The ULFA bargaining town hall held May 5, 2021 was well-attended by members and included many Instructors. The focus was mainly on ULFA’s proposal for the creation of a Teaching Professoriate and other issues impacting Instructors such as workload.
ULFA Chief Bargaining Spokesperson Locke Spencer opened with an update on where things stand in the current round of bargaining which began on June 8, 2020.
Members were reminded that the 2018-2020 Collective Agreement (CA) expired on June 30, 2020 but remains in force under “bridging” provisions of the Labour Relations Code until a new agreement is settled, job action occurs, or the union is decertified. Under provisions negotiated in the previous round of bargaining, eligible members will receive merit and career progress increments on July 1, 2021.
Since the January 18, 2021 exchange of full proposal packages by the ULFA and Board negotiating teams, the teams have held six negotiation meetings (February 8, February 22, March 8, March 22, April 8, and April 22).
In their opening positions, the two sides proposed changes to 41 articles or schedules. Of these
- We have reached provisional agreement in three schedules;
- One side or the other has presented an opening position in thirty-two cases;
- Ten of the forty-one have been exchanged more than once (i.e. an opening plus at least one response).
Discussion at the Town Hall focused on matters relating to ULFA’s proposal to introduce a new Teaching Professoriate stream for Instructor IIIs. The intention of this proposal is to gain a first step toward improving Instructor working conditions in general. This proposed first step would indirectly remove the salary cap for Instructor IIIs who successfully apply for promotion to the Teaching Professoriate by making them Faculty Members, with all of the working conditions associated with those positions, and would introduce pedagogical leadership and/or research in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) as a standard component of their responsibilities. Key elements of ULFA’s initial Teaching Professoriate proposal included the following:
- three new ranks (assistant, associate, full Teaching Professor) for eligible Instructor IIIs interested in promotion
- recognition given to Teaching Professoriate members’ work on SoTL and pedagogical leadership
- Teaching Professoriate salary scales and promotion/evaluation processes the same as those in place for Faculty members
- requirements for promotion from Instructor III to the Teaching Professoriate:
- a terminal degree
- lengthy and meritorious record of teaching effectiveness
- evidence of scholarly work on teaching and pedagogical leadership.
ULFA has revised its proposal in response to discussions with the Board, particularly by reducing the number of proposed ranks for the Teaching Professoriate to one: Full Professor, as a potential route for promotion by Instructor IIIs.
Brief Background on the development of the Teaching Professoriate Stream proposal
Instructors at the U of L have long been vocal about the lack of opportunities for career development in their positions, the limited recognition of the effort that many instructors put into work on SoTL, the lack of respect accorded to Instructors by many Faculty Members and senior administrators, and the demotivating impact of the Instructor salary cap. ULFA Negotiating Teams have been endeavouring to make progress on some of these issues in a variety of ways over the years. For example, in the most recent round of bargaining, we were successful in negotiating one-time bonus merit payments for Instructors at the salary cap who earn merit.
One way that many Canadian universities have been addressing similar issues is by creating a stream of “teaching professors” parallel to the traditional research professoriate. The concept of creating such a stream at the U of L as a mechanism to provide opportunities for career development and enhancement for Instructors was presented to the ULFA membership at the AGM in April 2020, as part of the bargaining mandate proposal. The mandate received overwhelming support, but the details of how this concept should be implemented remained to be determined.
A sub-committee of ULFA’s Bargaining Resource Committee (BRC) was set up shortly after the AGM to look into creating a Teaching Professoriate stream at the U of L. The sub-committee reviewed several universities’ collective agreements where such streams exist with the aim of coming up with a workable system that could be easily adapted to our context. Models considered include those at the University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, University of Northern British Columbia, Saint Mary’s University, York University, Dalhousie University, University of Alberta, University of New Brunswick, University of Calgary, Carleton University, and University of Manitoba.
After discussion and deliberation, the sub-committee reduced their focus to the University of British Columbia and University of Toronto where the current systems are working well and can be easily adapted to the U of L. A document draft titled “Teaching Professoriate Route for Instructors” was presented to the ULFA BRC in June 2020 for consideration. A category of Teaching Professoriate with Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor ranks was proposed, initially available only to Instructors III with a terminal degree in their subject area who show leadership in Teaching, curriculum development and Teaching Research including but not limited to pedagogical scholarship and innovations. Appropriate amendments were suggested to Article 12 and Article 15 to enable the establishment of this Teaching Professoriate stream.
After consideration and consultation, the BRC approved the key elements of this proposal, refined the language modifications required, and included it in the opening proposals that the ULFA Negotiating Team presented to the Board.
The town hall provided information to members on the current state of negotiations and provided practical examples and feedback on how such a Teaching Professoriate might be implemented in practice. It was reiterated that these are still early days and that the aim of negotiations is to create a positive place for initial agreement with the Board and then to build on this in future rounds.