Members Speak Up; Kansai Gaidai Backs Down

On March 2, 2017, members of the shohei faculty at Kansai Gaidai were contacted by their director and told that they would have to teach extra classes. This came as no surprise as Gaidai usually has a shortage of teachers.

Although history has shown that they can expect to lose 1-3 faculty members on short notice each semester, Gaidai does nothing to prepare for this. Each semester, the faculty holds its collective breath, hoping they will not be among those saddled with extra classes.

However, thanks to the General Union, this semester was different.

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No fewer than sixteen teachers were told that they would have to teach extra classes.

For many of these teachers, this meant teaching classes and levels they had never taught before.

In some cases, they were being asked to teach classes they had never even heard of.

Teachers were being assigned books they had never used, and some of them did not receive those books until four days before classes began.

It seemed that Kansai Gaidai was in a total state of disarray.

Needless to say, the faculty was not happy, and they made their feelings known.

Some teachers went to the director and asked that they not be given extra classes. On March 17, 2017, at a shohei faculty meeting attended by members of the registrar’s office and the General Affairs, teachers clearly and repeatedly expressed their anger regarding the extra classes.

There was no way that the representatives from the registrar’s and General Affairs could have left that meeting thinking the teachers had volunteered for extra classes, but "you are volunteers" would become Kansai Gaidai's official line.

Fortunately, for the teachers affected, the General Union was hard at work.

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Fearing that “extra classes for all” was to become the new normal at Gaidai, the General Union contacted the head of General Affairs, in writing, to express the displeasure of its members.

After the Union’s first request for an explanation was ignored, a representative of the General Union called the head of General Affairs.

The head of General Affairs stated that teaching extra classes was strictly voluntary. When the representative of the General Union explained that teachers were being forced to take extra classes, the head of general affairs promised to investigate.

Three days before classes were to begin, he responded as follows:

 
"We received a sudden notification of resignation and a teacher declined our job offer just before the formal contract.

This made a shortage of teachers for the 2017 academic year. Therefore, we took several steps such as the recruitment of new teachers, asking existing part-time teachers and reducing the number of classes.

However, we have limited time until the beginning of the new academic year, so we could not solve this problem completely.

Therefore, we decided to ask some of the shohei kyoin.

Our director called for those who wanted to do overtime and we asked teachers who expressed their will to volunteer."
 

Despite having been told directly by the General Union that teachers were not volunteering to teach, the university’s representatives repeated their claim that teachers were volunteering for these classes.

After composing a letter of protest and gathering signatures from teachers, the General Union was ready for further action.

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On the day of opening ceremony, one of our members approached the head of General Affairs.

When confronted, he claimed that he had never said we were volunteers.

At this point, a member of the personnel office approached our member to ask what was going on.

The General Union member told this individual about the extra classes, the late textbooks, and the fact that many teachers still had not received their classroom assignments.

A few minutes later, this member of the General Union went to his office, where he soon received a call from the registrar’s office.

A member of the registrar's office wanted to bring this union member’s textbooks and classroom assignments to his office.

When the representative of the registrar’s office arrived, the union member thanked him and then raised a point of concern.

There were two extra classes on the schedule, but the head of General Affairs had stated in writing that only volunteers teach extra classes.

None of the teachers had volunteered.

The representative asked the union member if he was refusing to teach the class.

He replied that he was not refusing, but rather the head of personnel was insisting that only volunteers taught extra classes.

About fifteen minutes later, the head of the registrar’s office was in the union member’s office.

He tried to make the case that teachers had volunteered by producing a copy of one email in which the director had used the word volunteers to describe the teachers.

The union member first pointed out that the director had put the word volunteer in quotes.

He then explained that this was commonly done in English to indicate sarcasm, but he was just getting started.

Thanks to the support of his fellow union members, this teacher was armed with multiple emails that included quotes such as:

"I'm being required to assign extra koma."
"Sorry to have to do this to you."
"You are going to be assigned one additional koma."
"I'm afraid I have to assign you an additional course."
"I'm sorry for the bad news."

When confronted with these facts, the head of the registrar’s office immediately relented.

He said that he would contact all of the teachers involved and give them the option keeping the classes or having them removed from their schedules.

The same school that had claimed it could not find replacement teachers with only a month’s notice was now offering to find new teachers with less than twenty-four hours notice.

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Many teacher’s reacted with disbelief, but why should they?

From contract renewals to safety precautions, maternity leave to unemployment benefits, the right to refuse overtime is just one more achievement in a long line of victories that the General Union has won at Kansai Gaidai University.

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