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