Official Website for OPSEU Local 415

Strike Advice

Blackboard and the strike

Normally, you have full access to your Blackboard sections. You can use the Control Panel to add and modify content. Your students view and use what you have posted.

However, the College controls Blackboard at the highest administrative level. All Blackboard content resides on College servers. Also, the College is able to make decisions regarding Blackboard with which you might not agree. Without their prior knowledge or agreement, a number of members have already found managers and support staff added to their Blackboard sections.

While we’re on strike, we know the College will prevent us from accessing Blackboard. We expect the students will continue to be able to reach Blackboard. Based on our experience, we realise the College might add managers or other staff to our Blackboard sections.

We want our students to keep learning but we don’t want managers or other unqualified staff evaluating that learning. Consequently, we recommend that you back up then remove content from your Blackboard sections that would allow other parties to evaluate any part of your students’ work or assign grades to your students. It’s not sufficient to make items unavailable; they remain on College servers. You must delete them, after making backups. Use Export Course to back up and Import Package to restore. You should keep the course outline available on Blackboard, however.

If you leave student marks or marking schemes on Blackboard, it leaves the door open to the College requiring managers or other staff to mark student assignments, give grades or even give students final course marks. Don’t think your manager would do such a thing? What if he or she is directed to do so by upper management? Taken to the extreme, the College could pass all our students, declare the semester ended and leave us on strike until fall. Unlikely but possible.

You should also consider what happens after the strike ends. Undoubtedly, the College will make adjustments to the academic year to allow students to complete their courses. In 1984 and 1989, most faculty had to do extra work to permit these adjustments. We were successful in arguing that we should receive compensation for the extra work and compensation was ordered by arbitrators Weiler and Teplitsky. If the College can prove your course was largely posted on Blackboard before the strike began, you won’t have much of a case for compensation.

I’ve posted this announcement for my Blackboard sections:

A teachers strike is possible, beginning Tuesday, March 7.

For now, classes will continue as scheduled but you should make copies of your marks and other info you might need. Please check here for more info as it becomes available.

Modifying a user in a Blackboard section

To modify the properties of a user in a Blackboard course

  1. Log in to BB and select the desired course
  2. Go to Control Panel
  3. Click List/Modify Users
  4. Search for the person whose access you wish to modify
  5. You should get a Modify User Properties dialog; farther down you can select Role
  6. Select the role you wish to assign and click Submit
  7. You should get a confirmation, example:
    Name: J DOUGLAS BRANDY
    Email: brandyd@algonquincollege.com
    Username: brandyd
    Course Role: Teaching Assistant
    Course Role Available: Y

OPSEU policy

Harassment or discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated at OPSEU functions.

Whenever OPSEU members gather, we welcome all peoples of the world. We will not accept any unwelcoming words, actions or behaviours against our sisters and brothers.

We accord respect to all persons, including people of colour, women, men, First Nations men and women, Métis or other Aboriginal peoples, members of ethno-racial groups, people with disabilities, gays, lesbians, bisexual, trans-gendered/transsexual peoples, francophones and all persons whose mother tongue is not English.

In our diversity we will build solidarity as union sisters and brothers.

If you believe that you are being harassed or discriminated against, contact either the PHRC Member or the PWC Members in your Region.

Doug Brandy, Past Local President


In-service teacher training plan

The ISTTP allows access to the salary maximum for members whose academic qualifications would not otherwise permit such access. For a 43 K Word document updating the benefits of ISTTP enrollment, please click here.

If you cannot open Word documents, please e-mail me for plain text.


Course assessments

Course assessment results should only be used in your evaluation or performance appraisal if you and your manager have agreed in advance to the use of such information. At minimum, your manager should not include course assessment material in your evaluation unless s/he has told you in advance that such material would be used in that way. The same applies to other input from students, colleagues, the public or any other source. The concept is parallel to how we evaluate students. We make sure our students know in advance that we will evaluate them only on requirements included in the course outline and test them only on material covered in the course.

If you have evaluated through mechanisms that were not made known to you in advance or if you believe your evaluation is unfair for any other reason, please inform your supervisor that you have received notice of discipline that’s without cause. You should then contact your steward for advice on filing a grievance.

Doug Brandy,Past  Local President

Some time ago, we engaged the services of an expert from Carleton University to report on Algonquin’s course assessment process. If you are a local member and would like a copy of her report in Word format, please use the e-mail link in the next line.

Doug Brandy, Past Local President


Discipline

This article appeared in the newsletter of the faculty union Local at Humber College. It’s reprinted with that Local’s permission.

Before Christmas, two people were let go from the College. One was a professor on probation who was released and the other a full-time professor who was dismissed. Both of these cases have been grieved and will be referred to arbitration if necessary.

The full-time dismissal was a result of student complaints. The professor had never had student complaints before. There was no indication of problems on his personnel file. However, the College took a hard line on the issue, and this resulted in his dismissal.

It is clear from these two cases that the College approach to complaints has hardened and not to the benefit of the faculty. We have all seen before how the College is prone to accepting a student complaint and preparing and is­suing discipline without giving faculty a reasonable opportunity to answer allegations. We feel the situation is getting worse.

If management ever tells you that there are complaints against you, it is very important that you contact the un­ion immediately. Don’t try to resolve the issue by yourself. Anything you say or write can, and usually will, be used against you later in the process. If you are asked to attend a meeting, which you are told is disciplinary in nature, you have the right to request a Union representative to attend with you. If a seemingly innocent meeting turns disciplinary, request the meeting be stopped until you can get a Union representative to participate in the meeting. If you reply in writing to any allegations, we strongly recommend that you ask one of your Union representatives to check the reply before you send it.

Although this advice seems confrontational, if you are being accused of something that you are going to be disciplined for, this is the only way to get the full benefit of your rights in the Collective Agreement and the full benefit of the Union executives’ experience in these matters. This is a case of “you can’t fight city hall by yourself.

Another member from the School of Hospitality was disciplined for “unauthorized use of school funds” when he organized a function that benefited the College. He was instructed to organize the event (he had organized many similar events before), and he followed what limited policy guidelines there were in arranging such functions. We are going to Step 2 in the grievance process and are prepared to go to arbitration. From our perspective, the whole issue is farcical.

If you need to contact someone in the union office at Algonquin: Room C215b at Woodroffe, extension 7716 or use the e-mail link in the next line.

Doug Brandy, Past Local President


Academic advising initiative

Some members have queried me regarding academic advising. In my opinion, such an assignment should appear as a complementary function on your SWF. Points to note:

bullet such an assignment must appear on your SWF
bullet you and your immediate supervisor should discuss the assignment and agree on the number of weekly hours to be attributed for this assignment
bullet because of variations among programs, student numbers and other factors, different faculty members may require a different number of hours for this work
bullet you may refer any disagreement to the Workload Monitoring Group

Doug Brandy, Past Local President


Saturday or Sunday work

If you have been assigned exam duties or other work on weekends, please note:

bullet such assignments must be shown on your SWF as part of the “total workload” (Article 11.02 A 2)
bullet your timetable must show the Saturday assignments (Article 11.02 A 5)
bullet you must be credited with 1.5 times the number of assigned hours (Article 11.01 L 3)
bullet any resulting overtime must be voluntary and compensated according to Articles 11.01 J 1 and 2
bullet your overtime agreement must be filed with the Local Union (Article 11.01 J 3)
bullet please consult a steward if you are assigned Saturday exam invigilation or other weekend work

Health insurance premium

In its May, 2004 budget, the Ontario government introduced a Health Insurance premium. Please note how this has affected our members.

Our 2003-05 Collective Agreement contains a letter, continued from earlier Collective Agreements:

The parties recognize that the method of funding OHIP has been changed from an individually paid premium to a system funded by an employer paid payroll tax.

If the government, at any time in the future, reverts to an individually paid premium for health insurance, the parties agree that the Colleges will resume paying 100% of the billed premium for employees.

On June 25 OPSEU filed a policy grievance to pursue this issue with the Colleges in relation to faculty. The grievance was heard by Arbitrator, Owen Shime on September 14.

Arbitrator Shime issued his award on October 29. He dismissed our grievance, essentially on the grounds that these deductions were a tax, not a premium, and thus were not covered by the letter of understanding.

In an award dated December 15, 2004, arbitrator Kevin Whitaker reached a similar decision in relation to OPSEU support staff.

This is not the end of the story. There are a series of these awards and the results are inconsistent. OPSEU will be taking the decision to Judicial Review. A hearing is expected late next spring.

If you’d like a copy of either arbitrators’ award re OPSEU or have comments, please click here to e-mail me. You may also request copies of the Barrett award re Lapointe Nursing Home vs. United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Goodfellow award re City of Hamilton vs. Hamilton Professional Firefighters’ Association. If you’re not a local member, please indicate your interest in the issue.

Doug Brandy,Past  Local President

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