The Ring

Around the ring

University and Faculty Association conclude first collective agreement

After several months of hard work by both negotiating teams, the university and the Faculty Association have their first collective agreement since the association certified as a union.

The agreement was reached after months of negotiations that began last year and concluded in May with the assistance of mediator Trevor Sones, of the Labour Relations Board of BC.

Association members voted 96.5 per cent in favour of the agreement, with results being released June 5. The university’s Board of Governors approved the agreement when it met May 26, conditional upon the acceptance of the agreement by the association’s membership of faculty members and librarians.

“The university is pleased to have reached an agreement with the Faculty Association that maintains the positive, supportive working environment for faculty members and librarians and will meet our obligations to students, the university and society,” says UVic President Jamie Cassels. “This collective agreement builds on the existing good work of previous agreements and reaffirms our commitment to a productive and beneficial relationship.”

The five-year agreement is largely based on the previous framework agreement that defined the relationship between the university and the Faculty Association since 2001, prior to the association’s certification as a union in January 2014. The association represents approximately 900 faculty members and librarians.

The agreement, which takes effect immediately and covers July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2019, was negotiated within the BC government’s Economic Stability Mandate providing for a government-funded 5.5 per cent increase over the length of the contract. In addition, net zero trade-offs and efficiencies enabled the inclusion of a differentiated salary adjustment of 1.44 per cent in each of two years and a three-year lift to the career progress increment plus some other minor enhancements. Faculty and librarians also continue to receive annual merit increases.

“This first collective agreement reflects a great deal of collaborative work on the part of both the university administration’s negotiating team and the association's negotiating team,” says Faculty Association President Helga Hallgrimsdottir. “It is my sincere hope that this signals, going forward, the potential for a strong and collaborative relationship between the association and the administration, and that we can work together on issues in which we share a mutual interest.”

The agreement contains a number of streamlined procedures and some new features, such as the addition of the new rank of Associate Teaching Professor for faculty members in the teaching stream.

Unnecessary administrative process has been reduced where possible including recommendations for reappointment, promotion and tenure. Where the dean and department committee (whose members are elected from faculty in the department) agree on a positive recommendation for a file, it will go directly to the president for his decision.

This process will eliminate the additional review by a faculty advisory committee and those committees will be discontinued. Where there is disagreement between the dean and department or both recommendations are negative, an extra level of review will be done by a university-wide committee.

In other administrative streamlining, faculty members and librarians will now submit material for evaluation every second year, rather than annually. Some faculties will conduct evaluations in even-numbered years, and some in odd-numbered years.

A committee of members from both negotiating teams is working with the assistance of an editor to assemble the 70 provisions signed off in negotiations that will form the collective agreement, with the goal of having a well-organized document that is easy to navigate and read, including hyperlinks from the index to specific sections.

More detailed information will be available for university administrators and administrative officers over the next three months to apply the new agreement in their areas.

Tentative agreement reached with faculty

After several months of hard work by both negotiating teams, and facilitated by mediator Trevor Sones, representatives of the University of Victoria and UVic Faculty Association have reached a tentative collective agreement, including a salary and benefit settlement. This is the first agreement since the faculty members and librarians certified as a union. It was approved by the university’s Board of Governors in late May. As the Ring went to press, faculty members were holding a ratification vote that was set to conclude June 5. The agreement covers the years 2014 to 2019.

Staff and faculty access to

Get ready to do some skill-sharpening: UVic staff and faculty now have free access to vast and ever-growing sets of online video tutorials from
This online resource provides an inventory of instructional videos covering the latest software, creative and business skills. Use for high-quality training in education and e-learning, Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, time management, HTML coding, business skills, marketing, photography, 3-D animation and much more. 

The library consists of over 128,000 individual video tutorials, grouped into over 3,329 specific courses. Each course is broken into multiple segments, which allows you to watch as little or as much as you want.

With new courses added weekly, is designed for all levels of learners, with nearly endless choices. Exercise files let you follow along with the instruction as you learn, and bookmarks help keep track of what you’d like to watch. Also, many courses include exercise guides that can assist with your learning.
Individual video tutorials may be as short as four minutes each.  With the Playlist feature you can browse the entire inventory and build your own learning library, which can include entire courses or just individual topics of interest.

These online resources are available from home, office or mobile device to support employees' professional and personal development.

Why is UVic offering this?

As part of our overall learning strategy for employees, complements existing learning opportunities offered through Human Resources as well as support services currently provided by University Systems. 

With such an extensive inventory of topics, employees can use as a great solution for ‘just-in-time’ learning, and for developing long-term professional and personal skills. UVic has negotiated a one-year trial period for this exciting resource, so sign in and see what can teach you!

Access (you'll have to sign in through UVic) or get more information on the HR website.

University flag to be lowered in honour of Erma Richardson

The university flag will be lowered on Thursday, May 14, 2015 in honour of Erma Richardson who passed away last September at age 95. Erma worked at UVic from 1966 to 1984. After retiring from the Registrar’s office, Erma volunteered for several years at the Learning Disabilities Association. A private memorial for family will be held on campus on Thursday.

Beyond the ring

Academics object to Bill C-51

More than 100 Canadian academics, including five UVic law and political science professors, have signed an open letter to Members of Parliament objecting to the draft government anti-terrorism act known as Bill C-51. Key objections include the open-ended nature of proposed CSIS powers, lack of oversight to balance enhanced powers, and the potential criminalization of legitimate expressions of dissent. 

Strikes at York, University of Toronto

The Toronto Star is estimating that more than 100,000 students in Toronto have had classes disrupted by strikes at York University and the University of Toronto. York facilities will remain open but nearly all classes, exams and academic activities were cancelled after teaching assistants and contract professors rejected the most recent university offer on March 2. 

CUPE 3903 Chair Faiz Ahmed told the Star that contract faculty teach 64 per cent of York’s undergraduate courses, and called for his members to “be assigned to courses for up to three years at a time, not just be slotted in on short notice which can hurt the quality of education.”

Meanwhile, at UofT, contract faculty reached a tentative deal, but 6,000 striking teaching and lab assistants walked off the job on Feb. 27. Media reports suggest that the majority of undergraduate marking at UofT is now done by graduate students, and that the central impasse was a failure to raise a $15,000 income floor for the TAs.

Finals disrupted at UNBC?

Concern is mounting that final exams could be disrupted at Prince George and other UNBC campuses (including some courses at Langara College). UNBC’s Faculty Association issued a 72-hour strike notice on Monday, March 2. Negotiations have been ongoing since November, focusing on issues of tenure, promotion and salary.

ONC data now spans all three Canadian coasts

Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) has expanded its footprint across Canada with the launch of a new collaboration with the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy on the Atlantic coast, in addition to established observatories on the Pacific coast and in the Arctic. ONC was also prominently featured in a Globe and Mail article last Saturday on innovation leaders in BC.