MENU

KFacts FAQ: When Should I ask for KFA Representation?

By Mark Diotte, Member-at-Large

It happens. All of us, from time to time, are called into our Dean or Supervisor’s Office. Sometimes, the subject of discussion is something positive—an opportunity that we might take advantage of, upcoming regularization, or a congratulatory word about a recent achievement. At other times, these conversations involve topics that are not often publically spoken about at KPU—student complaints, complaints regarding colleagues, grading practices, or conduct issues.  

No matter the reason, when you are called to a meeting with your Dean or Supervisor, it is important to know your rights, and when you should ask for KFA representation.

 

1.       Q.   What is KFA Representation and what does it mean?

A.    As per Article 3.01, the KFA is the “exclusive bargaining agent for all Instructors, Counsellors and Librarians employed by the University, including Continuing and Professional Studies Faculty.” This article means that the Union is your legal representative in the employment relationship between you and KPU. The KFA is committed to protecting the rights of all faculty members under the KPU-KFA Collective Agreement.

You are always entitled to KFA representation.

2.       Q.   Can my Dean or Supervisor require me to meet with them?

A.   Yes, your Dean or Supervisor has the right to require that you meet with them, but in all meetings with the Employer, you are entitled to KFA representation.

3.       Q.   What should I do if I am called to a meeting with my Dean or Supervisor?

A.   Before you attend any meeting with the Employer, you have the right to know the subject of the meeting. If your Dean or Supervisor does not provide a reason for the meeting, you should request one in writing (e.g. email). You should also contact the KFA for advice and representation.

4.       Q.   Should I bring KFA representation to my meeting with my Dean or Supervisor?

A.   If the subject of the meeting involves or could possibly lead to discussion regarding complaints, discipline, conduct, or any performance-related issues, then you should immediately notify the KFA and inform the Employer that you wish to have representation present.

5.       Q.   My Dean or Supervisor told me that KFA representation is not necessary, but that they can “be present if I want.” I have been told this is just a “friendly conversation.” What should I do?

A.   Contact the KFA for advice. In many cases, conversations with a Dean or Supervisor may start out as well-intentioned but end up moving into conduct or complaint territory.

6.       Q.   Is it adversarial to bring KFA representation to a meeting? Will I be labelled a “trouble-maker?”

A.   No. Bringing KFA representation to a meeting is “business as usual” in the world of labour relations. Often, the KFA representative just sits silently beside you and takes notes.

7.       Q.   I am in a friendly meeting with my Dean or Supervisor and the conversation has taken a turn toward performance, conduct, or complaint issues. What should I do?

A.   You should immediately stop the conversation and explain that you are uncomfortable continuing without KFA representation. You should then ask to have the meeting rescheduled so that you can have a KFA representative present. You should then leave the meeting and contact the KFA.

8.       Q.   My Dean or Supervisor has asked me what happened in one of my classes. What should I do?

A.   Keep your answers general; if the questions persist, stop the conversation and explain that you are uncomfortable continuing the conversation without KFA advice. Then, contact us. You cannot be required to answer questions about a specific incident, and you do not have to incriminate yourself. Your KFA representation will advise you on how to proceed.

9.       Q.   I am being called as a witness to an incident or to provide context to an event. What should I do?

A.   Seek KFA advice. You may find yourself in a situation where you are asked questions about a situation and then the conversation moves into discipline, complaint, or conduct issues.

10.   Q.   Can I bring a lawyer to my meeting with the Employer?

A.    A member is of course free to hire their own lawyer at their own expense, but that lawyer has no legal standing or jurisdiction in the employment relationship. The phrase “exclusive bargaining agent” means that the union is the legal representative in the employment relationship, and the KFA can provide legal advice through the FPSE (Federation of Post-Secondary Educators) if needed.

11.   Q.   I am involved in or witness to matters that may be criminal in nature, but do not represent an immediate danger or threat. What should I do?

A.   Immediately contact the KFA. The KFA will arrange to have FPSE legal counsel available to consult on the matter.

12.   Q.   My Dean or Supervisor wants to regularize me, should I have KFA representation?

A.   Not necessarily, but listen carefully to the conversation and follow it up with an email that represents your understanding of what occurred. If issues arise in the future, contact the KFA.

13.   Q. I have a good relationship with my Dean or Supervisor, and they have an “open door” policy. Can I drop by and chat without KFA representation?

A.   Yes, of course! Most of the time, the faculty relationship with Deans or Supervisors is a positive one. Just be mindful of situations where conversations may lead to more serious subject matter such as conduct, performance, or complaint issues.

 

Generally speaking, it is always good practice to ask the KFA for advice if you are being called into a meeting with your Dean or Supervisor. Further, it is wise to document all meetings with the Employer by taking notes during and/or afterwards. If you are having any doubts or feelings of uncertainty about a meeting, we strongly recommend that you summarize your meeting in an email to the person or people you met with to confirm your understanding about what was said and agreed upon. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and future uncertainty. 

For more information, please see Article 23 Discrimination and Harassment in the KPU-KFA Collective Agreement as well as the Guidelines for the Follow-up of Performance and/or Conduct Issues. KPU KPU Policy HR21 Respectful Workplace, and KPU Policy HR24 Protected Disclosure can be found on the KPU Policy page

If you need to contact the KFA for representation, please visit our Contact page or call 604-599-2200.

If you have any questions or comments about this topic, please contact me.

For recent news and updates, please visit our KFA members site at https://yourkfa.ca/

 

Current as of the 2014-2019 KPU-KFA Collective Agreement

KFacts: The KFA, Research, & Scholarly Activity. Part II: Protections & Other Provisions

By Mark Diotte, Member-at-Large

Aside from the Collective Agreement provisions on funding sources for research and scholarly activity discussed in Part I, the KFA has negotiated or advocated for provisions to protect faculty research and scholarly activity along with provisions to enhance the ability of members to apply for and access funding.

Article 12.18 Academic Freedom

One of the foundations of work at a university is academic freedom. Without academic freedom, scholars are susceptible to censorship, discipline, and precariousness of employment as a result of their work.

Not all post-secondary institutions in our sector have provisions on academic freedom. Yet, in arbitration cases, it is often academic freedom language that prevails in protecting the rights of academics to freely engage in, disseminate, and publish their research and scholarly activity.

Our provisions were bargained in the round leading to the 2010-12 Collective Agreement. The article, in part, reads:

Academic freedom is the freedom to examine, question, teach and learn and it involves the right  to  investigate,  speculate,  and  comment  without  regard  to  prescribed  doctrine. Academic freedom ensures the following:

a) Freedom in the conduct of teaching;

b) Freedom in undertaking research and making public the results thereof;

c) Freedom from institutional censorship

Certainly, this language has been tested and defended at KPU through our formal and informal grievance processes, and this provision has offered much needed protections to KFA members who sought to make their ideas public.

Academic Title

One concern brought to the KFA by members concerns the difficulty in requesting funding from external sources without the ability to use traditional academic titles such as Professor, Associate Professor, and Assistant Professor.

To address this concern, the parties agreed to LOU#20 in the 2012-2014 Collective Agreement. This Letter of Understanding created a joint committee on the issue of academic title. The committee, consisting of Bob Davis, KFA President; Jane Fee, Vice-Provost, Students; Jeffery Shantz, KFA Social Science Representative; and Diane Salter, Vice Provost, Teaching & Learning, recommended that:

1.       The Office of Research and Scholarship actively seek to open access with granting bodies to provide Instructor options, such as listings on drop down menus for applications and that the term Instructor be viewed by the funding bodies without prejudice, with some understanding to funding bodies what the title means at KPU.  KPU administration should be prepared to write explanatory letters on behalf of faculty applications. 

2.       [F]aculty be allowed to identify themselves with alternative designations, such as J. Doe is a professor of History, on KPU business cards.

In the 2014-19 round of bargaining, these joint recommendations were brought by the KFA to the negotiating table as Union Proposal 3.3, but the Employer ultimately declined to accept the proposal.

Article 12.17 Scholarly Activity

Another key protective provision in the Collective Agreement is Article 12.17 which was negotiated in the 2007-10 Collective Agreement to recognize “that research and scholarly activity have always been an integral component of faculty work at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.” The significance of this statement is the formal recognition that research and scholarly activity are an essential part of faculty work at KPU under the agreement.

While the provision recognizes that research and scholarly activity are a component of faculty member work, it also protects faculty workload from becoming exploited or unmanageable due to any formal expectations for research or scholarly activity beyond a 100% assigned workload. The essential line here is that “nothing in this provision shall be construed as increasing a faculty member’s assigned workload.” In other words, the Employer may not force faculty members into untenable workload situations by requiring scholarly activity or research that increases a faculty member’s assigned workload beyond what they are compensated for. In contrast, some institutions in our local sector are required to perform research despite not being given the time to do so—the members of these locals may end up overworked and/or using their vacation time to perform the research duties expected of them.

Other Connections

  • Aside from the three pools of negotiated funding mentioned in Part I, each faculty member is able to spend $100 each year as per Article 16.04 Personal Professional Development Funds. These funds are for scholarly activities and professional development resources such as books, journal subscriptions, computer software, and membership fees in professional organizations. This fund was established as of the 2001-04 Collective Agreement.
  • In 2015, a concern was brought to the KFA that there was some uncertainty about whether or not time release could be funded through grants centrally administered through the Office of Research and Scholarship. As a result of KFA discussions with the Employer, then Provost and VP, Academic Sal Ferreras signed a memorandum to the KFA that “confirm[ed] that the perspective of KPU is that to support their scholarly endeavors, faculty may apply for time release as a component of these internal grants. Approval for time release shall be given reasonable consideration.”
  • Finally, in 2018, the KFA began advocating for members who were teaching ARTS 3991, 3992, and 3993  research supervision courses without receiving any form of compensation—despite these courses being credit & tuition bearing courses and requiring instructional responsibility for assessments and learning outcomes. In this matter, the KFA was consistently explicit: research is important to our faculty members, but faculty member workload must be fair and faculty member work must be compensated. The end result of the grievance process arising out of this situation is that all faculty members who delivered these courses in the past will be compensated for their work on a per-credit basis for the courses delivered. Furthermore, the KFA is advocating for the continuance of these courses and has reached a tentative agreement with the Employer for working conditions that will allow these courses to continue to be offered.

Professional Development, research and scholarly activity are embedded throughout the provisions of the Collective Agreement, and the KFA has been successful in representing the desire of members for access to stable funding sources such as Article 16.05 Faculty Professional Development Fund, Article 14 Educational Leave, and Article 16.01 Professional Development. Similarly, the KFA has been successful in negotiating language that goes beyond opportunities for funding to protect the research and scholarship that is thus produced by our members.

If you have any questions or comments about this topic, please contact me.

For recent news and updates, please visit our KFA members site at https://yourkfa.ca/

 

Current as of the 2014-2019 KPU-KFA Collective Agreement

KFacts: The KFA, Research, & Scholarly Activity. Part I: Funding

By Mark Diotte, Member-at-Large

One of the questions often brought to the Kwantlen Faculty Association office is, “what is the KFA position on research and scholarly activity?” The response is clear: the KFA supports faculty member research and fair compensation for this work according to the Collective Agreement.

The work of the Faculty Association has led to numerous supports and protections for faculty member research and scholarly activity in our Collective Agreement. Some of the most significant forms of support are the stable funding sources of Article 16.05 Faculty Professional Development Fund, Article 14 Educational Leave, and Article 16.01 Professional Development.  

Article 16.05 the Faculty Professional Development Fund

Based on information from 2016-present, approximately $350 000 to $400 000 is available each year to fund the Faculty Professional Development Fund. The fund, also known as the “.6 fund,” is “set at point six of one percent (.6%) of regular and non-regular faculty salary for the institution based on the nominal roll as of January 1 of the previous fiscal year.”

All faculty members are eligible to apply for this funding, with applications accepted 3 times per year: February 1, June 1, and October 1. The online application and further information can be found at https://www.kpu.ca/research/internal-funding-opportunities/06-faculty-pd-fund as well as in Article 16.05 of the Collective Agreement.

The Faculty Professional Development Fund (the “.6 fund”) was successfully negotiated in the 2004-2007 round of bargaining as Letter of Understanding #12 and brought into the main body of the agreement in the 2010-2012 Collective Agreement.

Since 2004, the purpose of this fund has been to maintain and develop “faculty members’ professional competence and effectiveness” while assisting faculty to “remain current and active in their discipline and program.” One of the explicit examples provided in the agreement is “[l] leave from teaching for Research and/or Scholarship.” In other words, scholarly activity and research are included under the umbrella of professional development insofar as they help faculty remain current and active in their area.

It is important to note that this funding was negotiated through collective bargaining and “costed” against the agreement during that round. Thus, this money did not come out of the existing KPU university budget per se, but was negotiated by the KFA bargaining team on behalf of faculty members out of the total money available for collective bargaining.

The main benefit to having the Faculty Professional Development Fund in the Collective Agreement is stability. For example, in 2019, former Provost Dr. Sal Ferreras issued a memo that stated, in part, “I am informing you that at the present time we cannot commit any funding to support any new research projects that entail any level of matching funds, release time and any other contribution commitments from KPU until the end of this fiscal year, March 31, 2019.” In contrast to the university financial position at the time, the .6 fund was untouched as a negotiated pool of money for faculty member professional development because it is protected within our Collective Agreement. Over the years, the KFA has put forward a number of proposals to increase the .6% to a higher percentage in order to reflect the changing costs of professional development and scholarly activity, yet there has been little appetite to increase this funding on the part of the Employer.

Article 14 Education Leave

Similar to the .6 fund, Education Leave at KPU is a crucial provision of the Collective Agreement for supporting faculty member research and scholarly activity. The fund allocates “an amount equal to 1.6% of the regular and non-regular type 2 faculty members’ salary budget…to pay the cost of replacing faculty members on educational leave.”

While the total value of the Education Leave fund varies, there were a total of 13 Ed Leaves awarded in the 2018-19 Academic Year. According to KPU administration, sixty-eight leaves have been awarded since 2014 for a total of 113 semesters of leave for faculty members during this period.[1] The value of this fund is easily several hundred thousand dollars each year.

All regular faculty members are eligible to apply as per the guidelines set out in Article 14 of the Collective Agreement and on the HR Sharepoint site: https://our.kpu.ca/sites/hr/training/FacultyEdLeave/SitePages/Home.aspx

Education Leave has been part of the agreement as far back as the 1988-1991 Collective Agreement. As with all benefits and improvements to collective agreements, it was also costed against the agreement at establishment—meaning that it would have been a priority of our membership that was funded out of the total money available for collective bargaining.

In the bargaining round leading to the 1998-2001 Collective Agreement, the parties agreed to include “research and/or publication of research (through electronic, print or media)” under the list of activities that Educational Leave may be used for. With that small change, research joined other scholarly and professional development activities as a protected provision under Educational Leave in the Collective Agreement.

Article 16.01 Professional Development Committee Funds

The fund, available to all faculty members, provides $700.00 for each full-time equivalent member with unused monies carried over to the subsequent year. In some areas, the use and pooling of funds results in the ability to access significantly more than $700.00 per member for activities such as travel to international conferences. Further information can be found in Article 16.01 of the Collective Agreement and under the yourkfa.ca “Resources” heading.

As with Educational Leave, the funding available to Professional Development Committees has been part of professional development funding through the Collective Agreement as far back as the 1988-91 agreement.

As per Article 16.01 if the current Collective Agreement:

Each Professional Development Committee has the responsibility of promoting, within the group, activities to enhance the academic, technical, and educational standards of the programs/disciplines…

          […]  

In addition, each Committee has the responsibility of drawing up guidelines for the disbursement of professional development funds and receiving from the faculty members’, applications for the use of such funds. These guidelines shall include that the proposed activity will be of benefit to the faculty member and the Employer.

This wording has remained unchanged since 1988 and clearly indicates that this funding is controlled by the PD groupings through their PD committee. These committees have significant autonomy, and they fund requests ranging from books and software to a wide range of research and scholarly activities depending on the terms developed by the individual committee.  

In the bargaining round leading to the 2014-19 Collective Agreement, two increases were negotiated to PD committee funding: from $550 to $625 as of January 1, 2017, and to $700 as of January 1, 2019.

 

As mentioned in my introductory statement, these three funding sources—of Article 16.05 Faculty Professional Development Fund, Article 14 Educational Leave, and Article 16.01 Professional Development­—represent a significant pool of stable, protected, and negotiated funding for professional development, research, and scholarly activity at KPU. In total, these three funds likely approximate more than a million total dollars per year that have been negotiated for faculty members by the KFA.

Part II of this article will focus on the work that the KFA has done to protect faculty member research and scholarly activity on one hand while making funding sources more accessible on the other.

If you have any questions or comments about this topic, please contact me.

For recent news and updates, please visit our KFA members site at https://yourkfa.ca/

Current as of the 2014-2019 KPU-KFA Collective Agreement

 

[1] Some faculty members have a one-semester leave; some members have a two-semester leave.