Last month, the local was taken by surprise and was dismayed by the announced intake suspensions of seven programs: five at Perth, one at Pembroke, and one at Woodroffe. We were surprised as there had been no prior communication to the local that any of the programs were in difficulty. We were dismayed as the college appears to be using the intake suspension process to bypass the need for a vote by the Board of Governors whereby the suspension process could be halted. The impact of the intake suspensions will have consequences for students, faculty, and the local community, particularly in Perth.
Article 28 of the Collective Agreement: Employment Stability
To enhance short-term and long-term employment stability at the college, there is a union-college committee called the College Employment Stability Committee (CESC) responsible for recommending long-term and short-term strategies. The union representatives on the committee are Pat Kennedy, Jack Wilson, David Haley, Rod Bain, and Sharleen Conrad-Beatty. The college representatives are Cheryl Jensen, Claude Brulé, Cathy Frederick, Chris Hahn, and Diane McCutcheon.
In order to make appropriate recommendations, the committee is to have access to “data provided under the Collective Agreement” and may “identify needs for further data collection.”
Work of the CESC to date
The committee met March 15 and March 22. At the meetings, the union reps requested the data they felt was necessary to understand why the seven programs were to have their intakes suspended. Some of the information has been forthcoming, but other information has yet to be released. Therefore, we cannot say the communications from the college have met the level of transparency we had hoped for.
To give you a sense of what the union reps are experiencing, on March 26 one of the reps emailed Cheryl Jensen and the college reps the following request:
“Can you [Cheryl] please provide how the college helped to mitigate the issues in these programs, and provide examples of these actions.”
When there had been no response — after two weeks! — the same union rep emailed Cheryl again requesting the same information. The remarkably sparse response was a one-liner: “I suggest you obtain this information from the academic area.”
Following Cheryl’s direction, the same request for information has since been put to the managers responsible for the suspended programs. To date, there has not been a single response.
Needless to say, we are most concerned that the remediation plans that the seven programs were alleged to have undergone were either not done or not done with the appropriate rigour and attention. The latter should be a concern for all programs, for the college has indicated there are more suspensions to come in the years ahead. This applies in particular to any program which has been told by the college it is currently “under remediation.”
Monday, April 16: crucial Board of Governors meeting
The seven intake suspensions will be on the agenda of Monday’s Board of Governors meeting. The meeting is open to the public and begins at 4:00 in Room T102.
Future work of the CESC
The union reps have indicated their availability and their desire to meet as often as necessary. Unfortunately, the college reps have offered very limited availability and no further meetings have been scheduled. We will continue to provide updates in the weeks ahead.
Pat Kennedy, President
OPSEU Local 415