COVID-19 UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 14, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 14, 2020

Message from the Association President

Dear Colleagues,

I hope that the first week of classes has gone well for you. I apologize for filling up your inboxes again so soon, but I have some positive news to share.

Furniture for Working from Home

A few months ago, I was made aware that it was not clear whether Pro-D funds could be used for the purchase of non-standard UVic furniture to be used at home. Since standard authorized UVic furniture can be quite expensive, this made it more difficult for faculty to be reimbursed for the purchase of ergonomically appropriate furniture (particularly desks and chairs) for working at home. This is an important issue, as most of us are working from home, and many are doing so in less than ergonomically ideal circumstances. I am pleased to let you know that the University will now authorize the purchase of non-standard furniture for use at home.

The relevant addition to UVic’s policy is as follows:

If an employee’s needs for furniture for their remote workspace are not met through standard UVic furniture, employees will discuss the request for an exemption with their leader. In accordance with section 11.00 BP3130-Furniture, Fittings, Finishes, and Artwork policy, non-standard furniture purchased for a remote workspace must stay in the remote workspace and must not be brought to campus. If you wish for any furniture to return to campus at a later date you must purchase standard UVic furniture. Facilities Management is not responsible for any maintenance associated with non-standard furniture.

Any purchase, moving, and maintenance costs associated with non-standard furniture are to be borne by the department. Certain Pro-D funds may also be used.

All furniture and equipment (including non-standard) are the property of the University. Upon retirement or termination of employment, standard furniture can be redeployed by the department or returned as surplus to Facilities Management. Non-standard assets acquired must be returned to Surplus Asset Management for disposal. The employee may purchase the assets at its current fair market value by contacting Purchasing Services.

Further information about the existing policy, including on moving furniture from UVic to home, can be found here.

If you have already purchased non-standard furniture for working from home and have not been reimbursed, you may wish to seek reimbursement now that UVic’s policy on this issue has been revised.

Op-Ed on Post-Secondary Funding

The Association has been meeting biweekly with other unions on campus, and occasionally with the leaders of all post-secondary unions on Vancouver Island, as we share common concerns at this difficult time. Members of many of these unions, including some members of the other unions at UVic, have been temporarily laid off. Our group has published an op-ed urging the provincial government to make further investments in the post-secondary sector to help Island communities recover from COVID-19. The op-ed was published on Friday in all of the Black Press papers across Vancouver Island and signed by almost all of the union leaders in the post-secondary sector on Vancouver Island. I would like to thank Association staff member Ben Johnson for all of his work on this important initiative.

Sexualized Violence Policy Survey

As some of you may be aware, the University is currently conducting a review of the Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Policy. This policy is included in our Collective Agreement and our involvement is required in any changes to the policy. We currently have an Association representative on the committee responsible for revising this policy.

The Association is committed to reducing the incidence of sexualized violence in our workplaces and the University more generally. We support members who come forward with complaints under this policy and represent members who have faced complaints under this policy. We therefore support efforts to improve the current Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Policy. I strongly encourage you to take part in the survey that is seeking input on ways to improve the current policy. It will take 10-15 minutes of your time, and you can skip any questions you don’t want to answer.  The survey can be found here. Thanks for considering participating in this important process.

Caregiving Issues

I am aware that many of you with younger children, and or with other caregiving responsibilities, find this time to be particularly stressful, as we can’t know whether there will be disruptions in school or childcare over the fall term. Even while schools and childcare centres remain open, children are required to stay at home for even minor illnesses. In this context, I would like to remind you that the University and the Association have agreed to the following policy on family accommodation, found here. While the Association is advocating that the Administration improve this policy, particularly with regard to the issue of owing courses if classes are cancelled, I encourage you to ensure that you are familiar with the policy. If you require accommodation, you should speak with your Chair, and of course, the Association is always here to advocate on your behalf.

I am pleased to let you know that Elena Pnevmonidou, an Association member in Germanic and Slavic Studies, has organized a Humanities Community Forum for Faculty and Instructors with Children. She has set up a Slack page for this group, through which they can provide mutual support, brainstorm coping strategies for parents, and propose support strategies that the University could implement. This is a grassroots initiative, not an Association initiative, and is open to both faculty and sessional lecturers in Humanities. If any Association members are interested in setting up a similar group in their faculty, Elena would be pleased to provide advice. She can be reached at epnev@uvic.ca.

Ongoing Issues

The Association is awaiting a response from the Administration regarding our request that CES scores not be used for evaluation this term. We are also awaiting a response to our request regarding funding for costs incurred by members who upgraded their home internet to ensure that it is adequate to the demands of online teaching.

Workshop for Early in Career Faculty

The Association is planning a workshop for Early in Career Faculty. We will discuss strategies that will help you to achieve reappointment, tenure and promotion, or continuing status and promotion, as well as answering other questions you may have as an early in career faculty member, particularly in this time of COVID. In addition to a panel presentation and general discussion, we will have breakout rooms for separate discussions for research stream faculty, teaching stream faculty and for those faculty who have just been hired at UVic. This workshop will be October 2nd from 2-3:30 pm. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to Penny Murray at adminfa@uvic.ca.

Just a reminder that if you have any concerns about online teaching, health and safety issues or other COVID-19 issues, or any other workplace concerns, you can always contact me or our membership services officers:

Reuben Kellen – msofa@uvic.ca

Ben Johnson – rcafa@uvic.ca

All the best for the coming term,

Lynne Marks

President

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