Time to Put a Bow on Fall 2020

Hello UWSA members!

The holiday break is just around the corner, and I’m sure many of you are counting down the hours. I know I’m looking forward to a break, but I’m also a bit uneasy about what this Christmas will look like for me and my family. Within my household of two, we’re planning to make a full turkey dinner with all the fixings despite the fact that nobody will be joining us this year - we’ll be celebrating with other households through distanced outdoor get-togethers and video chats. But leftovers are always good, right?

Over the past weeks, your UWSA has been actively working with UW on behalf of our members in several areas: an updated performance appraisal process for 2020, safety procedures for those working on campus, our compensation agreement (which expires at the end of April), and a revised Memorandum of Agreement. These are important issues for our members, and we’ve been working hard to ensure staff interests are at top of mind for each. I’ve provided a brief update on each of these areas, and I’m happy to hear from anyone who has any questions about this work.

2020 Performance Appraisal Process

As outlined on the 2020 Performance Appraisal Process site for staff, the head of each department/unit has now received a spreadsheet showing the minimum performance rating for each staff member in their unit. If you are a manager and you haven’t yet received this information for your direct reports, it would be a good idea to check in with the head of your department/unit. And staff members should consider whether the minimum rating (the average of the past three ratings received) is a fair representation of your performance in 2020.

COVID-19 Safety Procedures

After some early confusion about how updated safety procedures were intended to be communicated to staff working on campus, the December 14 memo from Kate Windsor, Director of Safety, makes it clear that COVID-19 Return to Campus Safety Plans are expected to be prepared in writing, kept up to date, and posted in the workplace. If you are working on campus and have not seen a Return to Campus Safety Plan for your area, you can ask your supervisor or contact the UWSA for support.

Compensation & Bill 124

We have now begun to discuss the next Staff Compensation Agreement with UW. A new piece of provincial legislation - Bill 124, Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019 - is adding a level of complexity to this year’s discussions. It prohibits public-sector organizations like UW from increasing base pay by more than 1%. So, for example, the salary increases in our existing compensation agreement under bullet point 2 would be prohibited. But in that agreement, the base pay increase was only one of five improvements in the overall agreement. Your UWSA will continue to work with UW toward non-salary improvements for our next compensation agreement.

Memorandum of Agreement

Our current Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) has been in place since 2008. It has served us well, and your UWSA has been working diligently to finalize an updated version. We look forward to engaging with our members in early 2021, when we anticipate being able to share the updated version. Please watch for future communications on this topic.

I also want to add a note of appreciation to staff members for your active engagement in the consultation process for the revised Policy 14 – Pregnancy and Parental Leaves (including adoption). This policy revision is an important one, as its approval and implementation would move UW from having one of the worst pregnancy and parental leave policies in the province to one of the best. You still have a couple of days left to review the memo from the Policy 14 Drafting Committee and send your questions or feedback to us at uwsa@uwaterloo.ca. Your voice starts here! 

With that, I will conclude my first post as President by welcoming your feedback and questions on any of these topics - or any other. The UWSA exists to serve the interests of staff, so please feel free to make your interests known. Over the holiday break, I plan to connect with family & friends, read some books by Indigenous authors, and spend time in nature. I hope that you take time to do whatever fills you up; it’s been a unique term, and I’m sure we could all use a bit of extra care and attention. And although campus will be closed, please remember that the Employee & Family Assistance Program is available 24/7.

Thanks for reading,