Workload

Categories: Bargaining Updates 2012, Workload, workplace experience survey

We are hearing increasingly from faculty who are concerned with the rising demands placed on them, especially with respect to teaching and service, and with the way workload is managed in their units.  They are rightly concerned about how these demands impact their capacities to carry on their research and other scholarly activities.  This has led to the proposals we recently tabled.

In our last round of collective bargaining, the Faculty Association achieved some new language to help our members maintain a workload consistent with their desire to carry on their research, teaching, and service at a high level, but also within the context of a healthy work-life balance. This new language establishes a commitment to reasonable and equitable workload for faculty, as well as a more transparent process for allocating workload within units.  While we were pleased to have introduced some basic language on workload into the Collective Agreement we know that our colleagues at comparable institutions (e.g. U of T) have much stronger language to protect faculty time for the scholarly activities that are the centre of our academic lives. We are still hearing from many members that they are dissatisfied with the level of collegiality and transparency involved in the development of departmental workload policies and we note that these concerns are even reflected in the recent Workplace Experiences Survey conducted by UBC (see for example page 27 of the University’s presentation.)

Accordingly in the current round of bargaining, we have tabled proposals to make clearer our expectation that practices at UBC should recognize the importance of giving faculty reasonable time to perform all aspects of their duties.  In particular, we recognize that research and other scholarly activities require significant, dedicated time periods.

To this end, some of the proposals we have presented are:  (1) that each unit establish a Unit Workload Committee to create and maintain the Unit Workload Policy, (2) that workload assignments should ensure equity within ranks in teaching loads, (3) that in the interest of research and scholarship, faculty shall not be required to teach in more than two terms, namely Winter Terms 1 and 2, though faculty may voluntarily agree to a redistribution of their teaching load into the summer session, (4) that faculty holding joint appointments shall be assigned teaching and service in a manner consistent with their percentage appointment to each unit, (5) that there should not be significant discrepancies in workload between the Vancouver and Okanagan Campuses for the same academic unit/disciplinary areas, and (6) that faculty members in the Instructor Classifications are entitled to reasonable time to perform all aspects of their duties. 

While the university has not tabled a counter-proposal on workload, they have indicated that they would prefer that we work within the present language of our collective agreement on matters related to workload.  We agree that the language about Unit Workload Policies is relatively new and so is still being implemented, but we are also certain that the proposals we have presented simply provide detailed guidance to units about core features that their Unit Workload Policies should have to address specific concerns raised by faculty.  It is certainly in our mutual interest to have conditions under which all faculty can carry out their work at the levels expected at UBC.