New Agreement by Article

2019-2022 SFUFA-SFU Collective Agreement: articles amended

Definitions — added definition of “Department”

Article 1 (University-Association Relations) — replace “Clinical and Professional Practice Faculty” with “Practitioner Faculty”; eliminate “Associate University Librarian” as title is now “Associate Dean”

Article 11 (Entry into Force and Duration) — update effective date of the Agreement, July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2022

Article 15 (Health and Safety) — information on workplace injuries will now be shared with the Association

We have seen instances in which members are injured at work and the Association is not informed, sometimes until months later. Having this information provided early will allow us to reach out proactively to see what kinds of assistance we might provide.

Article 16 (Human Rights) — training materials related to harassment and discrimination will be provided to the Association for consultation prior to use

 Article 17 (Integrity in Research) — includes reference to timelines in investigative processes

SFU is bound by timelines for disciplinary investigations. Scholarly integrity complaints, however, often include third parties and third-party organizations. This simply clarifies that those processes have their own timelines.

Article 21 (Dispute Resolution) — grievances will be submitted directly to Faculty Relations with a copy to the Dean rather than the other way around; this is existing practice

Article 22 (Discipline) — allow up to 15 days before complaint process must be initiated; ensure that extraordinary suspensions are to be used only in particular circumstances

A provision in our Agreement allows the President to impose a paid suspension pending the results of an investigation. This has not been mis-used at SFU, but has been at other institutions. We have added language to clarify that these measures ought be used only when there is a real threat of harm.

Article 23 (Continuing Academic Appointments) — required advertising period adjusted; requirement for proactive EDI consideration in searches; EDI training required; rationale required where shortlist does not include any members of designated groups; appointments will normally begin at least 6 weeks prior to start of a new semester

Search processes will now require proactive attempts to solicit applications from groups designated as “equity-seeking” under human rights legislation. Hiring committees will also be required to undergo EDI training, and to provide an explanation if no members of designated groups are shortlisted for interviews.

We have also seen a few instances in which new faculty members begin their appointments only days before a semester begins, and are assigned teaching duties in that first semester. We have introduced language to the effect that new hires ought to have a minimum of six weeks to adjust before the start of a semester.

Article 24 (Joint Appointments) — members with joint appointments are to receive reports from both departments in biennial review

Members who are cross-appointed have received only a written review from their primary department, though assessments are done by both units and both impact the review. These members will now have access to the reports from both units in which they work.

Article 27 (Research Faculty Workload) — language amended to discourage overly-simplistic understanding of TTR balance and to ensure greater flexibility for how workload is assigned/ measured over a given cycle; some re-wording of how teaching equivalencies are established

Over the past several years, there have been numerous issues with how balance in teaching and research semesters is counted. New language throughout this Article is intended to make it more clear that there is flexibility in how work cycles are organized, and the intention is not to produce an overly-simplistic accounting procedure but to ensure substantive equity.

Article 28 (University Criteria for Appointment, Tenure and Promotion) — amended language on categories for evaluation; significant new language regarding assessment of teaching and role of student surveys; replace “non-traditional scholarship” with “diverse forms of scholarship”

Teaching assessment and the role of student evaluations are significantly re-thought here, with this language influenced by recent information on the discriminatory impacts of student evaluation and the recommendations of SFU’s Teaching Assessment Working Group. Teaching assessment is not to be based on student surveys, but on other methods, and the primary evidence will be the teaching dossier. Student survey data is to be used only to assess the faculty member’s engagement with student feedback. Student comments are not distributed to TPCs, but only to members, Chairs and Deans – the inclusion of comments in review processes will be at the discretion of the faculty member.

Article 29 (Establishment of Tenure and Promotion and Faculty Review Committees) — Altered dates so TPCs are formed April 15; external members allowed on TPCs but no longer required; more flexible TPC composition; training for EDI

TPCs are to be formed two weeks earlier. They must still include members of various ranks, but there is greater flexibility in composition.

Article 30 (Contract Renewal, Tenure and Promotion) — added ‘normally’ for tenure and promotion timeline; mandatory meeting between Chair and candidates for tenure one year in advance; easier provision for delay of tenure consideration where recommended to maximize chances of success; notice of application for promotion to Professor due April 1 rather than May 1

Timelines for promotion and tenure are moved up. Chairs will also be required to meet with pre-tenure faculty a year in advance of the tenure review to address any concerns and discuss the process. Where there are questions about the likelihood of a successful application, options for delay of one year are expanded.

Article 31 (Contract Renewal, Tenure and Promotion: Documentation and Referees) — dates have been moved up two weeks; extra referees nominated when there is difficulty finding referees

Here again, dates have been adjusted. There has also been increased difficulty getting timely external reviews; provision is made to allow more reviewers to be nominated when challenges are anticipated.

Article 33 (Biennial Reviews and Step Awards) — evaluation in biennial review to be consistent with TPC criteria for tenure and promotion; change from scale of 0-2 to 0-2.5 with 1.5 as the departmental average; clarification of review processes for Chairs and Directors to minimize potential conflicts of interest

For many years the current biennial review system has created difficulty for TPCs, Chairs, and Directors, and caused tension within units. At the same time, we have heard from many Departments that a 2.0 step-award does not adequately recognize some of the extraordinary achievements accomplished by some faculty members during their biennial review cycle. We have made significant changes to the biennial review system.

The scale will now range from 0-2.5 step awards with 1.5 set as the departmental average.

We hope that allowing departments to award the average will eliminate many of the tensions caused in the previous system and reduce the number of appeals necessary.

We have specified that the evaluation for biennial review be consistent with the TPC criteria for tenure and promotion as we have seen a number of instances in the past where there is a disconnect between the TPC report on biennial review and the tenure and promotion criteria.

Article 35 (Teaching Faculty) — probationary period more aligned with other faculty and with standard review cycles; promotion timeline aligned with other faculty; lecturer appointments to normally be at least 50% of full-time

We have negotiated language to recognize that lecturer contracts should be at 50% or greater. There may be exceptions in particular cases, but where these exist the unit is required to inform the Association and articulate the rationale for the exception.

Timelines for promotion have been changed – we have harmonized promotion timelines to reduce confusion and to help reduce workload on TPCs, who now will only need to manage one promotion review cycle per year. Provisions for probationary terms have also been adjusted to better match other faculty and sync with normal review cycles.

Article 36 (Library and Archivist Faculty) — changed description of responsibilities; recognition of research activity and recognition that such activity is optional; provision for research as part of workload assignment; language on equity and search and appointment processes; adjustment of referee processes; new language in vacations for term librarians

We have included language that will allow individual librarians and their immediate supervisors to include research language in workload without making research activities compulsory. In addition, language is added to address EDI training, and changes are made to the process of referee selection for promotion. Promotion processes have also been further clarified.

Article 37 (Practitioner Faculty) — more flexible definition of Practitioner Faculty; elimination of Clinical and Professional Practice designations; demonstrated support of the unit required; provision for continuing appointments and constraints on limited terms; expanded probationary and performance review mechanisms; after 5 years, continuing appointments required or Association approval for exceptions; study leave for continuing Practitioner faculty; expanded voting rights; provisions for lay-off and severance pay

Practitioner Faculty (formerly Professors of Professional Practice/Clinical Professors) were a new rank in the last Collective Agreement. In the past few years, a number of limitations with the language became apparent, and we have endeavoured to remedy some of these. A new definition for this rank — Practitioner Faculty — will allow for more flexibility when units are wanting to hire someone into this category. We have included limitations on limited-terms and a mechanism to compel a position to be made continuing after five years. Limited-term positions longer than five years will be exceptional and require the approval of the Association.

We have made Study Leave available to continuing Practitioner Faculty, expanded voting rights, included provisions for lay-off and severance pay.

Article 42 (Salaries and Economic Benefits) — General wage increases of 2% on each of July 1, 2020 (retroactive), January 1, 2021, and July 1, 2021; adjustment of salary supplement roll-in to ensure that all salary dollars earn general wage increases; move step increases from a 0-2 scale to a 0-2.5 scale, with the average set at 1.5

The timing of salary increases releases a significant amount of money (over $5 million) to be paid toward the pension transition, allowing us to find other ways of funding the pension without reducing the general wage increases to something under the 2% / year mandate.

We have also eliminated the roll-in of Market Differentials upon promotion to terminal ranks.  The market differential component will now be subject to general wage increases (GWI) at all ranks.

Article 43 (Benefits) — provided for transition to the BC College Pension Plan

Most significant in the proposed Agreement is the provision to move from the existing, SFU-based defined contribution plan to the much larger jointly trusteed, defined-benefit plan of the BC College Pension Plan. The details of the BCCPP have been discussed at length over the last several years, but members who are newer to SFU, or those seeking a refresher, might look for further information at https://www.sfufa.ca/current-issues/pensions/resources/

In short, the pension transition would mean:

–       SFU would assume a slightly higher contribution rate, 10.4% of salary rather than the current 10%

–       Members would be required to contribute to their own pensions, at a rate of approximately 10% of salary

–       In return for the significantly higher overall contribution, members would no longer have retirement income held in an individual savings account, which is subject to significant market volatility; instead, contributions of all members are pooled and invested collectively, and members earn a predictable retirement income based on years of service. The costs are substantially higher in a defined-benefits plan, but so, too, are the benefits earned upon retirement, and those benefits are more stable, and more predictable

–       For any faculty members hired after 2001, entry into the BCCPP will mean they are eligible for a ten-fold increase in post-retirement benefit lifetime maximum (from $15,000 to $150,000)

 Transitioning in SFU’s multi-age cohort will generate future liabilities for the BCCPP that are larger than the usual case (i.e., when people join the plan as early career employees).  To be fair to existing BCCPP members, SFU’s entry to the Plan must be cost neutral, which generates additional transition costs up front. These transition costs, which were last estimated at 2.25 % of salary mass when amortized over 15 years, have been amortized instead over twenty years, and we have found mechanisms to pay all costs without reducing general wage increases. By deferring the effective date of General Wage Increases to create a down-payment and applying additional non-salary funds available from the provincial mandate, we have covered the vast majority of these costs.

Unknown risks or gains have been managed by a system of additional costs/ benefits. As defined-benefit pensions typically lead to lower retirement ages, we have developed a cost-savings mechanism based on retirement age. If there are additional savings beyond transition costs in a given year, these savings will be distributed as an increase to Professional Development Funds. If, in any given year, there is a short-fall, this would be paid by temporary levies on PDR and salary. This system allows for the flexibility to cover unforeseen costs at a much lower cost to members than a reduction in general wage increases.

We are hopeful that this transition will result in an earlier average retirement age and as a result, cover the transition costs with the possibility of increased professional development funds. The mechanisms above, however, ensure that we have tools in place to cover any eventuality.

Article 44 (Sick Leave and Long Term Disability) — adjusted how teaching and research semesters are counted;clarified workload plans for partial semesters; changed reference to “sabbatical” to “study leave” for consistency.

Previously, times on sick leave and other legislatively-supported leaves were removed from the TTR rotation, which caused a number of challenges. We changed this practice a couple of years ago by virtue of a letter of agreement, and have now updated the Agreement accordingly. Semesters on such leaves, whether full or partial, will not impact the coding.

Article 45 (Vacation) — improved language for short-term Librarians and Archivists

Short-term Librarian and Archivist vacation to be 4 weeks, pro-rated to term of appointment, and provision for monetary compensation if vacation cannot be taken.

Article 47 (Leaves of Absence) — revision to capture changes to legislation; including expanded provisions for parental leave; expansion of family and compassionate care leaves

Shortly before the expiry of the last Collective Agreement, the Federal Government announced sweeping reforms to parental and maternity leave, and introduced a number of new leaves as well as expanded family and compassionate care leaves. The new Agreement reflects those changes.