2019-2020 AGM Newsletter

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June 30, 2020

This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, UTFA’s annual general meeting (AGM) is delayed until October. It will be held through Zoom. Over the summer, UTFA’s incoming Executive Committee will determine the exact date for the AGM.

What follows is UTFA’s AGM Newsletter. It would normally have appeared in the spring. It features the reports of our hardworking officers and committee chairs, along with several other items. Please feel free to email us at faculty@utfa.org with any comments or questions. Scroll down to read the full report or use the table of contents below to access a particular report or section.



Table of Contents

Cynthia Messenger, President: A Biographical Note

Officer Reports:

Committee Chair Reports:

UTFA Student Award Recipients

UTFA Remembers Two Distinguished Members


Cynthia Messenger, President: A Biographical Note

On April 5, 2018, Cynthia Messenger was re-elected UTFA President for her second and final two-year term. Cynthia was first elected on April 5, 2016, when she became UTFA’s 17th President. She is the third woman in UTFA’s history to be elected President.

Cynthia was one of the lead employee negotiators for the University Pension Plan (UPP) initiative, which involved over two years of negotiation and collaboration across employee groups and administrations at three universities: U of T, Guelph, and Queen’s. From 2017 to 2019, Cynthia worked collegially with Angela Hildyard, Special Advisor to the President and Provost, and Alex McKinnon, Department Leader, Research, Public Policy & Bargaining Support for USW. Cynthia also worked closely with pension experts and the faculty associations and Steelworkers locals at U of T, Guelph, and Queen’s. At U of T, Cynthia led a highly successful UPP education campaign for faculty and librarians, resulting in a 93.8% “Yes” vote, in February 2019, in favour of the UPP. This vote marked the first time that the full UTFA membership ratified an agreement. The UPP will be the first significant jointly sponsored pension plan in Ontario that was created through the voluntary agreement of employees and employers. This new pension plan will represent an important achievement for UTFA, the Steelworkers, other employee groups, and the University. The current U of T pension plan serves over 10,000 members. Until 2023, Cynthia will serve as UTFA’s representative on the Employee Sponsor Committee (ESC) of the UPP.

Cynthia has held several leadership roles at UTFA. She began her service at UTFA as a representative of the contract faculty. Cynthia went on to chair the Status of Women Committee, the Teaching Stream Committee, and the Appointments Committee. Cynthia organized the first UTFA-sponsored university-wide conference on teaching in 2006. Before running for UTFA President, she served as Vice-President, Grievances, for over six years, during which time she represented UTFA members from all three streams. In that role, Cynthia supervised many files in the grievance mediation process, at the Grievance Review Panel, and at the University Tenure Appeal Committee. In various capacities, Cynthia has worked successfully with UTFA’s in-house counsel, external counsel, mediators, and arbitrators.

Cynthia was chief negotiator in two teaching stream negotiations in the years-long SJAC process with the U of T Administration, which resulted in landmark policy changes in 2014–15 and the years following. These advancements included securing the place of discipline-based scholarship in teaching stream appointments policy; achieving professorial titles for teaching stream faculty; and creating the rank of Full Professor, Teaching Stream and its accompanying policy.

Cynthia has used her deep knowledge of U of T’s policies, guidelines, and practices as a team member in several rounds of salaries/benefits/pensions/workload bargaining. In the 2020 round, Cynthia initiated a revision of the University’s merit pay (PTR) instructions. Cynthia served as chief negotiator on a protracted negotiation on part-time appointments, where her team secured improvements in security and rank. Cynthia holds the rank of Associate Professor, Teaching Stream at Innis College, where she teaches in the Writing and Rhetoric Program, which she spearheaded in 2003 and for which she served as director until 2016.

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Report of the President

In March, as the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, I called for a special meeting of the Joint Committee. On March 11, UTFA met with members of the senior Administration, including Cheryl Regehr, Kelly Hannah-Moffat, and Vivek Goel. UTFA’s central concern in that meeting was the health and safety of our members and of the U of T community. During frequent phone calls with members of the senior administration in the days following, temporary changes to policies and practices were discussed. For example, it was agreed that tenure committees could continue their work online; upcoming sabbatical leaves could be delayed; and deadlines on the submission of activity reports could be extended. While working with the UTFA grievance portfolio to respond to the dozens of inquiries and requests for advice from members in March and April, I began to appreciate the effect of the crisis on our members. The most heartbreaking emails were from members with young children, who were desperately trying to manage child care while mounting courses online. Members watched anxiously as grants, international collaborations, and scheduled conferences collapsed. And part-time faculty have been on edge since March, wondering whether declining enrolments might mean they would not be renewed.

UTFA is, of course, very proud of the hard work, ingenuity, and considerable technical skill of its members, which flowered during the pandemic. The move to online teaching was swift, dramatic, and impressive, and many faculty and librarians continue to work on sophisticated new online pedagogical initiatives. UTFA fully recognizes this achievement. On the other hand, in three surveys UTFA conducted between March and June (with record-breaking response rates), members commented extensively on the negative effects of the pandemic on workload, child care, research labs, graduate student supervision, and the tenure and advancement processes (to name several issues). Importantly, UTFA’s surveys show that the pandemic has had especially adverse effects on members of equity-seeking groups. The full impact of the crisis—on enrolment over the longer term, on the sustainability of programs, and on academic careers—may not be known for years to come.

CAUT and OCUFA, the national and provincial umbrella organizations for faculty associations, have been urging the negotiation of Letters of Understanding because COVID-19 has forced so many departures from collective agreements. Working with external legal counsel, UTFA created an LOU that was intended to address workplace problems brought on by the crisis, but the senior administration declined to negotiate it, stating a preference for tackling issues on a case-by-case basis. Members who are racialized, who are on contract, or who have not yet attained permanent status in the full-time streams will often not, however, step forward to complain.

The failure to negotiate an LOU has resulted in grievances, the most comprehensive of which is an Association grievance that focuses on the health and safety of our members and hybrid teaching. Terezia Zoric, UTFA’s incoming president, is leading on that grievance. It is UTFA’s position that members must be permitted to choose the method of teaching they will use in the fall, as long as the choice reflects public health directives. The choice must be a safe one.

UTFA encourages members who are overworked to seek redress through course reduction or other measures. Section 4.2 of the Workload Policy (WLPP), refers to “mode of delivery” as something that must be taken into account when calculating workload. Section 4.2 also lists course preparation: “including but not limited to extraordinary course preparation such as new courses, ‘short notice’, preparation of courses delivered by alternate modes, and for courses which are cancelled.”

Members may also request accommodation from the Administration, especially if they are in an at-risk category. Some members with children at home or with eldercare responsibilities have requested accommodation on family status grounds. If you seek accommodation and are met with resistance, please approach UTFA for assistance by emailing advice@utfa.org.

Systemic Racism
UTFA published the statement below not long after the terrible deaths of George Floyd in the United States and Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto. While Floyd’s death was the catalyst for an important cultural shift, felt keenly across North America in the postsecondary system, we must not forget that Black and Indigenous lives have also been lost in Canada as a result of police violence. UTFA’s array of negotiations must expressly reflect the cultural shift that now both recognizes the systemic nature of racism and insists that something be done.

UTFA’s Statement:
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?

Part-Time Policy Change
When I ran for UTFA president, I pledged to attempt to address the deep inadequacies of our part-time appointments policy. Currently, there are approximately 200 part-time members of the teaching stream at the rank of Lecturer and approximately 130 part-time faculty with the same ranks as the tenure stream. UTFA’s research on part-timers shows that, almost to a person, they are overworked, and analysis of salary data reveals that they are underpaid relative to their full-time colleagues. The policy negotiation UTFA embarked on over two years ago was not aimed at salary adjustments, but at strengthening appointments policy for this group. That negotiation was recently completed, and I would say that we only partially succeeded in our goals. Here is a brief summary of some of the policy changes that will come into effect by January 1, 2021.

  • Professorial titles for part-time faculty (new titles should take effect by the end of the fall term).
  • A continuing appointment after six years of service and a review. Continuing faculty will not have to re-apply for their jobs each year.
  • Same academic freedom language as full-time faculty members (Article 5 of the Memorandum of Agreement).
  • Entitled to Research and Study Leave if appointed at 50% FTE or greater.
  • Eligible for appointment to SGS or to act as Principal Investigator under the same terms as full-time faculty, and to apply for grants provided they are otherwise eligible.
  • Severance pay significantly improved.
  • One-time-only transition features for long-serving part-time faculty.

In future rounds of negotiation, UTFA will need to return to the many pressing issues that affect this group of our members, including job security, workload, and salary. You may read the signed policy document here.

Many thanks to my negotiating team for committing to this project for such an extended period: Michael Attridge, Kass Banning, Heather Diggle (UTFA counsel), Claude Evans, and Brian McDonagh.

Pensions: The University Pension Plan (UPP)
I am pleased to report that the UPP (our new jointly sponsored pension plan or JSPP) was formally registered with Ontario’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) on May 14, 2020. The pension Regulator did not flag any compliance issues. The following key documents were registered on January 1, 2020: Trust Agreement, Plan Text, and Sponsors Agreement (including the Funding Policy as Appendix C). The UPP will be up and running by July 1, 2021.

You may read about the Board of Trustees (BoT) here and also the Joint Sponsors, a committee that comprises the Employer Sponsor Committee and the Employee Sponsor Committee. The BoT and the Joint Sponsors are the two entities that run the UPP. I will serve as UTFA’s representative on the Employee Sponsor Committee (ESC) for a four-year term, until 2023. The six members of the ESC have been meeting regularly since January 2020. Legal counsel for the ESC is Murray Gold of Koskie Minsky. Murray is one of the leading JSPP lawyers in the country.

The BoT is working hard with each of the three universities currently in the UPP, U of T, Queen’s, and Guelph, to learn about the pension plans at each university (five plans in all). The goal is to ensure a smooth transition to the UPP.

You may read more about the UPP here. Greetings from the UPP’s Board of Trustees are here.

As UTFA’s pension rep, one of my goals is to encourage a strong commitment to responsible investing (RI), that is, investing that is sustainable in the context of climate change. I will work closely with specialists in the field and with UTFA’s Executive Committee and Council to develop a statement that UTFA will convey to both the Joint Sponsors and the BoT. It is the BoT that will invest the UPP’s funds.

U of T and McGill University have recently announced a new charter agreement on RI that includes over a dozen Canadian universities. The ESC will monitor this charter agreement with considerable interest.

You may read the announcement here.

Other entities are also working on investing and climate change in the university sector. The non-profit SHARE, for example, is developing a “climate-aligned portfolio investor engagement program....” I will continue to enrol in webinars and attend virtual conferences on issues around pensions, investing, and climate change. I see these issues as vital to my representation of UTFA in the UPP.

In June 2019, UTFA Council created the UTFA Pension Committee to provide feedback and advice to UTFA’s rep on the ESC. The following are serving two-year terms on this committee, which I chair, and I appreciate their wisdom: Louis Florence, Mary Alice Guttman, Lisa Kramer, Brian McDonagh, Marcin Peski, Harriet Sonne deTorrens, Maureen Stapleton, and Terezia Zoric. Louis, Maureen, Terezia, and I will also serve on the University’s Pension Committee in its final year of operation, before the UPP takes over in 2021, as will Jun Nogami, the incoming Vice-President, Salary, Benefits, Pensions and Workload.

Closing Remarks
I will close my AGM report first by thanking the UTFA staff: Chris Penn, Marta Horban, Rucsandra Schmelzer, and Darren Puscas. I have worked with most of them for many years. No event or initiative or meeting succeeds without them. I am grateful to our very dedicated in-house lawyers: Helen Nowak (General Counsel), Heather Diggle, Reni Chang, and Samantha Olexsen. They have climbed the steep learning curve of UTFA’s grievance and policy negotiation portfolios, and they have profoundly helped many, many members as a result. I want to express my thanks to UTFA’s external lawyers at Goldblatt Partners and Koskie Minsky. And I offer a heartfelt thank you to Roger Riendeau, who has served so ably as Speaker of Council over the past year.

The last four years have been very challenging in terms of the scope and ambition of UTFA’s proposals, but I am proud of our many achievements in a number of realms, including salary discrimination and health and safety. UTFA’s various negotiating teams have included members from all streams, including part-timers. The teams I have led have worked very effectively on a range of policies and also of course on pensions. Other teams continue to be hard at work on librarians’ policies, gender discrimination issues, salaries/benefits gains, pay equity, and member outreach. The point is that all of the successful initiatives UTFA has undertaken have relied on teamwork.

I want to wish Terezia Zoric the very best as I pass her the baton, and I thank her for her firm support, her talent, her commitment, and her incredible achievement on an array of fronts. I also thank both UTFA Council and the Executive Committee for their incisive analysis of a range of issues and for their role in the success of UTFA’s initiatives. I ask both bodies to remain engaged, collegial, diligent as the University and our members enter a new and challenging phase.

Cynthia Messenger

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Report of the Vice-President, Salary, Benefits, Pensions and Workload

Since I last wrote to the membership, the UTFA teams I have led have been very busy in a range of policy-related negotiations with the Administration, and we have made significant progress on several long-term and equity-focused initiatives. New and serious issues have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic—including such as relate to members’ health and safety; needs for accommodation; academic freedom; workload concerns; and, mode of course delivery. As of July 1, 2020, I will be tackling these issues as UTFA’s incoming president.

Salary Discrimination
After working for more than three years to redress the salary discrimination experienced by our faculty and librarians on the basis of gender, racialization, Indigeneity, LGBTQ2S, and disability, UTFA achieved some measurable success for female-identified librarians and tenure-stream faculty. However, more work remains to be done to close significant, persistent, pervasive, and systemic pay gaps. In particular, UTFA has made vigorous efforts over many years to obtain data from the U of T administration to assess discrimination in compensation for members of all equity-seeking groups, including Indigenous, Black, and other racialized faculty and librarians.

In April 2019, the Administration announced a 1.3% increase only for female-identified tenure stream faculty. As I reported in UTFA’s April 26, 2019, open letter, UTFA does not consider the 1.3% salary increase sufficient. Not only did the increase insufficiently redress the magnitude of salary discrimination experienced by women in the tenure stream, it also failed to address the salary discrimination experienced by all equity-seeking groups of librarians, teaching stream faculty, part-time faculty, and CLTAs, as well as all such groups besides women in the tenure stream. Further, the Administration’s announcement did not offer solutions to the root causes of salary discrimination.

Between April and November of 2019, UTFA and the Administration engaged in a successful mediation of UTFA’s salary discrimination grievance as it pertains to librarians.  As a result, UTFA and the Administration agreed

  • that all librarians who identify as women would receive a 3.9% salary increase;
  • to periodically audit librarian salaries; and
  • to establish a Joint Working Group regarding the effect of any systemic barriers, and unconscious or implicit bias, on librarian compensation, including PTR and rank at hire.

See our December 6, 2019, open letter for further details. UTFA has now named its Working Group nominees and begun to meet with the UTFA Librarians Committee to discuss compensation issues. Be on the lookout for ways to get involved in this important process.

UTFA has sought to litigate its Salary Discrimination Association grievance on its merits but has faced a series of procedural roadblocks raised by the Administration, including preliminary legal objections regarding the production and disclosure of documents that would illuminate the University’s salary practices over time. (UTFA’s November 5, 2019, open letter details the Administration’s failed attempt to block our grievance by arguing that salary discrimination claims by UTFA members must be filed on an individual basis, or by a group of individuals, rather than by the UTFA.)

The Administration has thus far been unwilling to share salary data relating to any equity-seeking groups apart from women (i.e., those experiencing salary discrimination on the basis of racialization, Indigeneity, LGBTQ2S, and/or disability). UTFA attended a mediation on March 30, 2020, to press for the production and transfer to UTFA of this critical information. UTFA is currently seeking to negotiate a settlement to this dispute.

UTFA is also continuing to speak with small groups of faculty and librarians about their experiences with salary discrimination, including through a series of focus groups with female and racialized members I facilitated (or co-facilitated) over the past year. Please contact UTFA via advice@utfa.org if you wish to participate in a future focus group interview. 

Pay Equity
UTFA is continuing to pursue an Association grievance to protect its members’ rights under Ontario’s Pay Equity Act (1990). This legislation has historically compared the compensation of Librarians and Tutors/Senior Tutors (early titles for the teaching stream) with the compensation of comparable male-dominated job classes (for example, Professional Engineering Officers).

UTFA staff, political officers, and Council representatives have been researching the evolution of job duties over the past 30 years. The Administration recently provided some relevant documentation, which we are analyzing in order to determine whether to continue to seek additional data through the grievance process. 

Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment
UTFA and the Administration have continued to meet and discuss UTFA’s proposal for a Letter of Understanding (LOU) on the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. While we have reached areas of agreement on some key issues, we remain at odds in relation to several others. UTFA may now choose to invoke the facilitation/fact-finding procedures set out in our Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). As UTFA’s lead negotiator, I am thankful for the contributions of UTFA’s team: Matthew Allen, Roy Gillis, and Azita H. Taleghani.

Health Care Spending Account (HCSA)
A number of our members have sought help from UTFA in the last year with reports of difficulties and/or requests for assistance with their HCSAs. These funds first came into place on July 1, 2017, and can be used to claim reimbursements for health and dental premiums.  Based on member feedback, UTFA has worked with the Administration to smooth out the kinks in this relatively new benefit and to improve the claims process.

A common concern expressed by members was that funds deposited in their HCSA accounts for 2018–2019 would be expiring on June 30, 2020, when they had not been able to use them as intended due to COVID restrictions. We forwarded this concern to the Administration, who recently advised UTFA that, in light of a recent tax interpretation by the Canada Revenue Agency, they will add any unused funds from 2018–2019 to your 2019–2020 funds. Your 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 funds will therefore not expire until June 30, 2021.

If you have questions or concerns about the HCSA, you can contact UTFA at faculty@utfa.org or UofT HR at benefits.help@utoronto.ca.

Joint Benefits Committee (JBC)
One of UTFA’s priorities is to keep improving and refining benefits, including the experience of making claims, for our membership. I’m very pleased to be working with my colleagues Roy Gillis (out-going Chair), Jun Nogami (incoming Chair), and Harriet Sonne de Torrens to reinvigorate the UTFA-Administration Joint Benefits Committee (JBC), with further assistance from Mary-Alice Guttman and Kent Weaver. The JBC has many functions, including reviewing the benefit plan experience, trends, and external drivers; providing advice on plan materials/communications; and reviewing benefit appeals that have not been resolved through the Green Shield appeal process to ensure that they were properly adjudicated and that the member received clear and valid reasons for the rejection of their claim.  Members should ask Greenshield for a written explanation for any claim denials with which they do not agree.

Salary, Benefits, Pensions, and Workload (SBPW) Negotiations
During the last round of SBPW negotiations (2018–2020), UTFA and the Administration were unable to reach agreement on UTFA’s proposals to amend the Workload Policy and Procedures (WLPP) and aspects of the Academic Administrative Procedures Manual (the AAPM) relating to Progress Through the Ranks (the PTR policy). It is our view that the WLPP and the PTR policy, in their current form, are inadequate to address the serious and persistent problems of overwork and inequitable distribution of work affecting faculty and librarians. Notably, the experience of overwork that is caused by higher teaching and service obligations and the absence of clear workload norms—especially for those in precarious and teaching stream appointments—disproportionately disadvantages UTFA members who identify as women or as racialized or both. These policy issues are currently before Mr. William Kaplan and we await his arbitration decision.

A new round of SBPW negotiations is now under way. In November 2019, consistent with procedures outlined in the MOA, UTFA gave the Administration notice of intent to bargain. In January 2020, UTFA Council completed its approval of the UTFA bargaining team: Matthew Allen, Roy Gillis, Mary-Alice Guttman, Cynthia Messenger, Jun Nogami, David Roberts, Harriet Sonne de Torrens, and Terezia Zoric (Chief Negotiator). I am extremely grateful to the members of the team for their willingness to serve in such an important capacity.

Our first bilateral (direct) discussions with the Administration took place in May 2020. The scope of our negotiations has been shaped by the dramatic effects of the pandemic on our working lives, including the closing of our campuses; the move to emergency remote instruction; increased need for family care–based accommodations; and intensified and unsustainable teaching and service workload demands being made of our members. Those of you who contacted UTFA for advice and assistance in March and April helped alert us to the broader needs of our members. UTFA also undertook several large surveys (with record-high response rates) in May and June 2020 – covering COVID-19, workload and accommodation, and salaries and benefits –that greatly helped us to represent your concerns through our bargaining proposals. Informed by this member feedback, UTFA will be redoubling its efforts to strengthen provisions within the WLPP to protect against inequitable and unreasonable workloads, enhance job security for precarious members, and establish clearer and more compassionate accommodation processes, among other key priorities in this round of SBPW negotiations.

To stay connected and to facilitate dialogue, the SBPW bargaining team is planning to host virtual bargaining town halls over the summer. Stay tuned for more details about how to participate!

Advancements in Asbestos Management and Health and Safety
In 2016–17, high-risk asbestos abatement projects in the Medical Sciences Building (MSB) led to serious containment failures that underlined serious and significant shortcomings in the University of Toronto’s asbestos management system.

UTFA members working in the MSB filed a group grievance in 2017, citing inconsistent and unsafe abatement procedures, inadequate reporting practices, and exposure to unacceptable levels of asbestos. Since then, and in close collaboration with student groups and campus unions, UTFA has been working tirelessly to ensure our members are not exposed to any unnecessary health and safety risks, and that asbestos and other hazards be managed in keeping with University of Toronto policies that promise adherence to best practices, rather than less stringent regulatory standards designed for industrial settings. 

Years after the first containment failures at the MSB, UTFA and the Administration engaged in a mediation in respect of UTFA’s asbestos group grievance in the summer and fall of 2019. After four very productive days we finalized an agreement with the Administration in January 2020. Both the group grievors and UTFA’s leadership are proud of this settlement, which significantly advances the health and safety rights and protections of our members. Some of the key achievements include the agreement that:

  • faculty and librarians can report concerns about their workspace, that those concerns will be assessed promptly, and that any findings will be shared with the member;
  • the Administration will retain external asbestos consultants, and require those consultants to provide a written assessment of the design of the most high-risk (i.e., Type 3) asbestos abatement projects;
  • the Administration will provide improved notification about Type 3 abatement work being undertaken in any University location;
  • testing results for Type 3 abatement projects will be posted online;
  • UTFA can appoint its members as workers on Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC); and
  • a University-wide JHSC be established with UTFA to “monitor, assist, and provide direction” to the University’s other JHSCs.

UTFA and the Administration were unable to reach agreement on some issues and decided that the central JHSC will seek to resolve them (see below). Failing agreement, the parties can return to Mr. William Kaplan for mediation-arbitration. UTFA believes that this outcome will play a vital role in preventing, or mitigating the results of, any future asbestos exposure incidents.

University-wide Joint Health and Safety Committee
A significant outcome of the MSB group grievance on asbestos abatement was the creation of a University-wide Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). This JHSC will ensure that the health and safety concerns of UTFA members including issues regarding COVID-19 and the University as a workplace, will be represented in a permanent venue.

I am grateful to my dedicated colleagues on UTFA’s Executive, Council, and many Committees. I am indebted to UTFA’s hardworking and insightful SBPW bargaining team: Matthew Allen, Roy Gillis, Mary-Alice Guttman, Cynthia Messenger, Jun Nogami (incoming VP-SBPW), David Roberts, and Harriet Sonne de Torrens. I also wish to express my profound appreciation for the extraordinary dedication, service, and leadership of UTFA’s outgoing president, Cynthia Messenger.

Many thanks to UTFA’s lawyers, Helen Nowak (General Counsel), Reni Chang, and Heather Diggle, and Samantha Olexson, to whom I am especially grateful, for their support; to the external counsel at Goldblatt Partners; and to Chris Penn, Marta Horban, and the rest of the UTFA “front office” staff. UTFA couldn’t serve its members without your thoughtful and energetic assistance.

Terezia Zoric
Vice-President, Salary, Benefits, Pensions and Workload

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Report of the Vice-President, Grievances

July 2019–April 2020

Matters handled by the Grievance Portfolio
The work of the grievance portfolio continues to increase, with more member inquiries than ever before. While the number of incoming inquiries was already strong before the coronavirus pandemic was declared, since March 2020 the number of faculty members who have reached out for assistance has also expanded. Between July 2019 and May 2020, 477 new member inquiries were made to UTFA (advice, grievance, and tenure). Of these, 203 came in during the COVID-19 period. Last year from July to May, 340 new member inquiries were received, 137 of those from March to May.

Currently, the grievance portfolio has 237 open matters, including two individual grievances, one group grievance, and eight tenure advice matters. If you are experiencing an issue impacting the terms and conditions of your employment and would like to obtain confidential advice and/or file a grievance, please contact advice@utfa.org.

Ninety-one tenure stream candidates were reviewed for tenure in 2018–2019. Of those, one candidate was denied tenure. During the same period, 28 teaching stream candidates were reviewed and received continuing status, and 6 librarians were reviewed and received permanent status. 

Advice and Grievances Q & A
The Advice and Grievances section of the UTFA website has been updated to include a Q & A reflecting the most common questions and concerns of UTFA members. Note that most matters brought to the attention of the Vice-President, Grievances do not result in a grievance. UTFA’s grievance portfolio regularly meets with members confidentially to discuss strategies to resolve issues informally and collegially. If you wish to obtain confidential advice about a term or condition of employment, please contact advice@utfa.org.

Association grievance concerning the UTM shuttle bus
As the often-raised concerns about the UTM shuttle bus have not been addressed, UTFA has recently filed an Association grievance on this matter, under my lead. It is UTFA’s view that the school buses that are currently used between UTM and UTSG are not safe. School buses are not fitted with safety belts, are not constructed for use by adults, and are not meant for travel at high speed on expressways. This creates inequitable working conditions for cross-appointed faculty members who need to travel between the two campuses. This Association grievance will become active again once the UTM shuttle resumes service.

Changes affecting UTFA members
Rules on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans
This year the Administration has organized a series of Workshops on Research Ethics in the Social Sciences, Humanities and Education and Information sessions on Research Ethics in the Health Sciences to highlight the recent changes implemented in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. These changes reflect the current emphasis on free and informed consent, privacy, confidentiality, and risk assessment based on participant vulnerability. UTFA members are encouraged to review their research protocols carefully and consult with the Research Ethics Boards (REBs)to make sure that the protocols are up to date.

Rules on Expense Claims
Changes to the Tri-Agency rules on the use of grant funds took effect on April 1, 2020. While the old rules prescribed what expenses were eligible for reimbursement, the new rules provide a set of principles that govern decisions. Most of the expenses covered under the old rules should continue to be covered, but expenses that the old rules did not capture may be covered as well. The University’s Guide to Financial Management and other applicable policies will help to determine what is an eligible expense. The University has devised a framework for tracking, resolving, and escalating questions and decisions on expense eligibility. It has also conducted a gap analysis in order to identify areas in policy that need to be updated or created to respond to different types of situations that may arise, such as recovery of child care expenses.

My warmest thanks to Cynthia Messenger for her tireless mentoring and to Helen Nowak, General Counsel, for her commitment, patience, and unwavering support during my first year in a new role. I am also grateful to the other UTFA lawyers—Reni Chang, Heather Diggle, and Samantha Olexson—for their hard work and advice, and to the members of the Grievance Committee for their thoughtful participation.

I very much regret that because of a family health emergency I was unable to complete my term as Vice-President, Grievances and wish all the best to my successors, Stephen Rupp and Brian McDonagh.

Claude Evans
Vice-President, Grievances

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Report of the Acting Vice-President, Grievances

March–June 2020

Since mid-March the grievance portfolio has received many queries related to the impacts of COVID-19. In late March and early April these queries centred on health and safety, changes to course delivery and corresponding workloads, final examinations, and course evaluations. Librarians expressed concern about their health and safety during the period when the libraries remained open. Members who teach very large courses experienced difficulties in making arrangements for Faculty final examinations at the departmental level. Concerns included the logistics of administering exams at different locations and measures for maintaining academic integrity online. These members reported a significant increase in their workload during the examination period and stressed the need for technical support and additional TA hours. Other faculty members had concerns related to the potential impact on their course evaluations of the shift to online teaching at the end of the term. Faculty members teaching during the summer session have asked about retaining online materials that they have prepared as their intellectual property, a right protected under the university’s Copyright Policy.

In the area of research, members have contacted us concerning the impact of social distancing on research time and on access to research facilities and resources. UTFA secured agreement from the Administration that faculty members could request additional time to prepare for tenure and continuing status reviews and that faculty members with research and study leaves approved for the 2020–21 academic year could request postponement of their leaves. Other faculty members discussed with their unit heads remedies for research time lost on leaves that began in July 2019 or January 2020, with varying results.

Further queries relate to planning for course delivery in the fall term, particularly from members in divisions that have mandated a hybrid model of combined in-class and online teaching. This matter affects both workload and the right of members to determine the best method of delivering their courses. Faculty members with individual health considerations or who require family status accommodation to handle their workload have also reported significant challenges. It is UTFA’s view that workloads should be adjusted to reflect the additional tasks of preparing and delivering online material. To address this series of concerns, UTFA has presented to the Administration a draft Association grievance with regard to course delivery in the context of COVID-19.

I am grateful to Claude Evans for her excellent work in this portfolio during most of the past year and to Cynthia Messenger, Terezia Zoric, and Helen Nowak for their assistance and support.

Stephen Rupp
Acting Vice-President, Grievances

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Report of the Vice-President, University and External Affairs

Among my many roles and activities as Vice-President, University and External Affairs, I represent UTFA on the Board of Directors of both the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). These organizations are dedicated to advancing the interests of faculty and librarians across the province and country, respectively.

Educating and Organizing Against Anti-Black Racism and Other Forms of Oppression
CAUT and OCUFA have been offering a number of resources and webinars to educate faculty and librarians about the prevalence and systemic impact of anti-Black racism and other forms of oppression and violence against marginalized communities (see here, for example). I have sent out emails and UTFA has sent out several tweets about these initiatives. I urge you to consider participating in these webinars.

Update on the Coalition Court Case Against Bill 124: Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act
OCUFA recently provided an update about the legal challenge by a consortium of Ontario unions to Bill 124, the Ford government’s Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, which became law on November 7, 2019. It reported that, due to the current restrictions on court proceedings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the court challenge will be further delayed and might not be heard for a further nine months. However, a recent ruling by the Manitoba Supreme Court on a similar case, Manitoba Federation of Labour et al v. The Government of Manitoba, largely appears to support the arguments of Ontario’s case.

Engagement with Other University Faculty, Instructor, Staff, and Student Groups at the University of Toronto
I have also acted as the liaison between UTFA and the following campus groups: the University of Toronto Employee Associations and Unions (UTEAU) and student groups such as the Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students, the Graduate Students’ Union, and the Canadian Federation of Students. I am proud to engage actively with these groups of university stakeholders whose work is focused on ensuring an equitable and sustainable university sector for the staff and student members of the U of T community. UTEAU has also been organizing panels highlighting concerns over student mental health concerns and plans to conduct a survey among U of T students to assess the impacts of the financial and pandemic crises affecting our community.

David Suzuki Climate Change Event at the University of Toronto
I was pleased to play an important role, along with other members of the UTFA Executive, in organizing, supporting, and participating in this important climate change forum and workshops held at U of T in September 2019. It was a particularly well-attended and influential forum in a series of others held across Canada. Attendees nearly filled Convocation Hall. I was especially pleased to be able to help facilitate the appropriate recognition and participation of Indigenous members of the U of T community in this important event.

Continued and New Challenges to Funding in Higher Education
The UTFA President, Executive, and your VP, U&EA have been working to resist reductions in funding for post-secondary education across Ontario and particularly at U of T. With your continued support, we will continue to oppose cutbacks to staffing, academic programming and student funding and to stand in solidarity with other employees of U of T.

Mental Health and Well-Being Services
Through my work at UTEAU and through UTFA social media outlets, I have advocated for continued support and increases in funding for important improvements in mental health and other well-being benefits for UTFA members. In particular, while serving as Chair of the Joint Benefits Committee I have pushed for improvements in our Long Term Disability benefits.

UTFA Al Miller Memorial Award and UTFA Undergraduate Tuition Award Recipients
A highlight of service in this role is the opportunity to oversee selection of the recipients of UTFA’s student awards. There were many extensively qualified applicants this year. Congratulations to the four recipients! You can read about them here.

J. Roy Gillis
Vice-President, University and External Affairs

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Report of the Treasurer

The Association remains in strong financial health. UTFA holds approximately $4,200,000 in its investment account (as of June 1, 2020), having substantially recovered from the recent coronavirus-induced market swoon. Until recently, the Association’s investment policy prescribed that half of the account be invested in fixed income instruments and half in equities, and that the latter be invested equally in Canadian, US, and other equities. However, at the April Council meeting, after considerable discussion, Council approved a motion to reduce the equity component to 35%, in an effort to further reduce the volatility of our already quite conservatively constructed portfolio. Additionally, most of the remaining equity component of our portfolio was shifted to ESG-oriented (sustainable, green) exchange-traded funds (ETFs), to better reflect the values and priorities of our members.

The Financial Advisory Committee meets in October and April to review the Association’s investments. At its fall meeting, we discussed the importance of the funds in our investment account to the financial stability of UTFA, as well as the advisability of increasing the contingency reserve from its historical level of $750,000 to $1,500,000 to reflect inflation over the past decade or so. (These are funds that cannot be accessed without explicit approval of the UTFA Executive and Council, subject to certain guidelines). At the spring meeting, we discussed the above-mentioned proposal to reduce the equity component, and agreed to propose this move to UTFA Council for approval. I wish to thank the Financial Advisory Committee members for their time and engagement.

The Treasurer relies on UTFA’s bookkeeper and business officer to look after the day-to-day financial operations of the association. I must thank Rucsandra Schmelzer and Marta Horban for their exceptionally thorough work. The Association’s audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019 can be found here. I wish to thank Donna Mehta of Cowperthwhaite Mehta (now Mehta Professional Corporation) for her advice and the timely completion of this year’s audit.

It has been my pleasure to serve during my final year in this role (2019–2020), completing a three-year stint as your Treasurer. It has been a very interesting learning experience. Finally, I am very pleased that Maureen Stapleton will replace me as your Treasurer on July 1. I have complete confidence in her experience, wisdom, and good judgment with regard to both the financial duties of the Treasurer and the broader duties related to serving on the UTFA Executive and Council.

Louis Florence

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Report of the Chair of the Appointments Committee

A central concern for the Appointments Committee is the administrative use of Student Evaluations of Teaching (SETs) in reviews for tenure, continuing status, and promotion (in both the tenure and teaching streams) and in the assessment of PTR. Through these processes, student evaluations can have a significant impact on a faculty member’s career, including annual increases in salary. Recent institutional research has demonstrated that students can report on their experience in a course, but that such evaluations do not offer a reliable measure of the quality of instruction. Research has also shown that members of minority groups tend to receive lower results on numerical indicators and to receive a higher number of critical comments from students. The practice of aggregating numerical responses and calculating averages to measure the teaching effectiveness of an individual instructor or an academic unit increases the impact of these disadvantageous factors. In contrast, best practices indicate that SETs should be used not to compare instructors with one another but to provide information about the student experience that will assist individual instructors in planning and delivering their courses. In the institutional context of the University of Toronto, the administration and interpretation of SETs involve both central policies and divisional guidelines. Initiatives to advocate for faculty in this area require collaboration within UTFA, particularly between the Appointments Committee and the grievance portfolio.

The measures taken to maintain teaching and supervision under the public health conditions of COVID-19 have affected the appointments of faculty members and academic librarians. The working conditions of our members have changed and will continue to shift during the coming academic year, with the move to online and hybrid modes of teaching. Members made rapid changes in the delivery of their courses in mid-March so that students could complete the term. It is clear, however, that these changes increased the workload of our members, particularly instructors of high-enrolment undergraduate courses. Issues have also arisen in relation to research, such as the loss of access to resources and laboratory space and restrictions on off-campus field work. As indicated in the report for the grievance portfolio, UTFA has drafted a grievance on course delivery in the context of COVID-19.

On May 6 UTFA held a virtual workshop for tenure stream faculty, centred on the policies and procedures for the mid-term review and the review for tenure and promotion. The principal presenter was Emma Phillips from Goldblatt Partners; Stephen Rupp and Helen Nowak were present to respond to questions and concerns. This workshop was well attended. Several of the questions spoke to members’ concerns related to the impact of COVID-19 on their teaching and research.

I am grateful to Cynthia Messenger, Terezia Zoric, and Helen Nowak for their support and assistance.

Stephen Rupp
Chair, Appointments Committee

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Report of the Chair of the Equity Committee

The Equity Committee continues to work with the Grievance, Membership, and University and External Affairs Committees on equity projects such as the Association grievance on salary discrimination and negotiations on the University’s sexual violence policy. It also focuses on other equity issues.

In the fall, I was involved in the following equity-related activities:

  • Meeting of OCUFA’s Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC), October 4, 2019. SWEC has three meetings annually. This meeting concentrated on the SWEC employment equity project, the SWEC performance funding statement, and a workshop on faculty mental health.
  • SWEC Equity Training Workshop, October 5, 2019. The workshop provided practical tools and strategies to help participants acknowledge and value difference within their association, and understand the interconnected nature of equity struggles.
  • Equity Committee meeting, November 1, 2019. The committee had a productive discussion on the following issues:
    • Faculty mental health: The need for a survey on this issue and the importance of the survey results for bargaining
    • Sexual violence: How faculty deal with this issue and the significance of preliminary training
    • Disability: How to deal with the diversity of student disability without enough information or knowledge
    • Equity and new-parent faculty: Lack of consideration for new-parent or single-parent faculty who are pre-tenure or pre-promotion

On January 28, 2020, a workshop on unconscious bias was held for UTFA Council and staff. With Council approval, I worked with Emma Philips of Goldblatt Partners, who specializes in this topic and has led several workshops on it, to develop this workshop. The event was a success.

During the pandemic, SWEC has been holding weekly Zoom meetings. In these meetings, each faculty association highlights equity implications of the pandemic crisis and its impact on the most vulnerable groups, such as precarious and Indigenous faculty and women. Issues discussed in these meetings include

  • teaching delivery modes for fall 2020 and unilateral decisions by most Ontario university administrations without consultation with faculty associations;
  • faculty workload and online teaching;
  • privacy and intellectual property concerns in relation to online teaching;
  • imitations of online learning and exam proctoring for those without access to strong or stable internet connections, particularly Indigenous students and faculty;
  • remote teaching and barriers for faculty and students who are parents or sharing close quarters with family members; and
  • SETs and faculty annual activity reports

In the spirit of demonstrations on behalf of the Black community in the United States and Canada, the majority of Ontario post-secondary institutions and their faculty associations released solidarity statements. During the last SWEC virtual meeting, participants discussed the impact of these statements on the fight against endemic racism and inequality. They suggested that all academic institutions should take immediate action against racism and end discrimination against people of colour and Indigenous people in hiring and promotion.

Azita Hojatollah-Taleghani
Chair, Equity Committee

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Report of the Chair of the Librarians Committee

In mid-March 2020 the University of Toronto libraries across our three campuses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Librarians and staff reverted to working from home. We were advised that no students could be hired for the summer and only eBooks could be ordered for collections. This is an exceptional time.

Looking back, it has been an exceptional year. Members of the Librarians Committee have participated in a number of important initiatives:

  • UTFA recognized that there has been a systematic gender bias in the salary of librarians who identify as female at the University of Toronto. Community discussions began in the spring of 2019, after which an Association grievance was launched, led by Terezia Zoric, Vice-President, Salary, Benefits, Pensions and Workload. Effective December 1, 2019, all librarians who identify as women received a 3.9% increase to their base salary, retroactive to July 2, 2019.
  • The University of Toronto’s agreement to participate in Cubane Consulting’s UniForum benchmarking exercise was met with resistance. Librarians, faculty, and UTFA were concerned about the introduction of a performance-based funding model stemming from such exercises—see OCUFA’s analysis and the statement by CAUT on the harmful effects of performance metrics on academic freedom and on collegial governance, tenure and promotion decisions, and working conditions for faculty and librarians. UTFA launched an Association grievance with a mediated result giving librarians the right, as individual professionals, to refuse to participate. The University of Toronto had signed a five-year agreement; however, it has since “opted not to move forward with the Year 2 (2020) data collection.” https://uniforum.utoronto.ca/
  • On November 15, 2019, the Librarians Committee organized a one-day event at the Faculty Club, Charting Our Course: Empowering Librarians at the University of Toronto. This event updated new professionals and our community on the professional services and support offered by UTFA. Two keynote speakers, Tim Ribaric, Chair of the CAUT Librarians’ and Archivists’ Committee, and Professor Alison Hearn, Chair of the CAUT Academic Freedom Committee, joined us. Several panels were organized to review current issues facing academic librarianship in Ontario and across Canada. Guests attended from Brock University, the University of Ottawa, Western University, and York University. UTFA’s legal counsel, Helen Nowak, presented information on UTFA services, consultation, and the grievance process.
  • Negotiations for the modernized Policies for Librarians continue. Kathleen Scheaffer, chief negotiator, is assisted by Emma Philips (Goldblatt Partners), Professor Ken MacDonald, Dan D’Agostino, and two members of the side table, Whitney Kemble, and Harriet Sonne de Torrens.
  • Kent Weaver, retired librarian and member of UTFA Council served as Chair of this year’s Nominating Committee. Retirees are members of UTFA and, unlike unionized faculty associations, UTFA negotiates on their behalf.
  • UTFA secured for librarians, who are working at home with travel restrictions and closures, the right to carry research days that they were unable to use due to the pandemic over into 2020–2021.
  • UTFA is supporting librarians and faculty to obtain the equipment and furnishings, like ergonomic chairs, that they need to prevent health issues while working at home.
  • Deferrals of sabbaticals and research leaves for some librarians and faculty due to COVID-19 have been negotiated by individuals whose research plans and activities ceased due to the pandemic. If your plans for scholarship cannot be met due to the pandemic and you seek amendments to your plans, please consult with UTFA if you encounter difficulties.
  • UTFA agreed to have annual activity reports delayed due to COVID-19.
  • Librarians in the central system and at UTSC continue to encounter problems with the central database used to request and record research days. UTFA is checking into this ongoing issue.

We cannot foresee how the coming months will unfold or the special circumstances each of you may face, but we want nevertheless to reiterate that UTFA is available for consultation, advice, and assistance. It is often beneficial to talk through a problem or new developments. Reaching out to UTFA does not mean you are pursuing a grievance. It means you are getting expert advice concerning your rights, our policies, and working conditions, which are not always transparent. Please contact UTFA at advice@utfa.org. The more UTFA hears about individual situations, the better we can serve the community as a whole, especially during these unusual times.

Please feel free to contact your representatives on Council or members of the Librarians Committee. See here for policies that affect librarians and www.utfa.org for current news concerning the pandemic.

Harriet Sonne de Torrens
Chair, Librarians Committee

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Report on Negotiations for the Policies for Librarians

On January 31, 2018, UTFA tabled our Proposal for Modernized Policies for Librarians (PfL) at our first meeting with the Administration. Since then we have met with the Administration multiple times and have two meetings scheduled over the next few months. 

The following sit on the UTFA side of the table:

  • Dan D’Agostino, Librarian
  • Ken MacDonald, Associate Professor
  • Kathleen Scheaffer, Librarian and Chief Negotiator

This team is assisted by Emma Phillips from Goldblatt Partners. Additionally, Harriet Sonne de Torrens, UTM Librarian, and Whitney Kemble, UTSC Librarian, have been approved by UTFA Council as a resource for these negotiations. 

The following sit on the Administration side of the table: 

  • Heather Boon, Vice-Provost, Faculty and Academic Life and Chief Negotiator 
  • Kate Enros, Director, Academic Human Resources Services and Faculty Relations
  • Angela Hildyard, Special Advisor to the President and Provost
  • Julie Hannaford, Deputy Chief Librarian
  • Larry Alford, Chief Librarian 
  • Cheryl Wobito, Legal Associate to Legal Counsel to the Offices of the Vice-President and Provost and the Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity

UTFA’s continued efforts at the table directly reflect the feedback we received from University of Toronto librarians through several surveys and various consultations on all three campuses. Additionally, the most recent discussions at the event held on November 15, 2019, Charting Our Course: Empowering Librarians at the University of Toronto, reaffirmed that U of T librarians seek gains related to job security, equity, transparency, consistency, collegiality, and due process.

Our proposals also endeavour to address deficiencies, poor organization, contradictions, redundancies, and out-of-date terminology identified in the 40+-year-old Policies for Librarians. Thus, our proposal introduced sections on:

  • job postings (to ensure consistency in duration of postings, locations of postings, language around accredited degree, etc.) 
  • librarian research and study days (not currently captured in another policy document)
  • secondments, and lateral transfers (not currently captured in another policy document)
  • campus library heads (i.e. Chief Librarian of UTSCL and Chief Librarian of UTML)

We proposed language to clarify the four librarian ranks (I, II, III, IV), activity report and assessment procedures, and the documentation and procedures used in the appointment, promotion, termination, and appeals/grievances of librarians. 

We proposed language to ensure that the membership of librarian appointment, promotion, and review committees is collegially established and representative of the librarian candidates being considered.  

We proposed language that affords librarians the option to grieve a denial of promotion. This is by contrast to the current PfL, which provides that a request for review of a denial of promotion from Librarian II to III or Librarian III to IV is only carried out if the Chief Librarian “deems the review appropriate,” and then the review is sent back to the same committee that made the negative recommendation in the first place (Article 20).

Where precarious appointments are concerned, we proposed language to increase security and combat exploitation.  

Term limits and administrative leave for Senior Librarian Administrators were tabled, as well as grounds for removal from those administrative offices. 

In the termination section, language has been proposed to remedy human rights language violations, and to strengthen job security for librarians. Additionally, we are seeking the right for a librarian who is terminated to appeal that decision. Currently, Article 47.v states, “This determination should be final and not subject to appeal.”

We are pleased to report that gains are being made at the table that reflect that both UTFA and the Administration are committed to effective policy change. 

Kathleen Scheaffer
Chief Negotiator

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Report of the Chair of the Membership Committee

The Membership Committee planned for an exciting and engaging year, with continued focus on supporting strategic outreach with respect to the salary discrimination initiative, creating a plan to fill vacant constituency seats on UTFA’s Council, and engaging our broader membership through a meet-and-greet update initiative.

Salary Discrimination Outreach Campaign
The Membership Committee continued to provide logistical support to UTFA’s Vice-President, Salary, Benefits, Pensions and Workload, Terezia Zoric, and Council on the salary discrimination project (which includes an Association grievance —see the report of the Vice-President for further information). The first phase of focus group meetings, with female faculty and librarians, took place in June and July 2019 and was highly informative. Between December and March 2020 UTFA continued to collect stories from our members about their experiences in connection with bias and discrimination in compensation at the University of Toronto. Meetings with equity-seeking groups such as Black faculty were especially important for outreach. We look forward to continuing this work.

Representation on the UTFA Council
Last year the Membership Committee committed to creating a plan every year to address filling vacant seats on Council.  The Committee identified five vacancies that it would work toward filling by the end of the 2019–2020 academic year. This effort was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic but we look forward to resuming it when that becomes possible. Representation on Council that demonstrates the diversity of thought, perspectives, and opinions of all constituents strengthens UTFA’s ability to negotiate and speak on behalf of all UTFA members.

The ability of Council representatives to communicate with their constituents was enhanced this year with the creation of a group email address for each constituency for the use of constituency representatives. They had an opportunity to use it to send their constituents a message from the President on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meet-and-greet update meetings
UTFA is a member-driven organization and each member is important to the organization. Accordingly, over the course of the year, Council members began to connect with their constituents to have meet-and-greet update meetings. The objectives of these 15–30 minute meetings are: (1) to acquaint constituents with their Council representative, (2) to share updates with respect to key UTFA initiatives, (3) to encourage community among UTFA members, and (4) and to hear from our members about their unique experiences. Before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, several such meetings took place. Over the coming months the venue for these meetings will have to move online.

The Membership Committee looks forward to building and promoting community within the UTFA membership.

Keith Adamson
Chair, Membership Committee

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Report of the Chair of the Retired Members Committee

The Retired Members Committee represents approximately 600 retired faculty and librarians of the University of Toronto and its federated colleges. The Committee met three times in the fall of 2019 and once in the spring of 2020, via a Zoom conference call, due to the pandemic.  We confirmed four goals for the year:

Host our first annual “Welcome to New Retirees” reception: We hosted a successful “Welcome to New Retirees” reception on October 22, 2019, at the Faculty Club. We had 41 registrants: 13 who retired between 1999 and 2009, 17 who retired between 2010 and 2019, 5 retirees who did not state their year of retirement, and 6 current members of Executive/Council. Thirty attended the reception. The remaining registrants cancelled due to inclement weather. 

Evaluate the “Welcome to New Retirees” reception: Overall, the feedback from the reception was excellent. In particular, of the 50% of attendees who completed our feedback form, everyone rated the Faculty Club as an excellent venue, and the information on health benefits as good or excellent. Above all, the respondents appreciated interacting with peers and presenters and receiving important information about current health benefits.    

Plan for our second annual “Welcome to New Retirees” Reception: Our next “Welcome to New Retirees” reception is planned for Wednesday, October 21, 2020, from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. If we are able to meet in person, the location will again be the Faculty Club. All UTFA retirees are encouraged to save the date and join us in welcoming and celebrating with our new retirees. There will be a presentation on general benefits for UTFA retirees, including health benefits, and time for networking. If COVID-19 makes meeting in person inadvisable, the Committee will consider meeting via Zoom. Additional information will be emailed in September. All new faculty and librarians are automatically members of UTFA immediately following retirement and pay no dues during their first year. New retirees are encouraged to send their preferred email address to faculty@utfa.org so we can reach you with our invitation.

Keep informed on trends in public sector benefits in Ontario: During our committee meetings we shared information about current and future trends in public sector benefits, especially health benefits, in Ontario. This is invaluable as we plan for the future of our retirees.  We confirmed that the UPP—University Pension Plan—is under development and look forward to updates next year. We also considered challenges some of our Canadian colleagues are experiencing with keeping their university email and library access. In the spring, we considered the impact of COVID-19 on academics, students, and retirees.

Four members of the Retired Members Committee and one member of the Executive Committee attended the CURAC (College and University Retiree Associations of Canada) annual conference held at the University of Guelph, May 22–24, 2019. The conference was hosted by the University of Guelph Retirees Association and offered participants an excellent opportunity to network and to identify the benefits of staying closely connected to our national and international retiree communities. During the CURAC conference I was able to confer with Harold Atwood, Principal of U of T’s Senior College, about the possibility of the College’s hosting a CURAC conference in the future, with UTFA support. We had looked forward to participating in the 2020 annual conferences of CURAC and the Association of Retired Organizations in Higher Education (AROHE).  However, both were cancelled due to the pandemic. 

As Chair of the Retired Members Committee, I serve on the Executive Committee, attending its regular meetings and monthly Council meetings. I also serve on the Board of Management of the Senior College Centre. Kent Weaver, a member of the Retired Members Committee, was on the board of AROHE this year and served on a committee of Senior College. Additional UTFA retirees serve in other university positions, contributing to the strengths of the University of Toronto.

I would like to thank all the Committee members who engaged in such lively and discerning discussions, attended our UTFA events, and ensured that the Committee is an engaged and engaging group at UTFA.  The members of the Retired Members Committee this year were: Ed Barbeau, Elinor Fillion, Louis Florence, Helen Grad, Lino Grima, Mary Alice Guttman, Brenda Mallouk, Suzanne Meyers Sawa, Angela Miles, and Kent Weaver, as well as Cynthia Messenger and Terezia Zoric.

In memoriam: The Retired Members Committee has learned since the 2019 Annual General Meeting of the death of the following UTFA retirees: Robert Accinelli, John R. Blackburn, Robert H. Blackburn, Robert Alex Collins, Alexander Dalzell, Gayle N. Garlock, S. Diane Henderson, Derek Holman, Jeanne V. Ikeda-Douglas, Donald G. Ivey, Janice A. Monaghan, William H. Nelson, Gordon Nikiforuk, Steven Scott, Peter Silcox, Edward T. Silva, Jean Smith, and John Valleau.

Geraldine (Jody) Macdonald 
Chair, Retired Members Committee

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Report of the Chair of the Teaching Stream Committee

This year the Teaching Stream Committee worked to build on the important work of previous committees, in documenting the needs and concerns of teaching stream faculty while advocating for improved working conditions and support for the stream. In recent years, UTFA has made great strides in areas important to teaching stream faculty, such as the professorial title, but our work is not finished.

Prior to the pandemic, the main issues that were the focus of the Committee’s work were:

  • Mental health—of both our students and our faculty;
  • Questions of equity—within the teaching stream and in the broader faculty landscape at U of T; and,
  • Better support for teaching stream faculty who would like to conduct research and other forms of scholarship, whether pedagogical or disciplinary.

Here, briefly, are some of the ways in which we have worked on these issues.

Mental Health
Mental health and campus climate continue to be pressing concerns at the University of Toronto. The Committee has discussed how mental health concerns manifest uniquely in the teaching stream. We continue to seek ways to improve working conditions and supports for teaching stream faculty.

We are concerned about inequities both within the teaching stream and across faculty streams. We continue to collect data and examples of the inequities that faculty experience and we are working to support attempts to address these inequities through various mechanisms such as the grievance process and the current round of bargaining.

Research, Scholarship, and Creative Professional Practice within the Teaching Stream
UTFA is committed to the principle that teaching stream faculty are full partners in the scholarly and intellectual functions of the University of Toronto. We also believe that research, scholarship, and creative professional practices are intimately connected to the quality of teaching practice. To better understand and document the experiences of members of the teaching stream with regards to research and other scholarly activities, we conducted a survey of teaching stream faculty. The data from this survey has already informed UTFA’s work to address workload issues on various fronts and will continue to inform organizing on support for research, scholarship and creative professional practice in the stream.

The pandemic, with its physical distancing mandates, the rapid shift to online teaching, the increased familial and community responsibilities of our members, along with many other associated challenges, has significantly impacted our working lives. This spring, much of my work has been focused on understanding the impact of these shifts on the workload of teaching stream faculty and using this to inform UTFA’s demands for improved support for faculty as they work through these shifts. This work is intimately related to the three priorities I identified above and underscores the need for continued dialogue and advocacy in these arenas. 

I welcome your thoughts on these issues or any other that you would like to see the Teaching Stream Committee address. Please do not hesitate to contact me—and if you have capacity to join us on the Committee, even better. 

David J. Roberts
Chair, Teaching Stream Committee

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UTFA Student Award Recipients

Every year UTFA presents financial awards to as many as four students, who must demonstrate both academic merit and financial need.

The UTFA Al Miller Memorial Award honours a past member of UTFA’s Executive Committee and is presented to one or two graduate students. There are two recipients for 2019–2020.

  • Esmeralda Bukuroshi is in her fourth year of PhD studies in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. She has served the engineering student community as co-chair of the Chemical Engineering Graduate Students’ Association and co-founder and vice-chair of the interdisciplinary Graduate Engineering Council of Students. In these roles she has been involved in organizing a variety of social, athletic, and professional development activities.
  • Diana Peragine is in her fifth year of PhD studies in Psychology. Her research, in her co-supervisor’s words, “is poised to lead to a paradigm shift in the way scholars approach women’s sexuality.” Beyond her own academic work, she has established initiatives to foster recognition of women’s STEM achievements, including the GEF Research Impact Award, the Women’s Research in Science Excellence Awards, and numerous mentoring, professional development, and outreach activities.

The UTFA Undergraduate Tuition Award is presented to one or two undergraduate students. There are two recipients for 2019–2020.

  • Joshua Mvunga is a second-year student in Psychology and Biology. He has distinguished himself not only in his main areas of study, but also in English and Philosophy. A referee has characterized him as “superbly motivated and intelligent.” Outside of the classroom, Joshua is a residence Don and co-chair of the Equity Outreach Network, which advocates for diversity and inclusivity for the students in residence.
  • Yazan Zamel is a second-year student in Engineering Science. He has maintained “a stellar academic record,” in the words of a referee, while using his intellectual ability and organizational skills to balance his demanding academic program with numerous extracurricular activities. These include an international anti-bullying campaign, support for Syrian refugees, the Sustainable Engineers Association and other engineering activities, environmental initiatives, and leadership programs.

We congratulate the UTFA student award recipients and wish them success in their further studies.

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UTFA Remembers Two Distinguished Members

Dr. William H. (Bill) Nelson, Professor Emeritus (November 3, 1923–January 3, 2020)

Professor William H. (Bill) Nelson was president of UTFA from 1973 to 1976 and chair of the Appointments Committee from 1992 to 2001. Bill retired as professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Science in 1989. He was author of The American Tory (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961).

Bill was central to the development and direction of UTFA for many years. His commitment to expanding the capacity of the Association cannot be overstated. During his time as president, Bill was integral in campaigns for academic freedom and for the right to collective bargaining for UTFA members. In more recent years, he served as speaker of Council, under President George Luste.

One of Bill’s important contributions to UTFA is a chronicle of UTFA’s history, The Search for Faculty Power: The History of the University of Toronto Faculty Association, 1942–1992. In this book Bill detailed the early days of UTFA’s formation and growth, the renewal of the Association in the 1970s, the campaign for binding arbitration in salaries/benefits bargaining, and various other significant efforts to protect tenure, improve academic appointments for members, and increase salaries.

UTFA is grateful for Bill’s dedicated years of service to its members.


Professor Jean Edward Smith (October 13, 1932, Washington, D.C.–September 1, 2019, Huntington, West Virginia), Professor of Political Science, biographer, negotiator for the founding Memorandum of Agreement between UTFA and the University Administration

Professor Jean Smith was a widely published political scientist and biographer of considerable renown. In particular, his presidential biographies have become central texts in understanding the accomplishments and legacy of numerous political figures including Presidents George W. Bush and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. Professor Smith was also extensively praised for his re-examinations of the presidencies of Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower, leading to a significant rehabilitation of how they are currently viewed.

UTFA and the Memorandum of Agreement
Professor Smith joined the UTFA Executive in 1976 to chair the Salary and Benefits Committee and was integral in the push for a first faculty contract, drafting UTFA’s first collective bargaining proposal. His leadership and agility in negotiations with the University led to the first agreement between UTFA and the University administration.

This Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) represented a major step forward for UTFA. It outlines faculty rights and obligations regarding salaries and benefits, grievances, appointments, research leaves, and academic rights. (Nelson, 109) Though modified over the years, the MoA continues to be the basis of the labour contract between UTFA and the University administration. Professor Smith’s central place in UTFA history was cemented through his substantial efforts in securing the MoA.

Professor Smith’s major publications included Germany Beyond the Wall (1969); The Papers of General Lucius Clay (1974); The Constitution and U.S. Foreign Policy (1988); Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Debated (1988); The Conduct of U.S. Foreign Policy (1989); Lucius D. Clay: An American Life (1990); John Marshall: Definer of a Nation (1996); Grant (2001); FDR (2007); Eisenhower in War and Peace (2012); Bush (2016); The Liberation of Paris: How Eisenhower, de Gaulle, and von Choltitz Saved the City of Light.

After retiring from the University of Toronto, Professor Smith served as John Marshall Professor of Political Science in at Marshall University in West Virginia. He died at his home in Huntington, W.Va

Professor Smith is survived by his wife, Christine Smith (Zinsel); his children, Sonja and Charles; and four grandchildren.

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