Issues on the Table: Improved Performance Evaluation Provisions for Sessional Lecturers

After completing a Sessional Lecturer appointment, a sessional may notify their Dean in writing that they are interested in being considered for future similar appointments on a priority basis. This reappointment right for sessionals is informally known as a right of first refusal, which was the subject of an earlier post, Issues on the Table: Improved Right of First Refusal for Sessional Lecturers

To ensure priority consideration for future appointments, a Sessional Lecturer’s letter to the Dean must include evidence of the sessional’s teaching effectiveness. In addition, the sessional must not have received a performance evaluation that is less than satisfactory. 

The Problem

The 2018-2020 Collective Agreement does not specify a timeframe in which a Sessional Lecturer’s teaching effectiveness is to be assessed. This means sessionals may not receive timely performance evaluations, which in turn may impede their ability to establish priority consideration for future similar sessional appointments. A similar impediment may be created by the lack of a specified timeframe in which a performance re-evaluation is to be completed when a Sessional Lecturer requests re-evaluation after receiving an unsatisfactory performance review.

It is an important matter of equity to resolve issues surrounding the timing of performance evaluations or re-evaluations for sessionals, which currently may impede the ability of Sessional Lecturers to exercise their right of first refusal.

The Positions

ULFA proposes to introduce two new clauses within Article 34 (Sessional Lecturers). One clause provides that if no assessment of a sessional’s teaching effectiveness is received within 15 working days of submitting their letter to the Dean requesting priority in future reappointments, their teaching effectiveness assessment shall be deemed to be satisfactory. The second clause provides that if no teaching effectiveness re-evaluation is received within 15 working days of a sessional’s request for re-evaluation, their teaching effectiveness assessment shall be deemed to be satisfactory. 

These two clauses have been included in all of ULFA’s Article 34 proposals since the ULFA negotiation team tabled its initial full proposal package on January 18, 2021. Our most recent Article 34 proposal was included in the set of proposals sent to the Board negotiation team on February 12, 2022

In its February 8, 2022 response, the Board team accepted ULFA’s proposal to include two new clauses in Article 34 that provide for a teaching effectiveness assessment or re-evaluation that is deemed to be satisfactory if no assessment or re-evaluation is received by a sessional within a specified period of time. However, the Board team’s response proposes a 30 working day period, which is twice as long as ULFA’s proposal. The Board’s proposal would potentially impede a sessional’s ability to establish their right of first refusal in a timely manner at the end of a fall semester if they wish to be considered for re-appointment in the following spring semester.  
ULFA’s negotiating positions are built around a grave concern for the wellbeing of all academic staff members. In particular, there is concern for the most precarious earners, who make up a substantial proportion of our membership (see Salaries not on the Sunshine List for more details). While the proposed language on improved sessional evaluation provisions will not impose any additional financial costs to the University, it helps to improve working conditions for this group of our membership. The rights and needs of our most precarious members must be addressed in any ratifiable settlement.