The CEC’s Long-Term Vision for Faculty Workload

So, this post is inspired by a question in last Tuesday’s provincewide meeting organized by the OPSEU CAAT-Academic Divisional Executive, coupled with a member discussion that my teammate Ravi Ramkissoonsingh shared with the team last week.

It’s about the CEC’s long-term goal for system, and what they hope to achieve through bargaining, and what we can predict for the future by the way that they’re setting up the pieces in the current round of bargaining. As team Chair JP Hornick said on Tuesday night, ignore what the CEC says; pay attention to what they do.

So now I’m going to talk about one thing that they did a while back — it was on September 15th. Now to provide some context, management’s proposals had trickled in fairly slowly since bargaining started — a proposal on the Counsellor class definition on August 10 (over a month after bargaining had stared); a proposal on a Workload Task Force; a proposal to limit the ability to create new full-time positions through grievances on September 9…

September 15th is when things got interesting. On that day, management proposed five submissions — the first had housekeeping amendments and the fourth concerned monetary proposals (salary and benefits). What were most interesting — and enlightening — was the “Balance of Management’s Non-Monetary Submissions” that was divided into two parts (numbered M10A and M10B — the “M” represents management submissions).

Let me be clear: Those proposals are NOT the offer of settlement that you’re being asked to vote on in February 15-17. You’re being asked to vote on an offer of settlement that was tabled on January 17, 2022, which is virtually unchanged from the one that was tabled on November 23, 2021.

But back to M10A and M10B — Those proposals were striking. I’m going to attach them here if I can figure out how to do it. But they were really the first time that the curtain parted and provided a glimpse of where the Colleges — through the CEC — truly want to take staffing at the Colleges.

And generally, it painted a picture of new faculty having way fewer rights than established faculty, and of faculty in some areas having way fewer workload protections than faculty in other areas.

Some “highlights” from those proposals include:

  • No SWFs for faculty in academic upgrading programs
  • Up to 20 teaching hours [2 more than the current limit of 18] for faculty in academic upgrading programs
  • Four additional weeks of teaching annually for faculty in apprenticeship programs
  • Up to 200 contact days and 880 teaching contact hours annually for faculty in apprenticeship programs [an increase of 20 days and 152 hours]
  • Zero preparation time attributed for teaching “a purpose-built online course” unless “the College determines that [it] should have augmented or additional materials…”
  • The separation of “Routine” and “Assisted” forms of evaluation, with a 1/3 reduction in attributed time for grading courses with “Assisted” (i.e., online or mechanical) evaluation (from 0.015 to 0.010)
  • College approval needed for Professional development, with a new standard that such approved activities “will enhance the ability of the teacher to perform their responsibilities”
  • Unlimited overtime
  • Extended length of work day for new faculty and faculty in apprenticeship programs
  • Expectations to work on weekends for new faculty
  • Added restriction to the seniority rights of PL faculty over courses they have taught
  • 1008 hours Probation for partial-load faculty prior to which they would not have access to the Partial-Load Registry
  • Ability to hire sessional faculty for more than 12 months in a 24 month period without making the position permanent full-time, if the faculty is replacing a faculty member on leave

That’s not an exhaustive list. I’m not counting some truly frightening proposals around vacations, job security bumping rights, and ownership of “Pandemic Emergency Conversion Electronic Materials”.

Anyway, that above list of proposals is all about whittling away at the edges of our rights and our membership. Why target apprenticeship? Why academic upgrading? To pick off the outliers — to get a foothold in, to drive in a wedge of inequity. And once you get a wedge in, then it’s all just a matter of time and leverage.

So, what happened to proposals M10A and M10B? They were supplanted on that very same day by an offer of settlement, which CEC Bargaining Team Chair Laurie Rancourt described as “an enhanced three-year collective agreement extension”.

So… rejoicing all around? The bad proposals were taken away and sent to bed without dinner?

Ummm… not quite.

The fact is, you’re now being asked to vote to support some of the proposals on the above list, and to help incorporate them into our next Collective Agreement.

How? Through the details of the CEC’s current proposal for a Workload Commttee, in the current proposed offer.

To illustrate what I’m talking about, M10A had the following proposals (with proposed new language for our Collective Agreement indicated in boldface and/or underlining) that explicitly targeted the workload protections of faculty in Academic Upgrading programs.

Now we certainly could be relieved that management has ‘set aside’ those proposals in M10A in favour of their current (Jan.17) Offer of Settlement, but before faculty in academic upgrading programs breathe a sigh of relief that their workload protections are secured, it’s worth noting that the current Offer of Settlement includes an proposal for “the creation of a Workload Committee” that “shall discuss and examine” issues including…

Hmmm…. now what on earth might they have in mind? If only there was some way of knowing what the CEC was attempting to accomplish through a Workload Committee.

Oh right. There is a way to know this.

It’s by looking at what they did.

Similarly, if you were in an apprenticeship program, you might be relieved that the CEC has withdrawn the following proposal (in M-10A, with proposed changes indicated in boldface and underlined):

But you might want to hold off on celebrations once you realize that you’re being asked to vote in 10 days to approve an offer that includes a proposal for a Workload Committee that “shall discuss and examine”

Hmmm… changing the workload formula. That might impact… teaching hours? Preparation Time? Attributed time for evaluation of and feedback to students? Time for out of class assistance to students? In short, faculty in Apprenticeship programs could be targeted for an elimination of protections even broader than the increased number of teaching weeks and teaching hours explicitly proposed in M-10A.

But if you’re not in an apprenticeship program or academic upgrading, you’d be safe from the CEC’s proposed targeting of workload protections, right? The CEC is just hoping that faculty in postsecondary programs will vote to target the weekly or and/or annual workload protections for their colleagues in non-postsecondary programs, right?

Wrong. Let’s remember that the current Offer of Settlement also includes an explicit proposal that a Workload Committee examine:

Hmmm… do you think they might be planning to propose giving faculty who supervise field placement courses additional time for preparation?

But… if you don’t teach in academic upgrading or apprenticeship programs, and you don’t teach field placement courses, then your workload is safe from being targeted?

Not quite: You’re also being asked to vote in favour of a Workload Committee that would be explicitly obliged to examine:

In case it isn’t obvious, the dangerous words right there are “programs such as”. This is no longer about targeting the workload of faculty in specific individual programs, but rather wide swaths of a College’s offerings.

And, speaking of targeting wide swaths of faculty — increasing the workload of many faculty at one fell swoop — let’s turn back to M-10A’s proposal to separate the factors provided for Routine and Assisted evaluation, reducing by 1/3 the amount of time attributed for the “Assisted” evaluation of assignments graded online or with Scantron — from 2.7 minutes per student per week (in a 3 hour course) to 1.8 minutes:

Of course, 1/3 less time attributed for grading on the SWF means… considerably more students that can be assigned on the SWF, without putting a faculty member past the 44-hour maximum.

Which is why we should all be… relieved?… that the CEC ‘set Proposal M-10A aside’, and replaced it with the current Offer of Settlement, which doesn’t propose to reduce the evaluation attributions of thousands of faculty by separating the evaluation factors of “Routine” and “Assisted” grading, but instead only proposes to have a Workload Committee examine…

Feel better yet?

But wait! There’s less!

However many few librarians and counsellors may be remaining in the Ontario College system, it wasn’t enough for the CEC to attack their autonomy over their own professional development activities (in M-10A) by adding the following language that would give management the power to veto their proposed activities

Just in case it wasn’t clear, the professional development activities (or “pursuits”) would be subject to managerial approval — it’s only the arrangements for such activities that are subject to mutual agreement.

That’s a pretty staggering attack on the academic freedom of counsellors and librarians, and again, it’s important to caution that M-10A was indeed ‘set aside’ by the CEC. We’re not being asked to vote on it now. Instead, like all other faculty, Counsellors and Librarians are being asked to vote on a CEC Offer of Settlement that includes a Workload Committee to examine

and

In other words, instead of M-10A’s attack on their professional development, Counsellors and Librarians are now being asked by the CEC to vote for an offer that opens up every aspect of their workload — including their professional development activities — by having a Workload Committee “discuss and examine” the application of the entire portion of “Article 11 – Workload” that currently applies to Counsellors and Librarians.

In the earlier days of this blog, I often used the language of addiction to describe College management. It feels like that language remains applicable now.

Faculty have spent most of the last two years trying to keep the College system afloat (and, apparently, more profitable than ever). And all that the CEC can do is, on the one hand, spout platitudes about their respect for the “hard work and dedication” of college faculty, while on the other hand working to increase the hours and days that faculty could be assigned to work each week and each year.

As their formal tabled proposal M-10A uncontrovertably indicates, CEC’s long-term goal is to attack and erode workload limitations that currently offer protections to:

  • Faculty who teach in academic upgrading programs
  • Faculty who teach in apprenticeship programs
  • Faculty who teach field placement courses or supervise field placements
  • Faculty who teach in Aviation programs
  • Faculty who teach in specialized programs
  • Faculty who evaluation includes online or Scantron grading
  • Counsellors
  • Librarians

And the CEC’s short-term goal?

To get us to do it to ourselves.

On February 15-17.

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