President’s update: April 2024

Here’s Yessenia’s report from the Area Representatives meeting on April 18:

Waterloo Staff Conference

Thank you to all the staff that stopped by during the Staff Conference last week, we had so much fun chatting with you all and just enjoying the experience all together.

We are currently planning more events and presentations to stay connected with you all so stay tuned for those details.

Lisa Habel, Gail Spencer, Yessenia Guerrero, Laura McDonald, and Carly Richardson in the impressive lobby of the Stratford CampusUpcoming events

We are touring the satellite campuses this term and our next stop is the School of Architecture! In case you are curious and would like to see photos, I do post them on my LinkedIn. We are also wanting to visit some departments on the main Waterloo campus, so if you think that would be useful for your department, please contact myself or my team and we’d be happy to come. Our presentations typically include an explanation of our services, the way we function, and our roles, and then we have a discussion portion at the end so departments have an opportunity to chat with us about whatever you want to talk about!

I also encourage you to check out our upcoming workshops:

(If you were unable to access the links before, please try again now: You can register for all these events on Portal.)

UWSA Member Survey and UW Engagement Survey

Our 2024 member survey has closed with a 42% response rate, and I want to thank all 758 people who participated.

Our survey results corroborate what we’re seeing from the UW Employee Engagement survey: There is significant dissatisfaction about pay, workload, and wellbeing among staff. We’ll be sharing results from the survey over the coming months.

The results of both surveys also support significant anecdotal evidence that we’re hearing about staff leaving the University for workplaces that prioritize autonomy and flexibility. These are evidence-backed ways of improving job satisfaction and effectiveness and we hope that the administration will work to ensure that employees are trusted and supported to do their work in the way that works best for them. We understand that not all roles can be entirely flexible, but it’s clear that there is a need for improvement on this front—and an opportunity to be creative about how our work is structured so that it better supports staff engagement and wellbeing.

Meeting with Jennifer Gillies, Associate Provost, Campus Support and Accessibility

UWSA met with Jennifer Gillies who is new in her role as Associate Provost, Campus Support and Accessibility. We met to understand how her portfolio will serve staff members and to find opportunities for collaboration. We were happy to see Jennifer’s passion for the role—she is clearly committed to fighting for the interests and rights of staff members, much like she has done in her previous role  for students. Jennifer was eager to receive any information or data that we as UWSA collect on behalf of staff, for example our newsletter poll on bullying in the workplace. To this end, we want to motivate our members to feel empowered to use their voice, relay concerns and participate in surveys and polls we send out. This is one way we can help nudge things in the right direction!

We also discussed possibly having Jennifer come to an Area Reps meeting so she can present her new portfolio to staff and take any questions. Stay tuned!

Salary discussions

The first thing to note is that the discussions are going beyond the typical timeline (January-March). Typically, by end of March or early April, an offer would be on the table for consideration, but we are still engaged in discussion. When these delays occur, it is often a positive sign for staff. The current PACSC members are invested in fighting for competitive wages, as well as other items that the Staff Compensation Strategy Committee forwarded last year.

Our focus is to obtain an agreement that can offset the rising costs on campus and in the economy in general.

Last-minute update: FAUW’s arbitrated salary settlement has just been announced. Read FAUW’s statement about the settlement and how they arrived at it.

T2200 Forms

Many staff have written in to ask us to inquire with HR if these forms are being issued or not this year. Our understanding is that UW will not be issuing these forms. We have been communicating with HR for over a month, asking for a memo to be sent out to all employees regarding UW’s position. Unfortunately, this has not happened yet. We hope that HR will take our suggestion to clarify the situation to employees.

Limited hiring program

Immediately following the announcement of this program, the PE (Lisa Habel) and I met with Vivek wherein we relayed staff concerns. We discussed workload capacity, mental health care for staff, staff consultation for any changes to job descriptions, the rising costs of services on campus, and trust of executive leadership.

These topics are not easy to discuss, but they are even harder to live through. We understand that staff are being put in a difficult position, and that this is a hard time for everyone. However, UWSA is on the alert at the appropriate committee levels, defending staff’s rights and advocating for what is in our best interest.

We also encourage you to continue submitting your questions to the Provost’s budget town hall next week.

Parking [updated April 19]

Parking Services has responded to some key concerns in their latest communication on April 19. Thank you to all the staff who sent your comments and suggestions; UWSA has been voicing these to Parking Services, and we’re glad to see many of them addressed in the updated implementation plan.

First, some things we’re trying to keep in mind:

  • We understand that these changes were developed in response to a strategic direction that Waterloo is pursuing toward a sustainable campus.
  • The cost of parking on campus has not increased for a long time, so the increase is also a response to the rising costs of infrastructure, services, and resources, which the University has absorbed until now.
  • Parking rates were compared with other universities, and the new rates are aligned with those at many other institutions.

In terms of UWSA’s role in this decision, we have one staff representative on the Parking Advisory Committee, but that committee is advisory. While the committee reviewed the plan and the evidence supporting it, and provided input, these changes were ultimately approved elsewhere. Our representatives on the Staff Relations Committee were given a presentation about the changes on March 19, the day before they were announced. In short: the changes were not brought directly to UWSA leadership for approval at any stage.

Even though these decisions were not in our purview, we are wholly invested in your staff experience and are reading all the feedback coming in and passing it on to Sustainable Transportation and University administrators as appropriate. Key concerns we’re hearing are about the time and process for finding an open spot, staff who work later in the day, and the shuttle schedule, and we've been assured many of the concerns will be addressed.

We will continue to monitor how these changes affect staff throughout the year so that it can be used at appropriate decision-making levels. For the time being, you are welcome to contact Sharon Rumpel directly with any questions or concerns.