St. John’s AF&G Updates

The Academic Freedom and Grievance (AF&G) Committee is one of MUNFA’s most active committees. The AF&G Committee has 2 related mandates: 1) to protect academic freedom; and 2) to assist Academic Staff Members (ASMs) with the grievance procedure when there is a perceived violation of the Collective Agreement. The AF&G Committee also makes recommendations for Association grievances to the MUNFA Executive.

Here is what your AF&G Committee has been working on lately:

  • Clause 31.68 of the Collective Agreement states that “An ASM may register for or audit one (1) credit course at the University during each semester.”. The University violated this Clause when an ASM was denied the ability to register for a graduate level course in their home Academic Unit. The AF&G Committee filed a grievance on behalf of the ASM. The grievance was eventually referred to arbitration which resulted in a recently mediated settlement. The grievance settlement not only allows the ASM to register for the disputed course, but also any and all courses in the graduate program.
  • An ASM with a non-traditional academic career trajectory who has contributed significantly to teaching and learning at Memorial was denied promotion. The denial of promotion was grieved and the grievance was recently heard at arbitration. While the arbitration board dismissed the grievance on the basis that there was no significant violation of the Collective Agreement, the board ended their report by recognizing the significant impact of the ASM’s work and concluded by saying “It is the anticipation of this Board that the high quality of [their] work and dedication to such an important pursuit will, over time, be given the full recognition it so richly deserves.”.
  • An ASM’s laboratory was accessed by maintenance staff without the ASM’s knowledge or consent. This unauthorized entry resulted in a significant loss of research materials. The AF&G Committee filed a grievance on behalf of the ASM. To settle the grievance, the University reimbursed the ASM for the cost of much of the lost materials.
  • The AF&G Committee was contacted by an ASM who was recommended for a tenure-track position by the Search Committee and Dean but offered a Regular Term Appointment by the Provost. The AF&G Committee provided advice to the ASM who was eventually converted to a tenure-track position. The AF&G recommended, and the MUNFA Executive agreed, that an Association grievance be filed on the basis that the Provost replaced an advertised tenure-track position with a regular term appointment.
  • An ASM who recently retired was denied their full vacation leave entitlement as per Clause 22.01 of the Collective Agreement. The AF&G Committee filed a grievance on behalf of the ASM and, as a settlement, the University agreed to pay the ASM a portion of their unused vacation entitlement.
  • An ASM underwent an ergonomic assessment, which recommended a number of workstation modifications including a specific recommendation for a new desk. The University did not provide the recommended desk and the AF&G Committee filed a grievance on behalf of the ASM. While the University relented and purchased the recommended desk, it took over a year for the ASM to receive the new desk. As a result, the AF&G Committee recommended to the MUNFA Executive that an Association grievance be filed based on the time delays ASMs experience in receiving required ergonomic materials. The MUNFA Executive agreed and an Association grievance has been filed on this important issue.
  • The AF&G Committee has recently assisted ASMs who have been subject to investigations for Gross Misconduct in Academic Research due to complaints from an outside agency. The ASMs involved have been cleared of any allegation of Gross Misconduct in Academic Research.
  • The AF&G Committee continues to support and assist ASMs in their requests to the University for workplace accommodations.