This is the second and final report on the two-day conference, Oct. 28-29, 2011, held at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa and organized by CAUT. Approximately 80-90 librarians from across Canada participated in this event.
The first day, as reported earlier on this blog created the context, the historical background for professionals attaining rights in the workplace in NA and Canada. The second day was focused on what constitutes a grievance, the formal stages of a grievance and the legal components. Many participants were grievance officers at their institutes and were able to share their experiences on the stages of a grievance. CAUT gave advice on how to prioritize and determine the ways in which one can choose to settle a grievance. If a grievance had an important impact on the larger community, for example, it was suggested that it should be pursued.
It was also pointed out that the academic community had the rights ensured by the Canadian Human Rights Act, the amended Occupational Health & Safety Act, Bill 168 (which addresses illness caused by stress and management’s inability to deal with workplace concerns and harassment and violence in the workplace), and most importantly, the collective agreements (for UT see the MoA and Librarians Policy) between the faculty association and the university administration. It is time that the librarians at the University of Toronto have a close look at the 40-year old policy we currently have in place. Does it have the same coverage other librarians and faculty have at other institutions? Is it fair, unbiased and protective of the individuals who are grieving?
One last point, which is important to share with the community. CAUT and labour law considers it the responsibility of the employer, administration, to resolve workplace issues, first and foremost, for they have a legal duty to resolve workplace disputes (Health and Safety Act). If this is not accomplished, then institutions’ faculty associations are approached. The most common themes associated with academic librarians and grievances (according to the recent survey by Douglas Vaisey) are lack of collegiality, academic freedom and workload.