COVID-19 Negotiations update

Dear USFA members:

Two of the more pressing issues included in our proposals to the employer are copyright and sabbaticals.


We are proposing that employees retain copyright to all course materials they develop and deliver online, as per Article 26 of the Collective Agreement, including recorded lectures, unless they have expressly signed over these rights to the employer.

We are waiting for a response to this proposal. In the meantime, the USFA advises faculty not to sign away their rights to materials developed for online or remote delivery of classes.

Sabbaticals for 2019–2020 and 2020–2021

Many of our members have conveyed their concerns regarding disruptions due to emergency measures (including but not limited to cancellation of travel plans and closure of facilities), which almost certainly will require a number of faculty to make modifications to approved sabbatical plans. Among other measures, we are proposing that faculty are guaranteed the academic freedom to modify their sabbatical plans as they see fit, and to extend deadlines for expenditure of sabbatical travel expense accounts.

You have the right to cancel your approved sabbatical leave before May 1, 2020 (Article 20.6.2). If you do and reapply in the Fall, we are proposing that your application should be prioritized when sabbaticals are allocated for 2021-22, and that the 2020–21 academic year count as a year of qualifying service for your next sabbatical.

An additional item of concern is:

Workload and Assignment of Duties

We have heard from many faculty of the significantly increased workload involved in converting course materials from face-to-face delivery to online or remote delivery, with additional increase in workload while delivering the class resulting from technical issues, trouble-shooting, and increased correspondence with students among other challenges.

Article 11 (Assignment of Duties) specifies that duties shall be assigned taking into consideration: “The full range of demands associated with teaching, including the nature of the course, course level and its enrolment, the methods of instruction and evaluation.” We encourage you to talk with your Department Heads and Deans about any additional workload involved. There may be ways to mitigate this such as limiting enrolment, reducing the number of courses faculty are expected to teach, or providing TA’s to assist with instruction and marking. We have raised the issue of workload at JCMA and will do so in negotiations as well.

For those faculty who accept an increased teaching load, we expect an appropriate reduction in expectations of research performance when evaluating colleagues in other collegial processes.

We want to hear more from you about workload. Simply reply to this email if you have comments or observations about this issue in particular, or if you have any other concerns that have arisen as a result of this emergency.