Upholding academic freedom and excellenceMaking sure our voices are heard

The University of Toronto Faculty Association is the official representative of faculty and librarians on employment matters which include salary, pension, benefit negotiations, and workplace grievances. 

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UTFA Statement on Anti-Black Racism

The University of Toronto Faculty Association strongly condemns anti-Black racism in all of its guises. Like many in the community in which we live and teach, we are outraged by the growing number of violent deaths of Black citizens in both Canada and the United States. COVID and racialized violence are the double tragedy that has wrought untold anguish in families across North America and well beyond. We at UTFA wish to express our solidarity with those in the Black community who have suffered and also our sorrow. For those members who might need help navigating resources at this very painful moment, please reach out to UTFA at advice@utfa.org.

UTFA will hold special meetings of its Executive Committee and Council to discuss and reflect on the cultural shift that is a result of the heinous killing of George Floyd in the United States. Why was the catalyst for Canadian academics an American death at the hands of police—when the Black and Indigenous and Asian communities in Canada have been identifying systemic racism for years? What is UTFA’s role in confronting systemic racism in our community and in our university? What can UTFA do as a labour organization committed to equity both to confront our own lack of diversity and to address practices that are undergirded by racism? How can UTFA use its meeting spaces and its online spaces to give voice to these issues?

The University of Toronto Faculty Association

 

The List statement on anti-Blackness at the University of Toronto

In the wake of the latest episodes of lethal anti-Black police violence - the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Regis Korchinski-Paquet and D’Andre Campbell - The List stands in solidarity with Black faculty, librarians, staff and students, and communities in this city and across Turtle Island. We also mourn the killing of Chantel Moore, and condemn this and other episodes of brutal and systemic colonial state violence.

This is a moment of reckoning – though one that is long overdue. Even as we call for this reckoning today, we ask ourselves why we were not calling more loudly for it every single day before now. Many statements condemning anti-Black and colonial violence are circulating, and we add our voices to this growing chorus. But if these calls are to amount to more than the usual lip service, if they seek to go beyond self- congratulatory performance and the obligatory ‘check in’, and if they will honor and not simply absorb Black people’s long term labour for change, then this needs to be a moment of fulsome structural change in all of our departments and programs, in all our faculties and on all campuses across the University of Toronto.

We must stand beside and behind Black staff, faculty, librarians and students who have been dealing with racism at this institution every single day. As a group of primarily progressive faculty and librarians, we call on our administration to meet the demands and desires of our colleagues in the Black Faculty Group who have been working tirelessly, day in and day out, for change. We call on the U of T administration to commit to rigorous and systemic address of anti-Black racism and white supremacy on campus and beyond. And we demand a major investment of resources to support the flourishing of Black life and Black excellence at every scale of institutional life.

Read the full statement including the list of signatories

 

UTFA President's Messages on COVID Crisis

Copyright in Online Teaching Materials

May 28, 2020

Cynthia Messenger, UTFA President

Over the past several months, UTFA members have worked assiduously to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19. We know that our members’ primary concern has been to support their students and ensure as seamless a transition as possible to online teaching and learning.

As we move forward, we want to assure you that members retain the usual intellectual property rights to all of their research and course materials. Intellectual property rights to inventions, including non-educational software, continue to be governed by the University’s Inventions Policy, while course materials, lectures, and educational software continue to be governed by the Copyright Policy, which applies equally to materials developed or delivered online and to those provided in the classroom.

Copyright Policy

Although U of T’s Copyright Policy states that the employer owns the copyright in work made in the course of employment, section 2.1(b) provides that work created by members of the University’s Teaching Staff*, librarians, or postdoctoral fellows in the course of their research, scholarship or teaching shall not be deemed to be made or undertaken in the course of their employment by the University.

Read the full update

 

Fall Teaching: Faculty Need Choice and Support

May 15, 2020

Cynthia Messenger, UTFA President

Some divisions have announced that all fall courses, or at least those with 200 or fewer students, will be taught through hybrid models that combine online with in-person teaching. This announcement raises a number of significant concerns that UTFA is addressing with the Administration.

UTFA’s position is that members should be free to choose their course delivery mode, within reasonable parameters related to health and safety in the context of a pandemic. Considerations include, but are not limited to, the following: the academic freedom that undergirds our members’ right to determine pedagogical objectives; excessive and inequitable workload; and personal circumstances, especially those related to family status and other protected human rights grounds.

UTFA is aware that many members are being pressed to indicate what hybrid model they will be adopting, with no express option to teach online only. We have written to the Administration to object both to these restrictions and to the short timeline.  

Read the full update

 

Workload, Intellectual Property, Academic Integrity

May 8, 2020

Cynthia Messenger, UTFA President

UTFA is taking a three-pronged approach to the array of COVID-related workload complaints that we have received since the middle of March. Judging from member emails, the number one complaint is that workload during the crisis has been excessive. Those with children have been very negatively affected. Preparing an online course that one can be proud of is an enormous amount of work, and the learning curve is steep. There is too much work; there is not enough support. Academic freedom and academic integrity are being sacrificed.

Three-pronged approach to COVID-related workload concerns:

1. UTFA will launch an Association grievance, the details of which we will publish in the coming days.
2. UTFA will bring the matter to the bargaining table this month.
3. UTFA is urging members to use section 4.2 of the Workload Policy and Procedures (WLPP) to address their individual workload issues and/or those of their unit with their chairs and deans—as soon as possible. See the green font below.

What can you ask your unit to do?

1. Course loads for fall need to be reduced.
2. Course credit (banking) must be in play to address overwork.
3. Enrolment caps need to be lowered.
4. IT support must be increased so that instructors receive the assistance they need.
5. TA support must also match the greater need of the fall.
6. Overload stipends must be presented as an option where appropriate.

Read the full update

 

Workload, Intellectual Property, Academic Integrity

April 22, 2020

Cynthia Messenger, UTFA President

Workload: UTFA is deeply concerned about the sharply increased workload that our members reported during March and April, while they struggled to teach online. Because our members are devoted academics and professionals, they of course rose to the challenge. This increased workload is not, however, sustainable. UTFA will press the Administration to address this issue in concrete ways.

Intellectual Property Rights: As outlined in the University of Toronto’s Copyright Policy and Inventions Policy, members retain the usual intellectual property rights to all of their research and to all course materials, whether or not those course materials were developed and delivered using information technology (for example, online). These course materials include lectures, whether or not they are captured by audio or video recording.

All protections afforded by the University’s Copyright Policy and Inventions Policy remain in place during the COVID crisis.

Read the full update

 

AGM Postponed; UTFA and Senior Admin Agree on Key Issues; Other Matters

April 14, 2020

Cynthia Messenger, UTFA President

Please note the following:

1. The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is postponed. A new date, probably in the fall, will be announced within the next few weeks.

2. UTFA has asked the senior administration to agree to have unit heads sign an income tax form called a T2200 so that our members may claim the expense of a home office in the 2020 tax year, for the period during which members could not work at their university offices. We will keep you posted on this matter.

3. UTFA and the senior administration have come to agreement on some important issues:

Read the full update

 

 

COVID-19 Updates

 

UTFA Presidential Election 2020

 

News from the U of T Admin