Alberta University of the Arts Faculty Association

President's Report  | December 2020

My dear colleagues and fellow members,

 

This is been a very full semester, and I for one am looking forward to the holidays. I wish you all the best over this Holiday season. 

 

But I need to assign some homework. The government is proposing some significant changes to the Post-Secondary Learning Act, and our sector. To frame some our discussion next semester, I will encourage everyone to read about the Alberta 2030 review that is occurring right now. 

 

https://www.alberta.ca/alberta-2030-building-skills-for-jobs.aspx

 

There are changes coming to the way we can collect dues. In essence if we were to donate to political causes or non-union causes, you would be able to ask for a reduction for that percentage in your dues. What it boils done to with the AUAFA budget is that we don’t spend money on those things. We will report to you at our GM in January how we are approaching these legislative changes. In the meantime, this is where you can read what the government has in mind.

 

https://www.alberta.ca/restoring-balance-in-albertas-workplaces.aspx

https://www.alberta.ca/labour-union-dues-and-financial-disclosure-engagement.aspx

 

You have also received an email from Karin, with a questionnaire sent form the government. I would encourage you all to participate in that questionnaire. 

 

Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides/ ACIFA

 

I’ve participated in a conversation with the Minister under the aegis of ACIFA. He outlined some possible directions and changes to the Post-Secondary Learning Act. This includes (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Possible consolidation across the post-secondary sectors

  • a planned 12% reduction in government funding to the post-secondary sector

  • tuition increase

  • increased emphasis in applied research

  • increase emphasis on post-secondary sector and Industry collaborations

  • skills training/ jobs placements

  • Increase the kinds of jobs or skills that can be apprenticed for, for example design.

 

ACIFA President Council Weekly Meetings

 

My weekly meetings with ACIFA informative. There’s a broad spectrum of information shared. Our experiences on the ground at AUA, in terms of burn out, additional workload, etc., and the direction our administration has been hinting at has been echoed our sister 

institutions. It has been especially interesting to hear what kinds of possible demands administration might make through the bargaining process. As you know the government has sent mandates to each of the institutions, which the institutions are not no longer allowed to share with us. What’s evident at other tables bargaining across the province is: an attempt to reduce overall Faculty costs through cuts to benefits, salary, professional development supports and an increase in workload. 

 

 

Changes to the Health and Safety Act

 

There are some changes to the Health and Safety Act around what work can be refused, you can no longer refuse work based on the pandemic. They have also removed bullying and harassment as health and safety issues. There has been a significant narrowing of what work can be refused because the worker deems it 

unsafe.

 

Meetings with Daniel

 

I met with Daniel this month. We have been having some very interesting conversations. He asked what institution could do to reduce Faculty stress and burnout. I suggested:

  1. A reduction in complexity as it applies to bureaucracy

  2. Clarity in language as it seems there are different dialects in each area of the school university. Each area uses shorthand, words, and acronyms that are not shared through the University making it nearly impossible for each area to understand what the other does or what is being asked of us. If we’re going to work together, we have to share language

  3. We also spoke about the renewing of the PSLA, the impact of the pandemic on our members, as well as the impact of the increased workload for online delivery. 

 

NAC

I would like to thank the NAC team, for the work that they will do for us next semester. I suspect this will be one of the more rambunctious, complex, and challenging negotiations that we’ve had for a while.

 

Joint Consultation

 

  1. Professional development funds

    1. We spoke about the timely and efficient dispensation of those funds, and we asked what kind of process was in place to ensure that all those eligible receive the funds that they requested. There was some issue over the summer and fall of late disbursement. We were assured that there is a new system in place and whoever has requested funds should have received them by now.

  2. Proration for students about the 22 cap in studio courses

    1. Everyone should’ve received the proration on the November 27 paycheck.

  3. We spoke about grading support for SCCS courses above 50 students

    1. A member brought forth an issue where their grading support refused to grade written responses. Which affectively means that member was without grading support.

 

Government consultation

 

AUAFA was asked to respond to the changes described in Bill 32 and the impact on our association. Chris and I worked through both set of questionnaires. I submitted our responses to the government by the date required. The key issue is around the management of unique and idiosyncratic dues should our members choose to opt out of what it has deemed as non-core business. Our association and our budget is so small that we have traditionally never spent money on the things that they consider political. Where it affects us, the most is around social causes, like the money we donated to the Fort McMurray Faculty Association after their fire. From now on we will have a collection box for these kinds of things.

In Solidarity,

Natali Rodrigues

Announcements
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