Work to Rule
WORK-TO-RULE PHASE 3:
STARTS March 2nd
The Colleges’ team, via the CEC, continues to assert that they will not return to the bargaining table, nor agree to refer outstanding issues to interest arbitration, despite faculty having clearly rejected their final offer. Typically in bargaining, following a failed final offer vote, the employer concedes that they need to move on workers’ demands. As this Employer team continues to stonewall instead, we have no choice but to increase pressure through the next phase of work to rule.
This phase (see Phase 3 attached) has been reviewed by our legal team, Local Presidents and Bargaining Advisory Committee, and is designed specifically to increase that pressure and to limit the likelihood of a lockout. It centers on three areas: online course delivery, evaluation and grade entry, and non-teaching activities/weeks. These are described in detail in the Phase 3 document; here we provide a bit of context on why these are now struck work. We will also forward a letter from our legal team reinforcing the importance and lawfulness of our work-to-rule activities.
We have also created a letter you can share with your students that explains what faculty are doing and why. Feel free to adapt it to your needs.
We have also created letters that you can send to your manager, including one for coordinators specifically, should your manager try to pressure or direct you to engage in any struck work. Please cc it to your Local union so that we can track and support you fully.
REMEMBER: work-to-rule is a temporary situation intended to bring enough pressure quickly to avoid full labour disruption. The more faculty respect the struck work criteria, the more protected we all are, and the quicker this will be done. In order for this to be successful in getting the Colleges back to the table or into arbitration, it has to be difficult for the colleges.
Mode of Delivery
We are asserting that faculty have a right to decide the mode of delivery for the courses that we teach. Under our work-to-rule action, faculty have the right to stay online if they wish to for the remainder of the Winter Term for the benefit of our students.
Whether we choose to teach online, in a hybrid format, or entirely face-to-face, we are still completing our teaching contact hours, associated preparation, evaluation and feedback, and complementary functions (i.e., performing the work that we have been contracted
Changing the mode of delivery of a course midway through the term may not be good pedagogically for our students and may make for additional workload that is not accurately represented on our SWFs. Further, we are hearing complaints from many students that they are unable to make the switch from fully online to face-to-face learning in the middle of the term because they already have family and job commitments that were made based upon being completely online. Additionally, some are experiencing challenges finding short-term accommodations for the final seven weeks of the term.
Grading and Data Entry of Evaluation
This phase will continue to see faculty completing all weekly evaluation and feedback for student work in the time attributed for that task on their SWFs, which is a continuation of the previous phases. As we know, this demonstrates the extra volunteer work that faculty put into grading and the inadequacy of our current factors, but it does limit the detailed individual feedback that faculty can provide to students.
This phase will also see faculty providing assignment grades to individual students upon request, rather than posting them to the College’s LMS. Additionally, when we submit final grades to the College, we will not do so in the way currently designed by the Colleges, which places all of the work on faculty rather than supervisors. These protocols also respect the principles of work-to-rule by ensuring that faculty – particularly Partial-Load faculty – do no work beyond what is recognized and compensated.
This is going to cause some inconveniences to faculty and students, but nothing we are doing is intended to hurt students. There is a simple reason for this action: we are trying to avoid the need to escalate further, and to limit the College’s ability to engage in a lockout, by reducing easy college access to student grades to date.
Non-teaching activities are those activities that are undertaken by counsellors and librarians (as well as professors who are not currently teaching). Non-teaching weeks cover those periods that are not covered by contracts for PL faculty, or by SWFs for FT faculty. Non-teaching weeks include the “spring break” week, also known as reading or intersession week. We have extended the struck work from Phases 1 and 2, and asked that faculty not participate in college-initiated activities, such as Town Halls, meetings, and college PD and training.
For counsellors and librarians, this means prioritizing your work so that it fits within your 35 hours. The same is true for professors who are assigned work that does not involve teaching. It means no extras, and no volunteer work. It also means not running college-initiated activities during the spring break week, nor asking other faculty to participate in these sessions. It also means no evening or weekend work—this is about limiting your work strictly, and setting boundaries. The Colleges run on the volunteer overtime you put in, rather than having appropriate staffing levels.
Program coordinators do not have SWFs for this period, and are not assigned any time for coordination activities during this week, including examples such as student recruitment, meetings, and planning. We have also asked that coordinators refrain generally from participating in contract faculty hiring throughout work-to-rule. For coordinators during SWF’d time, you should stay within your attributed time and specifically assigned tasks. If you have time assigned, but only broad tasks, then it is up to you (not your manager) to prioritize your activities and stay within your assigned time. For coordinators, supervising any faculty members is always against the Collective Agreement, and offering any input whatsoever into the hiring or rehiring of potential contract faculty is struck work in Phase Three.
Professors and instructors should not engage in preparation and evaluation during reading/intersession week/Spring Break. The time we need to do our prep and eval should be fully recognized on the SWF. Most of us play catch up during reading week, and we really shouldn't need to. The fact that we're now all accustomed to doing prep/eval during reading week reinforces the fact that our current SWF factors are insufficient.
It is not our responsibility to spend our own professional development time to make up for the College’s failure to provide sufficient time during the SWF period to complete preparation or evaluation. In normal circumstances, non-teaching periods are used for activities initiated by the faculty member or by the College. During work-to-rule, non-teaching periods are used for activities initiated only by the faculty member.
This extends to academic integrity and dishonesty processes, as well as supplemental assignments/exams. Again, these processes take well beyond the attributed time on your SWF or contract. These protocols ensure that academic integrity issues are identified and
addressed, without unloading time-consuming College processes onto faculty in
the form of unrecognized and uncompensated work. Furthermore, if faculty are given no “additional attributed hours for evaluation/feedback” on their SWF, then preparing and grading supplementary exams is purely volunteer work, which we do not do during work-to-rule.
We hope that this helps provide enough background and rationale to demonstrate the importance of these activities. If you have questions about your specific circumstances, or the process, please reach out to your Local union. Together we will work to get you the information and support you need.
And the work-to-rule process is working: every day we are sent stories of faculty exercising their legal right to strike and successfully pushing back against managers who ask them to violate the work-to-rule guidelines. Many colleges are rescheduling activities and cancelling meetings as a result of faculty solidarity. Reports from across the system tell us that the pressure on frontline managers is trickling up to Deans and VPs, and that the College Presidents are starting to get the message.
Faculty solidarity works: your team is doing everything we can to protect the year for students, and to achieve a fair settlement that addresses faculty needs. It is up to the College Presidents to do their part.
JP, Jonathan, Katie, Michelle, Ravi, Rebecca, Shawn
Your CAAT-A Bargaining Team
Conestoga College Spoke News Story
A recent article in the Conestoga College campus media Spoke News covered the work-to-rule campaign: ARTICLE https://spokeonline.com/2022/01/faculty-strike-looms-over-conestoga-college-after-union-negotiations-hit-a-standstill/
January 10, 2022
Frequently Asked Questions
Thank you to everyone who provided questions for us to try and make sense of returning to campus and the work to rule. We’ve tried to answer as many as we could. I have grouped the questions into “General Questions” “Return to Campus Safety Questions” and “Work to Rule Questions” below.
We will also be hosting drop-in sessions for Local 237 members over the next few weeks. These sessions are designed to allow you to meet with your local steward and the acting President to ask questions in a smaller setting. Details of the timing of these drop-in sessions are listed below before the Frequently Asked Questions and Answers.
Small Faculty Information Question & Answer Zoom Sessions
We have set up a number of sessions for local 237 members to ask questions in a smaller setting. We are encouraging faculty from specific areas to attend specific sessions with their colleagues. However, we recognize the schedule may not work for everyone so please feel free to attend a different groups session if you cannot make your own. For all of these sessions the following Zoom information will provide you access:
Meeting ID: 826 1941 1634
LINC Program, Tuesday January 11 at 4:00 pm
Downtown Kitchener Campus: Wednesday, January 12 at 11:30 am
Hospitality & Culinary Arts: Wednesday, January 12 at 1:00 pm
Counsellors and Librarians: Wednesday, January 12 at 7 p.m.
Workforce Development: Friday January 14 at 10:00 am
School of Business: Monday, January 17 at 12:30 pm
Partial Load Faculty: Monday, January 17 at 1:00 pm
Full Time Faculty: Monday, January 17 at 1:30 pm
Interdisciplinary Studies: Monday, January 17 at 2:00 pm
Communications/ELS/EAP: Wednesday, January 19 at 12 noon
Why didn’t you answer my question?
Some people used the form to share some fairly specific questions. Since the form was set up to allow anonymity, we can’t answer most of your questions directly as we do not know who you are. General answers have been provided here but, if you would like to ask a question and remain anonymous please email Anthony Piscitelli at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your name will not be revealed without your consent.
Return to Campus & Safety Questions:
What can I do about the lack of social distancing in the classroom?
The college sector has been exempted from some of the requirements that other businesses and sectors are being forced to follow. This issue remains contentious and discussion between the union and management is ongoing. If you feel you have an unsafe work environment, you do have the right to refuse the work. However, at the present time, a work refusal based on a lack of social distancing would not likely be successful under Ministry of Labour rules. Contact the union at email@example.com if you have concerns about social distancing in your labs.
What masks will be provided by Conestoga College when I return to work in person? Can I wear an n95 mask?
Conestoga College is providing 3-ply masks. You can request to have two 3-ply masks, which may provide better protection than one mask and help with gaps. However, currently, Conestoga College will not allow employees to wear better masks such as an n95 or kn95 (except in some specific areas where the surgical masks present a fire hazard). Local 237 is in the process of filing a Union Grievance requesting our members be allowed to wear n95 masks. If you would like to file a personal grievance to request to wear an n95, kN95, or another respirator mask please contact the local and we would be happy to assist.
I have some specific concerns about the safety practices on campus, what can I do to have these addressed?
If you have specific safety concerns you are encouraged to contact the health and safety committee. We have several union representatives on this committee. Our lead is Claudia Schubert (firstname.lastname@example.org) who would be happy to assist you with your concern.
What should I do with students who do not properly wear their masks in class?
We recommend politely letting the student know that the mask has slipped and that they should put it back on properly. If a student continues to disregard your instructions, it may be necessary to ask the student to leave. If they resist, do not intervene yourself. Contact security to assist.
Work to Rule Questions
Will the work to rule negatively impact the educational experience of the students?
This is a tough question. No one wants to hurt the students. The reality is the labour relations between the union and colleges have broken down, so this is bound to have a negative impact on students. A work to rule campaign is much less harmful to students than a full work stoppage. We hope the work to rule campaign will create enough pressure to lead to a fair deal and avoid an escalation of labour actions.
What should I do during the weeks where I do not have a SWF?
Weeks without a SWF are governed by section 11.08 of the collective agreement. This section requires faculty to complete activities that are agreed to by “mutual consent”, which must not be ‘unreasonably withheld’. During the work-to-rule campaign, it is reasonable to withhold consent for assigned activities outside of the SWF period. Currently, the imposed agreement changes from the colleges have not changed section 11.08 of the collective agreement (note this could change at any time so if the agreement is further modified this advice may need to change).
Are negotiations currently taking place?
OPSEU has invited the College Employer Council to return to the bargaining table but unfortunately, the CEC has refused to do so at this time.
Should Part-Time or Sessional Faculty who were previously Partial Load participate in the work to rule campaign?
While the support of part-time & sessional faculty is appreciated, until you become a member of the union, you are not provided with the same protection as unionized employees. It would be best to show your support outside of the work-to-rule campaign.
Why don’t we just strike now? It seems like the College Employer Council is not going to listen until we do.
The more pressure we can put on the College Employer Council through the work to rule campaign the less likely we will need to strike.
Note from Anthony Piscitelli, Local 237 President: In my previous positions as both a manager and a unionized employee, I do not recall ever seeing an email from the employer to unionized employees trying to influence a strike vote or participation in a work-to-rule campaign. I believe a major reason we end up in contentious labour negotiations on a regular basis in our system is that the College Employer Council believes we are a weak union that is unwilling to stand behind the negotiating team. The best way to counteract this is by delivering strong strike mandates, voting down forced offers, and vigorously participating in work-to-rule campaigns.
If we accidentally do some work that we should not have done, what is the consequence?
The key word is “accidentally”. We know that work to rule is new to everyone and that you are trying your best. If you make a mistake and do a bit of work you should not be doing there will be no consequences from Local 237, beyond a polite reminder. However, someone who consistently and deliberately ignores work to rule guidelines is essentially "crossing a picket line," which undermines all our efforts.
What types of activities are covered by the six complimentary hours on our SWF?
The six complementary hours are split up with 4 hours for out of the class assistance to students and 2 hours for normal administrative tasks.
Who can answer questions when we aren't sure whether or not we are allowed to do something based on the guidelines for work-to-rule?
Can these rules be shared with managers who also don't know what we are allowed to do or what they are allowed to ask us to do?
We have shared the recent communications to the members (including this one) with the head of human resources. If your manager has questions about instructions given to members of the local, please encourage them to contact Human Resources.
Can someone please create an FAQ list we can refer to?
Yes, we can absolutely do that for you. Great idea!
Where can I find the Union Zoom background?
The Bargaining for Better background can be found at the following link:
Do I need to use the Union Zoom background when I teach?
We encourage you to consider using this background when teaching a class. We recognize that not everyone is comfortable doing this as it may invite unwanted questions (or if you are like some faculty, you may not want to use it as you fear the occasional floating head of your child or dog that appears on the screen using any virtual background). If you do not feel comfortable using the union background when teaching, we ask you to consider using it when meeting with any Chair or manager.
What should I say if students ask me about the work to rule campaign?
How you address these questions will depend on the type of class that you are teaching and how comfortable you are answering these types of questions. If you are in an engineering class, a brief explanation of how the work to rule action will impact the classroom experience might be an appropriate focus. However, if you teach a class with learning outcomes related to politics, business, labour relations, sociology, psychology, education system, or a similar field, a more detailed discussion of the labour relations within the college sector may present a good opportunity to engage your students. Anthony Piscitelli has developed a five-hour interactive workshop that is used in the Public Policy class to review the entire course and explore mandated votes in the college sector. (I am happy to share this if it is useful for your class).
If you are not comfortable answering these types of questions, you can refer your students to www.collegefaculty.org if they wish to learn more about the issues.
Rest assured, it is possible to remain professional and serve your students well, while fully participating in Work to Rule actions. Full participation in job actions such as this can dramatically shorten the duration of this process and will ultimately lead to a better educational experience for our students, and a better college system overall.