University & faculty association reach agreement for new contract

Process finalized on Aug. 21 for a four-year collective agreement

With the announcement of a firm collective agreement between Queen’s and its faculty, students can anticipate a review of both professor evaluations and teaching methods at Queen’s. 

On Aug. 21, after eight months of grueling negotiation and 37 bargaining dates, the Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA) accepted the terms of the tentative collective agreement set out on July 29.

A key factor for students in this agreement is a promised review of teaching strategies at the school, as well as the University Survey of Student Assessment of Teaching (USAT) process. 

Three days before QUFA’s vote, the Human Resources Committee of the Queen’s Board of Trustees also voted to ratify the agreement.

The QUFA website states that a detailed overview of the new collective agreement will be published shortly. The agreement was accepted with over 95 per cent support from QUFA voters, and will serve QUFA until April 30, 2019.

In the interim, QUFA President Lynne Hanson provided details on some of the agreement’s contents to The Journal. 

According to Hanson, the highlights of the new agreement include:

·Detailed terms and conditions for online courses

·A memorandum of agreement on the pension plan

·“Modest improvements” in faculty compensation. The Gazette reported the increase in compensation as between 1 and 1.75 per cent. 

·Inclusion of LGBTQ terminology in the agreement

·Additional definitions of “diverse experience” for hiring equity

·Review of teaching strategies and the USAT process

Hanson says equity measures at the University will be improved by the inclusion of LGBTQ terminology into the definitions section of the Collective Agreement. 

Where the previous agreement included “persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity’, the new definition is “more inclusive”, according to Hanson, and specifies “persons whose sexual orientation is other than heterosexual and/or whose gender identity or presentation is at variance with the sex assigned to them at birth”. 

The agreement similarly includes “the recognition of diverse experiences”, which Hanson said increases equity in hiring. 

A committee of faculty, administration and students will review the USAT in the summer of 2016. The group will work to “develop better assessment methodologies”, according to Hanson, and will operate under the Joint Committee to Administer the Agreement (JCAA). 

The new agreement will also provide increased protection against departmental closures due to budgetary concerns. 

Hanson said the last few months have seen improvements in the University’s approach to bargaining.

“This last round of bargaining was somewhat more constructive [than previous rounds],” she said. 

She said the University’s approach has been “less aggressive”, and noted the positive impact of senior academic leaders at the bargaining table, including Dr. Susan Mumm, Dean of Arts and Science, and Laeeque Daneshmend, Deputy Provost.

However, Hanson also said her team had observed a “dispiriting reluctance to recognize our members’ concerns,” especially surrounding issues of “deteriorating” working conditions, a lack of resources and “the erosion of authority.” 

Dan McKeown, Associate Director of Faculty Relations, said he disagrees with Hanson’s portrayal of the negotiations. 

“Discussions with QUFA were respectful and positive in tone throughout the process,” he wrote in an email statement to The Journal

In the email, McKeown stated that the agreement was “good news for all parties”.

“[This] is an agreement that helps the university preserve the quality of its academic mission, within the limits of its current financial realities.”

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