[Air-l] freedom and related issues

Mary Bryson mary.bryson at ubc.ca
Wed Mar 17 09:33:12 PST 2004

On a related note - academic freedom, IP and the use of the Internet by
Universities to redefine the craft of teaching - following the logic of
Noble's arguments - unbundle teaching into component parts enabling a return
to late capitalist Fordist economies of the production of teaching artifacts
(not that they ever left that location) ...

I recently participated in a major grievance launched by my Faculty
Association against the University (of BC) on the question of the
University's claim of IP rights to online courses and their requirement that
faculty sign away their IP rights and in so doing, agree to a host of other
conditions of course development that also infringe on academic freedom. The
grievance was heard by the B.C. Labour Relations Board, and we won on all
counts. The major positive outcome of this tortuous process is a really
lengthy analysis of the relationships between teaching, course development,
online education, IP and academic freedom in the arbitrator's award (which
is 97pp).

If anyone out "there" is involved in similar activity - negotiating
IP/academic freedom as these have been impacted by the particular uses of
the Internet by Universities, contact me and I will gladly send you the
award. It is a very insightful analysis, and in Canada anyway, until it is
successfully appealed (the University has entered an appeal), it also enters
into labour case law and sets the bar very high for any college or
university attempting to wrest IP from faculty or to redefine online courses
as "work product".
Bits from Arbitrator Dorsey, QC's, award:
³In the university employment
context, because of the importance
of the expression of ideas to
academic freedom and the presumptive
first ownership of copyright
in faculty, issues related to
copyright are part of the core
relationship between employer and
employee. They are part of the
conditions of employment.²
³I conclude that the scope of
the union¹s exclusive bargaining
authority includes the right to
negotiate matters related to the
copyright ownership of bargaining
unit employees in works made in
the course of their employment.²
Dorsey found the actions of the
administration in this matter
³created a limitation on academic
freedom² (p.93) and found that
they ³negotiated directly with
individual members contrary to
Article 3 of the Agreement on the
Framework for Collective
Bargaining.² (p.94)
In allowing Dr. Bryson¹s
grievance, Mr. Dorsey stated:
³Every bargaining unit member
has a right, and perhaps a responsibility,
to ensure the University
complies with the terms of the
collective agreement. This is an
activity each bargaining unit member
performs on behalf of the
bargaining agent². (p.96)
He found that Dr. Bryson
had been effectively ³firedŠ.from
the assignment² in the MET
program for her refusal to work
under terms different than those in
the Collective Agreement.

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