It seems to me that a bit of a retrospective for 2017 is in order.
In January and February, we went to arbitration. We won. In fact, the arbitrator gave her decision orally and immediately. We received her written decision in September. The employer had fired a sessional just because a single student had complained. The arbitrator said that no discipline was warranted. This decision benefits us all by making us more secure.
I was particularly pleased that the arbitrator referred to my conduct. Two of the employer’s witnesses criticized my actions as “first responder” but the arbitrator maintained that my actions were entirely appropriate as an advocate for our member, and seemed to suggest that the employer should have considered points I raised more seriously than they had.
In the same months, we had a grievance about office space in Arts. Arts sessionals ended up close enough to where they had been that we had an obligation to try out the new arrangement, although we can still work for improvements and will raise issues connected with the offices at the next union-management meeting.
In March, parking came to my attention. We lost over $3000 between May 1st 2016 and April 30th 2017 – unnecessarily – through over-selling, underpricing, and a first-come first-served policy as well as variations in demand. We got a new parking officer on May 1st. The new parking officer is keeping good records and doing what is possible to predict the effects of the pricing policy. It is important that we don’t lose money on this operation because parking is used by only 10 to 15% of members and losses mean that the majority is subsidizing the minority.
The cut to the university’s budget has naturally been a matter of concern. However, it appears that the number of classes offered on a sessional basis is almost the same as last year and that the number of teaching sessionals this term is 248, while in this term last year it was 256.
In June and July, I took up clerical work. We maintain a data base of our members, which we need for communications. We were getting a huge number of duplicate entries. The problem turned out to be a glitch in the program. It can be worked around. We are in the process of ensuring that the membership list is accurate and up-to-date. I added a contact form and a membership form to the union website to make it easier for the members to keep us up to date with the information we need.
We are working to revamp the office both in terms of record-keeping and in terms of furnishing. Special thanks to Rhonda and April for all their work.
In spring, Vice-President Leslie Walter and I persuaded the employer to combine the professional development and tuition waiver funds. The professional development fund had run out of money in December 2016 and the combination would enable us to be more flexible. The employer agreed on the condition that the union do the clerical work. We agreed. The agreement, which was finalized in July, turned out to be more advantageous for us than anticipated. We got money in the fund instead of losing a large number of unused tuition waivers. The situation is stable and the total amount of funds available is about what had been available in previous years. That said, we have done our best to encourage people to apply and now there are more applicants than there is funding, which means that only some applicants can be successful.
In October, we dealt with our first round of applications. The guidelines were followed. A couple of individuals got themselves into conflict-of-interest situations, which were resolved. As a result, I have proposed an amendment to the by-laws to prevent conflicts-of-interest.
The conflict of interest amendment is the only one we will be able to consider at the AGM on December 8th. We were working towards more extensive changes but the work is incomplete. Our experience over the years has caused us to conclude that the old by-laws are not optimal. We have developed workable conventions but the by-laws should reflect our actual practice.
We have had two vice-presidents this year, Leslie Walter and Joanie Crandall. Part of my job is to teach potential presidents about the work of the union in the way that Heather Wagg taught me over a number of years, so that I can be replaced. Fortunately for her but unfortunately for me, Leslie got a lecturer position and resigned at the end of June. Joanie was elected in July and took office in August. We have been meeting regularly so that I can keep her abreast of developments in the union and teach her what was taught to me. Joanie is very busy with her various jobs but we do manage to meet most Wednesdays. I will be away for a couple of weeks, so she will have some hands-on experience.
There will be more changes on the executive soon. Some are retiring. Others will cease to be eligible to serve at the end of next April when their membership expires. Happily, there are many members who are willing to serve.
Our present contract will expire in 2019, so we must look ahead to bargaining. In hopes of learning something that will help us in the process, I attended the CAUT conference on bargaining in Toronto. I think it worked.
Puzzled recently by the appearance of letters from the CRA with my name on them, which I had never seen before, I called the CRA. It turns out that we were mistakenly registered as a sole proprietorship with me listed as the owner! I got them to correct this and now we are properly registered as an association.
In addition to the foregoing, there is the ongoing work of helping members. I am at the office most weekdays and sometimes on weekends. The first thing to do is to check the e-mail and the voicemail. This frequently results in two or three hours of unanticipated work. In recent weeks, I have dealt with members’ questions about the benefits, about whether you lose ROFR if you take a term off, about whether a course is credit or non-credit, and about whether courses taught elsewhere count towards service points here. I have also explained to an associate dean what a letter from Human Resources was all about.
See you at the AGM at the University Club on Friday, December the 8th at 4:30 pm.