Vick Karunakaran
Biz/Tech Reporter

The college faculty union is gearing up for negotiations with the province this year for a new contract that could impact everyone at Humber.

Audrey Taves, an elected member of Community Colleges of Arts and Technology Academic (CAAT Academic), a division of  Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), was elected to the bargaining team made up of members from various college locals across the province.

This is the first time Humber has had a member on the team, which represents teachers, librarians and counsellors at Ontario’s 24 colleges.

Chief steward of Humber’s Local 562 and elected steward of the School of Health and Sciences, Taves said she looks forward to representing faculty on the team.

The bargaining team represents more than 7,000 full-time faculty and about 3,000 partial-load province-wide, Taves said. Humber has 595 full-time and 625 partial-load members, she added.

“The faculty union plays a very important role for the teachers,” said Timothy Brilhante, Humber Students’ Federation president at Humber’s North campus.

A province-wide survey by the bargaining team asked faculty members to air their concerns and set priorities as the union prepares for the first round of meetings this month.

Academic freedom was one of the major issues that emerged from the survey, said Taves.

Academic freedom encompasses decision making over academic issues such as curriculum, classroom teaching, selection of course materials, teaching style, student evaluation and grading, type of delivery (classroom, on-line, lab), as well as ownership of academic property, and input into how the college system works, said Taves.

Teachers know students more than do the people above them, said Humber student Lee-Ann Campbell.

“I think they know what’s better than…whoever makes the rules,” she said.

Humber should consider all available options and faculty should have a say when planning courses, Brilhante said.

Other priorities for the bargaining team include salaries, job security for partial-load faculty and issues involving harassment and bullying, said Taves. She stressed the importance of addressing the harassment faculty members face from peers and managers.

“People need to acknowledge that it does exist,” she said.

“I find Humber to be an inclusive place,” Brilhante said.

The HSF president went on to say when disagreements lead to a strike, it hurts students and nobody wants to see that happen.

The management and faculty have to work together, said Campbell. If they don’t work it out, “it screws over everybody in the process… even them,” the cosmetic management student said.

Campbell said both sides should include students’ input.

“Our agreement is, I think, the most important,” she said. “We’re the one’s that are learning.”

The college and the faculty bargaining teams are set to meet between June 2 and Aug. 31, when the current agreement expires. During this stage, the two teams will try and come to an agreement, said Taves.