Ask Your Union: Working Conditions

October 2014

Do I have to attend department meetings?

You are a department member and, therefore, should plan to attend department meetings.  In the case of part-time faculty who are working elsewhere, those other work commitments may mean that they are not always available for meetings. Be sure to clearly communicate your availability to your department chair. You are expected to keep yourself informed of departmental decisions – make sure you are on the list to receive the minutes.

With prep and marking, I’m working 60 hours a week. Can I put in for overtime?

No, unfortunately, we get paid to get the job done, no matter how long it takes. Some weeks we work 60 or 80 hours, other weeks we get by with fewer hours. If you are finding the workload overwhelming, ask your department chair for ideas on how to make things a little more manageable. It’s not at all unusual in your first few semesters to spend 5 or 6 hours in prep and marking for each hour in the classroom….and yes, there may be some 16 hour days.

How many office hours should I schedule?

College policy states that full-time faculty schedule 5 hours per week; part-time faculty schedule pro rata. Keep in mind that students will evaluate your availability so if you are part-time you should try to make yourself available by email or phone in addition to office hours. Office hours are for students to meet with you, and also for your department chair to know when to find you.

All my teaching - including office hours - is online. Do I have to come in to campus for office hours?

In most cases, faculty who teach online also hold their office hours online. Confirm this with your Department Chair.

What about parking?

Parking permits are available to faculty members.  Please speak with the people in Facilities about the parking options, including tax implications.

I take transit to work – is there a UPass program for faculty?

No.

I see some courses in Continuing Studies that I could teach. How do I get some of that work?

If you are interested in Continuing Studies (CS) work, send a letter to them and copy it to the LFA. (See Article 24). Read By The Way for postings in CS (but these are rare because many CS courses are taught by the people who designed the courses, so design your own!).

If you design your own proposed CS course, CS will consult your department concerning your proposed course content and student assessment, to ensure your CS course is sufficiently different from Regular Studies offerings. Continuing Studies instructors are not covered by our collective agreement, but are contract workers with CS. The exception is: some courses are offered as Continuing Studies/Regular Studies hybrids – classes have both CS and RS students attending together – and those hybrid courses are taught by Regular Studies LFA faculty under the terms and conditions of our collective agreement.

I keep hearing the expression “collegial management” – what does that mean?

According to the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE)’s Collegial Authority Manual:

Collegial Management, or Collegial Authority, is the influence and involvement faculty members have in the decisions and administration of their institution. They influence decisions including hiring and selection of new faculty and administrators; successful completion of probation for new faculty; student appeals and entrance; curriculum development; course offerings; individual and department work assignments; peer reviews; election of coordinators and chairs; and allocation of professional development resources..

The principles of collegial authority flow directly from Socrates and the academy of ancient Greece. Collegial authority is based on a set of principles designed to protect academic freedom and promote the highest scholarly and educational standards.

As academics, as faculty members, you therefore have a duty and a right to meaningful involvement and participation in institutional and academic decision making. These decisions can and do have a significant impact upon our institutions, our students, and the working conditions and careers of our colleagues.

Here is a quote from an arbitration (in 1974) between the LFA and the College:

The distinction between the manager and the employee is fundamental to our collective bargaining law. That legislation was developed and designed with the traditional industrial model in mind. There, authority is given to a few persons at the top of the hierarchy to direct the activities of large numbers of employees at the bottom …

… However when applied to institutions of higher education, that model reaches the breaking point …

Why is that so? Because … the ideal mode of educational decision making is believed to be shared, collegial authority.

That ideal stems from the nature of college education. Members of these faculties normally undergo years of training in an intellectual discipline, obtaining M.A.’s, Ph.D.’s, and even doing post-doctoral study. They then go into the classroom alone to try to impart that knowledge to their students. There are no supervisors present telling them how to teach. Not only would that be ineffective, it would also produce the immediate reaction of a breach of academic freedom.

Each instructor claims the right to teach the subject as he or she feels best: to decide what is to be discussed in the classroom, what reading materials are to be used, how the ideas may best be conveyed, and finally, how to judge whether the students have learned it. These claims of academic freedom extend beyond the classroom and the individual course to the design of the over-all program of which it is a part. Faculty members participate jointly in deciding what will be included in the curriculum, what are the prerequisites for students being admitted to the course, and what will be the qualifications for a degree. The ultimate implication of this notion of professional competence in the discipline extends to the question of who should be part of this intellectual community which enjoys these freedoms and makes these decisions. That is why faculties historically have claimed the right to judge who should be hired, who should get tenure, who should be promoted, and who should be dismissed.

…The thread which runs through this whole structure is the view that academic decision of this kind should be arrived at by free discussions among professional colleagues, not imposed from above by someone with a position of authority.