On Friday, January 30, 2015 the parties signed a Memorandum of Agreement that itemizes the proposals on which agreement has been reached, the proposals the parties have mutually agreed to withdraw, and those “matters still in dispute” that the parties may submit to arbitration. Please note that any items agreed to at the bargaining table will not be implemented until the interest arbitration is complete. This is the first in a series of blog posts to discuss both the matters that have been agreed to and those that are still in dispute.
In the round of negotiations leading to the 2010-2012 Collective Agreement the University made a proposal to transform the Instructor classification into a full three-rank Educational Leadership classification. At the time the instructor classification had no ranks (Senior Instructor was simply the name given to post-probationary instructors, no actual promotion procedures were involved), the classification was regarded (and described in the Agreement) as a “teaching stream,” and several articles in the Collective Agreement implied that Senior Instructors were analogous to a rank below Assistant Professors. The University proposed to change all of that during that round. The Association’s bargaining team was ambivalent about this proposal (to put it mildly). On the one hand, we knew our members in that stream wanted an improved career path. On the other hand, we feared that members in the newly transformed Educational Leadership stream would be treated as low-cost tenured teaching machines in some Faculties, and as educational leaders in others, leading to a two-tier classification. In the end, based on assurances from the University’s bargaining team that members in the Educational Leadership stream would not be “teaching machines” and that members in every rank in the stream would be afforded adequate time to pursue the educational leadership duties necessary for promotion, we agreed to the University’s proposal. It was, in fact, the very last proposal agreed to in that round of bargaining.
Not surprisingly, problems in the transition from the old model of the instructor stream to the new model have subsequently emerged. In this round the Association took two problems to the table. First, because of the way the Collective Agreement was worded, members in the Educational Leadership classification were not eligible for their first sabbatical after the same length of service that other bargaining unit members were. The Association had assumed this inequity was simply an oversight, left over from the old instructor model and in 2012 we had raised this issue as a housekeeping item. We were told in no uncertain term that this was not housekeeping, that the university fully intended to discriminate against members of the Educational Leadership classification in this way. Not surprisingly, the University did not agree to our proposal at that time. In this round we again made that proposal (UBCFA proposal # 12) and in this round the university took a different approach and we were able to agree to changes to the Collective Agreement to remedy this inequity.
The second change the Association sought (UBCFA proposal # 13) was to define educational leadership in the Collective Agreement in the same way that teaching, scholarly activity, and service are defined in the Collective Agreement. The University saw the value of this, and the parties were able to work together to create an appropriate clause in the agreement that defines these duties. In doing so we were aided by the fact that the Senior Appointments Committee had already tackled this problem and we were able to use their document as a starting point for our discussions.
Finally, the University made a proposal (UBC proposal #6b) to redefine “eligible faculty member” for the purposes of determining which rank votes on appointment, reappointment, tenure and promotion decisions. They pointed out that the current language makes much use of phrases like “of equal or higher rank”, and while the order of the ranks is clear within each stream, there is no real meaning to the notion of “equal rank” across streams. With the new Educational Leadership model the three ranks within each of the educational leadership and professorial streams have become untethered from each other, with ranks in one stream neither being above, below, nor equal to ranks in the other stream in any sense.
This leaves a practical problem. Who is eligible to serve on which tenure and promotion committee? The obvious answer is that if the committee is to consider, for example, the promotion of an Instructor to Senior Instructor only Senior Instructors and Professors of Teaching should be eligible, and that if the committee is to consider the promotion of an Assistant Professor to Associate Professor only Associate Professors and Professors should be eligible. Similarly, only Professors of Teaching should be eligible for committees considering promotion to Professor of Teaching and only Professors should be eligible for committees considering promotion to Professor. There are a couple of problems with this solution. First, in many departments there are relatively few members of the Educational Leadership stream, which would mean tenure and promotion committees would be largely comprised of Educational Leadership faculty from other departments in order to achieve the minimum committee size. But more fundamentally, we did not get the sense from our face-to-face meetings with members that this was a solution that would meet wide approval.
Consequently, we decided to punt. We told the University’s bargaining committee that the Association did not have a position on this, and we were not ready to deal with it the Collective Agreement. Instead we agreed on a set of voting rules, which will be in place during the life of this Agreement. The rules are not exactly arbitrary but they don’t imply any discernable relationship between ranks in the two streams. For example, we agreed that Senior Instructors will now vote on reappointment of Assistant Professors, but not on Promotion to Associate Professor. Associate Professors will vote on promotion to Senior Instructor, but not to promotion to Professor of Teaching. Professors of Teaching and Professors will vote on promotion to Professor of Teaching and Professor.
On the question of the makeup of the Dean’s Advisory Committees, the problem was less fraught, both on its face and based on our pre-bargaining face-to-face meetings with members. UBC proposed that both Professors and Professors of teaching be eligible to be selected by the Deans or elected by the members to serve on the Dean’s Advisory Committee, and we agreed. Obviously this doesn’t imply any relationship between the ranks, only that those are the highest ranks in their respective streams. This seemed a reasonable solution. Indeed, in many universities the equivalent of the Dean’s Advisory Committee contains members from all ranks and for years Associate Professors have been members of the Dean’s Advisory Committee in the Okanagan as a practical solution to the low numbers of Professors in the Okanagan, even though this would be completely unacceptable on the Vancouver campus.