By Leanne Serbulo, VP for Collective Bargaining
We began constructing a solution to AP workload issues this session. Although, still in a conceptual stage, the teams are working on a Letter of Agreement, which defines reasonable workload expectations for academic professionals. The agreement also clarifies what it means to be a professional employee. Professionals should not need to keep an hour-by-hour accounting of their time and should enjoy some flexibility in scheduling how and when they complete their work. Issues around scheduling have come-up in a number of AP units. This language provides a clearer statement of what it means to be professional and should help guide managers who struggle with this concept.
The Letter of Agreement also states that APs should not be assigned an “unreasonable or excessive workload.” In order to enforce this language, we first needed to define what a reasonable workload looks like. Since AP positions are so diverse, we asserted that a “reasonable” workload standard should be 40 hours a week, which is our commonly held cultural understanding of what full-time employments means. The 40 hour work week is something that the labor movement fought for decades to achieve. Unionists died for this right.
Discussions about AP workload have taken so long, because the administration fundamentally disagreed with our assertion that full-time work means 40 hours a week. We spent hours going back and forth on this issue. Administration had some legitimate concerns about defining the work week in terms of hours, because exempt employee’s work often fluctuates, and the very nature of exempt employment means that one is salaried, rather than hourly. Finally, we agreed to use a 2080 hours annual standard (which is common in many collective bargaining agreements covering exempt employees). This is the yearly equivalent of a forty hour workweek.
The Letter of Agreement also creates a process that APs can use when they have experienced problems flexing their schedules or believe they have been assigned an unreasonable workload. The AP will first attempt to work things out with their supervisor. If there is no resolution, an ad-hoc committee which includes labor, management, the affected AP and the supervisor will be charged with negotiating a mutually, agreeable solution within 30 days. We are still hammering out the details of this part of the agreement.
This Letter of Agreement will be renegotiated when the AP class and compensation study is completed. The study may result in some APs becoming overtime-eligible, which could affect workload provisions. We encourage APs who experience workload issues or problems with flexing their schedule to come forward. The more we raise this issue, the more likely it will be that the workload language we’ve negotiated will become a permanent part of Article 17.