Message from UBCFA President: Merit/Returning to Campus

Dear Colleagues,

This is just to speak briefly to a couple of issues we are hearing quite a bit about right now. These issues are the merit process and the planned September return to our campuses.


As we announced with the Provosts on 30 March, the FA and the University have made a one-time without prejudice agreement to introduce a “teaching merit” award for lecturers and educational-leadership (EL) faculty. If you look carefully at the agreement, you will see that the award is structured so that the vast majority of lecturers and EL faculty should expect to receive the award. For example, lecturers and EL-faculty do not have to have been assigned teaching loads that are larger or more onerous than are typical for them to expect to get the award. The entire point of the award is that due to the move on online the standard teaching loads of EL faculty and lecturers were especially onerous this year. Since receipt of the award is the default assumption, units will need to bring forward reasons why a particular lecturer or EL faculty member should not receive the award. Possible arguments would include that such a faculty member had an unusual number of teaching releases this year or that a particular such faculty member has been teaching online for a long time and did not experience the additional workload that most did with the movement to online instruction. We expect such arguments to be rare.

Teaching merit was the only matter with respect to merit that the FA and the University felt could be dealt with this year as a general policy agreement. But the FA fully understands that impacts of covid have gone beyond extra teaching workload. We remind you that the Collective Agreement gives the ability to revise their own merit policies to units through a collegial process and in light of their own understanding of their situations. The relevant language is in Part 2 Salaries and Economic Benefits, Section 2.04c and d on page 34. If you think your unit needs further changes due to covid, please talk as soon as possible to your colleagues and unit leaders.

Return to campuses

There is, not surprisingly, quite a bit of confusion and anxiety surrounding the proposed return to in-person instruction on our campuses. The Faculty Association is in regular discussions with the University about the reopening plans. While we do not, at this time, have much special knowledge of the details of UBC administration’s preparation for the proposed re-openings, we commit to the membership that we will continue to press the University to address the reasonable concerns that we are hearing from many of you.

We have one important reminder on this matter: at this time no final decision has been made regarding the return to in-person instruction and therefore the University should not be collecting any personal health information about our members who may have covid health-related vulnerabilities. Rather, the University is or will be gathering information on individual member preferences as part of the planning process, but in any discussions with your Head or other administrators you should not feel pressured to provide your employer with information that they are not now entitled to. Once the final decision on a safe return to campus had been made, we will share information on how our members may request an accommodation.

As the situation remains quite fluid, we will continue to update you on our discussions with the University, and if you have any questions or concerns in the meantime please do not hesitate to reach out to us.


Alan Richardson, President