On Workloads

From what, though, do we need to be protected? From the efforts of the Employer to increase and alter our workloads and teaching loads in view of the pressures of these interesting times. What do these efforts look like? Most typically, a Dean will ask you to increase the size of your class, or take on extra graduate students, or do more advising because, as we all are told, York University is in financial straits, because we all have to pull together in order to provide a good educational environment, because we all want new appointments and / or because we all have a vested interest in improving our professional and academic programmes. Because of such arguments in the past, individuals and units often agreed to do more work. When they did this, their new work level became the new normal; it became their current practice. So a year down the road, four years down the road, everyone was working harder and longer. And they are still doing so.

How does one stop this escalation? There are several alternatives. The first alternative is to say “no” to a request that you increase your work. In such a case, the Dean or Principal will either withdraw the request or will order you to do the work. According to labour law, you must comply if ordered. However, you can then file a grievance. Because our Collective Agreement only permits “minor, year-to-year fluctuations” for individuals, and because the teaching load of units is defined by the collegium, your workload will have to go back to the old normal. By filing a grievance, the individual or the unit is also stating that a new normal or a new current practice is not being established.

The second alternative is for a unit to make the workload changes which the Employer (Dean / Principal) has requested but to do so only by passing a clear motion, at a unit meeting, that such changes “to individual teaching loads and / or the normal workload of the unit are temporary fluctuations and do not constitute a change to current practice(s) as defined in the Workload Document.” By this means, the individual(s) and / or unit can insist that, sometime in the future, they can go back to the status quo ante, to their former workload because that workload is their normal current practice. In other words, your Workload Document defines your current practices; and your current practices are protected by the Collective Agreement. Without a Workload Document which details clearly the teaching work that you do and how it is determined and delineated, you are vulnerable to escalating demands. Without a detailed Workload Document, you can never prove what your current teaching practices are or were. It should also be pointed out here that a unit should never alter the practices in this Document without a formal motion, always bearing in mind that such a motion reflects collegial practices and thus sets outs what is your normal workload.

[full article : http://www.yufa.org/stewards/workload.html%5D

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