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Report of the 2019 Listening Tour on the Issue of Workload

Dear members,

Throughout the winter and fall of 2019, members of the APUO Executive Committee undertook a Listening Tour of academic units that focused on the issue of members’ workloads. This initiative was anchored in a decade’s worth of consecutive pre-collective bargaining surveys whose findings consistently identified growing workloads as the top concern among our members. We had originally intended to publish our Report of the 2019 Listening Tour on the Issue of Workload in Fall 2020. However, this plan changed given the need to direct our attention and resources to other matters in response to challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our report summarizes and contextualizes the key themes that emerged during the Listening Tour. It also sets out 18 recommendations to redress workload-related challenges with which APUO members must regularly contend.

We note that in the period between when the tour took place and the release of this report little has changed in terms of ameliorating workload-related challenges. Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic served to exacerbate many of the concerns identified by members in 2019. For example, some 75 percent (N=755) of members who responded to our May 2020 survey on work-related stress in the context of confinement reported experiencing moderate to extreme levels of stress in relation to their teaching, research, and service/professional duties.[1] In a November 2020 repeat of the original survey,[2] members identified even higher levels of stress in all facets of their work, with the most dramatic increase occurring in the teaching/professional duties category. Whereas in May 2020, some 36% (N=755) of members reported experiencing high stress in relation to teaching/professional duties, six months later this figure had risen to 47% (N=523). The Central Administration’s unilateral decision to implement the bimodal teaching format, combined with the lack of adequate infrastructure and support resources has, according to information we have received from many of our members, added notably to their stress and workload concerns.

The toll brought on by the pandemic must be recognized by the Central Administration as a workplace health and safety issue. As public health guidelines are eased and we begin moving toward a full return to campus, it is essential that APUO members be involved in the University’s decision-making in order to ensure their health and wellness is given priority consideration in the implementing of our institution’s educational and research mandates.

The APUO is committed to implementing the 18 recommendations outlined at the end of our report and some progress has already been made on this front. For instance, in our latest round of collective bargaining (Spring 2021), the APUO successfully increased the APUO minimum complement from 1,311 to 1,335 by 2024 and revised the language of Article 5 of the Collective Agreement to ensure the Central Administration provides “technical, technological support services… to support APUO members.” We also tabled proposals aimed at revising members’ normal teaching loads to which the Central Administration did not agree. However, a Letter of Understanding (LOU) was signed, creating a joint committee that is tasked with both revising the way teaching loads are assigned and proposing recommendations that recognize the “complexity and nuances of establishing equitable normal teaching loads for members.”

You can read the Report of the 2019 Listening Tour on the Issue of Workload at the following link.

We actively encourage APUO members to share their comments about the Report by contacting their Board of Directors Representative(s), members of the Executive Committee, or the APUO staff at   

[1]Report on the Survey on work-related stress in the context of confinement, May 2020[2] Report on the Survey on work-related stress in the context of confinement, November 2020