Friday, October 23, 2009

All's not well at the Royal Conservatory

A great many of you have friends, mentors, and colleagues at the Royal Conservatory, heck their faculty list reads like a who's who of some of the best names in pedagogy today. At the very least Dr. Christopher Foley, who's Collaborative Piano Blog most of you will have read, has been there since 2003.

Well right now those musicians, and teachers, and so by proxy the students, are in a little bit of a pickle. There's a nice shiny new building, a great new theatre, and top notch concerts by artists from around the world. But the people that work there have been without a contract since 2007. The Conservatory has told them that they're not willing to sit down and negotiate a new agreement with them.

Not that they can't reach an agreement, mind you, but that the Conservatory will not no longer sit down to discuss them, despite both sides having begun negotiations in good faith earlier this year.

As it stands now the teachers and staff at the university (doh!) Conservatory are working without a contract, hoping day to day that the Conservatory will continue to employ them, pay them, and give them benefits. As many of these people are my friends and colleagues (and even if they weren't,) I think that this warrants some attention and needs to be fixed and I hope that you do too.

They've launched a new Facebook page that they would like you folks to take a look at: The RCM Faculty Association Page Go, check it out, become a fan. I'll try to keep you folks updated on this as it develops.


Chris Foley said...

Thanks, Gerrit!

A few clarifications:

Both administrators and faculty work at the Royal Conservatory, but it is the faculty who are without a contract.

The RCM administration has been active in bargaining with the Faculty Association over the last few months. However, the two sides have not been able to reach an agreement and the Faculty Association has recently been told that there are more important concerns at present than collective bargaining with the faculty.

Chris Foley
Member, Faculty Association Executive

Alan said...

Just like to say, regarding alarmist headlines about whether all's well ... it IS a tricky thing to keep the money and the students flowing in, so that my work continues to go well.

I would like to say that the conservatory's teaching is functioning well, and that the union representing us teachers is also functioning well. We are inviting the administration also to function well, by offering a good contract.

Important that it be an invitation, and not an accusation, right? Noone who's supportive of my work would want to tear down my workplace, least of all me.

DrLoewenRJ said...

Another word of clarification - the teachers at the Royal Conservatory, not at the university, are working without a contract.

Great to see the word getting out more now.

Our students are terrific and we want the relationship between administration and teachers to be equally productive.

Gerrit Theule said...

Whoops, sorry about those factual errors - they've been fixed in the text.

Alan: I'm not sure that it is an alarmist headline. Any time one group in a negotiation holds most of the power and walks away from the table it's not, historically, a very good sign of things to come.

The teaching that goes on there is indeed second to none and by all accounts is indeed still functioning very well, but any time an employer in the midst of a contract negotiation publically states that there are more important concerns than their staff, it's generally a prelude to escalation and I don't think that anyone wants that.

Better to head things off and garner public and industry support while things "aren't well" (and, from a negotiation standpoint I would wonder how you can question that that's not the case,) than 6 months from now when you might really need it. No one's calling for a "tear down," least of all me - I've been through one of those in an academic setting and nobody wins - but a call for support is, I think, called for here for those of us who care about what happens to Conservatory Faculty, even if we're not faculty ourselves.

urbanflute said...

Thanks for speaking up and expressing your concern here, Gerrit. It continues to be a challenging situation at the RCM. The new building is indeed spectacular, although for a lot of us any kind of unbridled enthusiasm is tempered by these ongoing negotiations. Who would have thought teaching music could be so action-packed!?
RCM Faculty