to follow any of the directives listed above.

 

If you receive requests to consult, supply information, complete checklists, and so on, you can reply by saying you will make your decisions and communicate them by the end of this week.

 

For your information, the UGFA office has switched to a work-from-home model, although a number of us will still come into the office now and then. Phone calls will be forwarded, and, as always, we will check our email regularly.

 

Moments ago, the University President issued a statement saying that “beginning Tuesday, March 17, employees are asked to work from home when operationally possible.” Through our discussions with the Administration, we understand this to mean that Librarian and Veterinarian members will be working from home. These members should approach the appropriate administrator to confirm this.

 

Please contact the UGFA office by email at [email protected] if you:

are concerned about how to approach the remainder of the semester,
feel pressured to make particular choices in your teaching during this period,
have been told you cannot work from home,
are scheduled to teach face-to-face courses in Summer 2020 and intend to teach using traditional methods, or
have any other concerns.

Please look after yourself and your dear ones.

 

Herb Kunze, UGFA President

Mary-Michelle DeCoste, UGFA Vice-President

 


Covid-19 - #3

 

Dear Member,

 

We have to add to our earlier Communication #2. The Administration has posted this text on their COVID-19 information page:
 

“Student Evaluation of Teaching and Courses
 

Student evaluation of teaching and courses for the winter 2020 semester will be at the discretion of the faculty member and/or instructor. The faculty member/instructor should inform their chair by Friday, March 20, if they would like to proceed with an evaluation. Evaluations will be online only as paper-based evaluation administration is not possible given the University’s current teaching and learning situation. If the faculty member/instructor chooses to have an evaluation administered, they may choose whether to include these in their annual/biannual submission for promotion, tenure and performance review. If the evaluation has been set up in CEVAL and is not wanted by the faculty member, department CECs will need to deactivate the survey.”

 

This is the proposed policy we described in our Communication #2, but we wanted to be sure that you were aware of the deadline date of March 20, stated above, to notify your Chair of your intentions.
 

Please note that you if your choose to have an online course evaluation you then still have the additional choice of whether the results are included in tenure, promotion, and review process this Fall.


 

Herb Kunze, UGFA President

Mary DeCoste, UGFA Vice-President

 


Covid-19 - #2

Dear UGFA Members:

 

Much has happened since our communication yesterday morning, and we appreciate the feedback we have received from many members.

 

It should go without saying that we recognize that this crisis has an impact on public health, on the economy, and on society more broadly. There are many organizations looking after these aspects of the crisis. The legal obligation of the UGFA is to protect the rights of our members as guaranteed under the collective agreement, even, or especially, when times are tough. This is what we will continue to do. 

 

At three p.m. on Friday, the University President sent a communication to the University community outlining the measures it is undertaking to address the COVID-19 crisis. Following this general communication, the Administration also produced the final version of its “Update” for faculty and other instructors. It appears that this Update has been distributed to faculty through the administrative hierarchy, so some members will perhaps not receive it until Monday. This Update details the Administration’s suggestions for how members may choose to deal with the elimination of in-class courses and in-person exams. 

 

UGFA members are experts in their disciplines who perform their teaching duties with care and integrity, supporting and showing great compassion for their students. UGFA members have the expertise to determine how the academic mission of their classes would best be served. They determine the method of delivery of their course material and the nature and grading of student work, and, ultimately, they have the obligation to submit final grades for students in their classes. 

 

Even in this extraordinary period, UGFA members remain the guardians and stewards of the academic mission of the University. While the most recent communication from the Administration is careful to make suggestions, the UGFA has heard from concerned members whose Deans are openly talking about “moving courses online,” and so on. These members put together the messaging from the different levels of Administration and feel rather pressured to make particular choices. UGFA members need not follow directions from the Administration on how to deliver their courses for the rest of this semester, or at any time. This point has been central in the UGFA’s discussions with the Senior Administration over the past several days, and, indeed, President Vaccarino is rather clear on this point, writing, “Faculty members and instructors will, of course, have decision-making discretion and options and are encouraged to communicate with their deans and department chairs regarding this process.” The UGFA also encourages you to communicate your decisions to your Chair, but reiterates that the decisions are yours to make. 

 

Given the unique constraints in effect, we suggest that you consider carefully how you would like to finish up your course, obviously, while maintaining its integrity. For example, 

 

·       will any remaining assignments be given, or will such assessments be modified or dropped;

 

·       if 60% of the course grade has been assessed, will the final exam proceed in any case? We know that there can be compassionate reasons to do so; 

 

·       if a final exam will take place, does the planned final exam need adjusting? We have already heard from members who intend to modify their planned final exam to be an online multiple choice exam, even when they find that option undesirable; and

 

·       how will any remaining material in the course be covered? Additional readings, self-directed work, or something else?

 

Our earlier communication explained our concerns about the potential collective bargaining implications of some choices being made en masse — yes, even during this period, it is the UGFA’s obligation to have and communicate to you those concerns — but, in the end, each of you must make the decisions you can live with for your course, based on your expertise.

 

Many members have pointed out that student course evaluation/questionnaire results will likely be fundamentally damaged by the removal of their preferred teaching mode, changes to the course assessments, the removal of the bargained right to have an in-class course evaluation, and the chaotic nature of the situation, in general. This issue is of particular concern for our tenure-track and contractually-limited members. The UGFA has pressed the Administration to make this switch: if members choose to have online course evaluations, they may then choose to include any results in their Assessment File. We are aware that at least one Chair has communicated to their Department that the preceding sentence will be the protocol used, but the UGFA has not received official agreement from the Senior Administration. 

 

Additionally, looking ahead, UGFA members scheduled to teach face-to-face courses in Summer 2020 who intended to teach using traditional methods are encouraged to contact the UGFA office.

 

If you are concerned about how to approach the remainder of the semester or feel pressure to make particular choices in your teaching during this period, please don’t hesitate to contact the UGFA office.

 

The UGFA office can be reached by email at [email protected] 

 

Sincerely,

 

Herb Kunze, UGFA President

Mary DeCoste, UGFA Vice-President

 


Covid-19 - #1

 

Dear UGFA Members,

The Administration has provided the UGFA with preliminary versions of a “COVID-19 update for faculty members and other instructors.” Over the past two full days of work, we expressed to the Administration our concerns over the content of these drafts. We now understand that the Administration will be communicating with you later today. 

 

In the event that a public health emergency is declared and social distancing is recommended, the Administration may choose to cancel in-class course delivery and in-person exams. The Administration will ask members to consider how they will respond to such a scenario. As of now, the Administration has communicated to us the options of:

 

1. using grades for work completed to date in order to calculate a final grade after deciding how to handle any outstanding assignments

 

2. choosing to deliver remaining course material in another way, including numerous “technology-enabled” modes

 

3. choosing to deliver their final exam in some other way

 

The Administration’s second and third suggestions conflict with your rights under the Collective Agreement: your Academic Freedom rights include determining the mode of delivery of your teaching and exams.

 

Of course, during a crisis, all of us want to be team players, and the UGFA expects that individual members may feel compelled to choose options 2 and/or 3 despite the impact on their workload, their Academic Freedom, and their Intellectual Property (as the Administration can use your posted materials in perpetuity). To be fair, the Administration has verbally indicated that they would waive their rights to use materials posted during this period. 

 

There is a long-term risk to the collectively bargained rights of all UGFA members if a large number of members choose to switch from “traditional” modes of delivery to the other “technology-enabled” options the Administration proposes. In recent rounds of bargaining, the Administration has made many very aggressive proposals designed to strip UGFA members of what we see as fundamental rights. For these reasons, the UGFA is encouraging its members who have traditional modes of delivery planned for their courses to choose option 1, and only option 1.

 

While in-class course meetings are still occurring, any member who wishes to avoid this setting due to their personal health concerns and who now wishes to use an alternative mode of course delivery should consult with their Dean. 

 

The UGFA recognizes that members will have concerns about the possible implications of the Administration’s decisions in the coming days, and we will do our best to ensure that the Administration considers the health of our members in these decisions. We encourage you to monitor the website of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (https://www.wdgpublichealth.ca/your-health/novel-coronavirus-covid-19) for information about the virus. 

 

We know you will appreciate that the situation is changing minute by minute. We will communicate with you further after the Administration has sent out its final update. 

 

As you know, the UGFA continues to try to work collaboratively with the Provost’s Office, but this remains a significant challenge. This is highly unfortunate in this time of crisis.

Sincerely,     

 

 

Herb Kunze, UGFA President 

Mary-Michelle DeCoste, UGFA Vice-President