Volume 27, Issue 3
Janet Porter, Chief Steward
Understandably, professors who have program coordination responsibilities (PCs) like to be involved in selecting who teaches their program’s courses. We also appreciate that we have faculty in the bargaining unit who aim to become college administrators.
We have about 160 PCs who work incredibly hard for the students in their programs. Here is where we would like to draw the line. We want to dissuade the few PCs who are indeed having hiring conversations about terms and conditions of employment with teaching faculty, for their own protection.
Recruiting, staffing and performance activities must be handled within the context of the collective agreement that exists between the academic staff and college administration.
Only the college’s administration is trained by the college to have formal recruiting, staffing and performance conversations with faculty. Only the college administration has the sanctioned and official authority to engage with members of the academic bargaining unit on matters that relate to terms and conditions of employment such as public holiday pay, initial salary step calculations, how sick time is accumulated, parental leave, seniority, etc.
When the academic department manager, who is the hiring manager, delegates recruiting, staffing or performance activities to program coordinators, and these are performed by the PCs, this opens a world of problems.
Professors who have program coordination activities are peers to professors who teach, librarians and counsellors. We are all part of the same bar-gaining unit, and operate within the same collective agreement. By definition, members of the same bargaining unit do not have managerial or supervisory activities of other bargaining members. PCs are colleagues of other faculty, with responsibilities for collegial leadership pertaining to program coordination.
Our collective agreement is complicated. There is confusion and misunderstanding on many items: how priority to hire rights work, how parental leave works, and what happens when these two co-exist, for example. Academic managers are trained on this, and the Human Resources Services (HR) department is their resource on employment information.
By engaging in recruiting, staffing, and performance activities that are in the purview of the academic managers, the PC, lacking training and authority in employment matters, puts the organization and themselves at risk. Faculty who put themselves in positions of negotiating or confirming terms and conditions of employment to other faculty, in place of college-authorized hiring managers, can very quickly find themselves thrown under the bus by management and HR if mistaken or misleading advice becomes a legal issue for the college.
Ultimately, it’s in the PCs’ interest to direct hiring inquiries back to the actual hiring managers or to refer prospective teaching faculty to the faculty union office to get the union’s interpretation of terms and conditions of employment, in order to have a balanced view, before signing contracts. This respects the boundaries of the collective agreement, puts hiring workload in its proper spot, and supports the labour relationship among bargaining members as peers.