Our Annual General Meeting will be held on May 8 at 1 pm, online.
See the poster below for which positions will be voted on and instructions on how to attend.
If any of you are in self-isolation, or do not have family, or need any other kind of help—related or not to work—let us know. We all have to support each other during this moment.
Emails for your respective VPs are here:
We are all coping with different circumstances, so feel free to reach out to any of the executive regardless of which university you are most affiliated with. Carlos Pessoa, the SMU VP, has kindly volunteered to be a point person for this kind of assistance. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Centre for Learning and Teaching at Dalhousie is offering a suite of online panels, webinars and workshops. Monitor the CLT website or Today@Dal for more information about upcoming events.
From our VP for TAs at Studley campus: Many of our student members have been concerned about CERB eligibility. The government just announced that they will be rolling out a Canada Emergency Student Benefit(CESB) for students and recent graduates who are not eligible for CERB or EI. More information on the CESB and other additional supports for students can be found here.
Karen Harper is part of a newly formed group of representatives from all types of unions at all universities across Nova Scotia. This includes academic staff and also students, post-docs, lab technicians and more. This group has written an open letter to university administration and government representatives, which in part asks for additional funding for post-secondary education during this time. We sent it to government representatives and the media today. Here is the letter:
Summer course cancellations: At SMU, the Mount and some faculties at Dal this should be YOUR decision. At Dal the dean does have authority over things like course cancellations but I have been told that you may reach out to your dean if your course has been cancelled even though you think you can teach it remotely. If that still doesn’t work, please contact me or your CUPE VP. Decisions regarding summer course cancellations at Dal must be made by the end of this month.
Extra compensation for time spent converting your course online: This does apply for summer courses at SMU. They will begin to consider this at the Mount. At Dal it is faculty dependent but it sounds like it is happening for some courses. If you think you should be compensated for extra time but you are not, I recommend contacting your dean and also keep track of your hours.
Home office use: This is an issue I have been exploring and realizing it is complex. We may or may not be able to get the employer to cover extra expenses. For now I would suggest that you keep track of any extra expenses including receipts. If you feel that you had to have substantial extra expenses (e.g., purchase an internet stick because you live in a rural community without high-speed internet), it might be worthwhile contacting your dean.
Here is a link to a Statistics Canada survey on the impacts of COVID-19 on those living in Canada. We would like to capture as many of our members’ experiences as possible. It takes about 5 minutes to complete and closes on April 16.
CAUT is launching an online town hall series titled, COVID-19 and the Academic Job, to support academic staff in this constantly changing and uncertain time. Hosted by CAUT, you will hear from experts on a range of topics and discuss issues, your questions and share strategies and solutions.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) are calling on the federal government to extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to post-secondary students and contract academic staff.
CAUT distributed some information about remote teaching:
• There has been some miscommunication about TAs continuing to get paid until the end of term. Apparently this was only the case if TAs could find other work to do such as grading. But the messaging has been department or faculty-specific.
• Karen Harper was part of a group of union presidents or representatives at Dalhousie University that has now expanded to include other universities. Yesterday we put out a press release about an all-union statement calling on universities to ensure open communnication, accountability and transparency.
• CAUT sent an update email that included some good information about CERB for part-time instructors and caution about using Zoom:
• At SMU, we helped the administration to develop a strategy for summer courses that includes extra compensation and leaves the decision as to whether it can be converted to an online course up to the instructor. This strategy has been distributed to department chairs, whom you can consult for further details.
• At Dal, we will now have weekly meetings with the director of academic staff relations
• At Dal, again please let Karen Harper know about any cancelled courses – course name and number, the entire program or just the course, when was it cancelled and by whom.
• Here is a link to information put out by CUPE about the emergency benefit and other economic support.
• This article might also be useful for questions about financial support.
• This email from the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour contains some interesting and useful information.
• Research activities have been suspended at Dal and SMU.
• The Mount gave us some guidance about student evaluations earlier this week- essentially they are optional.
• Our president has open lines of communication with the VP Academic at the Mount and SMU, and I am trying to establish the same at Dal. She is hoping this will allow me to help address your concerns more easily, particularly regarding summer courses.
• Here is the link to provincial government information and updates on COVID-19: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/
• Our bargaining teams have decided to postpone the information sessions scheduled for next week and the vote on the bargaining proposals the week after to give you more time to adjust to our new reality both in terms of your work and family. When the time is right, we will continue with our agenda to Make It Fair in Halifax and Truro. I will let you know.
• Although it appears that the transfer of courses to online delivery is going well this semester (with some exceptions), there have been more concerns over what is happening with spring and summer courses. We are looking into issues regarding this. If you have any concerns or aware of any work-related issues with summer courses, please contact your VP or our president.
• The administration at SMU contacted Karen Harper to clarify some confusion about course evaluations. They state, ‘The Employer agrees to waive requirements under Article 15.04 for this term.’ They further say that PT faculty can use evaluations for formative purposes if they so choose (ie they are optional). Please contact Karen Harper if you wish to see the faculty notice about this.
• At Dalhousie, the Faculty of Arts and Social Science sent an email with the following message: ‘TAs and Markers should be communicating with instructors to clarify their responsibilities during this difficult transition and should be providing assistance (if required) with end-of-term planning (e.g., moving exams online; compiling final grades; etc.). TA contracts will be honoured financially regardless of whether or not assignments or exams have been cancelled.’ We expect and hope that the last sentence is true for all Dalhousie TAs and Markers.
• HR at SMU encourage us to monitor https://smu.ca/covid19/ for updates as they become available. And they note that we can use the services of The Studio for Teaching and Learning should we require support with our courses.
• Our VP at Dalhousie has been in contact with admin. The message to instructors there is to consider only the barest needs for your class and to deliver only what’s absolutely necessary. They are working on a plan for the exams period and semester end, and give some advice about final exams and alternatives.
As we all know, things are happening very rapidly with many changes as the entire academic community seems to be going online. It is a challenge to figure how to best support and assist you because this situation is unprecedented for all of us and we are all learning about new developments together. As always, we are here to help you maintain fair working conditions as best as we can. Please feel free to contact us (CUPE 3912 executive) about any concerns or issues you have.
Stay safe, physically and mentally.
January 24, 2020
Dear Black Teaching Assistants and Part-Time Faculty/Members of CUPE 3912,
As Co-Chairs of Dalhousie’s Black Faculty and Staff Caucus (DBFSC), we are reaching out to Black individuals at Dalhousie that are currently employed in TA and part-time faculty positions at Dalhousie to introduce DBFSC and determine interest in meeting with a few members of DBFSC Executive in early 2020 to discuss how the DBFSC can provide support in addressing concerns around equity, inclusion and other issues in the workplace and on campus,.
You will find more information on DBFSC at the website link below (where links to our Facebook and Twitter pages are also posted): https://www.dal.ca/sites/dbfc.html
The mission of DBFSC is to promote a greater sense of community, advocate progress, and maintain ongoing support for Black faculty, staff and students at Dalhousie University in an effort to enhance cultural diversity within the University and support the academic mission of the institution. Our mandate is:
• To serve as a voice for the concerns of the Black communities at Dalhousie University, particularly faculty and staff, to the Board of Governors, the Senate, senior administration and others as appropriate;
• To advise the President regarding matters related to the Black communities on campus;
• To support the academic and professional development of Black faculty and staff at Dalhousie University;
• To advocate for the recruitment and retention of Black faculty at all ranks and Black staff at all administrative levels to promote equity and to ensure that representation at Dalhousie University is at or above the levels required by the Federal Contractors Program; and
• To work with relevant others at Dalhousie University, including the various bargaining units, to ensure and maintain equitable treatment in promotion, job opportunities, and a work environment that is free of discrimination and racial tensions.
There are two categories of membership in the DBFSC: Members and Associate Members. Members include faculty and staff at Dalhousie University who self-identify as Black and wish to join. Associate members include all faculty and staff at a University in Nova Scotia who self-identify as Black and wish to join. Associate members have a voice but cannot vote.
To indicate interest in meeting with DBFSC Executive, please contact email@example.com or reach out to one of us below. We look forward to hearing from you.
With best regards,
Ingrid Waldron, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Dalhousie University
Co-Chair (Faculty), Dalhousie Black Faculty and Staff Caucus
Keisha Turner, Student Success Advisor, Bissett Student Success Centre, Dalhousie University
Co-Chair, Dalhousie Black Faculty and Staff Caucus (Staff)
Phone: 902 494 6456
Our fall general meeting will include: the election of a treasurer, a VP for TAs at Dalhousie’s Studley Campus, a VP for SMU, and two trustees; proposals for by-law amendments; and the selection of our 2020 bargaining teams.
Friday, November 15, 2pm
Dalhousie Student Union Building Room 224
We are hosting several upcoming workshops, in collaboration with the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers and the Dalhousie Faculty Association, to discuss issues and opportunities relevant to contract academic staff. These will all focus on ways to Make It Fair for us!
Plans and Pitfalls: Long-term Research on Short-term
Oct. 17 at 5:00
Saint Mary’s University, Secunda Boardroom, 4th floor of the Sobey Building
Benefits for Contract Academic Staff in Halifax: Exploring the Possibilities
Oct. 18 at 3:00
Dalhousie, Student Union Building, Room in room 307
Strike! What to Do When Your Union Calls a Strike
Oct. 23 at 6:30
Dalhousie, Student Union Building, Room 303
These discussions are the start of our campaign to educate members about our working conditions as we prepare for bargaining in 2020. We will learn about what it’s like to be on strike from other faculty unions who went or almost went on strike and how it affected the outcome of their negotiations. Let’s learn from their experience! The second one focuses on what benefits could look like if we had them. At each bargaining session we ask for benefits, unsuccessfully so far. Learning more about our options will also us to make more specific, targeted requests for benefits at the bargaining table. The third one tackles the challenges of continuing our research careers while on short-time contracts.