17 April, 2020

Full-time SWF Update


Hello Local 237 Members

I hope that you and your family are well. This week the landscape around you continued to shift and change. By now you have heard from your Chair or read on the College’s COVID-19 information page that

"The grades submission deadline for the winter semester has been extended to May 8".

You also received an communication from Human Resource on April 8, 2020 confirming that all faculty must be back on deck by August 9, 2020, unless there was an exceptional circumstance such as a wedding or  a cottage rental. This means that by June 5, 202 most faculty will be on vacation if they have 43 days.

Before you go on vacation I also want to remind you to book your 10 PD days. You can do this through a Zoom or email discussion with your Chair/supervisor. Please note that PD agreement “shall not be unreasonably withheld” (Article 11.01 H3). PD is not assigned to you. Faculty need to initiate the discussion with the Chair/supervisor. Give the current situation my bet is that PD will be an opportunity to learn a new skill remotely or a time to read a book that will benefit you professionally.

PD days can be arranged before or after your vacation. And at least 5 of the PD days can be on “consecutive working days” (Article 11.01 H2 on p. 16).

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your steward or me. You will also find some answers under the FAQs for full-time members at www.local237.ca

I am going to close my comments in the hope that you will take some time to read and consider the reflections written by Jeff Brown the Chief Steward at George Brown College.  Jeff's entire message is appended to the end of my message, below.

Jeff has captured exactly why our SWFs are crucial at this time of crisis.

"When things are smooth and easy, our principles and the principles of management are not truly tested.  We don't need Collective Agreement provisions the most when things are easy (don't get me wrong, we need them): We need them the most when things get difficult. We need them now. Now more than ever".


In Solidarity,

Lana-Lee Hardacre

OPSEU Local 237 President

Appended Document:  In full from Jeff Brown, Chief Steward, George Brown College


COVID-19 Shutdown Reflection on SWFs: Supporting Faculty Supporting Students

 By Jeff Brown Chief Steward, George Brown College

If you are full-time teaching faculty, you should be receiving your Standard Workload Form (SWF) for the Spring semester this week.  This is a bit late, but of course we all understand that these are extraordinary circumstances, and we’re all doing our best to make things work.  ‘Making things work’, for faculty, involves a substantive re-imagining of their courses and an exhaustive effort to revise these courses for an online platform.  Unfortunately, the College has indicated that it will not formally acknowledge this exhaustive effort on faculty SWFs.

 Some of us might take our SWF for granted, or perhaps we think of it as a bit of paperwork to be processed each semester.  But in fact the SWF is at the core of the employee-employer relationship.  It stands as a pact between the college and faculty.  It is the sole means for acknowledging the work we do, are expected to do, and indeed want to do.  As such, it is the backbone of the faculty-college relationship, and it’s what supports faculty in their vocation of supporting students. Indeed, while ‘SWF’ stands for Standard Workload Form, it also serves as a Student Well-being Foundation.  But it only serves as that to the extent that it ensures fair treatment and acknowledgement of the work put in by faculty. 

 Yes, we are committed to our students.  No, it is not right for the college to exploit that commitment.

 Quite simply, the unprecedented work we are doing during the COVID-19 crisis must be recognized by the College. The only formal mechanism we have for that is the SWF.  When the COVID-19 situation shut down the college, we all went into crisis management mode to find a way to get our students through the Winter semester.  We didn’t ask what was in it for us: we just did it.  You know how much work you have put in and will have to put in to continue supporting our students.  The course you will be designing and teaching in the Spring semester will not be the course you have taught before.  We are in uncharted territory and giving it our all.  The least the College can do is acknowledge this work. There is nothing selfish in asking for this, nor is there any legitimate reason for the College to refuse.  Frankly, there has never been a more obvious opportunity for a gesture of goodwill on the part of College management. 

 Beyond the immediate (and admittedly emotional) issue of the college appreciating the work faculty is doing under extraordinary stress, there is also an incredibly important principle at stake here.  The SWF – a written agreement documenting the work that is expected of faculty – is a central element of our Collective Agreement. It must be defended.  Yes, this is a difficult time.  That’s the point: Collective Agreements ensuring the fair treatment of employees matter most in difficult times. We cannot send the message that when times get tough we will give up hard-won rights.  The reason we fought for these rights is precisely so that they can serve as a framework to guide employer conduct in difficult times.  We owe it to ourselves to defend these rights, and we owe it our non-unionized faculty colleagues to defend the protections they aspire to.  If we allow these protections to be eroded now, we are betraying the principles of fairness and equality underlying them.  And we must remember that faculty working conditions are student learning conditions: taking this stand means standing up for our students.

 When things are smooth and easy, our principles and the principles of management are not truly tested.  We don’t need Collective Agreement provisions the most when things are easy (don’t get me wrong, we need them): we do need them the most when things get difficult.  We need them now. “Now more than ever.”

 This is why you should be requesting that your assigned course(s) be recognized with a “New” preparation factor on your Spring semester SWF.  It’s why you should refer your SWF to the Workload Monitoring Group (WMG) if the SWF you are issued does not recognize your preparation factor as “New.”  If you do not believe that the NEW preparation factor adequately reflects the amount of work required, then you should also ask for time at the top of the SWF under the 'additional attributed hours for preparation' column on the top portion of the SWF.  If any of this sounds daunting or if you have questions, that’s exactly what your faculty union Local is here for.  The Local is faculty for faculty.  Contact letterbox237@gmail.com or get in touch with your Local steward.  

 You’ve heard it so often by now that it might sound like a cliché, but it’s true: we’re all in this together.  And that’s the definition of a union. "

End of Appended document