Report of the Executive Director - caut-council-meeting

21 (b)
April 2015
The past 9 months have been a period of transition within CAUT, one that upon reflection has
proven to be remarkably smooth. This is thanks to the strength of our member associations, the
commitment of our elected leadership, and the talent of our staff.
The transition at CAUT has also created an opportunity for us to reflect upon our priorities and
plans for the coming years. In ongoing discussions with member associations, I have identified
three principal priorities before us. First, there is a need to renew and strengthen the capacity of
member associations so that they can successfully promote and defend the rights of academic staff.
Employers continue to take aggressive stances in collective bargaining. The number and complexity
of grievances is increasing. Managerial over-reach is threatening to run roughshod over our
academic freedom, professional autonomy, and collegial governance practices. In this context, it is
critical that CAUT strengthen and focus its support and services to member associations.
Secondly, to better leverage our political power, we need to more effectively engage our
membership. That means we need to reach within our membership to those who, while not
hostile, have not always been active in their associations. We need to do a better job of engaging
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and involving these members in order to build our strength. This also includes reaching out to
members from equity-seeking groups and Aboriginal communities who in the past may not have
felt that the association was a welcoming place for their issues and concerns.
Finally, we need to reach beyond our membership. Many of the issues we deal with are not
unique to our sector. The growth of contract academic jobs in universities and colleges, for
instance, is in part a symptom of a broader rise in precarious employment across the labour force.
Similarly, we should not for a moment think that the struggle for equity and justice for
marginalized communities ends once we leave the gates of campus. We need to be engaged with
like-minded groups and coalitions in order to more effectively promote our values.
CAUT has provided critical bargaining advice and assistance to member associations over the past
year in increasingly difficult negotiations and in the face of aggressive employer tactics. The
administration of the University of Windsor set the stage in early July when it announced that it
was planning to impose a new contract on its academic staff rather than negotiate a mutually
agreed deal. The resolve of the association’s membership forced the administration to back down,
but the employer’s hostile tactics should put all of us on alert.
CAUT staff are providing bargaining support to the newly certified associations in British Columbia.
We are also preparing for a busy summer in Ontario as half of the associations in the province will
be in bargaining. Given the number of contract talks that we are facing, CAUT’s collective
bargaining staff will soon be providing regular teleconference updates from tables across the
CAUT continues to be active in relation to occupational health and safety. Our health and safety
officer is coordinating a group working on a guide to best practices in accommodating staff with
disabilities. We have also helped launch an education and training module on campus security, and
a mental injuries toolkit to assist associations in identifying and preventing precipitators of mental
health issues in the workplace.
As was highlighted at the Workshop for Senior Grievance Officers in December, the number and
complexity of grievances is increasing, putting new strains on associations. In order to help with
this grievance work, CAUT has contracted with the Société québécoise d’information juridique
(SOQUIJ) to host a new arbitration database. The work of transferring and cataloguing arbitration
decisions in our sector is nearing completion. We expect associations will have access to the
database beginning in August, 2015.
One major concern I have heard from members is that of association renewal. With many seasoned
leaders and activists approaching retirement, recruiting a new generation of members to take on
these roles is vital. In an effort to assist with this, CAUT will be launching a workshop at November
Council for emerging leaders of associations. Each association would be asked to nominate one new
member who is likely to move into a leadership position in the near future. The workshop will focus
on the history and importance of academic staff associations in Canada, building leadership skills,
and reviewing key issues and policies in the sector.
The protection and promotion of academic freedom remains a core focus of CAUT’s work. While we
continue to handle a range of individual cases, it is also important that we recognize that many of
the current threats to academic freedom are systemic in nature. The growing numbers of Contract
Academic Staff is one such threat. While all academic staff have the right to academic freedom, it
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is difficult for colleagues employed on precarious contracts to exercise that right free of
recrimination. Without tenure or job security, Contract Academic Staff who exercise their academic
freedom are extremely vulnerable.
Additionally, academic staff from marginalized and equity-seeking groups continue to face
unacceptable constraints on their academic freedom as a result of on-going systemic discrimination.
CAUT’s new equity networks will be examining ways that we can raise awareness and organize to
confront those practices and biases that continue to marginalize so many within our universities
and colleges.
A further threat to academic freedom derives from the increasing number of respectful workplace
policies being developed by university and college administrations. Employers are responsible for
ensuring a harassment-free workplace, but they are shifting this obligation onto employees by
requiring them to be “respectful”. In several cases, academic staff have been reprimanded under
respectful workplace policies simply for exercising their academic freedom. The Brock and Capilano
investigations that CAUT established, for example, found instances where respectful workplace
policies were used against academic staff who criticized the university’s programs and policies.
Both reports call upon CAUT to develop policy and advice to help guide member associations in
responding to respectful workplace policies.
Finally, I want to highlight the CAUT Ad Hoc Investigatory Report on the Department of Economics
at the University of Manitoba as it raises some particularly challenging issues. The report points to
a situation in which collegial governance structures which are an essential condition for the
exercise of academic freedom can also be used to restrict academic freedom. What are the
implications for academic freedom when a decision of a majority taken through collegial decisionmaking bodies undermines the teaching and research of a minority? In such cases, it may be that
collegial governance is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the exercise and protection of
academic freedom.
As the President has noted in his report, this is an election year in Canada. CAUT is a non-partisan
organization, but this does not mean we have to sit on the sidelines during the federal election.
Without promoting one political party or candidate, we can use the election as an opportunity to
highlight our core issues – the need for increased public funding, investments in basic research,
respect for labour rights, and a science policy that protects the integrity and independence of
academic researchers.
In the run-up to the election, we will host a number of events as part of our Get Science Right
campaign in key ridings across the country. We kicked off the second phase of the campaign in
Ottawa in November with a town hall meeting that featured a discussion between researchers and
representatives of the main political parties. The intention is to take the discussion to a political
level and to debate policies needed to ensure that research is properly funded and free of political
CAUT’s Fair Employment Week and this February’s National Adjunct Week put a renewed spotlight
on Contract Academic Staff issues. The number of activities and level of engagement in Fair
Employment Week far exceeded previous years and has spawned ongoing media interest in the
exploitation of Contract Academic Staff. The challenge now will be for us to build upon the
momentum to press for concrete changes to ensure fairness for colleagues employed in precarious
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Perhaps the biggest legislative challenge we are facing at the moment stems from Bill C-51, the
Anti-Terrorism Act. The proposed legislation poses serious threats to basic civil liberties, but also to
academic freedom and free speech on campus. The broad scope and application of Bill C-51 could
expose academics, in the course of their teaching and research, to charges of “glorifying terrorism”
or “harming the interests of Canada”. CAUT has produced an analysis of the legislation and joined
other groups in March in protests across the country warning of the serious threats posed by Bill C51.
CAUT’s ability to conduct research into the status of the profession has been seriously
compromised by cuts to Statistics Canada, including the elimination of the University and College
Academic Staff Salary (UCASS) survey. Some of this work has now been picked up by a project
based at the University of Western Ontario and coordinated by the Ontario Council of Academic
Vice-Presidents. CAUT has an arrangement to purchase and share this data with member
associations. The new survey, however, is not as comprehensive as the previous Statistics Canada
The 2014-15 CAUT Almanac of Post-Secondary Education in Canada is now being published in an
on-line edition – We continue to produce a biennial librarians’ salary and
academic status survey, and publish regular analyses of university finances.
Much of CAUT's international work is done in conjunction with Education International
(EI), a trade union federation representing nearly 30 million teachers and education workers from
more than 400 member national organisations in 171 countries and territories. From July 22 nd to
the 26th, 2015, the 7th EI World Congress will take place in Ottawa. As one of the host
organizations, CAUT will play a prominent role in the organizing of the event.
CAUT also meets annually with EI higher education affiliates in North America to share information
and coordinate our efforts around our many common concerns and issues. We also participated in
EI’s Higher Education and Research Conference, held in Brussels last November.
In addition to this work, CAUT continues to expand its international solidarity initiatives. We have
ongoing partnerships with the National Association of Graduate Teachers of Ghana, the Palestinian
Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, and the College and Lecturers
Association of Zimbabwe. Along with other affiliates of EI, we have been able to help fund a
number of capacity-building initiatives with our partner organizations. I hope that we can expand
this work in the future, and find ways for member associations to be involved.
CAUT's legal work focuses on issues of national importance and on providing summary
advice to member associations. Our legal staff monitor court and arbitration decisions of relevance
to post-secondary education, and prepare periodic legal advisories on issues of relevance to
academics. For cases qualifying under the CAUT Arbitration Service, we provide legal
CAUT is currently involved in several legal cases of major importance.
We are seeking judicial review of the matter involving McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business. A
tribunal constituted under McMaster’s anti-harassment procedures found several members of the
School guilty of violating the policy and recommended severe penalties. In a factum that was filed
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with the court, CAUT legal counsel identified a number of procedural irregularities and issues
Testimony was presented in the absence of a tribunal member;
A tribunal member was appointed to an administrative post prior to filing of remedy
submissions and release of the decisions;
The penalties imposed were unreasonable by any standard, with the former Chair of the
Ontario Labour Relations Board characterising them as “excessive” and “far too draconian
and discriminatory”; and,
The Tribunal process violated the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness.
CAUT is providing legal support to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine Faculty and Staff
Association in their arbitration hearings over the out-sourcing of email and computing services to
Google. More and more universities and colleges are outsourcing to cloud computing providers,
raising concerns about privacy and academic freedom.
We were preparing to intervene in the appeal of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench decision
upholding an arbitration ruling that found the President of the University of Saskatchewan did not
have the right to veto a tenure decision. Earlier this year, however, the University announced it
was withdrawing its appeal.
CAUT has 72 local association members and three federated association members. Individual
affiliated membership stands at 46,828. This appears to represent a small decrease of 203 from
the previous year. However, the year-over-year membership figures are not strictly comparably as
the numbers this year are affected by an ongoing dispute between the University of Alberta and
the Academic Staff Association of the University of Alberta. Beginning last October, the University
refused to provide the association with reliable membership information.
I am privileged to be able to work with a talented and committed staff team at CAUT. Staff have
played a critical role in ensuring I enjoyed a smooth transition into my current role.
Since last Council, there have been some important staff changes. As many of you will know, our
veteran collective bargaining officer Neil Tudiver has retired after more than 15 years of impressive
service with CAUT. I know Neil earned the respect of every association as a solid negotiator, and as
a close friend and colleague.
In February, Nsé Ufot announced her resignation. Nsé was with CAUT for 3 years as a collective
bargaining officer, and in that short period played a key role in our team. With much regret, she
decided to move back to Atlanta to be with her family.
To fill these two vacancies, we have hired two seasoned negotiators. Seth Sazant is a National
Negotiator for the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), chairing a variety of bargaining
committees representing employees in the public and private sectors, and in all regions of the
country. Seth is fluently bilingual, and has substantial experience in pension and benefit matters in
addition to collective bargaining. Seth’s first day at CAUT will be May 4 th.
John Eustace is currently Associate Professor and Head of the Department of English and Theatre,
Acadia University. His academic speciality is in Postcolonial Literature. John served the Acadia
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University Faculty Association (AUFA) as an Executive Officer, a Senior Grievance Officer, and Chief
Negotiator. Because of his academic commitments, his first day at CAUT will be July 20 th.
As I reported at last Council, the vacant position of Special Assistant to the Executive Director has
been re-named Director of Communications. Interviews for the position are being held shortly, and
I hope to be able to make an appointment announcement soon thereafter.
I would like to conclude by once again thanking the dedicated leaders and activists of our
associations who fight for better working conditions and rights for our members, better learning
conditions for students, and a more just and equitable society. I also want to express my gratitude
to the many people who volunteer their time and energy to serve CAUT on its committees, working
groups, and networks. Finally, let me again acknowledge the work of CAUT staff whose dedication
and hard work supports all our efforts.