Owl 558

September 1, 2022                                                 Issue 558

Owl Hoots

Inside this issue

Welcome Back!
Upcoming Events
Climate Strike – 23rd September 2022
New Teachers Information Session
Bill 96
College’s Memo on Continuing Education
College Readiness
Dawson College Financial Aid Office 
Food Bank  & Snack Centre

The DTU Executive
Louisa Hadley, President
President@dtu.qc.ca
Brian Seivewright, VP Internal
VPInternal@dtu.qc.ca
Mélanie Beck, VP External
VPExternal@dtu.qc.ca
Antonia Fikkert, Secretary-Treasurer
Secretary_Treasurer@dtu.qc.ca
Emilie Richer, Grievance Officer
grievanceofficer@dtu.qc.ca

Administrative Assistant
Elisabeth Leone
Elisabeth@dtu.qc.ca
DTU email: dtu@dtu.qc.ca

Welcome Back!

We hope that the new semester is off to a great start. As always, we invite you to drop by our office in 8A.11. We can answer questions regarding workloads, seniority and priority, schooling and work experience documentation, and anything else related to working at Dawson. In particular, before turning down work we encourage you to come and discuss the implications with us. You can also call us at local 1799, or email us at dtu@dtu.qc.ca with any questions. 

Upcoming Events

Our first General Assembly of the year will be held on 15th September at 2pm in 5B.13; lunch will be served at 1:30pm. This is an important opportunity for you to provide your feedback on the priorities for the upcoming negotiations as well as on the “Bargaining Projects” documents prepared by the FNEEQ and CSN negotiating teams. The documents are available in English and French on the Négo 2023 section of our website. 

Climate Strike – 23rd September 2022

As part of ongoing action around the climate crisis, Travailleuses et Travailleurs pour la Justice Climatique are inviting unions to consider participating in a Climate Strike on September 23rd. This issue was discussed at the recent Executive Council meeting and will be brought to the General Assembly on September 15th. If the General Assembly votes to hold a strike vote, it will be open to  all DTU members via referendum. We encourage you to participate in the important discussions around this issue at the GA.

 

The DTU invites New Teachers to an information session on Monday 12th September at 4:30pm in the Rose Lounge (7C.5).

Come out to meet your Union representatives and get information on your contracts, workload and anything else you might be interested in.

Please RSVP at dtu@dtu.qc.ca

Bill 96

As you know, Bill 96 was passed into law in May, so the focus has now moved to implementation. Unfortunately, there has been no concrete information communicated regarding either the timeline or the process of implementation. It is our understanding that Dian Gauvin is involved in committees concerning the implementation, although those discussions are in-camera. We have been informed that the Ministry of Education will be providing more information to the English Colleges in October. 

Next week, the DTU Executive will be attending a special meeting of the Conseil Fédéral to discuss Bill 96. The Conseil Fédéral brings together representatives of all FNEEQ unions, not only Cegeps, but also universities and the private sector. The Executive will inform members of any updates from the meeting. 

College’s Memo on Continuing Education 

Shortly before the start of semester, the Continuing Education office sent out a Memo to Continuing Education faculty which contained many errors and included directives that contravened Quebec’s labour code. 

The DTU immediately contacted the Dean of Continuing Education, along with several other members of the College administration, but have yet to receive a response. Moreover, the Continuing Education office has not responded to the individual Continuing Education faculty who have directly reached out for clarification regarding certain issues, such as whether they will be paid to invigilate Final Exams. Clearly, this causes issues for teachers who are trying to plan their courses.

The DTU also sent an email to coordinators and Continuing Education faculty including some clarifications and corrections on sick leaves, Comprehensive Examinations, and the expectations around encadrement. We invite Continuing Education faculty to contact us with any specific questions relating to these issues. 

College Readiness

The return to classes this semester was once again marred by the College’s lack of readiness. We heard from teachers that classrooms and hallways were unclean and that there was overflowing garbage. Additionally, in the first week of semester, there were repeated issues with the elevators in the A/B wings and at one point none of the elevators were operational. Clearly this causes accessibility issues for teachers and students. The DTU will be raising these concerns with the College.

Dawson College Financial Aid Office Food Bank & Snack Centre

Stocked through the generosity of the Dawson College community, a small food bank is available for students whose monthly income does not cover all their needs.

 Please consider dropping off some items at the Financial Aid Office (Room 4E.2-8). They’re often in need of the following items:

  • canned proteins (salmon,
    tuna, sardines, turkey, chicken, ham,
    beef, etc)
  • canned vegetables (corn, peas, string beans,
    mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach,
    carrots, etc)
  • fruits (cocktail, pears, peaches,
    applesauce, mandarin, etc)
  • rice (long grain, basmati, Uncle Ben’s,
    Dainty, Minute Rice, etc)
  • pasta sauces
  • prepared soups, Chef-Boy-R-Dee,
    Kraft dinner, chili, 
  • personal hygiene items (soap, shampoo,
    pads, tampons, deodorant,
    toothpaste/brushes/mouthwash, etc)
  •  cereal, crackers, nuts, treats of all kinds
  • vegan/gluten free items

Dawson Teachers Union
3040 Sherbrooke, Westmount, Suite 8A.11
514-931-8731 ext 1799
dtu@dtu.qc.ca

 

Posted in Uncategorized

owl Hoot 557

June 2, 2022                                                 Issue 557

Owl Hoots

Inside this issue

Bill 96 Adopted
College Renews Pilot Project
College Policy on Leaves & Gradual Retirement
Professional Development
Faculty Availability and Vacation Period
Dawson College Financial Aid Office 

The DTU Executive
Louisa Hadley, President
President@dtu.qc.ca
Brian Seivewright, VP Internal
VPInternal@dtu.qc.ca
Mélanie Beck, VP External
VPExternal@dtu.qc.ca
Antonia Fikkert, Secretary-Treasurer
Secretary_Treasurer@dtu.qc.ca
Emilie Richer, Grievance Officer
grievanceofficer@dtu.qc.ca

Administrative Assistant
Elisabeth Leone
Elisabeth@dtu.qc.ca
DTU email: dtu@dtu.qc.ca

Bill 96 Adopted Despite Mobilization Efforts 

Over the past month or so, there has been increasing mobilization around Bill 96, with numerous articles in the press as well as recent rallies held at Anglophone Cegeps and a protest on May 14th. Although these efforts were unsuccessful in preventing the Bill from being adopted, they highlighted the commitment of faculty and students to counter the negative impacts of the Bill. 

On Thursday, May 5th, the Dawson Student Union, in collaboration with faculty members, organised a successful rally in opposition to the proposed bill. The rally was very well attended and included engaging speakers from both students and faculty. One faculty member, Adam Bright (English), led the students in a collective activity to send simultaneous messages to local MNAs. Reports about the rally appeared in both Francophone and Anglophone media outlets, such as 24Heures and The Montreal Gazette.

On Saturday May 14th, Dawson teachers and students gathered at Dawson for a protest against Bill 96. The Dawson community was joined by people from across the Montreal community who are concerned about the implications of the proposed bill.

The protest opened with several speeches from organisers of Anglophone community groups, political leaders, and Indigenous representatives. The speeches highlighted the detrimental impacts of the proposed law, both in terms of the impacts for education as well as more broadly for access to health and legal services. Reports on the protest appeared in both Francophone and Anglophone media outlets, such as Le Devoir and The Montreal Gazette.

Although Bill 96 was adopted into law at the National Assembly on May 24th, much remains uncertain about both the process and timeline for implementation. There has been no indication of how the Ministry of Higher Education will implement the Bill’s requirements related to French courses and the French Exit Exam at Anglophone Cegeps. The DTU Executive attended a meeting of FNEEQ at the end of last week, but there remains no information from the Ministry of Higher Education. The Directors of the Anglophone Cegeps will be meeting with the Ministry of Higher Education on June 6th, and we hope that similar discussions will also be taking place with representatives from FNEEQ.  Any information we receive before the end of availability will be posted on our
Bill 96 webpage.

 

College Renews Pilot Project Despite Questions Remaining

In our last Owl Hoots, we reported on the lack of transparency and information regarding the College’s Blended Learning Pilot Project. At that time, we sent an open letter to the Academic Dean and Regular Sector Deans expressing our concerns and again asking for answers to several key questions that we have repeatedly raised. Although the College has indicated its intention to respond to at least some of the Union’s questions, to date, no response has been received.

When the College launched its Blended Learning Pilot Project in the Fall, it clearly indicated that all students and teachers involved in the project would participate in evaluations of the courses. Ideally, these evaluations should have been done so as to allow time for departments to evaluate the impact of the Pilot Project before further pursuing online pedagogy. However, the College has only recently sent the evaluations to the teachers involved in the Pilot Project and has given no indication of whether the results of these evaluations will be made available – to departments, Senate, or the wider community. 

Moreover, we are concerned that the College is being selective in who it is soliciting feedback from. The Academic Dean recently contacted coordinators of departments with at least one teacher participating in the Pilot Project to ask for feedback. The Memo asks those coordinators to provide “comments about blended courses – the process for reviewing them, the criteria or principles the department used to form its opinion on the proposed blended courses, their impact on other courses delivered by your department, their impact on students or other related matters”. These issues are relevant to all departments; it is equally important that the College understand the criteria or principles on which departments decided not to offer blended courses. Furthermore, we have heard from many teachers this semester about the impact that the Pilot Project has had on their students’ (in)ability to attend and participate in their in-person classes; these impacts are not limited to other courses in the same department but have been felt across the College. Unfortunately, despite our efforts, the College has not yet indicated whether it will solicit data from non-participating departments.

As we have repeatedly made clear to the College, if departments are to participate in meaningful discussions about online pedagogy, the process of evaluation and feedback needs to be more transparent. The College, however, has pushed full-steam ahead and launched another round of the Pilot Project for Fall 2022. Once again, it seems that the College is drawing conclusions about Blended Learning without concrete evidence. As the College moves forward with yet another Pilot Project and, presumably, the development of a policy related to online teaching and learning, it is imperative that it solicit feedback from all teachers. Whether or not members of your department participated in the project, feel free to email the Academic Dean directly if you have comments about it, and please copy the DTU. 



College Policy on Leaves and Gradual Retirement 

At the end of last semester, we learned that the College was being more restrictive in granting leaves, both Voluntary Workload Reductions and anticipated sabbaticals. At the time, we managed to convince the College to reconsider its position on anticipated sabbatical requests for the Winter 2022 semester; however, the College was only willing to grant these over a period of two years. Unfortunately, we were not able to dissuade the College from its position of granting only the minimum number of VWRs required by the Collective Agreement (and even granting none in Nursing despite the requirement that at least one per discipline be granted).

Since then, the College has continued to be conservative in its approach to granting leaves. Although the College has not officially declared a change in its policies concerning anticipated sabbatical leaves and gradual retirement, there has been a clear change in practice. In all recent cases, teachers asking for an anticipated sabbatical or gradual retirement plan to take place over a period of five years have been declined, and only requests taking place over a shorter period have been approved. 

The College is acting within the parameters of the Collective Agreement since these types of leaves require “agreement between the parties”; however, the DTU has raised several concerns about this change of practice with the College. In particular, the DTU has asked the College to clearly communicate its current policies to all teachers as it is important teachers know what options are available to them for planning purposes. The College, however, seems reluctant to send a message to all faculty as it claims to deal with requests on a case-by-case basis. Despite this statement, faculty should be aware that the College’s position seems to be to deny requests for anticipated sabbaticals and gradual retirements that exceed more than two years. 

Professional Development

All Dawson teachers (whether they teach in the Day or Continuing Education sector) have access to Professional Development Funds to cover professional development activities such as courses, workshops, and conferences.

The PDF committee meets regularly to assess applications, though it does not meet during the Summer. Send your application in advance of the proposed activity to: pdfsecretary@dawsoncollege.qc.ca 

Faculty Availability and Vacation Period

For teachers with a day contract, the last day of availability for this academic year is June 13. The vacation period is from June 14 to August 15, inclusive. Teachers are expected to be available to the College until the vacation period begins. Although the nature of our work changes after classes end, teachers are expected to be available to attend meetings with the College if required. For full-time teachers, availability is 32.5 hours per week. For part-time teachers, availability is proportional to the workload. 

Teachers who wish to be unavailable to the College either prior to the beginning of the vacation period or after the availability period resumes in the Fall can request a transfer of availability. You need to complete the form provided by the College at least one month in advance of the period you are transferring, with your Department Coordinator’s support. Note that the form asks teachers to indicate what activities you propose to make up for the period of unavailability; you do not have to provide too much detail here. It is sufficient to indicate something along the lines of “course prep” or “departmental work”.

Dawson College Financial Aid Office Food Bank & Snack Centre

Stocked through the generosity of the Dawson College community, a small food bank is available for students whose monthly income does not cover all their needs.

Please consider dropping off some items at the Financial Aid Office (Room 4E.2-8). They’re often in need of the following items:

  • canned proteins (salmon, tuna, sardines, turkey, chicken, ham, beef, etc)
  • vegetables (corn, peas, string beans, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, etc)
  • fruits (cocktail, pears, peaches, applesauce, mandarin, etc)
  • rice (long grain, basmati, Uncle Ben’s, Dainty, Minute Rice, etc)
  • pasta sauces
  • prepared soups, Chef-Boy-R-Dee, Kraft dinner, chili, 
  • personal hygiene items (soap, shampoo, pads, tampons, deodorant, toothpaste/brushes/mouthwash, etc)
  •  cereal, crackers, nuts, treats of all kinds
  • vegan/gluten free items

Dawson Teachers Union
3040 Sherbrooke, Westmount, Suite 8A.11
514-931-8731 ext 1799
dtu@dtu.qc.ca

 

Owl556

THE OWL HOOTS No. 556
Issue No. 556
14 April, 2022

Contact
dtu@dtu.qc.ca
514.931.8731 x 1799
fax 514.931.0761
www.dtu.qc.ca
Dawson College, Room 8A.11
3040 Sherbrooke West
Westmount, QC.
H3Z 1A4

The DTU Executive
Brian Seivewright, President
President@dtu.qc.ca

Louisa Hadley, VP Internal
VPInternal@dtu.qc.ca

Mélanie Beck, VP External
VPExternal@dtu.qc.ca

Antonia Fikkert, Secretary-Treasurer
Secretary_Treasurer@dtu.qc.ca

Oran Magal, Grievance Officer
grievanceofficer@dtu.qc.ca

Administrative Assistant
Elisabeth Leone
Elisabeth@dtu.qc.ca

College Refuses Conversion For Continuing Education Teacher 

The DTU is both disappointed and disheartened by the College’s recent position to refuse that a teacher in the History department be allocated a replacement workload that would allow them to convert their Continuing Education courses into Regular paid courses.

For context, a replacement workload recently became available in History. All available teachers in the department, apart from one, are currently either fully employed or not interested in taking on the replacement this late in the semester. Nevertheless, the College authorized the department to proceed with double employment.

Although a teacher is available and willing to take on the workload, the College is refusing that they take it on as they consider it too costly. We’re troubled by this position for the following reasons:

  • The College prefers that someone with a full annual salary be double employed and receive “extra” remuneration over a part-time teacher.
  • The College is refusing access to the replacement to the part-time teacher, which would give them access to an annual salary, despite the fact that they will have taught more courses than many of their regular day colleagues. Moreover, this part-time teacher does not qualify as double employed.
  • The College is making a decision based purely on financial motivations, rather than considering what is best for their employees and students.
  • Although conversions are costly, the DTU is of the opinion that the costs are warranted in situations like these if it allows teachers with full workloads to obtain an annual salary and better working conditions.
  • The College has now directed the History department to proceed with hiring a new teacher for the replacement workload. This makes absolutely no sense, because the new teacher has no prospect of working in the department for the foreseeable future. It will generate significant work for the department: both in terms of hiring and mentorship, which will be futile since the candidate will likely leave. Furthermore, the new teacher will enter the classroom late in the semester, with no knowledge of departmental policies, the students’ abilities, or the appropriate expectations for students. Classes are currently being canceled until a new hire can be found. All of this is detrimental to the students and will continue to be so.

We asked that the College reconsider its position, both for pedagogical reasons and the impact it will have on the teacher’s working conditions. The department is already facing the prospect of very difficult semesters ahead, as was outlined in the Memo on the Redistribution of Social Science Methods Courses sent at the end of last semester. Within this context, it is disheartening that the College is preventing a teacher from acquiring an annual salary on the basis of cost savings. We are still awaiting a response. Despite the coordinator having already done the call-out and verifications, the administration is bypassing the departmental coordination and contacting individual teachers to ask that they step into the classroom.

Upcoming Deadlines

Professional Development Leave Requests
Although there is no contractual deadline for applications for a professional development leave, the College requests that applications for the Fall semester be submitted by April 15th. The application form is available on the College website.

Sabbatical Leave with Anticipated Salary
The Collective Agreement does not specify a deadline for requesting a sabbatical leave. However, the College requests that teachers apply for a sabbatical leave during the Fall semester by April 15th. The application form is available on the College website.

***Note that since these deadlines fall during the long weekend, the deadline will be the first working day after that i.e. Tuesday, 19th April ***

Voluntary Workload Reduction
The deadline for applications for a VWR for the Fall semester is May 15th. The application form is available on the College website.

Professional Development Fund Applications
Professional Development Funds are available to all faculty (whether in the Regular or Cont. Ed. sector) and can be used to fund professional development activities such as attending workshops, participating in conferences, and taking courses. Teachers can also apply for a reimbursement of up to $100 for computer equipment.

The PDF committee meets several times a semester. Applications should be submitted to pdfsecretary@dawsoncollege.qc.ca for consideration at the next meeting.

Retro Pay

The College processed all the retroactive pay, both the lump sum amounts and the salary increases, on the pay of March 31st for teachers currently employed at the College. You should have received several pay statements with the various retroactive payments separated. Don’t hesitate to come see us with your pay statements if you are unsure of the amounts.

Anyone who taught at Dawson after April 1st 2019 but who is not currently employed by the College should have received an email from us asking them to communicate with payroll to request their retroactive pay. The College has 120 days to process the retroactive pay from the point at which you contact them; however, it seems that the College is moving more quickly in processing the payment.

***Note: If you have full-time employment elsewhere for any of the semesters in the 2022-2023 Academic year, you must indicate on your GOS that you will be “double employment”. Once the GOS has been submitted, teachers have an obligation to inform the College as soon as there is any change in their Double Employment status. For more information on double Employment, see here.

Obituary for Patrick Powers

Over many years, Patrick Powers, who died on March 13, 2022, contributed a great deal to Dawson College. He was a gifted and inspiring educator who taught Humanities at the New School and later in ‘regular Dawson’ from 1973 until his retirement. He served as Chair of the Humanities Department and spent years as an active member of the DTU, serving as its president for a time. He was a staunch supporter of human rights, active in the struggle against racism and sexism and for gay rights in Montreal and further.  Somehow, all of the above facts do not truly summon Patrick’s presence at his best.  He was very good natured, humorous, and empathic, appreciative of others, glad to lend a hand when needed, and always open to considering change.  Among others, he leaves in mourning his son Jason and his partner, Vincent. (Submitted by Greta Hofmann Nemiroff)

Patrick Powers was a wonderful friend, colleague, and mentor when I started teaching at New School in the early 80’s. He was a compassionate facilitator to his students at New School. Pat’s smile lit up the halls. He dedicated a great deal of time communicating with his students and through his guidance, he helped them to develop their self-actualization despite some extremely challenging situations. Our amazing friendship lasted right until the end. He will be dearly missed. (Submitted by Jacinta Luis, Music department)

For further details please see the attached link:

https://www.dignitymemorial.com/fr-ca/obituaries/montreal-qc/patrick-powers-10630409

Online Pilot Project

As you may recall, the Academic Dean sent a memo to all faculty at the beginning of March to provide more information about the Blended Learning Pilot Project. We believe that this memo fails to address many of the pressing questions that faculty, and the Union, have raised about the Pilot Project since it was first announced last semester.

We have written an open letter to the Academic Dean and the Regular Sector Deans expressing our concerns about the lack of transparency and reiterating key issues that remain unanswered. We invite you to read the full text of the letter and to continue these discussions within your department as you consider what role online pedagogy has in your discipline.

Nego 2023: Consultation Round-Up

As you know, consultations have already begun regarding the next round of negotiations. As part of this process, the DTU has consulted its membership both via a survey and at a recent meeting with two representatives from the FNEEQ negotiating team. There will be more opportunities for consultation and discussion in the coming months; for now, though, we wanted to provide a brief summary of the consultation process so far.

In early February, the DTU distributed a survey to all members soliciting their input on several aspects of our negotiations strategy, from alliances to priorities. We received a reasonable amount of responses to the survey, which informed discussions the DTU Executive participated in at both the FNEEQ and CSN level.

The question of alliances between various unions is a key aspect of any negotiation strategy, and often has to be addressed quite early on in the process. As such, there were several questions in our survey asking whether members believed we should seek an alliance with other public sector unions and, if so, with which unions specifically.

In response to the question “in your opinion, would an alliance with other public sectors bring us better gains in this round?” Almost half of those who responded were unsure. Of those who expressed an opinion, 77% answered “Yes – a common front with as many public sector federations as possible”. In particular, there was a particular preference to ally with other workers in education as well as in health care. More specifically, we also asked “in your opinion, would an alliance with the other cégep teachers federation (FEC-CSQ) bring us better gains this round?” Similarly, almost half of respondents were unsure, but this time 93% of those who expressed an opinion were in favour of an alliance with FEC-CSQ.

The DTU Executive represented these positions at Regroupement, which brings together the Cégep Unions in FNEEQ, and at a meeting of the four federations represented by CSN. Following these discussions, the CSN and FNEEQ have been working to establish the largest possible alliances. A “Common Front” comprised of CSN, CSQ, at FTQ was announced on 3rd April. For more information on the Common Front, see the latest info-négo(in French). At the sectoral level, FNEEQ is in discussions regarding a possible alliance with FEQ-CSQ.

Another key aspect of the negotiation that we consulted members on was the strategy that was adopted in 2020 and what elements should be kept for the upcoming Nego 2023. The Nego 2020 introduced some new approaches to the negotiation strategy; specifically, FNEEQ submitted an initial list of principles that needed to be addressed, and only submitted a list of specific demands after it had received the government’s demands. The FNEEQ also adopted a strategy of consulting its members on demands by a series of “waves”.

The responses to questions on these strategies indicate that many of our members are unsure of the efficacy of these approaches. Of those who expressed an opinion, 75% felt that submitting an initial list of principles was either “very effective” or “somewhat effective”; 66% felt that it was either “very effective” or “somewhat effective” to submit specific demands after receiving the government’s demands; and 77% felt that it was either “very effective” or “somewhat effective” to consult members on waves by a series of demands. However, one of the recommendations that came out of the bilan de la negotiation 2020 at Regroupement was to limit the number of stages in the process of adopting the demands to allow for more focused mobilisation efforts.

Obviously, a key aspect of negotiations is our demands. Although we are not yet at the stage of preparing our specific demands, we did consult members on their priorities for the next round of negotiations. Specifically, we asked respondents to indicate their position on prioritizing salary of working conditions for Nego 2023:

Salary should be prioritized over working conditions 32%
Working conditions should be prioritized over salary 21%
Salary and working conditions should be given equal weight 48%

Clearly, there is concern about both salary and working conditions and, indeed, these concerns were reflected in members’ responses when asked to indicate their top three priorities for the next round of negotiations. The majority of respondents (approx. 66%) indicated either salary or Continuing Education equity as their top priority. The remaining responses highlighted issues to do with working conditions, such as precarity, CI calculations in technical programs, and benefits.

Along with consulting members about the strategies and priorities for negotiations, we also asked about participation in local discussions and the level of information provided by the DTU. Of those that attended General Assemblies, whether frequently or not, 82.3% either agreed or strongly agreed that General Assemblies were informative and 74% either agreed or strongly agreed that General Assemblies allowed for meaningful consultation of members. While we understand the difficulties of attending General Assemblies, especially in the absence of a common non-teaching block for teachers, we encourage you to attend wherever possible to allow for the most meaningful consultation possible.

In addition to the survey, on March 30, we held a consultation meeting with representatives from the FNEEQ negotiating team. All members were encouraged to attend to share their concerns and priorities directly with the negotiating team. Two recurring themes came out of these discussions: the need to build on the gains secured in the last round of negotiations for Continuing Education teachers and the need to address challenges that are specific to the technical programs.

This meeting was part of a “tour” of local unions that the FNEEQ negotiating team undertook in March. The information gathered from these meetings will inform the team as they develop a proposed list of demands. This list will be initially presented to representatives of the various unions at Regroupement next week; these discussions will inform the preparation of the proposed demands which will go to local General Assemblies for consultation in Fall 2022.

Below is the proposed timeline for the next stages of the consultation process:

COVID-19 Testing Protocols

With the ongoing pandemic entering its 6th wave, clear protocols regarding how to handle COVID-19 absences remain necessary. Although the College sent an updated FAQ at the end of March, there remain many inconsistencies in the College’s procedures. We raised these issues at a CRT meeting on 31st March and were told that the College would send an updated document; as yet, we have received no such update.

To highlight just a few of the issues and inconsistencies:

  • The “Updated COVID-19 Absence Procedures” document indicates that employees with symptoms have priority for PCR tests, yet the next line of the document stipulates that a PCR test is mandatory regardless of whether they have symptoms
  • Indeed, the College has been insisting on PCR tests even after teachers have tested positive with multiple rapid tests and are symptomatic. Requiring COVID-positive teachers to get a PCR test is contrary to public health guidelines and jeopardizes teachers’ recovery
  • The College stipulates that the period of isolation is 5 days; however, public health indicates that this is a minimum and that people remain contagious beyond this point. Moreover, the College does not seem to be taking into account that symptoms may continue beyond this timeframe

The College’s treatment of teachers with respect to COVID-19 absences is particularly galling in the context of a semester in which we are being asked to provide accommodations for students with no documentation. Between the start of semester and the beginning of March break, almost 700 students had been granted COVID accommodations. In the three weeks after the return from March break, there have been almost 600 cases of students testing positive for COVID; there has undoubtedly been a similarly exponential increase in the number of accommodations teachers have been required to provide. We urge you to get in touch with us if you contract COVID and would like to discuss your options.

Owl 555

THE OWL HOOTS No. 555
Issue No. 555
25 February, 2022

Contact
dtu@dtu.qc.ca
514.931.8731 x 1799
fax 514.931.0761
www.dtu.qc.ca
Dawson College, Room 8A.11
3040 Sherbrooke West
Westmount, QC.
H3Z 1A4

The DTU Executive
Brian Seivewright, President
President@dtu.qc.ca

Louisa Hadley, VP Internal
VPInternal@dtu.qc.ca

Mélanie Beck, VP External
VPExternal@dtu.qc.ca

Antonia Fikkert, Secretary-Treasurer
Secretary_Treasurer@dtu.qc.ca

Oran Magal, Grievance Officer
grievanceofficer@dtu.qc.ca

Administrative Assistant
Elisabeth Leone
Elisabeth@dtu.qc.ca

Confusing COVID Protocols

Disappointingly, as we approach the midpoint of our second in-person semester during a pandemic, there still remain uncertainties and inconsistencies around the College’s COVID protocols. 

We have recently heard from several teachers that the College is insisting that they get a PCR test in order to be given permission to teach remotely during a period of COVID-isolation, even in cases where teachers have tested positive on multiple rapid tests. However, we have equally heard from other teachers that they were not required to provide PCR test results. The inconsistency in the College’s protocols is concerning. Requiring a PCR test from those who have already tested positive and/or are symptomatic not only adds to the pressures felt by teachers who are trying to figure out how to manage their absence, but also places unnecessary strain on the health system. Indeed, the government recommends that people who test positive via a rapid test should isolate to avoid spreading the virus; requiring teachers to go to a testing centre to get a PCR test goes against this recommendation.

We would understand the need for such official documented proof of COVID if the College were applying the quarantine leave that is provided for in our Collective Agreement. To date, though, we are unaware of any teacher who has been granted this leave. The College continues to reiterate its position that teachers who feel well enough can teach remotely and so do not need a quarantine leave. The PCR test seems to be required solely for administrative purposes and seems to imply a lack of trust in teachers. Moreover, it is particularly frustrating given that teachers are continuing to work while sick and that such documentation is not required for students, for whom teachers are being asked to provide accommodations. 

With regards to accommodations for students, we have heard from some teachers that there is a delay in receiving the notification of an accommodation and concerns about students returning to class prior to the end of their COVID accommodation period. We have confirmed with the College that no student should return to class before the date indicated on the COVID accommodation email sent to teachers. If a student presents themselves to your class prior to this date, you should ask them to leave and should email Student Services to inform them of the situation (studentbehaviour@dawsoncollege.qc.ca). 

Crowded Classes and College Resources

At the start of this discombobulated semester, we received several emails from members concerned about student numbers in their classrooms. While there are no requirements for social distancing in classrooms, the large number of students raises concerns not only in the context of COVID, but also in terms of room capacity and the impact on teacher workloads. 

Although the College did not seem to be exceeding official room capacities, it was clear that there had been no attempt to reduce the number of students per section and that the College returned to the “normal” practice of allowing more students to register on the assumption that some would drop. In the context of an ongoing pandemic, it is disappointing that the College did not attempt to inject additional resources to reduce the number of students per section, which would have had the added benefit of opening more sections and thus creating more work. 

When we reviewed updated numbers from the College for the 2020-2021 academic year, we discovered that the College had not used all of the resources it had been allocated. At the end of the Fall semester, it became apparent that there were 17 ETCs worth of resources which the College had not allocated. The College could have chosen to use these to reduce student numbers by opening more sections for the Winter 2022 semester, which would have had the effect of improving both working conditions for teachers and learning conditions for students. Instead, the College decided to maintain this “surplus”. 

At a recent meeting with the College, it claimed that most of these resources had already been used to cover the higher-than-usual drop rates in the Fall semester. The College also said that it anticipated that the remaining “reserve” would be used to cover higher-than-anticipated substitution costs – this despite the fact that most teachers are opting to work remotely when isolating due to COVID, even when they are unwell!

It’s no wonder that in the midst of a pandemic, with large class sizes and ongoing emergency online teaching, so many of us feel burnt out. If anything, the College should have used resources to support both teachers and students by reducing group sizes.

Nego 2023: Consultations

Although the new Collective Agreement is not yet signed, it will expire at the end of March 2023. So, preparations and consultations have already begun for the next round of negotiations. In early February, we sent a survey to all members to get some feedback on the last round of negotiations as well as some preliminary thoughts about possible orientations and alliances for the next round. 

As part of the consultation process, the negotiation team is visiting all local unions to hear from the membership. Our liaison on the negotiation team, Josée Delziel, will be visiting Dawson on Wednesday, March 30th at 1pm. While all members are welcome to attend, we are  also encouraging each department to nominate a representative to ensure a diversity of representation and voices at the meeting. We will be contacting coordinators shortly after the March break regarding the representatives. 

Online Pilot Project

As you are no doubt aware, the College launched an Online Pilot Project this semester. Almost  80 proposals have been accepted and are currently being implemented.

As we explained in our Welcome Back Memo (18 Jan, 2022), since we were first informed of the College’s intention to launch this project, we have repeatedly raised our concerns regarding the timing of the project, the approval process, and the involvement of departments. As of yet, the College has failed to respond in any meaningful way to specific concerns and questions that we have raised, despite guidelines in the Collective Agreement. Most surprisingly, we have been unable to get the College to provide any concrete examples of the types of pedagogy that are being used in online teaching as part of the Pilot Project. The College has recently indicated that it intends to send a memo to all faculty about the Pilot Project, but in the absence of the memo and based on previous discussions, we are not convinced that the information provided will be sufficiently detailed.

While we are aware that some departments were able to engage in a vetting and approval process for proposals last semester, many others felt that there was insufficient time to fully engage with questions of whether online pedagogy is appropriate for their discipline. Indeed, some departments passed motions refusing to participate in the project before further discussion could be held. Whatever position your department took, we anticipate that there need to be ongoing departmental discussions and decisions related to online teaching.

We believe that these discussions will be most productive if they are undertaken in a context of transparency. To that end, we contacted coordinators last week and invited them to consider adopting a motion at a department meeting requesting specific information from the College with regards to the Online Pilot Project. We encourage you to participate in discussions about whether online teaching is appropriate for your discipline and, if so, how it should be implemented. 

Know Your Rights: Union Representation at Meetings

As per the Collective Agreement, teachers always have the right to be accompanied by a Union representative to any meeting with the College. In recent years, the College has increasingly engaged external firms, such as Relais Expert, to conduct investigations under various policies. To clarify, teachers’ right to Union representation extends to such meetings with external firms.

Moreover, the College has an obligation to inform the Union whenever teachers are convened to a meeting that could lead to disciplinary measures. In discussions with the College, it had not been clear whether it would inform the Union when teachers are convened to meetings with external firms. 

Although the College has recently confirmed that it would inform the Union when teachers are convened to such meetings, we always encourage teachers to contact the Union immediately if convened to a meeting with either the administration or an external investigation firm. We can talk you through the usual process and accompany you to the meeting itself to ensure that your rights are respected. 

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Challenging the College on its “Wellness Challenge”

Once again, the College has launched a “Dawson Wellness Challenge”. This year’s challenge is even bigger – running for 8 weeks with various activities and challenges – but not better! It still fails to address the real issues that impact teacher wellness.

In the midst of yet another pandemic semester, the College is still not recognising the quarantine leave in our Collective Agreement, and many faculty are reporting feeling pressured to teach remotely while sick or even return to work before they have fully recovered. Moreover, the College seems to be refusing requests from teachers who need to take a leave for family reasons to take care of their children during the March break. This is on top of the long-standing issues that Continuing Education teachers do not have access to adequately paid sick days, nor do they have access to the Employee Assistance Program. 

Last year, we organized a campaign to call out the College’s lack of concrete initiatives to address these issues for teachers. Shortly after we launched the campaign, the Yammer page used for the Wellness Initiative was made private.

We are hoping to organise a short campaign in conjunction with the “mid-term” and “Final Week” activities of the Wellness campaign – stay tuned for more details! In the meantime, we encourage you to share your thoughts on the College’s Wellness initiative, including what the College could do to meaningfully support your wellness, by writing to the organisers: sustainability@dawsoncollege.qc.ca and pscott@dawsoncollege.qc.ca, and copying in the DTU (dtu@dtu.qc.ca).

International Women’s Day

The DTU will once again join the Dawson Support Staff Union and the Association of Dawson Professionals in marking International Women’s Day on March 8th – a day to recognise the achievements of women as well as the importance of the continued struggle for gender equality. 

Please join us in the Rose Lounge (7C.5) any time between 2:30 and 4 pm. 

There will be a book sale with proceeds going to support Chez Doris, and a take-away snack while supplies last! We also invite you to visit the DTU office (8A.11) at your convenience to pick up CSN posters, stickers, and pins celebrating this year’s theme: “L’Avenir est Féministe”.

Know Your Rights: Double Employment – Remuneration

Many of our members often bring questions to us about Double Employment. For more details on the definition of Double Employment and how the Double Employment clause works in practice, see our previous article.

One type of Double Employment the DTU is often asked about is when a teacher who is already employed full-time at the College is offered an additional portion of a workload, such as a course or replacement for part of a course. In such cases, there is a question concerning how a teacher would be paid. 

According to our Collective Agreement, teaching tasks in the Regular sector must be remunerated by CI. However, in some cases, it might be more beneficial for a teacher to be paid for the additional work at an hourly rate instead of by CI. The College may do so only with the Union’s agreement (Clause 5-1.16), and the Union must consider both the interests of the individual teacher and the impact it would have on the overall resources available for staffing.

What is the difference between CI and hourly-pay in this context?

Generally, CI pay is better than hourly-rate pay as our CI takes into account not only contact hours, but also preparation, grading and student numbers. A full-time CI is typically between 80 and 85 for the year; if a teacher’s CI is above 85 for the year, the College must pay a “CI Violation” compensation (Clause 8-6.01 d)). The following formula is used to calculate the number of hours that need to be paid at the hourly rate: (CI-85)*5

As a consequence, it is possible that a teacher who takes on an additional workload may receive little or no additional remuneration if paid by CI.

How does the Union make the decision?

Since we work in a Unionized environment, the College must get the Union’s approval before proceeding to pay any regular sector work at the hourly rate. The Union has a responsibility to both the individual teacher and to the faculty as a whole; part of the Union’s role is to oversee the College’s management of the masse (the collective budget from which all regular sector teachers’ salaries are paid). 

Before it can determine whether or not it can agree to the College remunerating a teacher at the hourly rate, the Union needs to compare the remuneration the teacher would receive if paid hourly with the remuneration they would receive if it is paid in CI. The Union cannot do the necessary analysis until the annual CI values are confirmed by the College, which only happens at the end of February.  

Consequently, there can often be delays in determining how a teacher can be paid. In cases where the work was completed in the Fall semester, the analysis can only happen once the annual CI is confirmed by the College. If the work is completed in the Winter semester, it may not be possible to complete the necessary analysis prior to the end of the semester. 

FNEEQ-CSN Anti-Racism Survey

The Observatory of Racial Inequalities in Quebec(OIRQ) has created a questionnaire “aimed at probing the experiences and perceptions of people […] who have been victims of employment discrimination. The purpose of the study is to raise public authorities’ awareness of the experiences of discrimination of immigrant and racialized populations in Quebec and to help find appropriate solutions.“ We invite you to complete their questionnaire if you are an immigrant or racialized person who has been the subject of employment discrimination in Quebec.

Work From Home 2021 – Calculating Days

Several members have been asking how many days of remote work we did in 2021 for tax purposes. In 2021, we worked remotely for the Winter semester only. Between 1st January 2021 and 14 June 2021, full-time, Regular sector teachers worked 111 days remotely (excluding strike days and statutory holidays).