Chief Steward’s report – April 2017

Volume 27, Issue 4
April 2017

Janet Porter, Chief Steward


It’s been upside down chaos here at the faculty union office this semester. We have been busy with the start of the bargaining cycle, the part-time faculty unionization drive, and the regular roster of faculty representation and contract monitoring activities.

We have a boatload of upcoming arbitration hearings this spring. We are tackling the managerialization of the program coordinator role, inaccurate workload reports, and research and supervision responsibilities, tacked onto job postings that are not in our collective agreement.

Despite all this engaging hub-bub, I will be leaving Humber at the end of June, taking early retirement. As I clean my desk, I’m acknowledging some truly wonderful experiences. The campuses are alive. I have always loved seeing our student chefs in their outfits; encountering student paramedics manoeuvring dummy patients on stretchers down stairwells; or seeing student journalists, photographers, and videographers troll the halls and grounds for stories and images. I will miss the walk between the two sides of the Lakeshore campus – biting wind in the winter, dodging geese in the spring, and avoiding garter snakes in the summer. Until at least early February, people say Happy New Year, if they haven’t seen you yet in the new semester. People say “Hello” or “Good Morning” or smile and hold doors open here. Awesome.

In the eleven or so years that I have worked at Humber, the last four have been spent in some way doing faculty union work. Talking to faculty and helping them to understand and navigate our workplace have been huge and unforgettable sources of work satisfaction for me. We can’t always get you what you want or need, but we do try. If a broader view of how the college works is important to you, working as a steward is one way to go. We connect with faculty through birth, marriage, death, illness, student complaints, workload issues, and, of course, parking.

The best part of doing faculty union work is connecting with faculty directly and helping stewards support faculty. We help each other advocate for our rights under the umbrella of collective bargaining. Our collective agreement is not straightforward; it takes a village of talented people with diverse skills, and the occasional shouting match. If you think faculty should be taking care of each other and assisting in navigating the workplace, working in the faculty union may be right for you.

So, at a minimum, I encourage you to learn and advocate for your terms and conditions of employment, support your colleagues in the bargaining unit, and, above all, continue your fantastic and unique contributions to the Humber community.