Report of the Vice-President, Grievances, 2015–2016

April 26, 2016
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Tenure Issues

During 2015–2016, the Grievance portfolio won two tenure appeals at the University Tenure Appeal Committee. In each case, UTAC granted a second tenure committee, which is the only possible result of a successful tenure appeal. In recent years, UTFA has secured a small number of second tenure committees through negotiation with the Office of the President.

The Grievance portfolio is currently advising seven tenure candidates, including one who has received a tentative negative recommendation. This is a lower number than we encountered last year at this time. As we do each year, we urge tenure and teaching stream candidates to contact UTFA if they see any negative language in the summary of evidence coming from the chair of the tenure or promotion committee. The Grievance portfolio gives confidential advice on the response to the summary of evidence and/or the tentative negative recommendation. Concerned candidates should use the following email address:


Currently UTFA is handling approximately 75 open files (both grievances and tenure files). In 2014–2015, 70 candidates were reviewed for tenure, and 2 were denied. In the same year, 7 librarians were reviewed for permanent status denials, and none was denied. At the time of writing, UTFA knows of one denial in the teaching stream for 2015–2016. 

The Grievance Process

Recognizing the importance of succession planning, the Grievance portfolio has actively engaged in training this year. Two members of the UTFA Executive, Claude Evans and Terezia Zoric, have undertaken intensive training. The Grievance portfolio has also offered training to a wider group of Grievance Committee members who have expressed interest in learning more about the broader legal and policy landscape in which grievances are argued.

Once again this year, UTFA has participated in productive mediation with the University’s external Grievance Review Panel Chair, Mr. William Kaplan. Mediation helps resolve disputes in a timely and cost-effective manner. Over the past few years, through mediation, UTFA has resolved cases on matters ranging from academic misconduct to salary anomaly.

SJAC Negotiations for the Teaching Stream

During the summer and fall of 2015, teaching stream faculty opted in to the revised appointments policy that granted them professorial title, a regularized appointments process, and the right to be given credit for discipline-based scholarship related to teaching. I served as chief negotiator for these landmark changes, and I am serving as chief negotiator for the current round of talks on the promotion to full professor in the teaching stream. I am grateful to my actively engaged SJAC negotiating team: Claude Evans, Jun Nogami, and Terezia Zoric. We hope to reach agreement on a policy that will go through University governance in the fall of 2016. We at UTFA would like to see the first round of promotions to full professor in the teaching stream completed by spring 2017.

Policy Change

Through handling grievances, we in the portfolio are able to identify weaknesses in policy. Badly needed revisions to the Policies for Librarians are well under way. I believe that UTFA must also build consensus on the challenging task of revising the following: the evaluation of teaching (including the online forms); the Policy and Procedures on the Employment Conditions of Part-Time Academic Staff; the policy on CLTAs; Sexual Harassment: Policy and Procedures; and the Tri-Campus Framework and Letter of Understanding. 

Tenure Workshop

I am pleased to announce that the UTFA Appointments Committee will take over the annual Tenure Workshop, starting spring 2016. Many thanks to the chair of that committee, Michael Attridge. 

Grievance Committee

I would like to acknowledge this year’s Grievance Committee, whose keen interest and advice I value.


Our members are well served by UTFA’s lawyers, to whom I extend my heartfelt thanks: Reni Chang, Heather Diggle (General Counsel), and Alison Warrian (who left UTFA’s employment in the fall of 2015). Grievance Assistant Ruscandra Schmelzer continues to provide crucial administrative support, as do Chris Penn and Marta Horban. Once again this year I must acknowledge the expertise of Goldblatt Partners (formerly Sack, Goldblatt, Mitchell), who are always ready to help UTFA’s members. I would like to close the last AGM newsletter report that I will write as Vice-President, Grievances, by thanking Scott Prudham, who has served UTFA with strength and conviction and whose abilities as a negotiator have brought about profoundly important changes in policy and practice at U of T. 

Cynthia Messenger
Vice-President, Grievances